“ Ethiopia has always held a special place in my imagination, and the urge to visit this country was definitely stronger than the desire to travel in France, England or America. I've always felt the need to find my roots and discover my african heritage. ”
Ethiopia is a country where travel conditions (reception, lodging, safety, quality of tourist sites) are constantly improving.
In 2010, Ethiopia hosted some 550,000 tourists (compared to 160,000 in 2000). Ethiopian authorities forecast around 2 million tourists annually by 2020.
This is a spiritual country with thousand-year-old traditions that, after a long period of being overlooked, has become a must-stop for those looking to discover Africa's last authentic civilizations.
Ethiopia is an East African country covering a land area of 1.140 million square kilometers, located between Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya.
Its capital, Addis Ababa, is located in a dry tropical zone, at an elevation varying between 2,300 and 2,600 meters, making it Africa's highest capital.
Ethiopia features a high central plateau, located between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level. In both the country's northern and southern zones, 25 peaks top 4,000 meters. Ethiopia's most famous river is the Blue Nile (ABBAY), which extends a distance of 1,450 kilometers from its source at Lake Tana before reaching the White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan.
The population of Ethiopia is estimated at 91 million (2011 figure).
90% of the population lives off of the land.
Agriculture is the backbone of the country's economy, and the primary exports are coffee, flowers, vegetables, sugar and cattle feed.
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic country with 83 languages and some 200 dialects. Amharic is the official business language as well as the predominant language of North-Central Ethiopia. Oromiffa, Tigrinya and Guragina are also widely spoken.
English is fluently spoken in the major cities.
Ethiopia has two seasons, dry weather from October to May and the rainy season from June to September, though less intense rains begin to fall during March and April.
The average annual temperatures vary substantially due to the wide diversity of climate zones.
It is recommended to pack summer clothing as well as warmer clothes since the nighttime temperature can turn very cold.
Ethiopia is home to many endemic species, including the Simien jackal, Gelada baboon, nyala, Somali wild donkey, Walia ibex and Ethiopian bushbuck.
Many species of birds also thrive here, with a good percentage of them endemic.
The religions practiced in Ethiopia are:
- Islamic religion: 45%
- Orthodox religion: 35%
- Animists: 12%
- Other: 8%
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which began 7 years after the Common Era. The year is broken down into twelve 30-day months and a thirteenth month lasting 5 days or 6 for leap years.
This explains the origin of the Ethiopian National Tourism Agency's slogan "13 months of sunshine" and incites Ethiopians to say that they're the only people to work 13 months a year to be paid just 12.
Ethiopia is in the GMT+3 time zone. The time zone difference with France is thus +2 hours in winter and + 1 hour in summer since Ethiopia has not adopted daylight savings.
Electricity is supplied at 220 volts.
Be sure to pack an electrical socket adapter and a flashlight, as electrical outages are common occurrences.
The local currency is the Birr, divided into 100 cents. The birr is pegged to the dollar.
- 1 euro = 24.27 birr (24 Feb. 13)
- 1 dollar = 18.41 birr
ATMs are installed in most hotels within the capital as well as at the BOLE Airport. Be sure to keep your receipts.
It is illegal to enter into Ethiopia with over 200 Birr, and it is necessary to file an official declaration for any sum held in excess of 3,000 dollars or equivalent.
A receipt from the exchange organization needs to be presented at the time of departure for any amount in excess of 3,000 dollars or equivalent.
Visas can be obtained in Ethiopian embassies.
Some foreign nationals, including the French, are able to obtain their visa upon arriving in Ethiopia, at a cost of €17 or $20.
A cholera vaccination is mandatory for anyone who has stayed or stopped over in a region infected by cholera 6 days prior to arriving in Ethiopia.
For more information, please get in touch with the Foreign Affairs Ministry of your country.