Ethiopia is one of the most fascinating countries on the African continent. It’s intriguing and engrossing mixture of culture, religion, peoples and landscapes will not fail to change many of the stereotypes that are held of the country and leave a lasting impression.

It is a cultural  mixture. From Lalibela, dubbed the eighth wonder of the world, to Gondar which is proud of its epithet, the Camelot of Africa. The birthplace of coffee, one of the oldest churches the Ethiopian Orthodox Church became the established church of Ethiopia in the 4th century, the Ark of the Covenant, the National Museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia constantly surprises.

So too, its scenery! The Simien Mountains, home to the Ethiopian Wolf and the colorful Gelada Baboons, are very inspiring. The Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana are just some of Ethiopia’s other amazing scenic sights.

But perhaps it is its people who will impress you most. Proud and confident (Ethiopia is the only country on the continent that has never been colonized) while at the same time generous and hospitable. Their hospitality manifests itself in a number of ways, most usually in invitations to drink coffee or local beer.

Ethiopia is a country that constantly challenges your prejudices and preconceptions. If you come expecting drought and poverty, you leave finding a dignity and spirituality among landscapes that are unrivalled.

General Information

Full Name of the Country: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Capital City:Addis Ababa

Land: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.


Major religions in the country are Christianity and Islam.


Internet domain or country code suffix .et Numerous internet cafes are available in Addis Ababa and in other cities.

Electric supply

Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC.


International dialing code: +251


Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar.


The population is estimated at 83.1 million (UN 2007)

Main Exports

Coffee, hides, oil seeds, beeswax, meat, sugarcane, and flowers.


Excursions within Ethiopia, whether for a day or for a month, may be organized for you by any of the travel agencies or by the National Tour Operation.


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.

Banking Hours

Banking hours are usually from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm from Monday to Friday and from 8:00 am – 11:00 am on Saturdays. Closing times may be an hour longer in some private banks. Most banks work through lunchtime; however foreign exchange services are closed during lunch hours (12:00 noon – 1:00 pm).

Shopping Hours

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.

Currency Importing:

Local currency (ETB) up to ETB 10.00 per person. Foreign currencies unlimited, provided declaration is made to the customs on arrival.

Currency Exporting:

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.

Public Holidays

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 11Ethiopian New Year
September 26The finding of the True Cross (Meskal)
October 2Id ul Fitr (Ramadhan)
December 9Id ul Ahda (Sacrifice)
January 8Ethiopian Christmas
January 20Ethiopian Epiphany
March 2Victory of Adwa
March 20Birth of Prophet Mohammed (Mauwlid)
April 25Ethiopian Good Friday
April 27Ethiopian Easter
May 1International Labour Day
May 5Ethiopian patriots’ victory day
May 28Downfall 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. 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.

Health requirements

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 and immigration requirements:

Visa are required for all foreign visitors to Ethiopian, with the exception of nationals of Kenya. Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas. However, nationals of 36 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge.

The list includes

  1. Argentina,
  2. Australia,
  3. Austria,
  4. Belgium,
  5. Brazil,
  6. Canada,
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Denmark,
  9. Finland,
  10. France,
  11. Germany,
  12. Greek,
  13. India,
  14. Ireland,
  15. Israel,
  16. Italy,
  17. Japan,
  18. Republic of Korea,
  19. Kuwait,
  1. Luxembourg,
  2. Mexico,
  3. Netherlands,
  4. New Zealand,
  5. North Korea
  6. Norway,
  7. Poland,
  8. Portugal,
  9. Russian Federation,
  10. Slovakia
  11. South Africa,
  12. Spain,
  13. Sweden,
  14. Switzerland,
  15. Thailand,
  16. Citizens of United Kingdom and United States.
  17. For China including passports issued in Hong Kong (SAR China)
    and MACAO (SAR China), Visa is available on arrival.

Bole International Airport

The New Bole International Airport is situated 8 kilometers from the centre of the city (a 15 minute drive under normal conditions). Paid parking, luggage carts and uniformed porters are available at the airport terminal.

Taxis are readily available. The National Tour Operator (NTO) has yellow Mercedes sedans which can be ordered at their airport desk. The rates for these taxis are fixed and receipts will be given if requested. Privately-owned blue cabs and yellow cabs are also in abundance, but do not have fixed rates; establishing their fare is advisable before getting into the vehicle.

Foreign exchange service is available at the arrivals lounge.

Security at the airport is tight and travelers need to produce their air ticket and passport to enter the terminal building. All other visitors are required to pay a fee of two Ethiopian Birr at the booths located in the parking lot and need to show identification cards at the guard post.

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