General Information

Capital: Addis Ababa

Official Language: none

  • Amharic is the “working” language of the federal government.
  • There are around 100 languages spoken in Ethiopia; it is a very ethnically diverse country
  • A majority of these languages can be classified into the Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic, and Nilotic language groups

Religion: none

Government: Federal Republic

Legislature: 2 Legislative Houses

Area: 426,400 sq mi

Location: Ethiopia is located on the horn of Africa, it is a landlocked country

Population: 107,089,000 (2022 est)

Climate: Ethiopia has three seasons: the bega, a long dry season from September to February; the belg, a short rainy season - May and April; and the kremt, a long rainy season from June to August


  • GDP: $306.4 billion (2021 estimate)
  • Currency: birr (Br)
  • After WWII. tourism, banking, insurance, and transport became bigger players in the national economy, when free enterprise was abundant
  • The communist regime of the 70s and 80s nationalized the means of production - this included land, housing, farms, and industry
  • Today, Ethiopia is considered an emerging power as developing country; it has the fastest economic growth of the Sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Ethiopia’s land - for agriculture - is its most fertile resource; agriculture industries make up almost half of the GDP
  • Main Exports: Coffee, oilseeds, vegetables, gold, cut flowers
  • Main Trading Partners: China, USA, India, Kuwait

Doing Business:

  • Knowing a few words and phrases in Amharic, Ethiopia’s ‘working’ language, is appreciated by the local business people. However, English is often used when doing business.
  • Business etiquette is fairly formal. Appointments are required, and suit and tie attire is normal.
  • Meetings usually start 10-15 minutes after their ‘planned’ start time. 
  • It is common to have a round of greetings, small talk, and polite questions to begin a business meeting, as Ethiopians are generally sociable people. 
  • If you are a male visitor meeting with a woman in a hijab, do not try for a handshake unless she extends her hand first
  • Because Ethiopia sits so near the equator, they experience fairly consistent 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night throughout the year, so this is how many divide their day. They have their own way of keeping time according to these 12 hour cycles. Make sure you are aware if your meetings are set for Eastern Africa Time (EAT) or the local Ethiopian time.

History & Culture: 

  • The capital, Addis Ababa, means ‘New Flower’ in English
  • Ethiopia is the largest and most populated country on the horn of Africa
  • Ethiopia is one of the world’s oldest countries, with different iterations of the territorial lines
  • Ethiopia made a name for itself in world affairs after defeating Italy in the Battle of Adwa,  in 1896, the country was later invaded by fascist Italy and then liberated by Allied powers during WWII
  • The Organization of African Unity and the UN Economic Commission for Africa are both headquartered in Addis Ababa - Ethiopia was a founding member of the UN.