Ethiopia is, officially, named the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and it is second most populous country of Africa having more than 100 million inhabitants. It is also one of the oldest sites of human existence. Ethiopia is one of the biggest economies of East Africa and Central Africa in terms of GDP, and it is one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
Currency, Banks and Exchange
The Ethiopian currency is the Birr, the rate of which against the US dollar and other currencies is publicized each week. Birr is not available outside the country and travelers can bring US dollar, Euro and pound with them to change. It is no longer obligatory for visitors to declare currency in their possession on arrival. However, should visitors wish to change money back on departure, it will be necessary to produce receipts from banks and authorized foreign exchange dealers. Credit card acceptance is now growing throughout the country. To most of banks banking hours are usually from 8:00 am – 7:00 pm from Monday to Friday and from 8:00 am – 05:00 pm on Saturdays. Closing times may be an hour longer in some private banks. All banks work through lunchtime Shopping Hours. Current information of the exchange rate is indicated in the following table.
|1,00 EUR||33.61 ETB|
|1,00 USD||27.22 ETB|
|1,00 GBP||38.05 ETB|
Traveller’s checks can be cashed at most banks. Hotels and most restaurants and shops accept all major credit cards (American Express, VISA, Master Card/Euro Card, and Diner’s Club).
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with a great variety of languages spoken in the country, of which there are 83 with 200 dialects. The main three languages are Amharic, Tigrigna and Oromigna. English is also widely spoken.
Addis Ababa acts at the headquarters of the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and is known as the diplomatic capital of Africa. Many international and regional companies and NGO’s are also based here. As a result, Addis Ababa offers a wide range of hotel accommodation, including a number of 5 star hotels including the Hilton and the Sheraton (5 star plus), as well as a range of tourist class hotels. Outside the capital, Ethiopia also has many good quality hotels to suit all budgets. Some outstanding lodges are available where visitors can partake of spa treatments, or just soak up the wildlife and the peace of the outdoors. In the trekking areas where camping is unavoidable generally clean tents, mattresses and sleeping bags/blankets are offered, and there is access to toilets and showers.
Ethiopia is in the GMT + 3 hours’ time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of 30 days each and a thirteenth month of five or six days
Ethiopia uses 220 volts 50 cycles AC.
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 and towns; most of hotels have wifi. 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.
Bole International Airport is the busiest airport in East Africa and the hub of the national flag carrier: Ethiopian Airlines. It is also serviced by several international airlines with daily flights to Europe, North America and Asia as well as African destinations. For further information on local and international flights. Yellow meter or contract taxis are available at the airport, hotels and shopping centers..
There are two seasons: the dry season prevails from October through May; the wet season runs from June to September. Temperatures are determined by altitude, with highlands (including Addis Ababa) rarely exceeding 25°C. In the lowlands it can get considerably hotter exceeding 40°C; while in the Danakil Depression it can approach 60°C.
Sparkling and still mineral water, along with soft drinks, are available throughout the country. There are several brands of locally produced beer as well as home-made alcoholic drinks: 'talla' (homemade beer), 'tej' (wine made from honey) and kati kala (distilled liquor from various grains). Ethiopia produces its own wine and spirits, while imported spirits are also widely available.
The Ethiopian national dish is injera, a flat, circular sourdough pancake made from a grain seed called tef. Injera is typically served with a wide variety of meats, fish, vegetables and pulses on top of it. The sauces are generally spiced with berbere, a blend of herbs and spices (including hot peppers) which gives Ethiopian food its characteristic taste. Ethiopians dishes are eaten with hand (water for washing is usually brought to the table before the food is served), tearing off pieces of injera to pick up the delicious sauces. Addis Ababa boasts a huge variety of restaurants, where food from all other the world is served. At hotels near the tourist sites, European style food is always available.