Page 1

Ethiopia on the rise

Proudly African - Connecting Minds Building Communities

“‘Best of Ethiopia’ offers a vision of the country’s future whilst profiling its past and progress.”

International Group Publisher Africa Group Publisher Managing Editor Production & Project Management

This serves as a promotion and showcase of the country and its vast opportunities - sharing the best of Ethiopian business, agriculture, industry, governance and tourism to the world.”

Sven Boermeester Thapelo Letsholo Rebecca Lovett GVPedia Communications, Gia Bischofberger Ravi Handve Creda Communications Amasis Advertising and Publishing PLC Alemayehu Seifu Hiwot Tilaye Van de Wolf

Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is an ancient and fascinating land. Its history and heritage are rich and her people are deeply rooted in religion and culture. The landscape offers stark variations between arid plains, mountains and pasture land. As an agrarian yet rapidly developing nation, Ethiopia is constantly diversifying and implementing improvements in ease-of-business and governance.

Creative Direction Printing Ethiopia Publishing Partners

Home to the African Union and various other high level international organisations including the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI), Ethiopia is viewed as a pinnacle of diplomacy in Africa and had good relations with a vast majority of nations with which it interacts. As Africa’s oldest independent country and holding Africa’s second largest population, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fasted growing non-oil economies.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in The ‘Best of Ethiopia Vol.1. Neither ‘Best of Ethiopia’, GVPedia Communications nor Amasis Advertising and Publishing PLC assume any responsibility for errors or omissions. The editor reserves the right to amend and alter copy and visual material as deemed necessary.

It is at this exciting time of development and growth that we capture the spirit of Ethiopia in the inaugural edition of ‘Best of Ethiopia’. It is only through the stories of the people and their successes that the whole picture can be shared. Although suffering numerous periods of drought, the Ethiopian people have repeatedly proven their resilience. This inspiring characteristic of the nation has seemingly cultivated a spirit of industry and entrepreneurship, kindled by the pride of her people. There is indeed much to celebrate and ‘Best of Ethiopia’ is a showcase for this success – shared with the world on the Global Village platform, in a unique and timeless format. This yearly publication is part of the Global Village Partnerships publishing model that now extends across over 50 countries. To complement the readership of our print model we are also present on and the portal where millions of international readers have access to a virtual copy of ‘Best of Ethiopia’. This is a visual celebration of Ethiopia’s achievements and successes.

Sales and Marketing Coordinator General Manager Editor Marta

All rights reserved: No part of this publication shall be reproduced, copied, transmitted, adapted or modified in any form or by any means. This publication shall not be stored in whole or in part in any form in any retrieval system. Contact Details : Addis Ababa, Arada Sub city, Queen Elizabeth Street Woreda 7, H.No 047, Ethiopia Tel: +251 912 501137 Email: Global Village Partnerships: Regional Head Offices • Addis Ababa • Bangalore • Bangkok • Belgrade • Brussels • Cairo • Copenhagen • Dubai • Johannesburg • London • Singapore • Sydney • Washington DC

Our sincere thanks must go to the participants showcased in our very first edition; representing the ‘Best of’ in their respective fields. We hope that ‘Best of Ethiopia’ will inspire new visitors and delegates to this country, which is already receiving a great level of interest.

Thapelo Letsholo

Sven Boermeester

Gia Bischofberger


Boostin cultural


Ethiopia Partners : Vince Mountaga Diop & Hiwot Tilaye Best of Ethiopia


Best of Ethiopia


CHAPTER 1 Best of Ethiopia

I wanted the world to know that my country Ethiopia has always won with determination and heroism. Abebe Bikila

Best of Ethiopia

Ethiopia at a Glance Ethiopia lies at the centre of the Horn of Africa and shares borders with the Sudan and South Sudan to the west; Eritrea to the north and north-east; Djibouti and Somaliland to the east; and Somalia and Kenya to the south. The country covers an area of 1.14-million km². The population was 73,918,505 after the 2007 census, but with an estimated growth rate of 3.2%, the current population is now around 86 million. The vast majority of the population live outside of urban areas. The country is rich in culture and Ethiopia is home to over 80 different peoples and nationalities. As Africa’s oldest independent country and holding Africa’s second largest population, Ethiopia was only colonised for five years as part of Mussolini’s Italian occupation. It was a symbol of African independence during the colonial years. Ethiopia was a founder member of the United Nations and is the base for numerous international organisations, including the African Union. Although heavily dependent on agriculture with coffee as a key export, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest growing non-oil economies. Ethiopia has suffered periodic droughts and famines that lead to a long civil conflict in the 20th Century and a border war with Eritrea. In the last century, Ethiopia created strong links with Britain leading to British troops evicting the Italians in 1941 and restoring Emperor Haile Selassie to his throne. In the 1960s, US influence became prominent, then replaced by the Soviet Union.


