About Ethiopia

Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is a rugged, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley.

Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and the second-oldest official Christian nation in the world after Armenia. Unique among African countries, Ethiopian maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41.

Ethiopia is in the northeast African region known as the Horn of Africa. It is the third-most populous nation in Africa (after Nigeria and Egypt), bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, and Sudan and South Sudan to the west.

Geography

With a total area of 1,104,300 sq km, Ethiopia is slightly five times of UK The country has a high central plateau, with some mountains reaching more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). The Great Rift Valley splits the plateau diagonally. The western highlands get summer rainfall; the lowlands and eastern highlands are hot and dry. The climate can be described as tropical monsoon but it varies greatly depending on the topography. Ethiopia'slowest point is at the Denakil Depression, -120 m below sea level; the highest point is Ras Dejen standing at 4,543 meter .Ethiopia's entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993. The Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile by water volume, starts at Lake Tana in northwest Ethiopia. Three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and the castor bean. Volcanic activity in the Great Rift Valley; Erta Ale elev. 613 meter, which has caused frequent lava flows, is the country's most active volcano; Dabbahu became active in 2005, causing evacuations; other historically active volcanoes include Alayta, Dalaffilla, Dallol, Dama Ali, Fentale, Kone, Manda Hararo, and Manda-Inakir.

Climate

The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. As a highland country, Ethiopia has a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country's major cities are located at elevations of around 2,000 - 2,500 metres (6,600 - 8,200 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum, and Addis Ababa - the highest capital city in Africa at 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). Ethiopia has three different climate zones according to elevation:

  • Kolla (Tropical zone) - is below 1830 meters in elevation and has an average annual temperature of about 27 degree Celsius with annual rainfall about 510 millimeters. The Danakil Depression (Danakil Desert) is about 125 meters below sea level and the hottest region in Ethiopia where the temperature climbs up to 50 degree Celsius.
  • Woina dega (Subtropical zone) - includes the highlands areas of 1830 - 2440 meters in elevation has an average annual temperature of about 22 degree Celsius with annual rainfall between 510 and 1530 millimeters.
  • Dega (Cool zone) - is above 2440 meters in elevation with an average annual temperature of about 16 degree Celsius with annual rainfall between 1270 and 1280 millimeters. The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16°C (61°F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20 - 25°C (68 - 77°F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5 - 10°C (41 - 50°F). A light jacket is recommended for the evenings, though many Ethiopians prefer to dress conservatively and will wear a light jacket even during the day.
Ethiopian Seasons
  • Kiremt or Meher (summer) - June, July and August are the summer season. Heavy rain falls in these three months.
  • Tseday (spring) - September, October and November are the spring season sometime known as the harvest season.
  • Bega (winter) - December, January and February are the dry season with frost in morning especially in January.
  • Belg (Autumn) - March, April and May are the autumn season with occasional showers. May is the hottest month in Ethiopia.
People and Society
  • Population: 93,815,992 (July 2012 est.), the third most populous country in Africa.
  • Religions: Orthodox 43.5%, Muslim 33.9%, Protestant 18.6%, traditional 2.6%, Catholic 0.7%, other 0.7% (2007 Census)
  • Ethnic groups: Oromo 34.5%, Amara 26.9%, Somalie 6.2%, Tigraway 6.1%, Sidama 4%, Guragie 2.5%, Welaita 2.3%, Hadiya 1.7%, Affar 1.7%, Gamo 1.5%, Gedeo 1.3%, other 11.3% (2007 Census)
  • Languages: Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, although English, Italian, French, and Arabic are widely spoken. In areas outside of the larger cities and towns, indigenous languages are likely to be spoken — of which there are eighty-three, with some 200 dialects. The most common of these are Orominya and Tigrinya. Oromigna (official regional) 33.8%, Amarigna (Amharic) (official) 29.3%, Somaligna 6.2%, Tigrigna (official regional) 5.9%, Sidamigna 4%, Wolayitigna 2.2%, Guaragigna 2%, Affarigna 1.7%, Hadiyigna 1.7%, Gamogna 1.5%, other 11.7%, English (official) (major foreign language taught in schools), Arabic (official) (1994 census).
Ethiopia Travel Tips

Traveler Visa

Nationals of the following countries can get up to three months tourist visas upon their arrival at Bole Internaltional Airport: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea (south Korea), Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, and United States of America. If you are planning to enter Ethiopia by land, you should obtain a tourist visa in advance from your local Ethiopian Embassy.

Health and Immunizations

Several vaccinations are highly recommended when traveling to Ethiopia, they include:

  • Yellow Fever
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Diphtheria
  • Meningococcal

It is also recommended that you are up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations. Make sure you start getting your vaccinations at least 8 weeks before you travel. Consult your doctor before your trip for the type of vaccination you may need based on your health status and latest health news in the area.

Malaria -- Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos bites. There is a risk of catching malaria in many parts of Ethiopia, especially at the low land areas that lie below 2000 meters (6500 feet) elevation. So while the Highlands and Addis Ababa are considered low-risk areas for malaria, you still have to be careful and take precautions.

High Altitude Addis Ababa and Ethiopia's highlands you will be visiting are at high elevations. High altitude can affect healthy individuals in a number of ways including: dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches.

Currency

The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 1birr cents.

Currency regulations

There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but you must, in addition to the currency declaration form, bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.

Electricity

Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50 Hz. It is best to bring your own round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.

Time and calendar

Ethiopia uses the Ethiopian calendar, which dates back to the Coptic calendar 25 BC, and never adopted the Julian or Gregorian reforms. One Ethiopian year consists of twelve months, each lasting thirty days, plus a thirteenth month of five or six days. The Ethiopian new year begins on September 11 or 12 during leap year (in the Gregorian calendar), and has accumulated 7-8 years lag behind the Gregorian calendar: thus, for the first eight months of 2017, the year will be 2009 according to the Ethiopian calendar. On 11 September 2017, Ethiopia celebrates New Year's Day (Enkutatesh) for 2010. In Ethiopia, the 12-hour clock cycles do not begin at midnight and noon, but instead are offset six hours. Thus, Ethiopians refer to midnight (or noon) as 6 o'clock. Daylight: Being relatively close to the Equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight.

Public Holidays
  • January 07 : Ethiopian Christmas (Gena)
  • January 19 : Timket (Epiphany)
  • March 02 : Victory of Adowa
  • April 10 : Ethiopian Good Friday
  • April 12 : Ethiopian Easter (Fasika)
  • May 01 : Labour Day
  • May 05 : Patriots Victory Day 
  • May 28 : Downfall of the Dergue (Derg Downfall Day)
  • September 11 : Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash)
  • September 27 : Finding of the True Cross (Meskel)
  • Mawlid al-Nabi (Birth of the Prophet) (Changes every year)
  • Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) (Changes every year)
  • Eid-al Adha (Arafat) (Changes every year)