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What You Should Know Before Traveling To Ethiopia

Believed to be the cradle of human civilization, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most beguiling destinations. The only country on the continent never to be colonized, it wears its ancient past with pride and has largely shrugged off a turbulent recent history. The modern capital, Addis Ababa, is home to world-class museums and hectic streets that redefine the word bustling. Aksum, the ancient capital, is UNESCO protected and has a wealth of churches and tombs. The castles of Gondar are among East Africa’s best-preserved archaeological sites.

Ethiopia was named as the world’s best destination for tourists in 2015 by the European Council on Tourism and Trade.

Ethiopia is not only a destination for tourism and recreation but also a wonderful opportunity for investment as the country has the most developing economy in the world.

Whether you are coming for leisure or investment, we figured you would want to know the basics of Ethiopia for your visit.

Currency In Ethiopia

The Ethiopian official currency is the Birr. The Ethiopian Birr is not freely convertible. All local business transactions are conducted using Birr. The local commercial banks usually exchange U.S. dollar for Birr at the daily exchange rate set by the government of Ethiopia in which 1 USD approximately equals 28 Birr as of September 2019.

Time Zone and Working Hours

Ethiopia is in the GMT +3 hours’ time zone. Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of 30 days each and the 13th month of five or six days. The Ethiopian day starts at 6 a.m. (dawn) instead of 12 a.m. Ethiopians often quote meeting times that are six hours different than an international clock. Be sure to confirm time and date schedules to avoid confusion. Business hours are usually from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Most businesses close for lunch for an hour anytime between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m


There are more than 80 major language groups in Ethiopia. Amharic is the national language and is spoken throughout the country. Oromiffa and Tigrinya are other widely-used Ethiopian languages. English is the second official language and is understood in most towns among the more educated segments of the population.

The Capital

The Capital Addis Ababa is in the midst of a building boom that includes a massive expansion of Bole International Airport and a number of new hotels. Addis Ababa maintains pleasant daytime temperatures year-round, which can range anywhere from 65 to 85 degrees. Temperatures drop at night, sometimes to almost freezing. During the Big Rains especially in July and August the almost constant cloud cover lowers temperatures somewhat.


Many international major airlines use Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. Ethiopian Airlines, which is a member of the Star Alliance, operates domestically with service to major cities within the country. Private charter plane services are also available for domestic travel. 

As a local transport, A few hotels operate reliable airport shuttles. In addition, individual taxis are widely available. Official airport taxis are yellow, while basic taxis are painted blue or yellow with a code at the side