Ethiopia covers an area of 1.14 million square kilometers (944,000 square miles).
There are two major seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September.
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 Abay), which runs a distance of 1,450 kilometers from the source in Lake Tana, to join the White Nile at Khartoum.
About 85 per cent of the population earns living from the land, 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, exporting cattle on the hoof, hides and skins.
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. Amharic is the working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia while Oromigna, Tigrigna and Guragina are widely spoken. Moreover, English, Italian, French and Arabic are widely spoken in the spheres of commerce and education.
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 luxurious Sheraton and 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.
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 hours.
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.
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 departure.
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.
Sunday is the weekly day of rest.
Public holidays are celebrated according to the Ethiopian (Julian) Calendar which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (six days in leap year). The calendar is seven years behind the Western or Gregorian Calendar, with New Year falling in the month of September.
- September 11 Ethiopian New Year
- September 26 The finding of the True Cross (Meskal)
- October 2 Id ul Fitr (Ramadhan)
- December 9 Id ul Ahda (Sacrifice)
- January 8 Ethiopian Christmas
- January 20 Ethiopian Epiphany
- March 2 Victory of Adwa
- March 20 Birth of Prophet Mohammed (Mauwlid)
- April 25 Ethiopian Good Friday
- April 27 Ethiopian Easter
- May 1 International Labour Day
- May 5 Ethiopian patriots’ victory day
- May 28 Downfall of the Dergue Regime
*The holidays of Id al Fater and Id al Adaha and the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.) are subject to moon sighting.
Duty-free imports are permitted for up to:
1. 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 1/2 lb of tobacco
2. liters of alcoholic beverages
3. Half-liter or two bottles of perfume.
Visitors may export souvenirs, although some articles (such as animal skin 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.
Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas. However, nationals of 33 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge.
The list includes
17. Republic of Korea,
22. New Zealand,
26. Russian Federation,
27. South Africa,
32. citizens of United Kingdom and
33. United States.
34. For China including passports issued in Hong Kong (SAR China) and MACAO (SAR China), Visa is available on arrival.