Best of Ethiopia

Addis Ababa

Full Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Capital: Addis Ababa Motto: One Ethiopia National Anthem: Wodefit Gesgeshi, Widd Innat Ityopp’ya (March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia) President: Girma Wolde-Giorgis (PM Hailemariam Desalegn) Independence Day: 5 May 1941 Type of Government: Federal Republic Area: 1,104,300 sq. km. Provinces: Nine ethnically-based regional states - Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations Nationalities and People Region (SNNPR), Gambella and Harari Regional States; and two Chartered Cities - Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa (1995)

Ethiopia President: Girma Wolde-Giorgis

Population: 86-million (estimate) Main Languages spoken: 90 individual languages spoken, mostly Afro-Asiatic languages – Oromiffa (Oromo), Somali, Amharic (Amhara), and Tigrinya (Tigray-Tigrinya). Main Religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Traditional religions Main Exports: Coffee, livestock, khat, gold, leather products, oilseeds, and floriculture Natural Resources: Gold, platinum, marble, water, coffee, agriculture Monetary Unit: Ethiopian Birr GDP: Service sector provides 45% of Ethiopia’s GDP, agriculture 42% and industry 13% History Fossil evidence discovered in Ethiopia ranges from 12 to 7 million years ago with a possible ape relative of humanity, to Homo Sapiens Best of Ethiopia


Emperor Lalibela was a famous priest and king who was traditionally responsible for the carving of twelve churches out of rock. The churches, probably carved during the reigns of several rulers, are an incredible and impressive monument, a wonder of the world and are deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage site. A dynasty of rulers claimed descent from former Axumite emperors and from King Solomon of Israel. A national epic was created (the Kebra Negast) which claimed the rulers of Axum had originated with the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the Emperor Minelik. Only descendants of Solomon could become emperors. Originally, the Portuguese were mainly interested in strengthening their hegemony over the Indian Ocean trade routes. They then attempted to convert Ethiopia to Roman Catholicism, resulting in conflict of civil war magnitude. All Jesuits and Roman Catholics were expelled in 1632. These years of conflict, including jihad, weakened the kingdom and it became vulnerable to attacks of the expanding pastoral Oromo confederacies. The Oromo began to settle in the areas they had overrun. In the early 1800s, several Oromo kingdoms were set up in the Gibe area. Minelik King of Shewa (1889-1913), who founded Addis Ababa as the capital, presided over the first stages of Ethiopian’s modernisation. He was succeeded by his 13 year old grandson Lij Yasu who was never crowned. He favoured links with Germany and the Ottoman Empire. As this was during the First World War, it concerned the British and French who worried about controlling the route to India and the safety of Djibouti. The result was a coup in 1916, backed by Britain and France. Lij Yasu was replaced by Minelik’s daughter, the Empress Zewditu with Ras Taferi as Crown Prince and Regent. After the death of the Empress in 1930, Ras Taferi was crowned Emperor, taking the name of Haile Selassie.

Churches of Rock Idaltu (‘Elder’) - the earliest modern human fossil at 160,000 years old, found in the Afar Regional State at Horto. The most famous of the discoveries in the Afar region is that of Lucy (‘Dinkenesh’ – ‘wonderful’), the most complete skeleton of an early hominid yet found and dating back some 3.2 million years. A replica of her skeleton is on display in the National Museum of Ethiopia. There are several notable fossil sites in Ethiopia including the lower Omo Valley and the Awash Valley, both registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the latter including the Hadar area, Aramis and Melko Kunture. The first state about which there is any real information is the kingdom at Axum in the northern Regional State (Killil) of Tigray. Axum emerged at the beginning of the Christian Era and flourished until around 800CE, before declining over the next few centuries. Axum’s greatest period was between the 4th and 6th centuries CE. The rulers of Axum were converted to Christianity in the mid-4th century CE. 11

