With an area of 1,194,000 square kilometers Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa. It is approximately two times the size of Kenya or five times the size of the U.K. From the north and running down the centre are the Abyssinian highlands. To the west of the mountain range the land drops to the grasslands of Sudan, to the east to the deserts of the Afar depression. 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 capital of Ethiopia is Addis Ababa which lies in the heart of the country at an altitude of 2300m.
Ethiopia is with a population of about 86 million people the second most populated country in Africa.
Ethiopia after the down fall of Derg( the military regime ) has now a federal Republic government made up of 9 regions , based on ethnicity ; with regional administrations . Additionally, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa are under federal administration.
The country’s economy based on agriculture. About 85% of the population is as subsistence farmers. Coffee (the word originates from the name of the province of kaffa, in the south west of Ethiopia)it provides the foreign currency earnings about 50% , the export of livestock and skins chat, oil seeds ,textiles , pulses , flowers and animal feed makes up the rest of Ethiopia’s foreign currency earnings .
When to come
This can depend on where you are going. In most of the country, the main rainy season runs from June to the end of September, with short rains in March. In Sothern Ethiopia, the Omo and Mago parks, the seasons are different with the main rains from March to June and shorter rains in November. (However, it is not possible to be absolutely definitive about the rains – in recent years unseasonable rains have made sections of the Omo impassable, for example).
With the upgrading of the airports along the Historic Route ( Axum , Lalibela , Gondar and Bahir Dar ), it is now possible to visit the north even in the rainy season. For travelers who do not mind waiting out a downpour (usually followed by brilliant sunshine ) there are certain rewards – a green country side full of crops and flowers and the sites largely to yourselves.
Climate and clothing
Because of the elevation, temperatures rarely exceed 250C in most of the country, although in some of the lower lying areas (Awash, Omo and Mago parks ) it can get considerably hot .
Pack light clothes for the day time and a jacket or sweater for the evenings and a good pair of walking shoes even if you are not going trekking –path ways around historic sites are usually uneven and stony.
Trekkers in the Simien and Bale mountains will need warm clothes, water –proofs and 3-4 season sleeping bags . On a cultural note – Ethiopian are generally modest dressers, and visitors should be sensitive about going underdressed (shorts , tank tops and bare backed ) into places of worship. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques-for getting around sites like Lalibeal with its many churches airline socks are very useful.
Visa & Immigration
All visitors, are required an entry visa to visit Ethiopia. The Ethiopian immigration office issues visa upon arrival for the following countries:-
Argentina, Austria, Australia , Belgium ,Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, final and, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxemburg, Mexico, Netherlands , Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK and USA.
Visitors are required to have a valid health certificate for yellow fever before entry. If a visitor transited or visited cholera reported area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia, a vaccination against cholera is required .
Official currency: 1 birr =100 cents
Bank Hours: open form 0830 in the morning to 1600 in the afternoon on weekdays and half day on Saturdays. However, banks at Addis Ababa Hilton and Sheraton Hotels are open daily including holidays from 0600-2300 hours. You can also cash visa & Master Card at the banks or use the ATM machine inside the hotels.
Travelers cheque is best taken in US Dollars or pounds sterling and cash is best taken in US dollars or Euro.
Some credit cards such as, Visa, Master Card, American express and Dinners club are accepted at major hotels.
Time and electricity
- Ethiopia is three hours ahead of GMT(+3 GMT)
- Electric supply is 220 volts, 50 cycles AC.