The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE)
The Federation is composed of Ten States (killil): Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations Nationalities and People Region (SNNPR), Gambella, Sidama and the Harari Regional States; and two Chartered Cities – Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.
- Location and Boundaries
Ethiopia is located in the center of the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Sudan and South Sudan to the west; Eritrea to the north and north-east; Djibouti & Somalia to the east; Somalia and Kenya to the south. It covers an area of 1.14 million square kilometers (944,000 square miles) The population is estimated at close to 100 million.
- Nation and Nationalities
Ethiopia is home to over 80 different peoples and nationalities.
Christians, Muslims, traditional faiths followers comprise the religious composition of Ethiopia.
Although Ethiopia lies within 15 degrees north of the Equator, overall the country enjoys moderate temperatures and a pleasant climate, with an average temperature rarely exceeding 200C (680F), owing to the moderating influence of high altitude. The more sparsely populated lowlands tend to have subtropical and tropical climates; and parts of the Afar regional State in the east of the country which lies below sea level is considered to be the hottest place on earth with temperatures regularly reaching 500C (1200F) or more. At approximately 850mm (34inches), the average annual rainfall for the whole country is considered to be moderate by global standards. In most of the highland areas, rainfall occurs in two distinct seasons: the “small rains” (belg) during February and March and the “big rains” (kremt) from June to September. In the southeast lowlands, the rainy seasons are from March to May, the longer season (gu), and the short rainy season from October to December (deyr).
There are international airports at Addis Ababa (Bole International Airport), and at Dire Dawa, Bahr Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axum, Arba Minch, and Mekelle. The national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines have an excellent international reputation and currently flies to 127 international destinations in America, Europe, Africa, and Asia as well as 23 local flight destinations. It is now taking delivery of the latest Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft for its long haul flights. The main entry points by road are at Moyale (from Kenya), Humera and Metema (from Sudan), Dewaele (from Djibouti). All have full customs and immigration checks. Humera, Rama, Zalembessa and Bureae entry points from Eritrea.
For information about the business, visas, or multiply entry tourist visas, contact a local Ethiopian Embassy which will provide the relevant forms. Visas issued by embassies are valid from the day of the issue not from the date of arrival in Ethiopia.
- Currency and Currency Regulations
The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birrs. There are six different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents, and 1 birr. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that can be imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but they are expected to produce receipts for all exchange transactions.
- Credit cards
These can be used in some of the larger hotels in Addis Ababa, and major credit cards can be used for flights by Ethiopian Airlines. A number of banks and hotels have ATM machines available and Visa cards can be used at some banks. The US dollar is the best foreign currency to bring into Ethiopia and it can be exchanged at banks and foreign exchange bureaus.
Drivers require a valid International Driving License, which can be obtained by exchanging your own local license at the Transport and Communications office on Haile Gebreselassie Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover their original driving licenses a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles require a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communication. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
- Energy (Power)
Ethiopia uses a 220 Volt and 50 Hz. System. It is sensible to bring a round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.
- Health Requirements
All visitors (including infants) are required to possess a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate if they have recently travelled to a country where it is present. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or been in transit through a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival to Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic in areas of Ethiopia below 2000 meters and both chloroquine-resistant and falciparum strains are present.
- Medical Services
Medical facilities are available in all major towns but facilities are often over-taxed. Tourists and non-citizen residents should go to private hospitals and clinics. Contact your Embassy for a referral to recommended doctors. Air rescue services are available.
- Calendar and time
Ethiopia uses its own calendar which divides the year into 12 months of 30 days each, with the remaining five (or six days in a leap year) constituting a short 13th month of Pagume. The Ethiopian New Year commences on the 11th or 12th of September in the Gregorian calendar.
There is a 7 or 8-year difference from the Gregorian calendar, seven years from September to January 1, and eight years from January 1 until September 10/11. The current Ethiopian year is 2012, running from September 11, 2019, to September 10, 2020. Meskerem 1, New Year’s Day 2005, will fall on September 11th, 2012.
Ethiopia is in the GMT +3 time zone. Business hours vary according to the nature of the business. Normally government offices and most other office hours are from 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 is 8:30 am to 11:30 am and 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
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.
Ethiopians also use a 12-hour clock, with one cycle of 1 to 12 running from dawn (6 am) to dusk (6 pm) and the other cycle from dusk to dawn. The start of the day is dawn, rather than midnight. Thus, 7:00 AM in East Africa Time (EAT) corresponds to 1:00 daylight in local Ethiopian time; 12:00 noon EAT is 6:00 daylight hours, and 6:00 pm EAT is 12:00 local time.
- Major holidays
Enkutatash (New Year’s Day- September 11/12); Eid al Fitr – the end of Ramadan (variable); Meskel (the finding of the True Cross –); Eid al Adha; Genna (Christmas – the birth of Christ – ); Timkat (Epiphany: Baptism of Christ – ); Maulid (Birth of the Prophet Mohammed –); Adwa Day (commemorating the victory over Italy in 1896); Patriots’ Day (celebrating the end of the five years Italian occupation in 1941 ); Siklet (Good Friday –); Tensai (Easter Sunday); (Downfall of the Derg ); International Labour Day )