About Ethiopia

Rich in history and culture, Ethiopia remains a unique destination within Africa and the world. Above all things, it is a country of great antiquity, with a culture and traditions dating back more than 3,000 years.

Ethiopia has a wide range of tourist attractions (Natural, Historical and Cultural), abundant species of wildlife, wild forests such as coffee, water bodies such as the Blue Nile River, scenic landscapes, religious sites and cultural attractions (including more than 80 tribes all with different traditions).

  • People

The people in Ethiopia are known for their hospitality and courteousness. This rooted from the developed culture giving respect for all mankind. Although there are numerous and varying cultures in the country all shared this respect to mankind. As the end making the world a better place for all.

  • Geography

 Ethiopia is situated in northeast Africa, bordered by Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. It is about twice the size of France. The central area is a vast highland region of volcanic rock forming a watered, temperate zone surrounded by hot, arid, inhospitable desert. The Great Rift Valley, which starts in Palestine, runs down the Red Sea and diagonally southwest through Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. The escarpments on either side of the country are steepest in the north where the terrain is very rugged. To the south, the landscape is generally flatter and more suited to agriculture.

  • Weather

 Although almost on the equator, Ethiopia experiences temperate climate and sometimes temperatures below freezing (in the Simien Mountains) due to its high altitude. Throughout the highlands, where we will be travelling for the majority of this trip, the climate is moderate and daytime temperatures rarely exceed 25°C. Particularly in December and January, the temperature drops at night to around 10°C. The hottest months are April and May, just before the main rains.

Despite the moderate climate, the sun's rays beat directly down and is not effectively filtered. Hence, its rays are quite vicious and there is the likelihood of sunburn and sunglasses are advisable. Although Ethiopia has its famous slogan of "Thirteen Months of Sun-shine” a year - referring to the thirteen months of the Julian calendar - there are two rainy seasons a year : the irregular short rains from late January to early March and the long rains that stretch from June until mid-September. In the highlands, especially on the escarpment, you must also be prepared for quite strong winds.

One of the most ideal times to visit Ethiopia is between October and January when the rains have ceased and most of the plants are green from having received a large amount of moisture

  • Ethnicity

There are more than 78 ethnic groups in Ethiopia, with 69% of them found in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' State. Highest population percentages (1994 census): Oromo, 32%; Amhara, 30%; Tigray, 6%; Somali, 6%; Guragie, 4%; Sidama, 3%; Wolaita, 2%; Afar, 2%; Hadiya, 2%; and Gamo, 1%.

  • Religion

The religions in Ethiopia are predominantly Ethiopian Orthodox (or Monophysite Christianity) and Islam. Other religions that are also practiced include Judaism and Animism. The Animist faith is found mainly in southern regions of Ethiopia. Further south in Somali and surrounding areas, Islam is practiced. Christianity is more common in the northern and central parts of Ethiopia, where Judaism and Islam can be found as well. Traditions People usually greet each other by bowing heads. A greeting in Ethiopia can be a long and lively process- the longer the greeting, the closer the friends. Another custom is to kiss the cheek of your friend three times when you greet them.

  • Clothing

As diverse as their own backgrounds are the traditional costumes of each region. While European dress is worn in the major urban centers, the traditional shemma is seen frequently on both men and women in the highlands. The shemma is a white cotton dress with a border of bright colors. The pastoral peoples of the lowlands wear mainly leather clothing with bead or shell ornamentation or brightly colored garments. Fine-featured Hararies wear colorful, tight trousers and gauzy veils. Among the Oromos the young girls wear their hair in two buns behind their ears. In addition, their foreheads are encircled with wreaths of silver, leaves or flowers.

  • Churches

 Being the country the first or the second to declare Christianity the official religion, churches of Ethiopia date back to around 350 AC, and few countries in the world have so many intact ancient churches in such a variety in styles. The oldest churches are rock hewn churches in the Tigray Region, the oldest of which may date back to the sixth century AC. Many of these churches are a must see, and the best way to sample a great representation is through our Ethiopia Historical Monuments Circuit.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the Ethiopian version of the Orthodox churches in Egypt, Russia and the Middle East, with about 40 - 45 million followers. The divine services of the Ethiopian Church are celebrated in the Ge'ez language, which is no longer spoken today, as it dates back to at least the fifth century; Sermons however are now held in the local language.

