With an area of more than 1.1 million sq.kms, Ethiopia is located 3 to 15 degree east. Its population is more than 80 million.
Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Time. Time remains constant throughout the year. Ethiopian calculates time in a manner similar to that of many equatorial countries in unites of 12 hours. This means that the day time is 06.00, in fact it is midday and vise versa, the night time 06.00 is midnight.
Despite its proximity to the equator, Ethiopia’s high altitude, averaging some 2400 meters (7,800 feet) ensures a temperate, moderate even cool climate certainly not tropical. The highest day time temperatures rarely exceed an average of 21-22 degree centigrade (70 or 71 degree F).Temperature at night can drop to a chilly 10 Celsius (50F) or less). There are two rainy seasons. The irregular short rains from late January to early March and the long rains that stretch from June until mid September. May is the warmest month and is usually a time of bright sunny days. Day time temperatures in January run just as high but the nights are chiller. June, July and August are grey, wet and cool.
Addis Ababa, Bole international Airport, Bahir Dar, Mekele and DireDawa Airports are entry ports. In addition, there are about 20 airports for domestic flights.
Ethiopia follows the 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 and eight days behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar.
There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency 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 custom on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but one must bring all receipts for exchange transactions.
Drivers require a valid international driving license which can be obtained by exchanging yours by local license at the Transport and Communication Office. Visitors can recover their original license a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles shall get a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Driving is on the right.
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia although English, Italian, and Arabic are spoken in cities and towns. In areas outside major cities and towns indigenous languages are likely to be spoken, of which there are about eighty, with some two hundred dialects.
The major religions are Christianity and Islam. Some other religions and beliefs are also practiced.
Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopian diplomatic missions abroad. Nationals of some 36 countries are allowed to receive their tourist visa on arrival in Ethiopia at regular charge. These countries include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Check Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea Republic, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America.
Dewale on the Djibouti border, is the only entry port. Arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks. The rail way with day and night trains runs from Addis Ababa to Djibouti via Nazereth, Awash station and Dire Dawa.
The local currency is the Ethiopia birr made up of 100 cents. Notes are used in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins; 1 , 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.
• Metema and Humera-crossing from Sudan,
• Dawale and Gadafi-crossing from Djibouti,
• Togochale, Aw Barre,Kebri Beyah and Dulo Odo-crossing from Somalia,
• Moyale and Omorate-crossing from Kenya.
Note that these are only entry points and no visa services available. Visa can only be obtained from Ethiopian Embassies abroad.