Diplomatic Hub of Africa
As a founding member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, Ethiopia continuously fought for the realization of the objectives of the OAU. It did its level best, both covertly and overtly, to assist the countries under colonialism to gain their independence.
Even when the record in domestic policies was decidedly counter-productive, the policy and practice towards Africa pursued by past Ethiopian governments was outstanding, enabling the country to discharge its African responsibilities and to gain the respect of our African brothers and sisters. Ethiopia all along steadfastly championed the cause of Africa and Africans dating back to a time when it stood virtually alone. There has never been a time when Ethiopian governments shied away from taking up their responsibilities towards Africa. It can also be said that there was hardly any occasion when Ethiopia was refused political and diplomatic support from Africa when it was needed.
Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union, the successor organization of the OAU. As the Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy clearly points out, this naturally means that Ethiopia carries a special responsibility for the organization. Certainly, Ethiopia fully subscribes to the AU's vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa providing and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. Ethiopia has been in the forefront of the efforts to achieve this African vision and at no time has it shifted its attention away from addressing the age-old problems that have bedevilled Africa for so long.
The Rising African Cosmopolitan
Wide tree-lined streets, fine architecture, glorious weather, and the incongruity of donkey trains trolling along the boulevards make Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, a delightful place to explore. It is a city of surprises characterized by remarkable di¬versity and contrasts.Abundant eucalyptus trees and crisp, clear mountain air endow Addis Ababa with the bracing atmosphere of a highland summer resort. Its cosy espresso bars and patisseries are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean, and its bustling outdoor markets are colourful reminders of more traditional ways of life. The people, the bursts of music from cafes or shops, the aromas of spicy cooking, of coffee and incense, form a unique Ethiopian pastiche.
Vibrant Addis Ababa is as cosmopolitan as any of the world's great metropolises, and the architecture is as varied as the city itself. Tall office buildings, elegant villas, functional bungalows, flats, fashionable hotels, conference halls, and theatres ¬gleaming in their marble and anodized aluminium - vie for attention alongside traditional homes of wattle and daub, surrounded by cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens. There is no designated 'city centre' because, until very recently, there was no urban planning. Addis Ababa simply grew in a natural, organic way, and its present appearance reflects this unforced and unstructured evolution.Set in rising countryside between 2,300 to 2,500 metres (7,500 to 8,200 feet) in altitude on the southern-facing slopes of the 3,000-metre-high (9,840-foot-high) Entoto mountain range immediately to the north, Ethiopia's largest city has grown at astonishing speed since it was founded just over a century ago. Covering 250 square kilometres (97 square miles), the city rambles pleasantly across many wooded hillsides and gullies cut through with fast ¬flowing streams.
Currency and Currency Regulations
Currency and Currency Regulations
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 six different coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, and 1 birr.
The exchange rate as of 30th June 2014:
1 USD = 19.9733 ETB
1 GBP = 34.0445 ETB
1 Euro = 27.2756ETB
1 Renminbi – 0.0000ETB
There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that can be 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 air port before departure, but they are expected to produce receipts for all exchange transactions.
These can be used in some of the larger hotels in Addis Ababa, and major credit cards can be used for flights by Ethiopian Airlines. A number of banks and hotels have ATM machines available and Visa cards can be used at some banks. The US dollar is the best foreign currency to bring into Ethiopia and it can be exchanged at banks and foreign exchange bureaus.
Drivers require a valid International Driving License, which can be obtained by exchanging your own local license at the Transport and Communications office on Haile Gebreselassie Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover their original driving licenses a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles require a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communication. Driving is on the right hand side of the road.
Ethiopia uses a 220 Volt and 50 Hz. System. It is sensible to bring a round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.
All visitors (including infants) are required to possess a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate if you have recently travelled to a country where it is present. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or been in transit through a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival to Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic in areas of Ethiopia below 2000 meters, and both chloroquine–resistant and falciparum strains are present.
Medical ServicesMedical facilities are available in all major towns but facilities are often over-taxed. Tourists and non-citizen residents should go to private hospitals and clinics. Contact your Embassy for referral to recommended doctors. Air rescue services are available.
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