Best of Ethiopia

Haile Selassie (Emperor 1930-74) turned Ethiopia into a centralised autocracy. The process was briefly interrupted by the Italian invasion and occupation conquest of 1935 to 1941. After Ethiopia’s liberation with British help in 1941, Haile Selassie found his control of the country circumscribed by his British ‘advisers’. Haile Selassie therefore looked more to the USA as an alternative and more powerful ally. In 1952, Eritrea, a UN-mandated territory after the war, was federated with Ethiopia. In 1962 Eritrea became a province of Ethiopia, igniting the Eritrean struggle for independence, originally led by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), supported by Egypt and other Arab states, and later by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) which eventually achieved de facto Eritrean independence in 1991 and formal recognition in 1993. Emperor Haile Selassie created the framework of a modern state, including in 1955, a constitution with an elected parliament. Ethiopia remained essentially feudal, with small Amhara-dominated modern sectors in bureaucracy and industry. Haile Selassie opted to focus on international affairs. Addis Ababa became the headquarters of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Its main ally was the USA, and Ethiopia provided the USA with a major communications facility at Kagnew, in Eritrea. The regime had a growing number of weaknesses, including agrarian crisis, inequitable distribution of land, lack of development, costs of the Eritrea revolt, drought and famine in from 1972 to 1974 (where over 200,000 people died). Haile Selassie failed to designate an heir, fuelling the grievances of the military, students and workers. This led to a series of army mutinies and strikes from January 1974 and the deposition of Haile Selassie in September, and his mysterious subsequent death a year later.

Medhane Alem Cathedral in Addis Ababa The monarchy was formally abolished in March 1975. The Imperial regime was replaced by a Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC), the Derg, which under the influence of left-wing politicians saw itself as the vanguard of an Ethiopian revolution. In December 1974, Ethiopia was declared a Socialist state, and a program of revolutionary reform, under the title of Ethiopia Tikdem (‘Ethiopia First’) was initiated. The aims were defined in the program for a National Democratic Revolution. In January and February 1975, the Derg nationalised all Banks, Insurance firms and numerous companies, followed by all land.

Ethiopia was a founder member of the Organisation of African Union, and is the seat of the African Union. It therefore carries a special responsibility for the AU and fully subscribes to the AU’s vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent providing a dynamic force in the global arena. It has played a major role in championing Africa in global forums, with notable reference to climate change, in G8 and G20 meetings and other international bodies.

In February 1977, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, the vicechairman of the Derg seized power in a putsch, killing a number of his rivals and declaring himself Chairman. He launched the ‘Red Terror’ under which the government security forces systematically hunted down and killed suspected and alleged members and supporters of opposition groups. Tens of thousands died in Addis Ababa alone and many more all over the country.

Ethiopia is a multi-party federal democracy with legislative authority resting with the government headed by an executive prime minister and the elected House of Representatives (547 members) and the House of Federation (110 members). The Prime Minister is chosen by the party in power following multi-party democratic national and federal state elections which are held every five years. Parties can be registered at either the national or the federal state level. The President is elected by the members of the House of People’s Representatives.

Mengistu survived an attempted coup in 1989, but after a series of defeats at the hands of the TPLF and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), he fled in May 1991. The then EPRDF took over Addis Ababa and brought an end to 17 years of communist authoritarianism and military dictatorship. It set up a Transitional Government composed of an 87 member Council of Representatives which drew up a National Charter to act as a transitional constitution. The process for establishment of a federal constitutional government continued successfully. A new constitution was drawn up in 1993 after extensive consultations and approval from an elected constituent assembly in December 1994 and by an elected Parliament in May 1995. The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was proclaimed in August 1995. Meles Zenawi of the EPRDF was elected Prime Minister, and Negasso Gidada became non-executive President. There were national and federal elections in 2000, 2005 and 2010. In October 2001, Girma Wolde-Giorgis was elected president and again in 2007. After years of fighting, Eritrea accepted the Algiers Agreement and signed in December 2000.Ethiopia’s support for peace and security in the region has been the driving force behind its role in the regeneration and revitalisation of regional organisations such as the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), covering the Horn of Africa and in the setting up of the Sana’a Forum for Cooperation (composed of Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen).

Government and politics

The last federal and national elections were held in 2010 and were won by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. The regional states elect their own Regional State Councils chosen from among their members. The State Councils also designate members for the House of Federation. Political parties ANDP - Afar National Democratic Party; APDO - Argoba People Democratic Organisation; BGPDP – BenishangulGumuz People’s Democratic Party; Forum - Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek); GPUDM – Gambella Peoples Unity Democratic Movement; HNL Harari National League; SPDM – Somali People’s Democratic Movement. The EPRDF - the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party, is a coalition of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Southern Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Front (SEPDF). Capital In 2012, the capital, Addis Ababa, celebrated its 125th year of its foundation by the Emperor Minelik in 1887. The story is that he built a palace on top of the Entoto Hills 1,000 Best of Ethiopia


