Formerly known as Abyssinia, this landlocked republic in northeast Africa is bounded to the northeast by Eritrea and Djibouti, on the east and southeast by Somalia, on the south by Kenya and on the west by Sudan. Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa, and for comparison it is five times larger than the United Kingdom. Its capital, Addis Ababa, which lies in the middle of the country in the Central Highlands at an altitude of over 2300 meters. There are only two other capital cities located at a higher altitude in the world. Ethiopia is the third most populas country of Africa with over 80 million people. 3,5 million of which live in the capital Addis Ababa.
The central plateau dominates the landscape. It was formed by volcanic activity, and has on three sides areas of low lying desert. This central plateau or Ethiopian Highlands average over 2000 meters high and there are over 20 peaks higher than 4000 meters. Ethiopia is bisected by the Great Rift Valley, which runs from the Red Sea through the Danakil Depression the lowest point on Earth, through southern Ethiopia and onto southern Africa. South of Addis Ababa in the Rift Valley where there are a string of eight great lakes. The two most extensive mountain ranges are in the Highlands called The Simiens.
This is north of Gondar and the second at Bale which is in the southern highlands east of The Great Rift Valley. The highest mountain is Mount Ras Deshen in the Simien Mountains and at 4620 meters is the fourth highest Peak in Africa. The mountains are also the source of many rivers, the most famous being The Blue Nile which starts at Lake Tana and supplies most of the water for the Nile. There are nine national parks in Ethiopia which contain a wide variety of animals but not to be compared with the high volumes of Kenya and Tanzania. There are many endemic species, the most famous being the Simien Wolf. The breath-taking scenery is a paradise for hikers and non- hikers alike.
Ethiopia has a cooler than average tropical climate due to its altitude. There is a distinct rainy season from April to September. The average rainfall in the capital Addis Ababa is 40 inches and a temperature of between 21 and 25 degrees.
The Ethiopian Birr is the national currency. Visitors may bring in as much foreign currency as they wish. Credit Cards are not widely accepted outside the major establishments in the cities.
These are required by all tourists and can be obtained at all Ethiopian Consulates.
All visitors must be in possession of valid vaccination certificates covering Yellow Fever. Also recommended are vaccinations against hepatitis and cholera. If visiting the lowlands Malaria precautions should be taken.
The official language of Ethiopa is Amharic. In the country there are some 80 local languages. English is the second official language and is understood in most hotels and major towns. French and Italian are also widely understood.
This depends on the season and part of the country to be visited. In the warm lowlands light cotton clothing and a hat are suggested while in the highlands light or medium weight clothing is appropriate. During the rainy season a light raincoat and umbrella are essential and a sweater is best for chilly evenings. The sun can be very strong so a sunscreen is important.
How to get there
All International flight to Ethiopia land in the capital of Addis Ababa. The airport is just 8km from the city. Ethiopian Airlines Has an extensive network covering Europe, America, Africa and the Far East. The domestic network is extensive and efficient. Addis Ababa is also served by other airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Kenya Airlines.