High Altitude : Addis Ababa and Ethiopia’s highlands you will be visiting are at high elevations. High altitude can affect healthy individuals in a number of ways including: dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches.
Climate: The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. As a highland country, Ethiopia has a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country’s major cities are located at elevations of around 2,000 – 2,500 metres (6,600 – 8,200 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum, and Addis Ababa – the highest capital city in Africa at 2,400 meters (8,000 feet).
Ethiopia has three different climate zones according to elevation:
- Kolla (Tropical zone) – is below 1830 meters in elevation and has an average annual temperature of about 27 degree Celsius with annual rainfall about 510 millimeters. The Danakil Depression (Danakil Desert) is about 125 meters below sea level and the hottest region in Ethiopia where the temperature climbs up to 50 degree Celsius.
- Woina dega (Subtropical zone) – includes the highlands areas of 1830 – 2440 meters in elevation has an average annual temperature of about 22 degree Celsius with annual rainfall between 510 and 1530 millimeters.
- Dega (Cool zone) – is above 2440 meters in elevation with an average annual temperature of about 16 degree Celsius with annual rainfall between 1270 and 1280 millimeters.
The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16°C (61°F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20 – 25°C (68 – 77°F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5 – 10°C (41 – 50°F). A light jacket is recommended for the evenings, though many Ethiopians prefer to dress conservatively and will wear a light jacket even during the day.
Currency: The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents.
Currency regulations: There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels. The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the airport before departure, but you must, in addition to the currency declaration form, bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.
Click here to read more about Money Matters: Cash, Currency Exchange and Credit Cards
Electricity : Ethiopia uses 220 volts and 50 Hz. It is best to bring your own round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.
Time and calendar : Ethiopia uses the Ethiopian calendar, which dates back to the Coptic calendar 25 BC, and never adopted the Julian or Gregorian reforms. One Ethiopian year consists of twelve months, each lasting thirty days, plus a thirteenth month of five or six days (hence the “Thirteen Months of Sunshine” tourism slogan). The Ethiopian new year begins on September 11 or 12 during leap year (in the Gregorian calendar), and has accumulated 7-8 years lag behind the Gregorian calendar: thus, for the first eight months of , the year will be according to the Ethiopian calendar. On 11 September , Ethiopia celebrates New Year’s Day (Enkutatesh) for .
In Ethiopia, the 12-hour clock cycles do not begin at midnight and noon, but instead are offset six hours. Thus, Ethiopians refer to midnight (or noon) as 6 o’clock.
Daylight: Being relatively close to the Equator, there is an almost constant twelve hours of daylight. In Addis Ababa, the sunrise and sunset starts at around 06:30 and 18:45 respectively.