Ethiopia is situated at the Horn of Africa. It is a large country of 1,126,829 km2, with diverse
and extreme natural surroundings. The main part of the country consists of an immense
tableland with an average altitude of more than 2000 m above sea level, where you can find
mountain massifs reaching more than 4000m, and where rains and big rivers such as the Blue
Nile, Tekezze, Omo and Awash have carved out deep canyons.
Situated between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, with a rainy season lasting from May to
September in the main part of the country, Ethiopia is a green country for most of the year.
Due to the special mountainous and inaccessible natural environment of Ethiopia, many
cultures could be preserved from foreign influences and interferences. The natural eco- system
has developed in a unique way, so a variety of birds, mammals and plants can be found which
are endemic (unique only to this place).

There are two seasons in Ethiopia: in most of the country the dry season prevails from October
until May with short rains in March; the wet season runs from June until the end of September.
In the Omo and Mago parks however, in Southern Ethiopia, the seasons are different with the
main rains from March to June and shorter rains in November.
Although Ethiopia lies within 15 degrees north of the equator, owing to the moderating
influence of high altitude, the central highlands, where most Ethiopian people live, generally
enjoy a temperate and pleasant climate. In the highlands above 2,000 meters the temperature
rarely exceeds 25° C in most of the country. In the lower lying areas (Awash, Omo and Mago
parks), which experience sub-tropical and tropical climates, it can get considerably hotter. The
temperature generally drops quite rapidly towards sunset.

Ethiopia is a multiethnic country with 83 languages and 200 dialects. The official language is
Amharic and the most spoken language is Oromo. English has a large diffusion.

The local currency is the Ethiopia Birr, made up of 100 cents. Visitors may import an unlimited
amount of foreign currency, provided that declaration of such currency is made to Customs on
arrival. Foreign currency may only be changed at authorized banks and hotels. The currency
declaration form must be retained as this will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors
will be able to change back any excess Ethiopian Birr to foreign currency in the airport before
departure.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: For entry into Ethiopia need a passport valid for at least 6 months from the
date of departure. It also called for a tourist visa, obtained on the spot.
VISA AND IMMIGIRATION REQURIMENTS: 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 Argentina ,
Australia , Austria , Belgium , Brazil , Canada , China , Denmark , Finland , France , Germany ,
Greek, 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 United States.

Recommend practical and lightweight clothing, a hat and sunglasses, Warm clothes for the
night and a waterproof anorak. It is appropriate to carry spare socks to enter the churches
where is not allowed to enter with shoes. To enter the churches appropriate clothing is
necessary. It is useful to carry a torch to admire the paintings in the churches that are almost
always very dark places.

With a population of about 53.5 million (1994 census, updated June 1998), Ethiopia represents
a melting pot of ancient cultures with Middle Eastern and African cultures evident in the
religious, ethnic and language composition of its Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilotic peoples.
The Ethiopian peoples comprise about eighty nationalities of which the Amhara and the Oromo
constitute the majority, with about 60 percent of the total population.
Approximately 85 percent of the population lives in the rural areas. The annual population
growth rate is about 3.09 percent, and the economically active segment, between ages 14 and
60, is about 50 percent of the total population.
Ethiopia is a Federal Democratic Republic composed of 9 National Regional States (NRS) –
Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations, Nationalities and
Peoples Region (SNNPR), Gambella and Harari – and two administrative councils – Addis
Ababa and Dire Dawa. The NRS and the Administrative councils are further divided into 62
zones and 523 woredas.

Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar which divides the year into 12 months of 30 days each, with
the remaining five (or six days in a leap year) constituting the short 13th month of Pagume. In
Greek Pagume means “Additional”. The Ethiopian New Year commences on the 10th or 11th of
September every year.
Ethiopia is in the GMT +3 time zone.
Business hours vary according to the nature of the business. Normally government offices and
most other offices hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 P.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Monday
through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:30Am to 11:30Am and 1:30pm to 5:30pm.
Banks are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. Working hours on
Friday are 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3: 00 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 to 11a.m.

The provision of good quality infrastructure services is the key to an efficient operation of the
private sector and the integration into the global market as well as for attracting foreign direct
investment. Therefore, the Government has been and is still engaged in comprehensive
infrastructure development programs in roads, telecommunications, energy and others.

Addis Ababa is the only international airport of Ethiopia, but domestic flights by Ethiopian
airlines connect most of the regions and bigger town daily or at least twice weekly. For flights
to smaller airstrips, charter flights are available. Travelling by road allows visitors to experience
Ethiopia’s wonderful scenery. Road conditions are good to all the destinations of major
importance. More roads are being asphalted and there will be a good web of well accessible
roads in between the next years. Especially to the south, it is still necessary to travel in 4 WD
vehicles. The train connection to Dire Dawa and Djibouti is currently out of use.

The Ethiopian national dish consists of Injera, a flat, circular pancake of fermented dough made
from a grain seed called “Tef”, on top of which are served different kinds of cooked meats,
vegetables and pulses. The sauces are generally spiced with berbere, a blend of herbs and
spices (including hot peppers) that gives Ethiopian food its characteristic taste. Vegetarians
should try “fasting food” (for devout Ethiopian Orthodox Christians fasting days make up more
than half of the year), a colourful spread of salads, vegetables and pulses, devoid of all meat and
animal products. One eats national dishes with the right hand (water for washing is usually
brought to the table before the food is served), tearing off pieces of injera to pick up the
“toppings”.

Drivers require a valid International Driving License, which can be obtained by exchanging your
respective National license at the Transport and Communications office on Haile Gebre Sillasie
Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover their original driving licenses a day or so prior to
departure. Those with their own vehicles will require a permit from the Ministry of Transport
and Communication. Driving is on the right hand side.