Addis Ababa

metres above the future site of Addis Ababa. His wife, the Empress Taitu, finding the hilltop too cold and wet, removed to the hot springs at the bottom of the hill and refused to return. After waiting two years, Minelik had to relocate his palace as the only way to see his wife again. The Entoto St. Mary Museum sits on top of the Entoto Hills at the original site. It houses imperial crowns, ceremonial dresses of the Emperor Minelik and the Empress Taitu, and battle drums. Addis Ababa is one of the two chartered cities in the Federation. It is the seat of the Federal Government and also the capital of the Oromia Regional State. It is the largest city in the country with an estimated population of 3.2 million. It lies on the central plateau at an altitude of 2400 metres and an average temperature of around 160°C. Addis Ababa is host to the African Union (AU) and to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Several other international organisations have their headquarters and offices there. It is the seat of the Federal Government, the House of Representatives and the House of Federation, as well as country’s centre of commerce and industry. Economy Ethiopia’s main exports are coffee, livestock, khat, gold, leather

17 15

Best of of Ethiopia Ethiopia Best

products, oilseeds, and floriculture. It has natural resources of gold, platinum, marble, water, coffee, and agriculture. Heavily reliant on agriculture, Ethiopia has undertaken massive diversification in order to protect itself from periodic droughts. Agriculture now accounts for less than 50% of GDP, though some 80% of the population still depends on it for their livelihood. Ethiopia is the 10th largest livestock producer in the world and exports finished leather products as well as semi-processed hides and skins. Other major exports include oilseeds and pulses, natural gums, khat, cut flowers and vegetables, cotton, and gold. During the period of Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP), the non-agricultural sector of the economy showed a 23.6% expansion - a result of the combined effects of the growth in the industry and service sectors. The main factor for industrial growth came from the substantial investments in hydroelectric power generation. Manufacturing showed an annual growth rate of 22.5% and mining surged by 95%. The growth in agricultural output was largely attributed to improved productivity aided by favourable weather conditions and appropriate economic policies. Best of Ethiopia


Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Ethiopia is also on track to achieve all of the MDGs by 2015. The Assets and Property Registration Law of March 2010 requires government officials and their relatives to register their assets and properties, reducing the prevalence of corruption. During PASDEP, Ethiopia averaged 10-11% growth rates and the economy has continued to increase at this rate. The achievements of PASDEP, together with the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), aim to: ultimately remove the chronic food insecurity from which Ethiopia has suffered for so long; achieve high growth of at least 11% within a stable macroeconomic framework; achieve the MDG targets particularly in the social sectors; and establish a stable democratic and developmental state. The GTP identifies sustained rapid growth, emphasis on agriculture, the promotion of industrialisation, investment in infrastructure, enhancement of social development, strengthening of governance, and the empowerment of youth and women as strategic pillars. It defines three strategic directions for strengthening governance: increasing implementation capacity; ensuring transparency and combating corruption; and securing participation in governance – all within a stable macroeconomic framework. Other targets include reaching a per capita GDP of about US$700 (the current level is about US$400); over 2,000 km of new railway line, 8,000MW of additional power generation; mobile phone density of 8.5 per 100 (up from the current level of 1.5); and a road network of 136,000km (up from the current level of 45,000km). Farmers throughout the country are to be provided with access to roads, electricity and telecommunication services. Economic transformation The government of Ethiopia is transforming the economic structure through their long-term economic development strategy, known as Agricultural-Development-Led-Industrialisation (ADLI). This will create an export-led external sector while internal emphasis will be on agriculture to supply commodities for exports, domestic food supply and industrial output, whilst also expanding markets for domestic manufacturing. An economic reform program was developed in partnership with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which supports this strategy. Gains already achieved include liberalising the economy, low inflation, fiscal discipline, low government borrowing, and infrastructure improvement. The private sector began to grow after a privatisation program began in 1995, which denationalised a majority of former government-owned firms.


The Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) was finalised in November 2010, combining elements of poverty reduction strategies, the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program and PASDEP. Direction was thus given to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Through this, Ethiopia aims to reach ‘middle-income’ status by 2020 to 2025. The IMF indicated in March 2012 that this could even be achieved earlier than expected if the current rapid growth continued. The government has developed a proactive policy for the horticulture industry, providing tax and excise duty rebates, allowing full profit repatriation, making land and finance available at low cost, and actively promoting trade standards and the creation of institutions to train skilled staff. The government has encouraged investment in agro-business projects and in land, particularly in areas where land is under-utilised or uncultivated. Education and Health PASDEP provided for substantial progress in the provision of social services such as education, health and infrastructure through investing in physical and human capital formation and allocating over 60% of the budget to pro-poor expenditure. The spending on poverty-targeted sectors (both recurrent and capital) steadily increased during this period rising from 42.0% of total expenditure in 2002/03 to over 64% and this has continued. The effects were visible in significantly improved education and healthcare services. Primary school net enrolment rose from 77% in 2004/05 to 82% in 2009/10, and is now over 96%; completion rates also increased steadily. Secondary enrolment also rose steadily. Tertiary level education increased sharply. The proportion of fully immunised children rose from 20% in 2006 to 66% in 2010; the percentage of births attended by healthcare workers increased from 16% to 29% during the same period. Health service coverage increased from 30% to 89% during PASDEP. Hydro-electric power Overall there is immense potential for hydroelectric power and geothermal energy generation. Nine of the country’s major rivers are suitable for hydroelectric power generation. The potential for possible development of geothermal energy generation is also substantial. Africa’s largest wind farm is currently under construction as part of this comprehensive clean/green energy expansion. Hydroelectric power production is anticipated to increase to over 10,000 MWs by 2015. Hydro-electric power production is anticipated to increase to over 10,000 MWs by 2015. Recent projects include Gilgel Gibe II (420 MW) and Takezze (300 MW) which came on stream in 2009; and Tana Beles (460 MW) in 2010. Gilgel Gibe III, with a completion date of 2013, will provide another 1870 MW. The largest development is that of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Abay River, the Blue Nile, which will produce 5000 MW when complete in 2017, and create a reservoir double the volume of Lake Tana. This will have the capacity to provide power for both the Sudan and Egypt as well as regulate floods and offer substantial irrigation potential. It will be a monumental feat of engineering, the largest infrastructural project ever undertaken in Ethiopia. In the meantime, feasibility studies have been launched for three other projects in the Abay (Blue Nile) basin – Mendaia (200MW), Beko Abo (2100MW), and Karo Dodi (1600MW). Other feasibility studies are being carried out for projects on the Takezze River and on the Dedessa River to produce 450MW and 301MW respectively. Transport The building of some 2,400km of railway is planned to enable the bulk transport of commodities to and from markets and with regional port facilities. Rail projects include a light railway for Addis Ababa and 656km of the revived Addis Ababa to Djibouti line. Another element of

17 15

Best of of Ethiopia Abu Dhabi Best

the plan is for Ethiopian Shipping Lines to acquire additional ships, including seven multi-purpose cargo vessels and two oil tankers. Entrepreneurship The Ethiopian government plans to provide training, organisation, supply of finance, and technology to farmers, as well as to micro and small-scale enterprises in urban areas, in support of low and middle income groups. It calls for a shift to high-value crops, a focus on high-potential areas, the commercialisation of smallholder farming, and the development of large-scale, commercial agriculture. The government’s strategy is centrally directed towards economic growth and development, as a managed transition from a pre-capitalist economy into a capitalist one. The rise of an entrepreneurial middle class is important to boost the economy and create a free market. Tourism investment Another area of significant development as well as considerable potential is the tourism sector which is currently undergoing a major BestBest of Ethiopia 18 16 of Ethiopia

programme of upgrading and expansion with improvements to regional airports and infrastructural links, and the building of numerous new hotels, particularly in Addis Ababa.

and quota free access to the US through AGOA, and to the EU which allows duty-free entry for all industrial manufactured products. Potential for investment

Foreign relations Ethiopia is ideally located at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and although landlocked, it has easy access to the sea at Djibouti as well as being able to use Berbera in Somaliland and Port Sudan in the Sudan. A member of IGAD, the regional organisation, Ethiopia also belongs to the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), which provides it with preferential tariff rates with 23 countries and well over 300 million people. Ethiopia is a member of the ACP and is negotiating with the World Trade Organisation. It has duty 17

Best of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a large and fast growing domestic and regional market offering prospects for a wide range of consumer goods. It has a strong range of natural resources with an exceptional climate for agricultural activity. While the economy remains predominately agricultural, the current Growth and Transformation Plan will increase industrial development on a significant scale, with particular focus on energy and infrastructure. Much of the potential of Ethiopia has yet to be exploited, including

numerous mineral resources such as gold, platinum, marble, tantalite, copper, potash, soda-ash, zinc, nickel, iron, and natural gas. All major economic sectors have been liberalised for investment and marketing. While all land is state owned, it is available on a leasehold basis for up to 99 years. Leases vary according to location, type of investment and the class of land, and according to the incentives available. Much of the potential of Ethiopia has yet to be exploited. Geography and climate Ethiopia has an unequalled range of natural habitats, ranging from the extraordinary peaks and ambas (flat-topped summits) of the Simien Mountains at over 4,000 metres, to the Danakil Depression, 120 metres below sea-level - one of the lowest points as well as the hottest place on Earth. There are Afro-Alpine highlands, moors and mountains, deep gorges, the Sof Omar caves (the most extensive in Africa), the Great Rift Valley and its many lakes, tropical rainforests, white-water rivers and rock-climbing faces, savannahs, waterfalls, volcanic hot springs and volcanoes. Although Ethiopia lies within 15 degrees North of the Equator, overall the country enjoys moderate temperatures and a pleasant climate, with average temperature rarely exceeding 200°C, owing to the moderating influence of high altitude. The more sparsely populated lowlands tend to have sub–tropical and tropical climates; and parts of the Afar regional State in the east of the country, which lie below sea level, are considered to be the hottest places on earth with temperatures regularly reaching over 50°C. Best of Ethiopia


