OFFICIAL NAME: Federal Democratic Republic Of Ethiopia (FDRE)

Capital city:Addis Ababa (Seat of African Union and many other international organizations)

Boundary:The total length of boundary is 5, 311 kms (337 kms with Djibouti; 1,626 kms with Somalia; 1,606 kms with Sudan & republic of South Sudan; 830 kms with Kenya; 912 kms with Eritrea)

Area: Estimated to 1.14 Million square kilometers

Arable land: Estimated to 513,000 square kilometers (45%)

Irrigated land: Estimated to 34,200 square kilometers (3%)

Political system: Federal system with multi-party democracy.

Form of state: Federal democratic republic

Head of state: President (elected in 6 years)

Head of government: Prime Minister (elected in 5 years)

Topography: Ethiopia has different landscapes. The highest point is 4620 meters above sea level (Ras Dashen Mountain in the North) and the lowest point (in the World, too) is 100 meters below sea level (Dallol in Danakil Depression, Great Rift Valley).

Climate: Tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation. Much of Ethiopia has a surprisingly temperate climate by African standards because of its different elevations.

Population: 82.81 millions (CSA reported in 2009); Population growth rate is 3.208%; Composition (Rular about 85% and Urban about 15%); Culturally and ethnically diverse people found in Ethiopia (more than 80 ethnic groups).

Language: Amharic is the working language. English is widely spoken particularly in business transactions and in many Federal institutions as alternative working language. Other major languages are Oromiffa, Tigrigna and Somali.

Calendar: Ethiopia has a 13-month unique calendar (12 months of 30 days each and the remaining five or six days in a leap year constitute the short 13th month of “Pagumen”); The calendar is seven/eight years behind the Gregorian calendar; Ethiopia’s new year is in the month of September. International organizations and other institutions like banks, insurances, universities and many other businesses use the Gregorian Calendar (usually coupled with Ethiopian Calendar/E.C.).

Time zone: Ethiopia is three hours ahead of GMT (GMT + 3)

Currency: Ethiopian birr (ETB) is the currency with denominations of (1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents and 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 birrs); 1 Birr is divided in to 100 Cents.

Regional states/adm:      Tigrai                         Afar 

                                      Amhara                      Oromia

                                      Somale                       Benshangul gumuz

                                      SNNPR                      Gambella

                                      Harari                         Dire Dawa Adm. Council 

                                      Addis ababa City Adm.      


The Afar Rift Consortium is a project funded by the UK Natural EnvironmentAlthough landlocked country, Ethiopia is situated within easy reach of the Horn’s (Horn of Africa’s) major ports, which connect it with the Middle East and Europe. Access to these ports has played a prominent role in enhancing the country’s international trade.

Topography and Climate

Geographically, Ethiopia is a country of immense contrasts. High mountains, which in the Semen (in the north) and Bale Mountain Ranges (in the south east) tower over 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) above sea level, give way to flat lowlands, 180 meters below sea level in the Dankal Depression, the lowest depression in the world. The Great Rift Valley divides the country into western and eastern highlands and is a further fascinating geographical feature of the country.

Ertale, active volcano at Dallol Depression


Ethiopia enjoys a pleasant climate varying from cold to temperate and from sub-tropical to tropical. Much of the country, however, has a climate tempered by the high altitude, although it lies just within 15° north of the Equator. There are two rainy seasons in the country: the “small” rains in February and March, and the “big” rains from June to September (ECCSA, 2004).

Rainfall and temperature patterns vary widely because of Ethiopia’s location in the tropics and its diverse topography. The fact that Ethiopia has 18 ecological zones and five climatic zones ranging from alpine to desert means that the country is ideal for a wide variety of agricultural activities.

·         Of the total area of the country, about 45 % (50.2 million hectares) is mid-high land and highland; the remaining is lowland.

·         The average temperature rarely exceeds 20°C (68°F). The sparsely populated lowlands typically have sub–tropical and tropical climates.

          The average annual rainfall ranges from 200 to 2500mm. the agrocology is highly diversified (18 major and 49 sub-agro ecological zones).

