Top 10 things to do in Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Africa's second largest population; an old Christian country, home to castles, beautiful monasteries, and wonderful food.

Ethiopia is a country.

Ethiopia (/ˌiːθiˈoʊpiə/; Amharic: ኢትዮጵያ?, ʾĪtyōṗṗyā,  listen (help·info)), officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With about 87.9 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populated nation on the African continent. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.

Some of the oldest evidence for modern humans is found in Ethiopia, which is widely considered the region from which Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond. Tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history. During the first centuries of the Common Era the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region.

Ethiopia derived prestige for its uniquely successful military resistance during the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, and subsequently many African nations adopted the colors of Ethiopia's flag following their independence. Ethiopia was the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty as an independent country. It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the UN. In 1974, at the end of Haile Selassie's reign, power fell to a communist military junta known as the Derg, backed by the Soviet Union, until it was defeated by the EPRDF, which has ruled since about the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

Ethiopia is a multilingual society with around 80 ethnic groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara. It is the origin of the coffee bean. Ethiopia is a land of natural contrasts; with its vast fertile West, jungles, and numerous rivers, the world's hottest settlement of Dallol in its north, Africa's largest continuous mountain ranges and the largest cave in Africa at Sof Omar. Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. Ethiopia's ancient Ge'ez script, also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. It shares many similarities with the Armenian alphabet. The Ethiopian calendar, which is seven years and about three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Oromo calendar. A majority of the population is Christian and a third is Muslim; the country is the site of the Hijrah to Abyssinia and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israel, resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s but most of them have since gradually emigrated to Israel.

Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77 and the Organisation of African Unity, with Addis Ababa serving as the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the UNECA, African Aviation Training HQ, the African Standby Force and much of global NGOs focused on Africa. Despite being the main source of the Nile, the longest river on earth, Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s, exacerbated by civil wars and adverse geopolitics. The country has begun to recover recently, and it now has the largest economy by GDP in East Africa and Central Africa. According to Global Fire Power, Ethiopia also has the 40th most powerful military in the world.

Overall rating: 4.7
Country
Typical length of visit: 7 days

Top 10 things to do in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa, sometimes spelled Addis Abeba, is the capital city of Ethiopia. It is the largest city in Ethiopia, with a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2007 population census ...

Lalibela

Lalibela
Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia that is famous for its 11 monolithic rock-cut churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a ...

Hawzen

Hawzen
Hawzen is a town in northern Ethiopia. Located in the Misraqawi Zone of the Tigray Region , this town has a latitude and longitude of 13°58′N 39°26′E / 13.967°N 39.433°E ...

Dire Dawa

Dire Dawa
Dire Dawa is one of two chartered cities in Ethiopia . It is divided administratively into two woredas, the city proper and the non-urban woreda of Gurgura.Dire Dawa lies in ...

Axum

Axum
Axum or Aksum is a city in northern Ethiopia. The town has a population of 56,500 residents , and is governed as an urban wäräda.The original capital of the Kingdom ...

Harar

Harar
Harar, formerly written Harrar and known to its inhabitants as Gey, is a walled city in eastern Ethiopia, formerly the capital of Harergey and now the capital of the modern ...

Arba Minch

Arba Minch
Arba Minch {'አርባ ምንጭ'} is a city and separate woreda in southern Ethiopia; the first common name for this city called Ganta Garo. Located in the Gamo Gofa Zone of ...

Awasa

Awasa
Awasa is a city in Ethiopia, on the shores of Lake Awasa in the Great Rift Valley. It is located 270 km south of Addis Ababa via Debre Zeit, 130 km east ...

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar
Bahir Dar or Bahar Dar is a city in north-western Ethiopia. It is the capital of the Amhara Region .Administratively, Bahir Dar is a Special Zone, a designation in between ...

Gondar

Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city and separate woreda in Ethiopia. Located in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region, Gondar is north of Tana Lake on the Lesser ...

Awash, Ethiopia

Awash, Ethiopia
See wikt:awash for the meaning "in water with the top at water level". Awash is a market town in central Ethiopia. Located in Administrative Zone 3 of the Afar Region, ...

