Facts

  • Population 102.5 million
    • Africa’s second largest country in terms of population.
  • Major languages: Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali
    • Approximately 90 languages are spoken.
    • English is widely spoken in Addis Ababa
  • Major religions: Christianity, Islam
    • The majority of the people are Christian (62%), 35% are Muslim
  • Life expectancy: 63 years (men), 67 years (women)
  • Currency: Ethiopian Birr (ETB)

Notes

  • Ethiopia has a distinct cuisine that sets it apart from many of it’s neighbours. Vegetables and spicy meat dishes are typical. Common is wat (stew) and injera, a sourdough flatbread made from fermented teff flour which makes it slightly sharp in taste and spongy in texture. Other notable dishes include tibs (grilled meat with vegetables), kitfo (raw meat sometimes cut straight from the animal), and ayibe (a type of cottage cheese that is a mixture of sweet and sour). Pasta is also very common due to the Italian colonial influence.
    • Whenever you eat, ensure you use your right hand at all times. Eating with your left hand is seen as a sign of cultural disrespect, as well as to God.
    • The Christian Orthodox church has many days where no meat should be eaten. This includes Wednesdays, Fridays and all of Lent.
  • Alcohol, in the form of local beers and wines, are widely available in Ethiopia.
    • Tej, a local honey wine, is easy (to easy?) to drink because it’s very tasty.
  • Ethiopia relies heavily on hydro power. In times of drought the electrical supply is unreliable. Electricity in rural parts is less reliable.
  • Internet facilities are available in Addis Ababa and larger centres.
  • Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country.
  • Ethiopia was a founder member of the United Nations.
  • The country serves as the African base for many international organisations.
  • In October 2018, the Ethiopian Parliament elected Sahle-Work Zewde as their first female president.
  • Ethiopia has banned plastic bags

Coffee Notes

  • Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee.
  • Buna, the Amharic word for coffee, is a major part of life in Ethiopia. It is served espresso style.
  • Traditional coffee ceremonies are a distinguished part of the culture, with the brewing and serving process lasting up to two hours.
  • Buna can be bought for 25c at a roadside cafe and can even be mixed with tea to create a spritz or enjoyed with a side of popcorn.

Geography

  • Area: 1.13 million sq km (437,794 sq miles)

Climate

The altitude differences within the country are extreme. Roughly half the country is considered highland, with a temperate and dry climate. The capital Addis Ababa is located at a high altitude (2355 m) and is dry except during the short rainy season (called Belg) from February to April, and the long rainy season (Meher) from mid-June until September.

  • The Danakil Depression is one of the lowest and hottest places on earth. It is 127 m below sea level, where temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius in the summer.
  • A few hundred kilometres west lies the Simien Mountains, with elevations of over 4000 m. It has an alpine climate and some of the coldest temperatures in the country.
  • The lowlands that border Somalia are generally hot and dry.

Tourism

  • Visas are required for most nationalities.
  • For many nationalities a single entry visa can be obtained on arrival in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. This is subject to change without warning.
    • For double entry visas or visas for entry via land borders you would need to get a visa in advance.
  • Ethiopia offers electronic visas (Ehtiopian eVISA).

Overland

  • Visas are not available at land borders and need to be obtained in advance.

Safety and Security

  • Areas near the Somalia border have security issues.
  • There are security risks in the Afar region near the Eritrean border.

Up-to-date government advisories

News

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