Full Name of the Country: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ethiopia, as large as France and Spain combined, has an
area of 1.14 million square kilometers (944,000 square miles). About 65 percent of the land
is arable, with 15 percent presently cultivated.
From the north and running down the centre
are the Abyssinian highlands, to the west of the chain the land drops to
the grasslands of Sudan, to the east to the deserts of the Afar. South
of Addis Ababa the land is dominated by the Rift Valley Lakes. The main
rivers are the Blue Nile, the Tekezze, the Awash, the Wabe Shabele, the
Omo, and the Baro.
The current population is about 90 million, making it
the second most populated country in Africa.
Over 50 percent of whom
are under 20 years old. The average number of inhabitants per square kilometre is 49. The ancient Ethiopians were of Hamitic stock who
later intermingled with Sematic immigrants from southern Arabia.
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages
spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. The main
three languages are Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also
There are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October
through May; the wet season runs from June to September.
Temperatures are determined by altitude, with highlands
(including Addis Ababa) rarely exceeding 25º C. In the lowlands it can
get considerably hotter exceeding 40ºC, while in the Danakil Depression
it can approach 60ºC.
Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height between
2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and centre of the country
there are some 25 mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 meters.
The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (or Abbay), which
runs a distance of 1,450 kilometres from its source in Lake Tana, to
join the White Nile at Khartoum.
Roads : There are some 4,100 kilometres of asphalt roads with a
further 19,000 kilometres of gravel and dry-weather roads.
Railway : A 778-kilometre long railway line links Addis Ababa
with Djibouti, and carries both freight and passengers.
Air: Ethiopian Airlines has an extensive domestic network
flying to 43 airfields and an additional 21 landing strips.
Ethiopia is a Federal Democratic Republic made up of 9
regions, mainly based on ethnicity. The present government was reelected
in May 2005 for a 5-year term.
About 85 percent of the population earn their living from the
mainly as subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the
national economy and the principal exports from this sector are coffee,
oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for
animals. There is also a thriving livestock sector
(Ethiopia has the largest domestic livestock population in Africa),
exporting cattle on
the hoof and hides and skins.
The export of chat,
oilseeds, pulses and animal feed makes up the rest of Ethiopia’s foreign
currency earnings, with tourism set to make an increasingly important
The opening up of the economy since the coming of the
present government in 1991, has created more favourable grounds for
development of Ethiopia’s rich resource base. Ethiopia is the “water
tower” of the region (the Blue Nile contributes to 85% of the main Nile
flow) and projects are now being implemented to better exploit the
country’s water resources both for power generation as well as to boost
agricultural production through irrigation schemes. Mineral exploration
has stepped up in recent years - there are reserves of oil, natural gas,
coal, gold, copper, tantalum, potash, zinc, iron ore, nickel, marble,
precious and semi-precious stones. Thermal power generation schemes are
already operational in Afar and Oromo Regions.
Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC.
Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian
calendar, which consists of twelve months of 30 days each and a
thirteenth month of five or six days.
Excursions within Ethiopia, whether for a day or for a month, may
be organized for you by any of the travel agencies or by the
National Tour Operation.
In general between seasons clothes are appropriate. At higher altitudes,
woolen clothes or a coat are needed in the evenings. Travelers should
take rain coat or other rainwear, particularly when visiting the country
during the period from February to October. It is usually possible to
have clothes laundered at or near hotels within a short period of time
(frequently services are offered 24 hours a day).
Addis Ababa has hotels that cater for all pockets, from the
Hilton hotels to the tourist-class hotels such as the Ghion,
The Ethiopia and the Wabi Shebelle. All tourist resorts offer a
choice of Modern hotels
Banking hours are usually from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm from Monday to Friday
and from 8:00 am – 11:00 am on Saturdays. Closing times may be an hour
longer in some private banks. Most banks work through lunchtime; however
foreign exchange services are closed during lunch hours (12:00 noon –
Shops are open Monday to Friday 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-very flexible,
often longer opening hours; some shops are also open on Saturday. These
days a few supermarkets and beauty salons in the capital are working 24
Telephone, fax and Internet access is available in Addis Ababa in most
hotels, at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority main office and at
private Internet service centers situated around the city.
Courier and Money Transfer Services
Money transfers can be made through Western Union and Money Gram. Both
have representative branches in Addis Ababa and also make their services
available from private and national banks.
Four courier service providers DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT and EMS have offices
in Addis Ababa.
All foreign nationals, except those of Kenya and Djibouti, cannot
enter Ethiopia without a valid visa. However, nationals of the following
countries can obtain their visas at the airport of entry on arrival:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland,
Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea Republic, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation,
Slovak Republic, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
United Kingdom and United States of America. All other foreign nationals
will have to obtain their valid visas from Ethiopian diplomatic missions
accessible to them. Passengers in transit in Ethiopia, holding confirmed
onward bookings, can obtain transit visas within 72 hours.
The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), made up of 100
cents. Birr notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 50 and 100.
Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency but this
must be declared on arrival to the customs authorities on the
appropriate blue-colored form.
Foreign currency may only be exchanged at authorized banks and hotels,
and a receipt must be obtained. The currency declaration form must be
retained as this will be required by customs on departure. Visitors may
change back any surplus Ethiopian Birr to cash at the airport before
In addition to any Ethiopian Birr, along with the currency exchange form
you must bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.
Local currency (ETB) up to ETB 10.00 per person. Foreign currencies
unlimited, provided declaration is made to the customs on arrival.
Allowed; local currency (ETB), provided passengers holds a re-entry
permit ETB 10.00 per person. Foreign currencies up to the amounts
imported and declared.
All visitors should declare electronic goods,
and mobile apparatus. They will be required to show the declaration
paper upon departure, in order for them to take back their equipments.
Duty-free import is permitted up to:
200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or ½ lb of tobacco
b) 2 litre of alcoholic beverages
c) ½ litre, or two bottles, of perfumes.
Visitors may export souvenirs,
Articles (such as animal skins and antiques) require an export permit.
Prior to entry, visitors should be in possession of a valid health
certificate for yellow fever. Vaccination against cholera is also
required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected
area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia.
Malaria: lower lying areas of Addis Ababa (around 2000
meters) are now said to be potentially malarial, but essentially the
city is malaria free, although non-malarial mosquitoes can be nuisance
in some areas at night. For traveling outside Addis Ababa it is
advisable to consult travel agencies on malarial protection for specific
areas. Also it is always good to take a simple first aid pack. In most
of the larger towns there are now private clinics, but these and local
pharmacies may be short of drugs and medical supplies. In Addis Ababa
there is range of private hospitals and clinics.5
Altitude sickness: Addis Ababa lying between 2200-2500
meters above sea level is the third highest capital in the world, and
new visitors may experience discomfort until they adjust to the altitude
– symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue and insomnia.
Ethiopia is generally a safe country, and Addis Ababa a safe capital
city, but one should still take the normal precautions, avoiding
unfamiliar areas at night and not carrying large sums of money in
accessible pockets. It is advisable to beware of pickpockets operating
in certain areas, skilled at
identifying new arrivals, other than that violent robbery and muggings
are rare and generally visitors can tour the city day and night in