17 15

Best of of Ethiopia Ethiopia Best

At approximately 850mm, the average annual rainfall for the whole country is considered to be moderate by global standards. In the highland areas, rainfall occurs with the “small rains” (belg) during February and March and the “big rains” (kremt) from June to September. Within Ethiopia is a vast highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs generally southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes, or semi-desert. The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns. Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country, ranging from the deserts along the eastern border to the tropical forests in the south, to extensive in the northern and south-western parts. Lake Tana in the north is the source of the Blue Nile. The wide range of altitude has given the country a variety of ecologically distinct areas, which has encouraged the evolution of endemic species in ecological isolation. Culture Ethiopia is a multilingual and multi-ethnic society of around 80 groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara, both of which speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Ethiopia’s ancient Ge’ez script, also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use. Languages According to Ethnologue, there are ninety individual languages spoken in Ethiopia. Most people in the country speak Afro-Asiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches. The former includes Oromiffa, spoken by the Oromo people, and Somali, spoken by the Somali people; the latter includes Amharic, spoken by the Amhara people, and Tigrinya, spoken by the Tigray-Tigrinya people. Together, these four groups make up about three-quarters of Ethiopia’s population. English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is the medium of instruction in secondary schools. Amharic was the language of primary school instruction, but has been replaced in many areas by regional languages such as Oromiffa, Somali or Tigrinya. While all languages enjoy equal state recognition in the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia, Amharic is recognised as the official working language of the Federal Government. Religion About two thirds of Ethiopia’s people are Christian, and most of those follow the Orthodox faith. Christians make up 62.8% of the population; Muslims 33.9%; traditional faiths 2.6%; and other 0.7%. Cuisine The best-known Ethiopian cuisine consists of various thick meat stews or ‘wat’, and vegetable side dishes served on ‘injera’ - a large sourdough flatbread. This is not eaten with utensils, but instead one uses the injera to scoop. It is common to eat from the same dish in the centre of the table with a group of people. It is also a custom to feed others in your group with your own hands – a tradition referred to as ‘gursha’. Traditional Ethiopian cuisine excludes pork or shellfish of any kind, as they are forbidden in the Islamic, Jewish, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faiths. Chechebsa, marqqa, chukko and dhanga are the most popular dishes from the Oromo. Kitfo, which originated from the Gurage, is one of the most popular foods in Ethiopia. Tihlo, originating in Tigray Region, is a type of dumpling prepared from roasted barley flour. Music The music of Ethiopia is extremely diverse, with each of the country’s 80 ethnic groups being associated with unique sounds. BestBest of Ethiopia 18 16 of Ethiopia

Drum in Lalibela music

Danakil Depression salt deposits As with many other aspects of Ethiopian culture and tradition, tastes in music and lyrics are strongly linked with those in neighbouring Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan. Traditional singing in Ethiopia presents diverse styles. Sport The main sports in Ethiopia are athletics, long distance running, and football. Ethiopian athletes have won many Olympic gold medals in track and field. Haile Gebrselassie is a world-renowned long distance runner with several world records in his belt. Another sportsman, Kenenisa Bekele, is also a dominant runner, particularly in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in which he holds the world records. Other notable Ethiopian athletes are Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter, Derartu Tulu, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, Birhane Adere, Tiki Gelana, and Gelete Burka. Tourism Apart from its diverse landscape, Ethiopia has a wealth of historic, cultural, religious, archaeological and anthropological sites, including the northern “historic route� with its spectacular rock-hewn churches, as well as the monasteries on Lake Tana (and the Blue Nile falls), and the numerous rock churches of Tigray region, many dating to the 14-16th centuries and earlier. The National Museum of Ethiopia holds the earliest hominid skeletons of Lucy (3.4 million years old) and Ramidus (4.4 million years old), as well as jewellery, costumes, paintings and sculptures. The Ethnographic Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies is on the site of the former imperial palace of Emperor Haile Selassie and now part of Addis Ababa University. 15

Best of Ethiopia

The Zoological Natural History Museum has displays of Ethiopia’s wealth of wildlife, including many examples of the country’s endem ic species. There are a number of church museums in the city with fascinating wall paintings. The Ethiopian Postal Museum has a collection of the country’s stamps, the Addis Ababa Museum in the former palace of Ras Biru built at the turn of the 19th century, has a collection of photographs depicting the development of the city, and the nearby Red Terror Museum contains details of the disastrous Red Terror 1977-78. The city has a number of parks including the Lion Park with its rare black-maned lions near the Addis Ababa University, the country’s oldest University at Sedist Kilo. Endemics The country’s wildlife is impressive with numerous endemic species of mammals and birds. There are over 240 listed mammal species of which at least 42 are endemic, the most notable being: • • • • • •

Gelada baboon, Walia ibex, Menelik’s bushbuck, Mountain nyala, Swayne’s hartebeest, Simien fox. .

