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Semien Mountains, EthiopiaSemien Mountains, Ethiopia
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Ethiopia is a federal parliamentary republic in the Horn of Africa. This huge country is landlocked, as it does not have a coastline to any major bodies of water. Ethiopia has an area of 1,104,300 sq km (425,371 sq mi), representing roughly ten percent of the total area of the African continent. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, and Sudan to the west.

With a population touching 86 million (2011 estimate), Ethiopia is the most populous country in Africa. Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa. The official language is called Ambaric. The biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia are the Oromo people, at 34.5% followed by the Amhara, at 27%.

Erta Ale, EthiopiaErta Ale, an active shield volcano in northeastern Ethiopia
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Ethiopia is on the East Africa Time Zone, which is three hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+3). The official currency here is the Birr (ETB). Traffic is driven on the right. The phone IDD code is +251. Electricity is 220V/50Hz using European and Italian plugs.

Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Its 2010 nominal GDP stood at $30.599 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $360. Its 2010 per capital GDP at purchasing power parity was $1,003.

Aksum Obelisk, EthiopiaAksum Obelisk, Ethiopia
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authorshipOndřej Žváček
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Although Ethiopia has fertile soil, it is a country torn by political instability and civil wars, which is further compounded by a series of famines, particularly in the 1980's. It is also located within a politically volatile region, with civil wars regularly erupting in neighboring countries.

Ethiopia is today still a primarily Christian country. It was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as the state religion, in the 4th century AD. The country also has a substantial Muslim population, accounting for a third of its people. The country has the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa and the site of the first hijra in Islamic history.

Bete Giyorgis rock-hewn church at Lalibela, EthiopiaBete Giyorgis rock-hewn church at Lalibela, Ethiopia
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Planning your visit to Ethiopia

All visitors, except the nationals of Kenya and Djibouti, need an entry visa. Visa upon arrival, at US$20, is available.

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) is the main gateway to Ethiopia. It is the hub for Ethiopian Airlines, which serves 60 international destinations, flying to more destinations in Africa than any other airlines. It is also one of the few profitable airlines in Africa, having received three stars ranking from Skytrax, and is in line to be a future Star Alliance member.

In addition to Ethiopian Airlines, Addis Ababa also receives flights from major European cities, and with regular scheduled flights from British Airways, Lufthansa, Kenya Airways and KLM, among others.

Major Cities in Ethiopia

  1. Addis Ababa - capital
  2. Adama
  3. Aksum
  4. Bahir Dar
  5. Dire Dawa
  6. Gondar
  7. Harar
  8. Lalibela
  9. Mekele

World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia

Ethiopia ratified the World Heritage Convention on 6 July, 1977. As of August 2010, it has 8 World Heritage Sites, all but one are in the cultural category. Ethiopia also has another 3 sites on the World Heritage Tentative List.

Sites in Ethiopia on the World Heritage Tentative List

  1. Harar Walled Town (2001)
  2. Bale Mountains National Park (2008)

National Parks in Ethiopia

  1. Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park
  2. Awash National Park
  3. Bale Mountains National Park
  4. Mago National Park
  5. Neshisar National Park
  6. Omo National Park
  7. Simien National Park
  8. Yangudi National Park

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