Nature and Natural Resources

Ethiopia is a land of rugged mountains (some 25 are over 4,000 meters high), broad savannah, lakes and rivers. It has varied and spectacular landscapes. Most of the country consists of an enormous plateau more than two kilometres above sea level. Fertile areas called tablelands are used for agriculture and livestock rearing.

Soils: The wide ranges of topographic and climatic factors, parent material and land use have resulted in extreme variability of soils. About 19 soil types are identified throughout the country.

FR: For detail information about topography and climate of Ethiopia from:

Water resources: Ethiopia is often referred to as the “water tower” of eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour off its high tableland. It has a vast water resource potential and the Ethiopian highlands are the source of many of the international rivers (such as the Blue Nile and Wabe Shebile) draining into the neighbouring countries. Yet only 1 percent of the estimated annual surface water of 110 billion cubic metres is used for irrigation and hydropower. It also has groundwater resources and many springs and small streams that can be used for water harvesting during the rainy seasons. The country’s irrigation potential is estimated at 3-4 million hectares (excluding water harvesting and underground water).

1306943490_tekeze_damHydropower potential: Ethiopia is also endowed with hydropower potential and conservatively estimated at 45,000 MW, less than 5% of which is developed. With this potential, and provided that environmental and social sustainability issues are addressed effectively, the country could well meet its energy needs and leave a large surplus for export to the regional markets (ADB, April 2011). Some 300 hydropower plant sites in the whole eight river basins of the country with a total technical power potential of 159,300 GWH/year have been identified.



Tekeze Hydropower Dam


Geothermal resources: Ethiopia is considered to be one of the favoured countries with respect to high geothermal energy potential. The geothermal potential of Ethiopia has been estimated at about 4000 MW. Detailed exploration studies within the Ethiopian Great Rift Valley show that the areas of Aluto-Langano, Tendaho graben, Corbetti caldera, Gademsa caldera, lake Abaya and Dallol are the most promising for tapping a tremendous amount of geothermal power.

Livestock resources: With its varied climatic and topographic conditions, its ethnic composition and the size of its national herd, Ethiopia is a major repository of livestock resources and genetic diversity but little has yet been done to describe them other than in superficial terms.


potash-processing-plant-in-EthiopianMineral resources: The country has deposits of coal, gemstones, kaolin, iron ore, soda ash, and tantalum, but only gold is mined in significant quantities. Among the metals, Gold is considered the most promising resource. Industrial minerals such as rock salt, potash, phosphate, soda ash, feldspar, dolomite, bentonite, graphite, lime, silica and kaolin are found. Hydrocarbon deposits and occurrences, such as natural gas, oil shale, and lignite, have been found in the Mesozoic and Tertiary sediments in various parts of the country. Dimension stones including marble, granite, sandstone, limestone, and ignimbrite, raw materials for cement and aggregate manufacturing, and gemstones of different type and quality are also available in many parts of the country.





Potash processing plant in Ethiopia


FR: Read about Country’s mineral deposits from:


Natural beauty (fauna and flora): In addition to its  magnificent landscape ranges the unique Rift Valley is a remarkable region of volcanic lakes, with their famous collections of bird life, great escarpments and stunning vistas tissisat, the Blue Nile Falls, must rank as one of the greatest natural spectacles in Africa to day. With 14 major wildlife reserves, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire Sub-Saharan ecosystem, Bird life abounds, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia Ibex to the shy wild ass, roam free just as nature intended.

National parks: Ethiopia's many national parks enable the visitor to enjoy the country’s scenery and its wild life, conserved in natural habitats, and offer opportunities for travel adventure unparalleled in Africa.

Land use: The total area of Ethiopia is approximately five times the size of the UK and just less than twice the size of Texas. The following countries combined are smaller than Ethiopia:

Land area comparisons


Sq. Miles

Sq Km.














Land use

•       Arable land               51.3 million hectares (45% of total area)

•       Cultivated area          8 million hectares during the main harvesting season (16% of the arable land)

•       Irrigable area            10 million hectares

•       Irrigated area            about 3% of the potential

General economic facts about Ethiopia in which detail investment potential and economic situations/environments are discussed in the Economic Environment section.