Other mammals include: elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, kudu, Oryx, bushbuck, aardvark, and hippopotamus. There are over 860 recorded species of birds in Ethiopia of which 31 are endemic, some of which are also found in Eritrea which was a part of Ethiopia until 1993. World Heritage Sites Ethiopia now has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Konso Cultural Landscape: A 55 sq. km area of stone-walled terraces and fortified settlements in the Konso highlands of Ethiopia. It is a spectacular example of a living cultural tradition stretching back 21 generations (more than 400 years) adapted to a largely dry and hostile environment. (Recent listing) Aksum: The ruins of Aksum include monolithic obelisks, giant stelae, royal tombs and the ruins of ancient buildings, many dating from the greatest period of the Axumite Empire between the 3rd and 7th centuries CE. (Listed in 1980) Fasil Ghebbi fortress-city at Gondar: Created by the Emperor Fasilides in the early 17th century, this was the imperial centre for 250 years. Surrounded by a 900 metre-long wall, the imperial enclosure and other buildings in the vicinity include palaces, churches, monasteries and various public and private buildings some showing Hindu and Arab influences, subsequently transformed by the Baroque style brought to Gondar by the Jesuit missionaries in the early 17th century. (Listed in 1979) Historic walled town of Harar: Located in the eastern part of the country. The walls surrounding this sacred Muslim city were built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Harar Jugol, said to be the fourth holiest city of Islam, holds 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines, but the townhouses with their exceptional interior design constitute the most spectacular part of Harar’s cultural heritage. (Listed in 2006) The Lower Valley of the Awash: Contains one of the most important groupings of paleontological sites on the African continent. The remains found at the site, the oldest of which date back at least 4- million years, provide important evidence of human evolution. The most spectacular discovery came in 1974, when 52 fragments of a skeleton enabled ‘Lucy’ to be reconstructed. (Listed in 1980) The lower valley of the Omo: A collection of prehistoric sites near Lake Turkana, has produced many fossils there and is of fundamental importance in the theory of human evolution. (Listed in 1980) Best of Ethiopia



Best of Ethiopia

Simien Mountains

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela: This 13th century ‘New Jerusalem’ situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia, has 11 medieval monolithic cave churches. A central site of Ethiopian Christianity it remains a place of pilgrimage and devotion. (Listed in 1978) Tiya: Among the most important of about 160 archaeological sites discovered so far in the Soddo region, south of Addis Ababa. The site contains 36 monuments, including 32 carved stelae covered with symbols, most of which are difficult to decipher. (Listed in 1980 Simien National Park: Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping as much as 1,500 metres. (Listed in 1978) National Parks Awash National Park Awash National Park is the oldest wildlife reserve in Ethiopia. It contains the Fantalle Volcano, numerous mineral hot-springs and extraordinary volcanic formations as well as the Awash River with its spectacular waterfalls. Less than three hours’ drive east of Addis Ababa it is 225km from the city. Within its 720 sq. km area, sightings of numerous endemic wildlife and birdlife can be seen, with over 400 species of bird recorded. Animals include the Oryx, dik-dik, cheetah, serval, leopard, baboons, monkeys, kudu, hippopotamus, aardvark and caracal. Bale Mountains Park The Bale Mountains Park is an area of high altitude plateau broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams. From the plateau rise several mountain peaks, including Tullu Deemtu, the second-highest mountain in Ethiopia at 4,377 metres above sea level. It is the largest area of AfroAlpine habitat in the whole of Africa, and offers unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and the chance to view many of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, notably the Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s bushbuck and the Semien Fox. Gambella National Park The Gambella National Park is 600km west of Addis Ababa situated on the Baro River which flows into the Nile in Sudan. The park includes extensive plains of tall Sudanese grass along the riverside, home to the Nile lechwe, buffalo, giraffe, tiang, waterbuck, roan antelope, zebra, bushbuck, Abyssinian reedbuck, warthog, hartebeest, lion, elephant and the white-eared kob. More common are the Olive Baboon, the local variety of vervet and colubus monkeys.

