Ethiopia’s rich history dates back to biblical times and is
one of Africa's greatest cultural destinations, with no
fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the
mystical rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
Ethiopia is home
to some of the highest (altitude) and most eye-catching
places on the African continent, such as the shar- toothed
carved Simien Mountains, and some of the lowest, such as the
sulphur fumaroles and lunar-like landscape of the Danakil
Ethiopia is the
only country in Africa that has never been fully colonised
(with the exception of a five-year occupation by Mussolini's
Italy) and so retains a unique culture, has its own script
and language (Amharic) and maintains a strong sense of
natural beauty, cultural diversity and an incredibly rich
history that rivals Egypt's famous past. From the buzzing
markets of Addis Ababa, the walled Muslim city of Harar, the
ancient city of Axum and the medieval castles of Gondar, the
marvel that is Ethiopia is endless.
to Egypt, Ethiopia is one of East
Africa's most popular cultural
destinations. It's a country filled
with interesting historical sites,
numerous isolated tribes, diverse
and interesting religious festivals,
and excellent mountainous terrain
for trekking as well as other
Ethiopia is located
in East Africa and is a landlocked
country bordered by Somalia and
Djibouti to the East, Eritrea to the
north, Sudan to the west and Kenya
to the south.
Over 73 million people
live in Ethiopia
Amharic is Ethiopia's official
language and the most widely spoken,
others include: Tigrinya, Oromigna,
Guaragigna, Somali, and Arabic.
English is the major foreign
language taught in schools.
Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian
Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, and
Ethiopia's climate is extremely
varied and despite being close to
the equator doesn't follow the
typical tropical climate patterns.
One of the driest and hottest places
on earth is the Danakil Depression
in Northern Ethiopia. Central
Ethiopia is a vast plateau known as
the Ethiopian Highlands. Cool
temperatures prevail here and the
higher peaks have snow in winter.
Southern Ethiopia and the
surrounding lowlands enjoy a
tropical climate with lots of heat
and humidity. The main rainy season
is from mid-June to mid-September
and some rain also falls from
February - March.
When to Go:
The best time to visit Ethiopia is
October to May, during the dry
the Birr. 1 Birr is divided into 100
cents. There are 1, 5, 10, 50 and
100 Birr notes. The Birr is very
stable and there is no significant
difference between the official rate
and black market rate.
Ethiopia's Main Attractions:
- in Ethiopia's central highlands, is now the size of a
large village, but in the 12th century it was a major
holy city. Today, visitors to Lalibela come to marvel at
the unique churches built out of solid rock.
- Ethiopia's bustling capital is a sprawling city that
takes some getting used to. Mud huts, Italian
architecture, glitzy hotels, cathedrals and marxist
billboards provide the backdrop to Africa's fourth
More about Addis..
Mountains - home to the rare Gelada baboon, the
Simien Mountains in northern Ethiopia are a trekkers
dream. Many summits rise above 4,000 meters, and there
are plenty spectacular waterfalls and gorges.
Harar is a holy center for Muslims and is situated in
Eastern Ethiopia. This walled city is a fascinating
place, filled with Islamic and Christian history.
Region - home to more than 50 different tribes and
accessible by 4x4 or white-water raft, this is the
"other" Ethiopia, just being discovered ...
- Founded in 1635 Gondar is famous for its many medieval
castles and beautifully decorated churches.
Bole International Airport (Airport code: ADD) is where you
are most likely to arrive in Ethiopia. The airport lies 5
miles (8 km) southeast of the city center (Addis Ababa).
Taxis are available as well as a regular minibuses and
coaches, to and from the city center.
Ethiopia: International flights into Addis Ababa arrive
from Europe, US, Asia and the rest of Africa. There's a good
regional network of flights on Ethiopia's excellent national
airline. Long-distance buses travel to and from Kenya and
Djibouti. The border crossings are not that safe in general.
More about getting to Ethiopia.
Embassies/Visas: All visitors to Ethiopia are required
to have a visa unless you are a citizen of Kenya. Tourist
visas are valid for 3 months and many nationalities can get
one at the airport upon arrival. See Ethiopia's
embassy/consulate web sites for more information about
Economy and Politics
Ethiopia's economy is based on agriculture, accounting for
45% of GDP, and 85% of total employment. The agricultural
sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation
practices. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with
exports of some $350 million in 2006, but historically low
prices have seen many farmers switching to Khat to supplement
income. The war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and recurrent
drought have buffeted the economy, in particular coffee
History and Politics: Unique among
African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained
its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a
short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a
military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE
(who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist
state. Dogged by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale
drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was
finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A
constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia's first
multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with
Eritrea late in the 1990s ended with a peace treaty in
December 2000. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission in
November 2007 remotely demarcated the border by geographical
coordinates, but final demarcation of the boundary on the
ground is currently on hold.