Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Welcome to Ethiopia

Whatever your mind’s-eye image of Ethiopia is, expand it. This blessed country will wow you with its ancient history, variety of landscapes and incredible people.

Feel Ethiopia’s soul as you follow its story, from the heights of the Simien Mountains to the depths of the Danakil Depression, and everywhere in between. The wildlife may not be quite as abundant as in other African countries, but don’t count out Ethiopia when it comes to animal sightings. Look for gelda monkeys, horned ibexes, hyenas and elephants – plus, the birdwatching is some of the best on the continent.

Culture reigns supreme here, with festivals and traditions from the Surmi, Afar, Mursi, Karo and Hamer (and more!) people. Join them for rites-of-passage celebrations and passionate village festivities. From famous “Lucy,” at the National Museum in Addis Ababa to the 12th- and 13th-century, rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela, you will find extraordinary markers of our world’s very beginnings throughout this remarkable country.

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Need To Know

Unique Facts

  • Ethiopia’s rich culture means there are more than 80 different ethnic groups in the country, with just as many languages and over 200 dialects spoken.
  • There are nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia, more than in any other country on the continent. Among the top attractions are the Churches of Lalibela and Simien National Park.
  • Drink up – coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, in the region of Kaffa.
  • Throw away your calendar and enjoy your visit – the Ethiopian calendar has 13 months. New Year starts on September 11th each year.
  • It is said the Biblical Art of the Covenant, holding the Ten Commandments, is housed within St. Mary of Tsion, known as the “Mother Church of Ethiopia.” However, no one knows for sure because even the specially chosen guard is not allowed to look.

Language

Ethiopia’s official language is Amharic.

When To Go

The best time to go to Ethiopia is during the dry season, between October and June. With all those mountains and elevation, it can be chilly year-round, so bring an extra layer where you go. Wildlife viewing is consistent throughout the year.

Airports

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport

Passport Validity

Passport must be valid at time of entry for six months beyond arrival date.

Visa Required By US Citizen?

Yes

Vaccinations

The CDC recommends the following vaccines for most travelers when visiting Ethiopia: Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Depending on where you are traveling, you may also need Hepatitis B, Cholera, Malaria, Meningitis, Rabies and Yellow Fever vaccines.

Electrical Outlets

Power plugs and sockets: types C, E , F and L. Standard voltage: 220V. Frequency: 50Hz.

Currency

Official local currency: Birr

Getting Around

Self-driving is not recommended due to regularly occurring traffic accidents, excessive speed, inadequately marked and poorly lit roads, erratic driving, pedestrians and stray animals. There is an additional threat of roadside bandits.

Public transportation in Ethiopia is unsafe and unregulated. Hire private transportation or use hotel-provided transportation.

Taxi service does not meet US safety standards. The green and yellow metered taxis in Addis Ababa are newer and in better condition than others.

Driver’s License

Foreign visitors must obtain a temporary Ethiopian driver’s license.

US Embassy Info

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa
Entoto Street
PO Box 1014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telephone: +251-11-130-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011-130-6000
Fax: +251-11-124-2435 and +251-11-124-2419
AddisACS@state.gov

Local Visitor Info

Tourist Information Center
Meskal Sq.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: 011-551-2310

Local Emergency Phone Numbers

Ambulance: 92
Police: 91
Fire: 93

Safety and Security

Due to sporadic and spontaneous civil unrest, it is recommended that travelers avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, as they can potentially turn violent. Keep in mind that should such an episode occur, it is likely that the government will curtail or limit mobile telecommunications, internet access and social media.

Petty crime, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft from vehicles, is common in Addis Ababa. Passport theft is common at the Bole International Airport. Violent robbers occasionally occur on Bole Road, in the Piazza and in the Merkato.

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