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Tips for Travelers to Ethiopia

General Information

Full Name of the Country: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Capital City

Addis Ababa

Land

Ethiopia covers an area of 1.14 million square kilometers (944,000 square miles).

Climate

There are two major seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September.

Topography

Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and centre of the country there are some 25 mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 meters. The most famous Ethiopian river is the Blue Nile (or Abay), which runs a distance of 1,450 kilometers from the source in Lake Tana, to join the White Nile at Khartoum.

Economy

About 85 per cent of the population earns living from the land, mainly as subsistence farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of the national economy and the principal exports from this sector are coffee, oil seeds, pulses, flowers, vegetables, sugar and foodstuffs for animals. There is also a thriving livestock sector, exporting cattle on the hoof, hides and skins.

Language

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. Amharic is the working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia while Oromigna, Tigrigna and Guragina are widely spoken. Moreover, English, Italian, French and Arabic are widely spoken in the spheres of commerce and education.

Religion

Major religions in the country are Christianity and Islam.

Internet

Internet domain or country code suffix .et Numerous internet cafes are available in Addis Ababa and in other cities.

Electric supply

Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC.

Telephone

International dialing code: +251

Time

Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar.

People

The population is estimated at 83.1 million (UN 2007)

Main Exports

Coffee, hides, oil seeds, beeswax, meat, sugarcane, and flowers.

Excursions

Excursions within Ethiopia, whether for a day or for a month, may be organized for you by any of the travel agencies or by the National Tour Operation.

Clothing

In general between seasons clothes are appropriate. At higher altitudes, woolen clothes or a coat are needed in the evenings. Travelers should take rain coat or other rainwear, particularly when visiting the country during the period from February to October. It is usually possible to have clothes laundered at or near hotels within a short period of time (frequently services are offered 24 hours a day).

Hotels

Addis Ababa has hotels that cater for all pockets, from the luxurious Sheraton and Hilton hotels to the tourist-class hotels such as the Ghion, the Ethiopia and the Wabi Shebelle. All tourist resorts offer a choice of modern hotels.

Banking Hours

Banking hours are usually from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm from Monday to Friday and from 8:00 am – 11:00 am on Saturdays. Closing times may be an hour longer in some private banks. Most banks work through lunchtime; however foreign exchange services are closed during lunch hours (12:00 noon – 1:00 pm).

Shopping Hours

Shops are open Monday to Friday 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-very flexible, often longer opening hours; some shops are also open on Saturday. These days a few supermarkets and beauty salons in the capital are working 24 hours.

Communications

Telephone, fax and Internet access is available in Addis Ababa in most hotels, at the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority main office and at private Internet service centers situated around the city.

Courier and Money Transfer Services

Money transfers can be made through Western Union and Money Gram. Both have representative branches in Addis Ababa and also make their services available from private and national banks.

Four courier service providers DHL, FedEx, UPS, TNT and EMS have offices in Addis Ababa.

Currency

The local currency is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB), made up of 100 cents. Birr notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 50 and 100. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign currency but this must be declared on arrival to the customs authorities on the appropriate blue-colored form.

Foreign currency may only be exchanged at authorized banks and hotels, and a receipt must be obtained. The currency declaration form must be retained as this will be required by customs on departure. Visitors may change back any surplus Ethiopian Birr to cash at the airport before departure.

In addition to any Ethiopian Birr, along with the currency exchange form you must bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.

Currency Importing:

Local currency (ETB) up to ETB 10.00 per person. Foreign currencies unlimited, provided declaration is made to the customs on arrival.

Currency Exporting:

Allowed; local currency (ETB), provided passengers holds a re-entry permit ETB 10.00 per person. Foreign currencies up to the amounts imported and declared.

Public Holidays

Sunday is the weekly day of rest.

Public holidays are celebrated according to the Ethiopian (Julian) Calendar which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (six days in leap year). The calendar is seven years behind the Western or Gregorian Calendar, with New Year falling in the month of September.

  September 11 Ethiopian New Year
  September 26 The finding of the True Cross (Meskal)
  October 2 Id ul Fitr (Ramadhan)
  December 9 Id ul Ahda (Sacrifice)
  January 8 Ethiopian Christmas
  January 20 Ethiopian Epiphany
  March 2 Victory of Adwa
  March 20 Birth of Prophet Mohammed (Mauwlid)
  April 25 Ethiopian Good Friday
  April 27 Ethiopian Easter
  May 1 International Labour Day
  May 5 Ethiopian patriots’ victory day
  May 28 Downfall of the Dergue Regime

*The holidays of Id al Fater and Id al Adaha and the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.) are subject to moon sighting.

Customs

Duty-free imports are permitted for up to:

  1. 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 1/2 lb of tobacco
  2. 2 liters of alcoholic beverages
  3. Half-liter or two bottles of perfume.

Visitors may export souvenirs, although some articles (such as animal skin and antiques) require an export permit.

Health requirements

Prior to entry, visitors should be in possession of a valid health certificate for yellow fever. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or transited a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival in Ethiopia.

Visa and immigration requirements:

Visa are required for all foreign visitors to Ethiopian, with the exception of nationals of Kenya. Visa applications may be obtained at Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions overseas. However, nationals of 36 countries are now allowed to receive their tourist visas on arrival in Ethiopia at the regular charge.

The list includes

  1. Argentina,
  2. Australia,
  3. Austria,
  4. Belgium,
  5. Brazil,
  6. Canada,
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Denmark,
  9. Finland,
  10. France,
  11. Germany,
  12. Greek,
  13. India,
  14. Ireland,
  15. Israel,
  16. Italy,
  17. Japan,
  18. Republic of Korea,
  19. Kuwait,
  1. Luxembourg,
  2. Mexico,
  3. Netherlands,
  4. New Zealand,
  5. North Korea
  6. Norway,
  7. Poland,
  8. Portugal,
  9. Russian Federation,
  10. Slovakia
  11. South Africa,
  12. Spain,
  13. Sweden,
  14. Switzerland,
  15. Thailand,
  16. Citizens of United Kingdom and United States.
  17. For China including passports issued in Hong Kong (SAR China)
    and MACAO (SAR China), Visa is available on arrival.

Bole International Airport

The New Bole International Airport is situated 8 kilometers from the centre of the city (a 15 minute drive under normal conditions). Paid parking, luggage carts and uniformed porters are available at the airport terminal.

Taxis are readily available. The National Tour Operator (NTO) has yellow Mercedes sedans which can be ordered at their airport desk. The rates for these taxis are fixed and receipts will be given if requested. Privately-owned blue cabs and yellow cabs are also in abundance, but do not have fixed rates; establishing their fare is advisable before getting into the vehicle.

Foreign exchange service is available at the arrivals lounge.

Security at the airport is tight and travelers need to produce their air ticket and passport to enter the terminal building. All other visitors are required to pay a fee of two Ethiopian Birr at the booths located in the parking lot and need to show identification cards at the guard post.


  
 
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