Matej Hudovernik - Timkat Festival

Best of Ethiopia


Omo National Park The Omo National Park in the south west of the country is the largest in the country, covering over 4,000 sq. km. It is a true wilderness, next to the Omo River and has been described as one of the richest and leastvisited wildlife sanctuaries in eastern Africa. In the open gallery forest of tamarinds and figs along the river are colobus monkeys and monitor lizards. Abundant wildlife, white water rapids, waterfalls, sheer canyons and hot springs are to be found along the river. The valley is also rich in palaeo-anthropological remains dating back several million years.

in Africa. Snow and ice appear on the highest points. The plateau of hardened basalt is divided by gorges of up to 1,000 metres deep which have left sharp-edged crags and buttresses on which can be found the Walia (Abyssinian) ibex, Simien red fox and Gelada baboon, all endemic. The park was created primarily to protect the Walia Ibex, and over 1000 are said to live there. The lower areas are cultivated and grazed and much of the former forests of the alpine regions had gone. The areas above 3,600 metres are mountain grasslands with heathers and Giant Lobelia. Travellers’ Information

Mago National Park

Getting to Ethiopia

The Mago National Park is one of the newest parks, established in the east bank of the Omo River in 1979. Covering over 2,100 sq. km it is one of the wildest and most remote of the parks. It contains Mount Mago (2528 metres) but is predominately grass savannah with some forested areas and some wetlands around Lake Dipa. It has large concentrations of buffalo, giraffe and elephant as well as over 50 other species including lelwel hartebeest, topi, leopard, gerenuk, lion, cheetah, burchell’s zebra, Oryx and greater and lesser kudu. Among the people living in the park are the Mursi.

There are international airports at Addis Ababa (Bole International Airport), and at Dire Dawa, Bahr Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Axum, Arba Minch, and Mekelle. The national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has an excellent international reputation and currently flies to 63 international destinations in America, Europe, Africa and Asia as well as 17 local flight destinations. It is now taking delivery of the latest Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft for its long haul flights.

Simien Mountain Park The Simien Mountain Park is a spectacular landscape, a mountain massif that is one of the major highlands of Africa. It includes Ethiopia’s highest mountain, Ras Dejen (4620 metres), the fourth highest peak


Best of Ethiopia

The main entry points by road are at Moyale (from Kenya), Humera and Metema (from Sudan), Dewele (from Djibouti). All have full customs and immigration checks. Visas All visitors to Ethiopia, except citizens of Kenya, require a visa to enter

the country. These should be obtained in advance from an Ethiopian Embassy, though single entry, one to three month, tourist visas can be obtained at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa. Currency and Currency Regulations 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 six different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and 1 birr. Health Requirements All visitors (including infants) are required to possess a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate if you have recently travelled to a country where it is present. 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 to Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic in areas of Ethiopia below 2000 metres. Medical Services Medical facilities are available in all major towns. Tourists and non-citizen residents are advised to go to private hospitals and clinics. Air rescue services are available. Calendar and time Ethiopia uses its own calendar which divides the year into 12 months of 30 days each, with the remaining five (or six days in a leap year) constituting a short 13th month of Pagme. The Ethiopian New Year commences on the 11th or 12th of September in the Gregorian calendar. Ethiopia is in the GMT+3 time zone. Normally government offices and most other office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:30am to 11:30am and 1:30pm to 5:30pm. National holidays Enkutatash (New Year’s Day); Eid al Fitr - the end of Ramadan (variable); Meskel (the finding of the True Cross – 28 September);

BestBest of Ethiopia 18 16 of Ethiopia

Blue Nile Falls

Northern Stelae park of Axum Gondar

Eid al Adha (7 November); Genna (Christmas – 8 January); Timkat (Epiphany: baptism of Christ – 20 January); Maulid (Birth of the Prophet Mohammed – 5 February); Adwa Day (commemorating victory over Italy in 1896 – 2 March); Patriots’ Day (celebrating the end of five year Italian occupation in 1941 – 6 April); Siklet (Good Friday – 13 April); Tensai (Easter Sunday – 15 April); Downfall of the Derg (28 April); International Labour Day (1 May); Buhe (19 August); Enkutatash (New Year’s Day 2005 – 11 September). Facts • Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world. • Ethiopia is considered the first place from which early humans left for the Middle East. • Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history, dating back to the second millennium BC. • The Kingdom of Aksum of third century was one of the world’s great world powers. • This was the first major empire in the world to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion in the fourth century. • The Rastafarian movement originated in Ethiopia. • The country has nine designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. • The Ethiopia appears in many translations of the Old Testament also appearing as ‘Kush’ and ‘Nubia’, as well as the Greek ‘Aithiops’. 17 15

Best of of Ethiopia Ethiopia Best

Best of Ethiopia



Best of Ethiopia

Hector Conesa - Omo Valley Hamer women in the Turmi market

Best of Ethiopia



Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is an ancient and fascinating land. Its history and heritage are rich and her people are deeply root...