Ethiopia Facts

Ethiopia

A land of beauty, history and diversity

Ethiopia is the second-most populous nation in Africa with its 85 million inhabitants. The ethnic diversity is large and includes more than 80 different ethnic groups and spoken languages, the three largest being Oromo, Amharic, and Tigrinya.

The country is 1,130,000 square kilometers; two times the size of France. It is located in the North-eastern corner of Africa, landlocked between Djibouti and Eritrea to the North, Somalia to the East, Sudan, and South Sudan to the West and Kenya to the South.

With a significant range in altitude, the highest point being 4,620 meters above and the lowest 116 meters below sea level, Ethiopia has three different climate zones that offer a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Ethiopia is home to several unique and spectacular geological sites, among them Danakil Depression, the lowest place in Africa, and the hottest place on the planet with one of the few permanent lava lakes. It is also home to many endemic mammals and more than 860 bird species out of which more than 30 are endemic.

History and modernity

Ethiopia is the homeland of Lucy, the oldest found humanoid fossil and, currently, all over the country scientists are making important findings that contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the origin of our human race and its early development.

Ethiopia is also among the few African countries that have its own alphabet, time system, and calendar. Ethiopia is also known for its 2000-year-old history and for being the only African country that was never colonized.

Ethiopia’s rich history has been widely recognized by UNESCO: the monuments of the Axumite Empire, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the castles of Gondar, the walled city of Harar, and the Konso Cultural Landscape are just a few of the World Heritage sites in the country.

Today, Ethiopia is one of the countries that guide the African Renaissance and Addis Ababa — its capital — is the center of this great economic and cultural ferment.

Travel facts

Visa and immigration requirement

Visa may be obtained in Ethiopian embassies prior to leaving your home country. However, guests from 33 countries can now purchase a three-month tourist visa on arrival at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa. These 33 countries include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Health requirements

Prior to entry visitors should obtain a valid health certificate. Vaccinations should include yellow fever. Vaccination against cholera is required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry.

Language

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic nation with more than 80 ethnic groups and spoken languages. Amharic with its unique script is the official language. English is also widely spoken.

Currency

The local currency is Ethiopian Birr, made up of 100 cents.

Credit Cards

By now Visa debit cards are widely accepted in many ATMs in towns and cities across the country. MasterCard, Access, American Express, and Diners Club are not as widely accepted, except in a few establishments in larger cities. Cash is recommended.

Electric supply

Ethiopia uses 220 Volts 50 cycles AC and two-hole sockets. A universal two-prong adapter is recommended. Adaptors are often available in shops throughout Ethiopia.

Communication

Telephone, fax, internet, and postal facilities are available in most main towns. The IDD code for Ethiopia is +251.

Clothing

Ethiopians are modest dressers; visitors should dress with consideration, especially in places of worship. Shoes must always be removed before entering a church and a mosque.

Climate

There are two main seasons in Ethiopia; temperatures depend primarily on the altitude. The lowlands are generally hot and humid, the highlands have a cooler climate. In most of the country, the main rainy season spans from June to September, with short rains in March. In Southern Ethiopia, however, and particularly in the Omo area, the seasons differ with the main rains from March to May and the shorter rains in October and November.

Topography

The altitude ranges from 116 m below sea level in the Danakil Depression, officially the hottest place in the world, to 4,620 meters altitude, on the peak of Mount Ras Dashen.

Population

The population is estimated at 85 million, the third-highest population in Africa. Around 50% of the population is under the age of 25.
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