Jimma

Jimma
Jimma , also spelled Jima, is the largest city in southwestern Ethiopia. It is a special zone of the Oromia Region and is surrounded by Jimma Zone. It has a ...

Bishoftu

Bishoftu
Bishoftu is a town and separate woreda of Ethiopia, lying south east of Addis Ababa. It was formerly known as Debre Zeyit however since the late 1990s it has been ...

Lake Langano

Lake Langano
Langano is a lake in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia, exactly 200 kilometers by road south of the capital, Addis Ababa, on the border between the Misraq Shewa and Arsi ...

Harar Wildlife Sanctuary

Harar Wildlife Sanctuary
The Harar Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in Ethiopia. It is located in the Misraq Hararghe Zone of the Oromia Region, south of Babille, with a central latitude and ...

Gambela National Park

Gambela National Park
Gambela National Park is a proposed national park, but the steps needed to fully protect it by the government of Ethiopia have not been completed as of 2002. Located in ...

Bale Mountains National Park

Bale Mountains National Park
Nominated in 2009 to the World Heritage Tentative List, Bale Mountains National Park is a national park in Ethiopia with one of the highest incidences of animal endemicity of any ...

Nechisar National Park

Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park is one of the National Parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region immediately to the east of Arba Minch, its 514 square ...

Lake Zway

Lake Zway
Lake Zway or Lake Ziway is one of the freshwater Rift Valley lakes of Ethiopia. It is located about 60 miles south of Addis Ababa, on the border between the ...

Aksum

Aksum
The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum are found close to Ethiopia's northern border. They mark the location of the heart of ancient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Aksum ...

Konso Cultural Landscape

Konso Cultural Landscape
Konso Cultural Landscape is a 55km2 arid property of stone walled terraces and fortified settlements in the Konso highlands of Ethiopia. It constitutes a spectacular example of a living cultural ...

Lower Valley of the Awash

Lower Valley of the Awash
The Awash valley contains one of the most important groupings of palaeontological sites on the African continent. The remains found at the site, the oldest of which date back at ...

Lower Valley of the Omo

Lower Valley of the Omo
A prehistoric site near Lake Turkana, the lower valley of the Omo is renowned the world over. The discovery of many fossils there, especially Homo gracilis, has been of fundamental ...

Simien National Park

Simien National Park
Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping ...

Tiya

Tiya
Tiya is among the most important of the roughly 160 archaeological sites discovered so far in the Soddo region, south of Addis Ababa. The site contains 36 monuments, including 32 ...

Fasil Ghebbi

Fasil Ghebbi
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the fortress-city of Fasil Ghebbi was the residence of the Ethiopian emperor Fasilides and his successors. Surrounded by a 900-m-long wall, the city contains ...

Rock-Hewn Churches

Rock-Hewn Churches
The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century 'New Jerusalem' are situated in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings. Lalibela ...

Jijiga

Jijiga
Jijiga is a city in eastern Ethiopia and the capital of the Somali Region of the country. Located in the Jijiga Zone approximately 80 km east of Harar and 60 km west ...

Lake Awasa

Lake Awasa
Lake Awasa is an endorheic basin in Ethiopia, located in the Main Ethiopian Rift south of Addis Ababa. According to the Statistical Abstract of Ethiopia for 1967/68, the lake is ...

Adama

Adama
Adama , also known as Nazret or Nazreth , is a city in central Ethiopia and the previous capital of the Oromia Region. Adama forms a Special Zone of Oromia ...

Abijatta-Shalla National Park

Abijatta-Shalla National Park
Abijatta-Shalla National Park is one of the National Parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Oromia Region 200 kilometers south of Addis Ababa to the east of the Ziway–Shashamane highway, it ...

Lake Chew Bahir

Lake Chew Bahir
Lake Chew Bahir or Lake Istifanos, also called Stefanie, Basso Naebor and Chuwaha, is a lake in southern Ethiopia, located on the southwestern end of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and ...

Debarq

Debarq
Debarq is a town in northern Ethiopia, 90 kilometers north of Gondar on the highway between Gondar and Axum and in the Semien Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region. It ...