Ethiopia Overview

Much of Ethiopia consists of rugged mountains and a high plateau. The name Ethiopia comes from a Greek word meaning burned faces. The ancient Greeks used the word to mean lands south of Egypt including modern Ethiopia-where people had darker skins than the Greeks or most Egyptians.

Northern Ethiopia boasts the breathtaking Simien Mountains National Park, encompassing the fourth highest peak on the continent, as well as the Blue Nile Falls, which are the most impressive falls in northern Africa.


Ethiopia is situated in the tropical zone between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, and has three different climate zones. The Tropical zone has an average annual temperature of about 27°C. The Subtropical zone includes the highlands areas and has an average annual temperature of about 22°C and the cool zone has an average annual temperature of about 16°C.


CAPITAL: Addis Ababa
POPULATION: 78.2 million
LANGUAGE: Amarigna, Oromigna, Tigrigna, Arabic
CURRENCY: Ethiopian Birr
ELECTRIC CURRENT: 220V, 50Hz. To power any electrical item an international adapter or a two pin plug is required.


The Ethiopia-Eritrea border remains closed. Several security incidents have taken place in recent months along the border, particularly in the Humera region. Since the relocation out of Eritrea of the UN Peacekeeping Mission (UNMEE) in March 2008, the risk of cross-border tensions increasing and the security situation deteriorating very rapidly has sharpened. With the exception of the main road through Axum and Adigrat, we advise against all travel within 50 kms of the border areas with Eritrea because of the risk of land mines and banditry.

We also advise against all travel to areas off the principal roads/towns within 50 kms of the borders with Sudan and Kenya to the Danakil desert area bounded by the Dessie-Adigrat road, the Dessie-Djibouti road and to the Gambella region outside of Gambella town itself. This is because armed groups hostile to the Government of Ethiopia operate in several of these border areas.

Information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK