Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is bounded by Eritrea on the north, Djibouti and Somalia on the east, Kenya on the south, and the Sudan on the north and west. The country has a total land area of about 1.1 million square kilometres (427,100 square miles).
The population of Ethiopia is 53.4 million, of which over 80 percent live in rural areas.
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia. It lies on the country's central plateau at about 2200 meters (7216 feet) above sea level. Founded in 1886, Addis Ababa now has 3 million residents and is the centre of business and industry. The headquarters of the Organization of African Unity, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and other international organizations are located there.
Major cities and commercial centres include Dire Dawa, Gonder, Harer, Jima, Bahir Dar, Awasa, Shashemene and Dese.
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia. It belongs to the Semitic language group, which also includes Tigrinya, spoken int the north, and Guraginya, spoken in the region south of Addis Ababa. Other Ethiopian languages are Cushitic, spoken by the Oromos, Sidama, Afars and Somalis in the south and east; Oromotic, spoken in the southwest in the vicinity of the Omo River; and Nilotic, spoken by the Nuer and Anuak in the far west and southwest.
|English is widely spoken and is used in schools and in certain businesses, particularly banking, insurance and foreign trade. French, Arabic and Italian are also spoken by some.
Christianity and Islam are the main religions of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is a country of great natural beauty and geologic diversity. In the centre is a vast region of high plateaus and mountain ranges dissected by rivers. The Ethiopian Rift Valley extends diagonally across the country, separating the Western Highlands from the Southeastern Highlands. The southern part of the Rift Valley consists of savanna grasslands studded with lakes and the northeast part, site of the Danakil Depression, is mostly low altitude plains. The highlands are bordered by rich agricultural lowlands to the south and by the arid Ogaden Basin to the east.
The famous Abay River (Blue Nile), one of the twin sources of the Nile, flows 800 kilometres through Ethiopia. Other major rivers include the Awash, Tekeze, Omo, Wabe Shebele, Genale, Dawa and Baro-Akobo.
Altitudes range from 4620 meters (15,157 feet) above sea level at Ras Dashen in the Simien Mountains in the northwest, to 130 meters (426 feet) below sea level in the Danakil Depression.
Ethiopia's climate is temperate on the plateaus and hot in the lowlands. At Addis Ababa, the yearly average temperature is 16mC (61mF), with a maximum of 26mC (80mF) and minimum of 4mC (40mF). There are light rains from February to April; the main rainy season is from July to September.