Location: 9.0300° N, 38.7400° E
Area: 1,127,127 square kilometers (which mines, more than three times larger than Germany)
Capital city: Addis Ababa
Neighboring countries: Djibouti in the east, Somali in the south east, Eritrea in the North, south Sudan in the west, North Sudan in the north west and Kenya in the south.
Population: in total (estimated data for the year 2012): more than 87,302,000 people
Largest Cities: Addis Abeba (the capital city), DiraDawa, Mekele, Bahir Dar and Gonder.
Language: English is widely spoken throughout the country but Amharic is the Federal Working language. However, being a multiethnic country, Ethiopia has 80 ethnic groups and has 83 different spoken languages and more than 200 dialects
UNESCO Sites: Lalibela- Axum- Simien Mountains National Park- Gonder – Tiyastelae – Lower Omo Valley – Hadar (Afar Region) – Harar –Konso .
Time: universal time GMT + 3 hours.Making arrangement concerning meetings, it is worth remembering that the European manner of counting time is different than the Ethiopian one. The day is divided into 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. Six o’clock in Ethiopia is 12 o’clock (midday) of central European Time.
Calendar: The Julian calendar is in use, a year is divided into 12 months, each counting of 30 days, and thirteenth month of 5 (6 in a leap year) days. Practical information: Offices working hours are Mon – Fri, 8.30 a.m. -12.30 p.m. and 1.30 p.m. -5.30 pm. The shops are open without a midday break till the late hours of the evening.
Internet: Internet is available in most tourist sites.
Religion: Christians 50%, Muslims 35% and others 15%.
Festivals: New Year 11 September, Meskel (The finding of the true cross) 27 September, Christmas 07 January, Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) 19 January, Id al Fetir and Arafa as to the Islamic calendar, National Day 28 May.
Geography: Highland (more than >1000m): 56%, Lowland (up to1000m): 44%, Major rivers: Abay (Blue Nile),Tekeze, Awash, Baro, Wabe Shebele & Genale, Major lakes: Tana, Abaya, Chamo, Ziwayetc.
Annual Rainfall: Maximum: More than 1400mm in northwest Ethiopia, Minimum: less than 400mm in the northeast and southeast lowlands
Annual temperature range: Minimum: 0C at the highest peaks, Maximum: 50C at the lowest points.
Life Expectancy: 54 years
Economy: Agriculture: Employment: 85%, Contribution to GDP: 47%, Export: 90%; Major exports: Coffee, cereals, oil seeds, hides, flowers and chat.
Manufacturing & service: Employment:15 %
Government: Federal Democratic Republic with 9 National Regional States & 2 special city administrations –Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.
Electricity: Voltage 380/220V and plugs are the two-pin variety
Airlines serving Ethiopia: Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airlines, Kenya Airways, Djibouti Airlines, Airway Egypt, Lufthansa, KLM, Saudi Arabia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, etc. Ethiopian airlines give reliable service. Currently, Ethiopian Airlines and one private company provide charter services.
Road transport: Almost all the tourist destinations are linked by road. At present, Ethiopia has been embarked on the construction of new roads and upgrading of the existing ones.
Water transport: This sector is not significant, except excursions on some lakes and crossing Bahir Dar to Gorgora (90 km) on Lake Tana.
Railway lines: The only railway line is the one that links Ethiopia with Djibouti through Dire Dawa (780km). However, it is old and needs maintenance and its service is currently not reliable.
Accommodation: Addis Ababa, the capital offers a vast range of hotels from luxury hotels to shoestring ones. But, the service of the latter category is spartan. Outside Addis Ababa, too, there are modest hotels that give decent service. Moreover, at present tourist standard hotels are sprouting in and outside the capital. Yet, it is advisable to book ahead especially during the peak season (September – April).
Entertainment: In the capital Addis Ababa and other large cities films in Amharic and English are shown
Food and drinks: There are several national dishes. The national dish ‘Injera’ cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is a flat, sour dough pancake made of mostly small seed grain called ‘teff’. Injera is served with sauce (meat or vegetable). ‘Doro watt’, chicken stew is the most delicious national sauce to eat Injera with. During the fasting periods the Orthodox Christians consume vegetable dishes. Ethiopians mostly dine together round a large plate on a woven basket that serves as a table. Morsels of chicken and meat are served at the end after one has filled up his/ her stomach with Injera and sauce. One eats Injera with right hand. Water for washing hands is usually brought before the food.
Sparkling and still water, along with other soft drinks and several brands of locally brewed beers are available throughout the country. Ethiopia produces her own wines and spirits and the imported ones are available, too. ‘Tela’ home made beer, ‘tej’ wine made from honey, tea and coffee are common.â€¨â€¨Visitors who find the Ethiopian dishes spicy can get Italian, Arabic, Chinese, American, Indian, French, Greek and other specialty dishes in Addis Ababa and European dishes outside Addis Ababa.
