With the total area of 1,104,300 sq km (426,371 sq mi) of which 0.7% is water; Ethiopia is the 27th largest state in the world and the 10th largest in Africa.


Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa and is bordered on the north and northeast by Eritrea, on the east by Djibouti and Somalia, on the south by Kenya, and on the west and southwest by Sudan. Ethiopia is on an elevated central plateau varying in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and center of the country some mountains rise over 4,000 meters.


In most of the country, the main rainy season runs from June to the end of September, with short rains in March. In the lower laying areas (Awash, the Afar and Somali Regions, Omo and Mago parks, Gambella) however, the seasons are different with the main rains from March to June and shorter rains in November. Because of the elevation, temperatures rarely exceed 25 °C in most of the country; although in some of the lower laying areas it can get considerably hotter. 


Addis Ababa, Lion of Judah
Addis Ababa, Lion of Judah

The capital city, Addis Ababa, is the largest and most populated city in the country. According to the 2007 census the population of the city is 2,738,248, of which 47.6% are male and 52. 4% are female. The area is 530.14sq km (204.7 sq mi) with a population density of 5165.1/ sq km (13,377.5/sq mi). With elevation ranging from 2,200 to 2,600 meters, maximum temperature is 26o C and minimum 4o C. The weather is usually sunny and dry with the short (belg) rains occurring February-April and the big (meher) rains beginning in mid-June and ending in mid-September. Addis Ababa (meaning new flower) is established in 1886 by Empress Taitu Bitul, the wife of Emperor Menelik II (1889–1913).


According to the 2007 census the population of Ethiopia is 73,918,505 of which 50.5% are male and 49.5% are female. 83.9% of the people live in rural areas whereas 16.17% are urban dwellers. The age composition is 45% under 15, 51.8% b/n 15 and 64 and 3.2% above 65 years. The national average annual population growth rate b/n 1994 and 2007 is 2.6%. The average population density of Ethiopia is 71.739/sq km (185.803/sq mi).


According to the 2007 census there are more than 85 ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Ten ethnic groups with a population of 1 million and above are Oromo34.5 %, Amehara 26.9%, Somali 6.2%, Tigre, 6.1%, Sidama 4%, Guragie 2.5%, Welaita 2.3%, Hadiya 1.7%, Afar 1.7% and Gamo 1.5% of the total population.


Ethiopia is a multiethnic state with a variety of languages spoken in the country, of which more than 85 are indigenous languages with 200 dialects. The main three languages are Amharic, Tigrinya and Oromifa. Amharic is the working language of the federal state with each regional state having their working language. English is a widely spoken foreign language both in urban and tourist attraction sites, as well as being taught in schools from an early age. At secondary and tertiary levels, English is the medium of instruction. In some parts of Ethiopia Italian and Arabic are fairly spoken.


According to the 2007 census, the religious composition of the people is Orthodox Christian 43.5%, Protestant Christian 18.6%, Catholic Christian 0.7%, Sunni Muslim 33.9%, Traditional 2.6% and others 0.6%.


Government type: Federal Republic.

Administrative divisions: 9 ethnic-based states and 2 self-governing administrations; Addis Abeba , Afar, Amhara , Binshangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa, Gambela Peoples, Hareri People, Oromia, Somali, Tigray, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples.

Executive branch:

Head of State: President Girma Woldegiorgis (since 8 October 2001); president elected by the House of People’s Representatives for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 9 October 2007 (next to be held in October 2013)

Head of Government: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (since August 1995). The Prime Minister is elected by Members of the lower house of parliament having first been designated by the party which has won majority seat in the House of Peoples’ Representatives following National Elections which take place every five years. The incumbent Prime Minister, H.E. Ato Meles Zenawi was elected for another five year term on 4th October 2010.

Legislative branch

The bi-cameral Parliament consists of the House of Federation – an upper chamber of 108 seats whose members are chosen by Members of State Assemblies for a five year term, and which is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and Federal-Regional issues. The House of Peoples’ Representatives is the lower chamber of 547 seats whose members are directly elected by popular vote from single-member districts for a five-year term. Elections were last held on 23 May 2010.

National Day: National day is on 28 May, to mark the day in 1991 when the military dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia from 1974-1991 was overthrown.


The current constitution is ratified on 8 December 1994 and is effective from 22 August 1995. The first constitution is ratified in July 1931 during the period of Emperor Hailselase I (1930-1974) this constitution is revised in November 1955.On 22 February 1987 another constitution is adopted during the period of Mengestu Hailemariam (1974-1991).


Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consist of twelve months of 30 days each and a 13th month of 5 days and six day in a leap year, every four years. The Julian calendar is 7 years and 8 months behind the Gregorian (western) calendar.


  • 11 September Ethiopian New Year, Every four years falls on 12 September (11 September 2010 12 September 2011, 11 September 2012, 11 September 2013, 11 September 2014, 12 September 2015 )
  • Id Al Feter, Remedan ( It may differ from year to year according to the Lunar calendar)
  • 27 September The Discovery of the True Cross, Meskel, Every four years it is on 28 September (27 September 2010, 28 September 2011, 27 September 2012, 27 September 2013, 27 September 2014, 28 September 2015)
  • Id Aladahan, Arafa ( It may differ from year to year according to the Lunar calendar)
  • 7 January Ethiopian Christmas
  • 19 January Ethiopian Epiphany, Every four years it is on 20 January (19 January 2010, 20 January 2011, 19 January 2012, 19 January 2013, 19 January 2014, 20 January 2015)
  • 10 February Birth day of the Prophet Mohammed, Maulid ( It may differ from year to year according to the Lunar calendar)
  • 2 March Victory of Adwa commemoration day
  • Ethiopian Good Friday ( It may differ from year to year and it may not be on the same date with Catholic Good Friday; 2 April 2010, 22 April 2011, 13 April 2012, 3 may 2013, 18 April 2014)
  • Ethiopian Easter ( It may differ from year to year and it may not be on the same date with Catholic Easter, 4 April 2010, 24 April 2011, 15 April 2012, 5 may 2013, 20 April 2014)
  • 1 May International Labor day
  • 5 May Ethiopian patriots victory commemoration day
  • 28 May National day


Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. Being relatively close to equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight through out the country. In Addis Ababa the sunrise and sunset times are 06:30 and 18:45 hours respectively.

In Ethiopia time counting starts at western 6:00 a.m. Western 7:00 a.m. is therefore one o’clock, noon is six midnight is 18:00 hour and so on.


Ethiopian Currency (Birr) notes 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1
Ethiopian Currency (Birr) notes 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1

  • The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr made up of 100 cents
  • Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 birr
  • Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents and in Sep 2010 a 1 birr coin is issued


  • Driving is on the right.
  • Drivers are required to have a valid international driving license at all times when they are behind wheels.
  • An international driving license can be obtained by exchanging your local driving license at the Transport and Communication Office located at Haile Gabreselassie Road, Addis Ababa.
  • Visitors can recover their original license a day or so prior to their departure.
  • Those with their own vehicle are also required a permit from the Minster of Transport and communication to use the their vehicle.


  • Internet TLD is .et
  • The country calling code is (00) 251


  • Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC.
  • Plugs are of the round two-pin variety.

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