World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Africa

Ethiopia Travelling Guide
Ethiopia Travelling Guide

General background: Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, one exception being the Italian occupation of 1936-41. In 1974 a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), in 1991. A constitution was adopted in 1994 and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A two and a half year border war with Eritrea ended with a peace treaty on 12 December 2000.

Area comparative: Slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Climate: Tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation

Terrain: High plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley

Population: 67,673,031

Ethnic groups: Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%

Religions: Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%

Language: Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)

Government type: Federal republic

Capital: Addis Ababa

Legal system: Currently transitional mix of national and regional courts

Economic overview: Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, 85% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices, and as many as 4.6 million people need food assistance annually. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with exports of some $260 million in 2000. Other important exports include qat, live animals, hides, and gold. The war with Eritrea in 1999-2000 and recurrent drought have buffeted the economy, in particular coffee production. In November 2001 Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Under Ethiopia's land tenure system, the government owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans. Despite this limitation, strong growth is expected to continue in the near term as good rainfall, the cessation of hostilities, and renewed foreign aid and debt relief push the economy forward.

Communication/Telephone system: Open wire and microwave radio relay system; adequate for government use

Places of interest: The landscape is fabulous, the people will make you welcome, the sense of history is tangible and you won't have to worry about crowds of snap-happy tourists. And of course, all of it comes on a less-than-shoestring budget.

Travel tips: Although the situation for travelers to Ethiopia has improved immeasurably, travel after dark is ill-advised and areas near the Eritrean border should still be avoided. Areas near the Somali border should also be avoided, due to banditry. If traveling to Sudan or Kenya, get local advice and travel in convoy. Steer clear of public political gatherings and demonstrations, particularly in Islamic regions.