General economic situation:

·         Agriculture is the main economy of the country. It accounts for almost 45% of the GDP, 85% of employment and 86% of foreign earnings. Ethiopia is currently advancing an Agriculture Led Industrialization Strategy to promote investment-led growth and sustainable development. Coffee is the major export product followed by oil seeds, chat, leather and leather products, gold, pulses, live animals, flower, meat and meat products, fruits and vegetables.

·         The industrial sector accounts around 15 % of GDP. It comprises of small and medium enterprises. On the next Ethiopian fiscal year, the contribution of the industrial sector is expected to be 17% (Source: Ethiopian Television, Prime Minister’s report/speech to Parliament on February 8, 2012).

·         Manufacturing, mining and quarrying as well as construction sectors have also registered remarkable growth to support the overall economic growth. The service sectors expanded by 13.0 percent contributing 56.6 percent to the annual economic expansion.

·         The service sector which is composed of social services, trade and restaurants, finance, real estate and transportation and communication accounts for about 43% of GDP.

·         Real GDP grew by about an average of 11.5% per year for the last six consecutive years (2003/04-2008/09) making Ethiopia among the top performing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The African Economic Outlook 2011 report revealed that Ethiopia has registered a 10 percent GDP growth, the second in Africa next to Ghana, which is 12%.

·         Major import origins in 2007/08 were Asia 55%, Europe 29%, America 9.9%, Africa 5.9% and Oceania 0.2%.

·         Major exports destinations in 2007/08 were Asia 39.3%, Europe 37.8% and Africa 16.9%.

·         Ethiopia is pursuing opportunities for growth and development with new partners such as China, India and Turkey. Presently, in addition to neighbouring Sudan, the largest proportion of FDI comes from these countries.

Emerging and developing economies: Real GDP



Average Projections


Past years













Sub-Saharan Africa


























Source: IMF, September 2011. World Economic and Financial Surveys.

Structural composition of Ethiopian economy

(Source: ADB, September 2010)

Economic growth

o   Impressive economic growth has put the country on track to reach most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

o   Ethiopia is expected to continue on its fast growth track. It recorded average growth of above 10% over the past five years. In 2011, growth is expected to again reach 10% before decelerating slightly to just below 9% in 2012. The government of Ethiopia, however, expects an 11.2 percent economic growth in the stated year.

o   Average Annual Growth of the sectors for the year 2009 (based on information from the World Bank, World Development Indicators Database for the year 2009):

§  Agriculture: 6.4%

§  Service: 14.3%

§  Industry: 8.9% (Manufacturing: 12.3%)

o   The GTP calls for the agriculture sector to become the major source of economic growth. Industrial growth will also be given particular attention. The government intends to promote industrialisation through increased exports and import substitution. The economy is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 10% in 2011. The agriculture sector is expected to grow by 8.1% while industry and services are expected to show an average annual growth of 20 and 11% respectively during the planned five-year period of the government.

Projection of average annual real GDP growth rate (%)




Base Year (2009/10)

Average Growth Targets (2010/11-2014/15)

Base Case

High Case

Agriculture & allied activities












Real GDP




Source: Government’s estimation in GTP [taken from presentation on Business Opportunities in Ethiopia 4th Swiss-African Business Exchange (Geneva International Conference Centre-16-17 March 2011). Geneva]


Prime Minister Meles Zenawi report (speech) on 8th February 2012  to the 18th ordinary session of the House of Peoples’ Representatives:

  • Economy will grow by 11.2 percent;
  • The agriculture sector registered a 12.57 percent growth during the eight-month period while export performance of the country registered a whopping 48 percent growth; and
  • Import performance showed a 14 percent growth.

FR        For detail reference of Ethiopia’s current macro-economic facts refer Access Capital’s Ethiopia: Macroeconomic Handbook 2010;

Also, general conditions and realities about Ethiopian economy can be found from:

Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. What are believed to be the oldest remains of a human ancestor ever found, which have been dated as being some five million years old, were discovered in the Awash Valley in Ethiopia. This beats the discovery of "Lucy", a 3.2 million year old skeleton, who was unearthed in the same area in 1974.

