Country Context

 Relief map of Ethiopia




Ethiopia is located in East Africa in the sub-region known as the Horn of Africa and borders with the Sudan and South Sudan to the west; Eritrea to the north and north-east; Djibouti and Somaliland to the east; Somalia and Kenya to the south. Ethiopia has an area of 1.14 million square kilometers (944,000 square miles) and is the 7th largest country in Africa.





Ethiopia’s history dates back to the first millennium BCE. The country's current capital city, Addis Ababa, was founded by Emperor Menelik II  in 1887. In 1955, Ethiopia, under Emperor Haile Selassie, got its first constitution and an elected parliament.


The Monarchy was overthrown in 1974 and Ethiopia became a socialist state under a military rule. The Derg regime was in turn overthrown in 1991 and the current constitution was developed. In 1995 a Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, comprising nine states and two chartered cities was proclaimed.

Ethiopia is a founding member of the United Nations and the African Union, with the latter's headquarters based in Addis Ababa.




There are two distinct seasons in Ethiopia: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September.




Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing, non-oil based economies in the world. The economy has shown an annual growth of 10.9% in the year 2012/2013 and the annual average growth rate was around 11% for the period from 2002/03 to 2012/13, which is roughly double the sub-Saharan African average. During that time, the country has experienced a sizable reduction in poverty; expanded access to basic services. MDG 4 was reached two years ahead of schedule, and the country is on track to achieve almost all the MDGs.



Ethiopia is a country whose economy is predominantly based on agriculture; agriculture accounts for about 43% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), 70% of the total exports and 85% of employment. The principal exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, chat, pulses, cut flowers and live animals. There is also a robust livestock sector.  


Over the past decade, the economy has been undergoing a shift from agriculture production towards services, which now account for around 45 percent of GDP, up from 38 percent a decade ago. Industry’s contribution to GDP, though growing, is only around 12.4 percent.


People and culture


Ethiopia with a population of nearly 94.1 million is the second populous nation in Africa. The Ethiopian people are composed of different ethnic, religious and language backgrounds. The population is composed of more than 80 ethnic groups. 


 Natural Attractions



The natural beauty of Ethiopia amazes the first-time visitor. Ethiopia is a land of rugged mountains (some 25 are over 4000 meters high) broad savannah, lakes and rivers including the source of the Blue Nile. At the other extreme the country is also home to the Dankil Depression, lowest point in Africa.


The unique Rift Valley goes through Ethiopia and is a remarkable region of volcanic lakes, with their famous collections of birdlife, great escarpments and stunning vistas. Tisisat, the Blue Nile falls, must rank as one of the greatest natural spectacles in Africa today. With 14 major wildlife reserves, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire sub-Saharan ecosystem. Birdlife abounds, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia ibex to the shy wild ass, roam free just as nature intended.


Historical Attractions


Ethiopia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, has a heritage dating back to first century AD. Traders from Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt knew of the riches of what is now Ethiopia.  This land was the first Christian lands of Africa and also become a refugee for  followers of the Prophet Mohammed who fled Mecca to escape persecution .


Legend has it that Emperor Menelik I was the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and brought the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum, where he settled and established one  of the world’s longest known, uninterrupted monarchical dynasties.


In the 19th Century the great Emperor Menelik II led the country towards the modern state of Ethiopia, and the country's passage to modernization began. The followings are some of our historical attractions.




Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country. The official working language of Ethiopia is Amharic, with its distinctive alphabet while Oromiffa, Tigrigna and Guragina are widely spoken. English is understood in most hotels and major towns. It is also the medium of instruction in secondary and higher education institutions.  


Time Zone


Ethiopia is three hours ahead of GMT. It follows Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of 30 days each, and a thirteenth month of five or six day ( on a leap year). The calendar is seven years behind the Western or Gregorian calendar, with New Year falling in the month of September.  




The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr. The units of the currency are the Birr and cents. The Birr is divided into 100 cents. The denominations are:- Notes: Br. 100, Br. 50, Br. 10, Br. 5, Br. 1 Coins: Br.1, 50cent, 25cent, 10cent, 5cent, 1cent.




All modern forms of communication; be it telephone, mobile, fax, or the internet is available. Telecommunications in Ethiopia are good. Telephones have direct dialing to most countries in the world. Coin and card operated booths are available in the city. Air time cards are sold at many shops and hotels. The country code is 251 and Addis Ababa is 011. Internet cafes are spread around the city. Postal and courier services are efficient and reliable. For courier services, DHL, Fedex, UPS, TNT and EMS have offices in Addis Ababa.