Ethiopia: One of the few African countries never to lose its independence, Ethiopia is as large as France and Spain combined and has one of the richest histories on the African continent. Addis Ababa: The capital was settled in 1886 and christened by Queen Taytu, consort of Menelik II. The population according to the last official census was over 3 million. Towns: The second-largest town in Ethiopia is Dire Dawa, with a population of 306,000 in 1999. Gondar is the third-largest town, with a population of 142,328 in 1999. People: The population of Ethiopia today is estimated to be approximately 77 million. Approximately 26 percent are under the age of 14 and almost half are under 34. Religion: The major religions are Christianity (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) and Islam. Language: Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, although English, Italian, French, and Arabic are fairly spoken. In areas outside of the larger cities and towns, indigenous languages are likely to be spoken - of which there are eighty-three, with some 200 dialects. The most common of these are Oromifa and Tigrigna. Climate: Despite its proximity to the Equator, Ethiopia's high altitude ensures a temperate, moderate, even chilly climate - certainly not tropical. There are two rainy seasons: the irregular short rains from late January to early March, and the long rains from June until mid-September. Government: Ethiopia is an independent republic operating under the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The President is the head of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of government. Entry points by air: Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa; where as Bahir Dar, Makale and Dire Dawa will soon start to serve as entry ports. Domestic Airports: In addition there are 9 Airports for Domestic flights in Axum, Gondar, Lalibela, Asosa, Arbaminch, Jinka, Jimma and Gode. Entry points by rail: Dewele on the Djibouti border. Arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks. The railway, with day and night trains, runs from Addis Ababa to Djibouti via Nazaret, Awash Station, and Dire Dawa. Entry points by toad: o Metema & Humera - crose;ng from Sudan
o Dewele & Galafi - crossing from Djibouti
o Toguchale, Teferi Ber, Kebri Beyah & Dolo Odo - crossing from Somalia
o Moyale & Omoratie - crossing from Kenya NB: There are only entry points and no Visa service available. Visa can only be obtained from Ethiopian Embassies abroad. Calendar: Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (six days in a leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar. Communications: Internet Services (Dial up) are available at every City in the Internet Cafes. Broadband network will be available soon. Currency: The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1,5, 10,25, and 50 cents.
Currency regulations: 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 Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but you must, in addition to the currency declaration form, bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.
Daylight: Being relatively close to the Equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight. In Addis Ababa, the sunrise and sunset are at around 06.30 and 18.45 respectively.
Driving: Drivers require a valid International Driving Licence, which can be obtained by exchanging your local licence at the Transport and Communications office on Haile Gabreselassie Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover their original licences a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles will require a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Driving is on the right.
Energy: Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50 Hz. It is best to bring your own round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary. Health requirements: All visitors (including infants) are required to possess a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. 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 in Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic in some parts of low land areas. Visitors should begin taking a recommended chloroquine-based prophylactic two weeks before their arrival and continue taking them for six weeks after their departure. In addition, medication for chloroquine-resistant malaria is a wise precaution. Medical services: Medical facilities are improving and public and private medical centres are rapidly growing in number, though there are quite a number of public Hospitals and private medical institutions are recommended. Time: Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Time remains constant throughout the year. The Ethiopian day is calculated in a manner similar to many equatorial countries, where day and night are always the same length: counting starts at Western 6.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. Western 7.00 a.m. is therefore one o'clock, noon is six, 6.00 p.m. is twelve o'clock midnight, and so on. Visa and immigration requirements: Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia's diplomatic missions overseas - Nationals of 33 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greek, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Newzealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, citizens of United Kingdom and United States. For China including passports issued in Hong Kong (SAR China) and MACAO (SAR China). Endemic mammals: There are 284 species of mammal~ofwhich 31 are endemic and 7 are large mammals. Gelada Baboon, Starck's Hair, Giant Mole Rat, Abyssinian Wolf, Menilik's Bush Buck, Mountain Nyala, Swaynes HartBeest, Walia Ibex, Wild Ass among others. Endemic birds: There are 861 species of Birds of which 17 are endemic to Ethiooia. National parks: • Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park, Oromia region
• Awash National Park, Oromia and Afar region
• Bale Mountains National Park, Oromia region
• Gambella National Park, Gambella region
• Mago National Park, Southern Nations, Nationalities & Peoples' Regional State (S/N/N/P) Regional State
• Netchisar National Park, (S/N/N/P) Regional State
• Omo National Park, (S/N/N/P) Regional State
• Simien Mountains National Park, Amhara region
• Yangudi-Rassa National Park, Afar region Wildlife sanctuaries:
• Babille Elephant Sanctuary, Oromiya region
• Jello-Muktar Mountain Nyala Sanctuary, Oromiya region
• Senkele Swayne's Hartebeest Sanctuary, Oromiya region
• Yabello Sanctuary, Oromiya region