Photography: Visitors should ask people for their permission before taking their photographs, specially the pastoralist people. Photography in churches is allowed but not with flash especially the paintings and manuscripts. Churches ask payment for videography. There are laws and regulations about photography in sensitive areas like palaces, military camps etc.
Filming: Foreigners who wish to shoot feature or documentary films in the country need to get permission from the Ministry of Information.
Souvenirs: Most of the souvenir shops in the historic route and in Addis Ababa are stocked with artifacts that reflect the Ethiopian Orthodox religious tradition. There are also other shops in Addis Ababa that sell woodcarvings from the southern and western parts of the country and woven baskets of different nationalities. Gold crosses and other antique artifacts are not allowed to be exported and may be confiscated if found at the airport search. The National Museum in Addis Ababa can issue a clearance certificate.
Visa: A passport with 6 months validity is required. Travelers with passports of European Union, USA, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, the UK, Israel, Russia, South Africa and Australia can be issued a visa of up to 3 months validity at the Bole International airport upon entry. All other countries can arrange a visa in advance from the Ethiopian embassy or mission in their or neighboring country.
Clothing: Warm clothes with water repellent bags are essential throughout the year in the highland regions and light cotton clothes in the lowland regions. Easily removable shoes are preferable while visiting churches. Sunglasses and hats and sun barrier cream are necessary, too
Health and Precaution: Vaccinations against yellow fever, hepatitis type A and B, tetanus, typhoid, polio and cholera are recommended. For those visitors coming from countries where yellow fever and cholera are reported, it might be mandatory.
Malaria: Visitors need to bring insect repellent cream & spray for mosquitoes. For tours to the historic route (high altitude areas) there is no worry of malaria but chloroquine and paludrine for the tours to the low altitude like Awash, Gambela and Omo is advisable. Ask your doctor for the prescription. Malaria may appear during unusual weather and at a place which was previously free of malaria as a result of climate change.
Security: Violent crime in Ethiopia is rare. However, visitors should of course take the usual precautions; don’t carry not, much money while walking in the towns, only the amount required at the time and leave the rest in the security box of your hotel reception. Keep your wallets and or handbags close to your body in crowded areas.
Climate: Though located in the tropics, Ethiopia has a temperate climate due to its high altitude. As the altitude varies, so does the temperature and humidity. Regarding categorization, Ethiopia traditionally has five climatic zones: Alpine, Temperate, Sub-tropical, Tropical and Desert. Large parts of the country get high rainfall from June to September. Less rain comes in some parts in November- December, in others from February- April, still in others in October.
Price and currency : The local currency unit, the Ethiopian Birr, is divided into 100 cents that has; 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 denomination notes and coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents denomination.1 US Dollar = 18 Ethiopian Birr, 1 Euro = 23 Ethiopian Birr, 1 GB pound = 27 Ethiopian Birr. The exchange rate is the same throughout the country. Exchanging currency in banks, in particular in the areas distant from the main cities. can be time consuming.
Credit cards are accepted in a very small number places: at the airport and large hotels.
Brief information on major destination cities is given below.
Addis Ababa: The capital of Ethiopia. – Average altitude: 2408m – Average annual rainfall: 1070.1 mm – Average annual temperature: 15.80C – Main rainy season: June – September – Coldest season: November – December – Hottest season: March – May – Total population (est.): More than 3 million.
Bahir Dar: Located 565 km north of Addis Abeba.- Average altitude: 1830mâ€¨Average annual rainfall: 1455.8mm – Average annual temperature: 18.80C- Main rainy season: June – September – Coldest season: November – December – Hottest season: March – May – Total population (est.): 183,489.
Gonder: Located 745km north of Addis Abeba – And 180 km north of Bahir Dar. – Average altitude: 2400m. -Average annual rainfall: 1101.7mm – Average annual temperature: 19.60C – Main rainy season: June – September – Coldest season: November – December – Hottest season: March – May – Total population (est.): 213,673.
Lalibela: Located 700 km north of Addis Abeba. – Average altitude: 2600m – Average annual rainfall: 772.6mm – Average annual temperature: 18.70C – Main rainy season: June – September – Coldest season: August – September – Hottest season: February – April – Total population (est.): 15,000.
Aksum: Located 1024 km north of Addis Abeba.- Average altitude: 2100m – Average annual rainfall: 729.7mm – Average annual temperature: 18.40C Main rainy season: May – September – Coldest season: December – January – Hottest season: March – May – Total population (est.): 51,727.
Jimma: Located 346 km km west of Addis Abeba.- Average altitude: 1,740m – Average annual rainfall: 1486mm – Average annual temperature: 18.80C Main rainy season: June – September – Coldest season: November – December – Hottest season: March – May – Total population (est.): 174,446
Harar: Located 525 km east of Addis Abeba..- Average altitude: 1300-2200m – Average annual rainfall: 600-800mm – Average annual temperature: 18.0C – Main rainy season: June – September – Coldest season: November – December