KEY FACTS

Country name (Conventional long form):
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Land area: 432,310sq
Population (2013est.): more than one hundred million
Government type: federal republic
Capital: Addis Ababa
Independence: oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world - at least 2,000 years (may be traced to the Aksumite Kingdom, which coalesced in the first century B.C.)
Constitution: ratified 8 December 1994, effective 22 August 1995
Legal system: civil law system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal


Executive branch: President Sahilework Zewde (since 8 October 2018) head of government: Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed(since 21 September 2018); election results: Sahlework Zewude elected president; percent of vote by the House of People's Representatives - 79%
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and red, with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centered on the three bands. Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, and the three main colors of her flag (adopted ca. 1895) were so often adopted by other African countries upon independence that they became known as the Pan-African colors


Administrative divisions: 9 ethnically based states (kililoch, singular - kilil) and 2 self-governing administrations* (astedaderoch, singular - astedader); Adis Abeba* (Addis Ababa), Afar, Amara (Amhara), Binshangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa*, Gambela Hizboch (Gambela Peoples), Hareri Hizb (Harari People), Oromiya (Oromia), Sumale (Somali), Tigray, Ye Debub Biheroch Bihereseboch na Hizboch (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples)
Transportation: Public Buses, Taxies, convenient Trains
National holiday: National Day (defeat of Mengistu regime), 28 May (1991)


GDP (purchasing power parity): $103.1 billion (2012 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 7% (2012 est.)
GDP - per capita: $1,200 (2012 est.)


Agriculture - products: cereals, pulses, coffee, oilseed, cotton, sugarcane, potatoes, khat, cut flowers; hides, cattle, sheep, goats; fish
Industries: food processing, beverages, textiles, leather, chemicals, metals processing, cement and coffee export.
Currency (code): Birr ( ETB )
Exchange rates: Birr (ETB) per US dollar - 27.8 (2018 est.)


MONEY MATTER:
The Ethiopian currency is called Birr, the rate of which against the US dollar is fixed in weekly auctioned. (Recently the rate fluctuated from ETB 26.95-28.01 to US$1.00). In order to change birr back to Dollars on leaving the country, visitors will be asked to produce bank receipts.


CULTURE & RELIGION
Ethiopian culture is very multi-faced, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the country;


RELIGION IN ETHIOPIA
Religion is a secure and accepted element of everyday life in Ethiopia and the language is full of references to God. Yet there is not the ever-present feel that one can experience in a totally Muslim country for example.

On the central plateau, the Ethiopian Orthodox church holds sway, again an individual and fascinating feature of this unusual country. Priests and deacons abound in their often-colorful robes, carrying their staffs and ornate crosses that people frequently kiss as they pass.


Christianity came to Ethiopia in ancient times and became the official Ethiopian religion in the 4th century. The Orthodox church has many connections with ancient Judaism. Fasting and detailed food restrictions, the specific ways of slaughtering animals, circumcision and the layout of the churches, all these things make for a very particular religious culture.

Islam is also very strong in many parts of Ethiopia, frequently existing peaceably alongside Christianity. The city of Harar, in the east of the country, is officially the fourth most holy Muslim site in the world.


ETHIOPIAN LANGUAGE
The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, a Semitic language which is spoken by about 27 million people. Amharic is written with the Ge'ez script, which derives its name from the ancient Semitic Ge'ez language. Ge'ez is largely extinct as a productive language but is still in liturgical use by the Beta Israel Jewish community and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The second largest language in Ethiopia is the Oromo language, a Cushitic language spoken by about 30% of the population. The third largest language in Ethiopia is the Tigrinya language, related to Amharic but mostly spoken in northern Ethiopia in the state of Tigray. Additionally, most villagers are accustomed to their ethnical languages over the official Amharic language.


USEFUL PHRASES

Tenastilign = Hello/how are you?
Ciao! = Good bye
Sintino? = How much is it?
Widdino = It's expensive
Efellegalow = I want
Alfellegum = I don't want
Tiru no = It's good
Tiru aydellem = It's not good
Simeh man no? = (Masc) What's your name?
Simesh man no? = (Fem) What's your name?
Leselassa = Soft dri nk
Amboha = Mineral water
Birra = Beer
Wuha = Water
Ow (as in how) = Yes
Ishi = OK
Aydellem = No
Shintibait = Toilet
Buna = Coffee
Shai = Tea
Injera = Sour dough pancake
Wot = Sauce or stew
Tela = Local beer
Tej = Honey wine
Yekirta = Excuse me
Amesegenalo = Thank you
Na! = Come
Hid! = Go
Chiger yellem = No problem
Beka = Enough
Bewhala = Afterwards/later
Qonjo = Beautiful


CALENDAR & HOLIDAY


JANUARY
Ledet is the Orthodox Christian Christmas, celebrated on January 7th. People may attend all-night church services on the night of the 6th and there may be all-night processions before the 43-day Advent fast is broken. Genna (hockey) and gugs (similar to polo) are played in some regions, along with horseracing.
Timket, on the 19th, marks Epiphany, and it is one of Ethiopiaís most important events. Replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, known as tabots, are blessed before being paraded back to the church, accompanied by song and dance, feasting, incense, and the sound of bells.


MARCH-APRIL
Fasika is the Orthodox Christian Easter. Following a service ending at around 3am on Easter Sunday, families mark the end of the 55-day vegan fast with a meal of chicken or lamb.


AUGUST
Eid-Al-Fitr falls some time during the last two weeks of August. This Islamic holiday lasts for three days and marks the end of Ramadan with feasts and prayers.


SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER
Enkutatash is the Ethiopian New Year. On the 10th of September (New Yearís Eve) there is feasting and celebrating, then on New Yearís Day, houses are decorated with Meskel daisies and a traditional song is sung to the rhythm of drums.
Meskel is on 27 September. It celebrates the Finding of the True Cross-in the 4th Century and also coincides with the end of the rainy season. Traditional Meskel daisies are tied to a cross, which is then blessed and placed upon a bonfire. There is traditional dancing and singing.
Irecha Ė Sunday after Meskel. Oromo people travel to the shore of Lake Hora, near Debre Zeyit, to thank their god and to request good fortune, health, and fertility for the coming sowing season. Perfumes and butter are smeared on trunks of ancient fig trees.

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER
Eid-al-Adha is the most important Islamic holiday and commemorates Abrahamís willingness to sacrifice his son. An animal is slaughtered, and the meat is shared equally between family, neighbors, and the poor. It falls in late October or early November, when Muslim pilgrims have returned from the Hajj.