Ethiopia is among the countries that have a history of early civilization. This civilization is said to predate the Axumite Dynasty which started at the beginning of the 1st century and was among the most powerful kingdoms in the ancient world. Remains of the Queen of Sheba’s palace can still be seen today in Axum, in Tigrai Regional State, northern Ethiopia. Axum is also home to many other extensive historical sites, including the home of the Ark of the Covenant, brought there from Jerusalem by Menelik (Son of Queen of Sheba).

Modern Ethiopia emerged under Emperor Menelik II, who established its independence by routing an Italian invasion in 1896. He expanded Ethiopia by conquest. Disorders that followed Menelik's death brought his daughter to the throne in 1917, with his cousin, Tafari Makonnen, as regent and heir apparent. When the empress died in 1930, Tafari was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia on October 3, 1935, forcing Haile Selassie into exile (Britain) in May 1936. Ethiopia was annexed to Eritrea (today’s Ethiopian neighbour in the North), then an Italian colony, and to Italian Somaliland, forming Italian East Africa. In 1941, British troops routed the Italians, and Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa. In 1952, Eritrea was incorporated into Ethiopia.

In December 1974, Ethiopia was declared a Socialist state, and a program of revolutionary reforms called Ethiopia Tikdem ('Ethiopia First’) was initiated. As announced by the leaders, these objectives included progress toward Socialism under the leadership of workers, peasants, the petite bourgeoisie, and all anti-feudal and anti-imperialist forces. The Derg’s ultimate aim was the creation of a one party system. A communist government could lead the country before it was overthrown by the party leading the Ethiopia currently in 1991.

In 1991, the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) was set up from the EPRDF and other political parties. The constitution of the present Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was adopted in 1994.

People and culture

Currently, Ethiopia has a population estimate about 90 million people, ranking the second most populous country in Africa. It is one of the oldest nations in the world and its people have an ancient culture and deep-rooted values.

Population size estimates of Ethiopia

Subject Descriptor

Subject Notes

































Source:    IMF, September 2011


Ethiopia, like many other African countries, is a multi-ethnic state. The differences may be observed in the number of languages spoken—an astonishing 83 languages, falling into four main language groups: Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilo-Saharan. There are 200 different dialects.

With over 80 different peoples, the cultures of Ethiopian people are prominent in their lifestyle. With traditions going back to the days of Axum, and a strong religious setting, celebrations and festivals play an important part in today’s daily lives.

Religious belief and ritual (ceremony) vary with each culture within the boundaries of Ethiopia. With over eighty languages spoken, one can find over eighty cultures and over eighty religions. Yet there are similarities among religious beliefs and rituals. Therefore, generally speaking, there are three major religions practiced by Ethiopians today: Coptic Monophysite Christianity (mainly Orthodox Christianity), Islam, and indigenous (or what some people used to call "pagan") religion.

As most people are religious people identified by many for their hospitability, the country has one of the lowest crime rates in Africa. Safe and secure working and living environments identified by the U.N. and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as key assets for investors in Ethiopia.

FR         More about Ethiopians and their culture such as language, folklore, religion, major holidays, rites of passage, relationships, living conditions are found from:

More information about history, culture (food, holidays, unique calendar, dressing), ethnic groups, religion, people of Ethiopia can be obtained from Selamta Magazine website of Ethiopian Airlines:

Government structure and plans

The FDRE comprises the Federal Government and the member states. The Federal Government and the states have legislative, executive and judicial powers. The House of People's Representatives is the highest authority of the Federal Government. The House is responsible to the people.

The country has a parliamentarian form of government with a bicameral parliament, which is comprised of the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation. The House of Peoples’ Representatives is the highest authority of the Federal Government and its members are elected by the people for a term of five years on the bases of direct universal suffrage. The House of the Federation is composed of representatives of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples elected by the State Councils for a five year term.

The President is the head of the Federal State and the Prime Minister, as the chief executive of the Federal Government, leads the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister is elected from among the members of the HPR belonging to the party or coalition of parties that commands a majority in the House. The President is elected by the joint session of both houses for a six-year term and the Prime Minister, who is responsible to the HPR, is elected for a five-year term.