Chiseling churches out of rocks came to a climax with rock hewn churches of Lalibela, a small town now world famous for its rock hewn churches with their unique architecture. While dating of the churches is somewhat uncertain, most are believed to have been built during the reign of King Lalibela during the 12th and 13th centuries. The site is a UNESCO historical heritage site.

Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, a totally new church concept was developed on the many little rocks and islands of Lake Tana. Many ancient manuscripts and precious pieces of religious art as well as royal jewelry and other representative objects were kept in their treasuries. During this period, new religious arts were developed for the decoration of the churches. Round churches with conical thatched roofs, they are quite similar to the traditional houses in the countryside. Even today, many churches are still designed after this principle. Inside they are divided into three spaces: The government officially recognizes 86 ethnic groups, making Ethiopia most culturally and linguistically diverse nation of Eastern Africa, with the Oromo, Amhara and Tigray make up more 75% of the population, while some of the smallest tribes have less than 10,000 members. Most of the people of Ethiopia speak a language of Semitic or Cushitic origin. In a country with so much linguistic diversity and inter-ethnic strive it is not surprising that English widely spoken and an official language for legislation; all laws have an English version.

  • Music

Local musicians and influences from the diaspora have created a strangely seductive blend of African rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies and traditional Ethiopian folk sounds fused with jazz - the krar being the most distinctive instrument. You'll hear plenty of it on the car radio - but if you can get to a cultural show in Addis, you'll see the madly energetic dance that accompanies it.

  • Food and drink

Ethiopian meals are based on a large, spongy pancake called Injera. This serves as plate, food and cutlery - you tear bits off to eat the stews (root) served on top. Always eat with your right hand!

Injera, a flat, sourdough pancake made of the indigenous grain called T'ef, is the country staple. The injera is typically served with either meat or vegetable sauces. To eat it, you tear off a bit of injera and use it to pick up pieces of meat or to mop up the sauce. T'ef is a nutritional miracle food. It contains 2-3 times the iron of wheat or barley. The calcium, potassium and other essential minerals are also many times what would be found in an equal amount of other grains. T’ef has 14% protein, 3% fat and 81% complex carbohydrates.

Food is an adventure in Ethiopia. Traditional food is much more varied than in most parts in Africa, all traditional meals are offered with varieties of Injera, a flapjack like flat grain product, usually but not always made out of fermented "tar' an endemic grain of the Ethiopian highlands.

It may be a bit shocking at first seeing how Ethiopians eat with their fingers while dipping and kneading their injera in gravy and bean dips. For the slightly sour injera itself one must develop a taste. What we consider good western food and wine, one will have a hard time finding it in Addis Abba, while we have not found it anywhere else in Ethiopia, but then, for dining out, don't you have plenty opportunity at home? When in Ethiopia, do like the Ethiopians.

Two days a week are "fasting" - when only vegan loud is served. The other days compensate with plenty of meat - including raw chunks or minced beef (kitfo). Eat at your peril.


Coffee originated in Ethiopia. It's strong, delicious, brewed on the street over coals and guaranteed to leave you quivering for several hours afterwards. It's often served with popcorn. The word Coffee comes from the Kafa Region, the origin of Coffee. Ethiopians prepare their coffee with great care and invite you to their coffee ceremonies. The coffee ceremony is a sacred tradition in Ethiopia, where the beverage originated and is an integral part of the Ethiopian lifestyle. Performing the ceremony is almost a requirement when you have a visitor at any time of the day. The special coffee ceremony can take up to a few hours. The beans are roasted by hand and then grind in a special way. The coffee is prepared in a special pot and poured into a special cup. Of course, food is prepared with the coffee, practically making a full meal of the affair. In most parts of Ethiopia, the coffee ceremony takes place three times per day-in the morning, at noon and in the evening.

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