The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is located in the north-eastern part of Africa commonly known as the Horn of Africa. It is strategically proximate to the Middle East and Europe, together with its easy access to the major ports of the region, enhances its international trade. It is bordered by the Sudan in the west, Somalia and Djibouti in the east, Eritrea in the north and Kenya in the south. The country covers 1,112,000 square kilometres (472,000 sq. miles) making it roughly as large as France and Spain combined and is five times the size of the UK.
From the north and running down the centre are the Abyssinian highlands. To the west of the chain the land drops to the grasslands of Sudan, to the east to the deserts of the Afar. South of Addis Ababa, the land is dominated by the Rift Valley Lakes.
Ethiopia’s central plateau varies in height between 2,000 and 3,000 metres. In the north and centre of the country there are some 25 mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 metres (13,200ft), the highest being Ras Dashen at 4,543 metres (14,538 ft.).
The time in Ethiopia is eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States except during Daylight Savings Time in the United States, during which Ethiopian time is seven hours ahead.
The clock on this page reflects the current time in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Calendar
While much of the world marks the passing of days according to the Gregorian calendar, Ethiopia has its own calendar, which is also known as the Ge’ez Calendar. Based upon the ancient Coptic Calendar, the Ethiopian Calendar is seven to eight years behind the Gregorian Calendar, owing to alternate calculations in determining the date of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus.
The Ethiopian Calendar has 12 months of 30 days each, plus five or six additional days (sometimes known as the 13th month), which are added at the end of the year to match the calendar to the solar cycle.
The year is currently 2000, according to the Ethiopian Calendar. Ethiopia celebrated the millennium at midnight on September 12, 2007. The year 2001 began in Ethiopia on September 11, 2008 of the Gregorian Calendar.
Ethiopian Calendar: Gregorian Calendar:
Meskerem (New Year) : 11 September – 10 October
Tikimt : 11 October – 9 November
Hidar : 10 November – 9 December
Tahsas: 10 December – 8 January
Tir : 9 January – 7 February
Yakatit : 8 February – 9 March
Maggabit : 10 March – 8 April
Miyazya : 9 April – 8 May
Ginbot : 9 May – 7 June
Sene : 8 June – 7 July
Hamle : 8 July – 6 August
Nehasa : 7 August – 6 September
Pagume : 6 – 10 September
Ten (10) Surprising Facts About Ethiopia
10. Ethiopian time
Not only do they measure the years differently, but Ethiopians also measure the hours of a day to a different schedule. In a piece of logic that’s kind of hard to argue against, they reckon it’s less confusing if the clock starts when the day does. Thus, sunrise is 1 o’clock and sunset 12. Then the 12-hour night clock sets in. So when buying bus tickets etc., make sure you ask whether departure time is in Ethiopian or Western time.
9. 13 months to the year
Sure, plenty of cultures have their own calendars that they prefer to follow over the Western Gregorian one, but most still abide by the unspoken ’12 months to a year’ rule. Not Ethiopia. Ever looking to buck a trend, the Ethiopians cottoned on several thousand years ago to Spinal Tap’s belief that one more is always better – and have been counting 13 months to their year ever since. What does this mean? Well, that 2014 is still 2006 there. And that canny tourism boards can legitimately claim that the country really does boast ’13 months of sunshine’.
Ethiopia is the only African country never to have been brought under colonial control – a fact that locals will never tire of informing you. And fair enough too. The Italians did give colonisation a crack in 1935 – and succeeded in militarily occupying the country for six years – but Ethiopian forces were waging military opposition the entire time and the whole country was never brought under control. As some of the locals put it, “we waited until they had built us railways and nice buildings… and then kicked them out.”
7. The birthplace of Christian civilisation (?)
With archaeological artefacts evidencing the appointment of Christianity as official state religion back in AD 324, claims have been made that Ethiopia technically qualifies as the world’s first Christian state. Plenty of other experts consider Armenia the rightful occupant of this title; however, it’s really not a debate that we’d care to weigh in on!
6. The birthplace of the Rastafarian movement
Thought it was Jamaica? Nope. While much of the Rastafarian movement did evolve in Jamaica, the spiritual homeland of it is in actual fact Ethiopia. In Amharic, ‘ras’ is a title similar to chief, and ‘tafari’ the first name of Emperor Haile Selassie I – essentially the movement posits Selassie as an incarnation of God. Need further evidence? Just check out the colours on the Ethiopian flag. Familiar no?
5. The birthplace of coffee
You know your morning caffeine shot? Well you’ve got some Ethiopian goats to thank for that. As the story goes, a goat herder way back when noticed his flock’s fondness for a certain bush and decided to give one of the fruits a nibble himself. His day’s herding was notably more efficient for it – and the coffee industry took off from there.
4. The Birthplace of humanity
Several archaeological findings in Ethiopia’s Afar region go quite some way in suggesting that the country may be where we all started out from. In 1972, Donald Johanson and Tim D. White discovered Lucy, a 3.2 million year old hominid skeleton. For years, Lucy was all the rage, embarking on a nine-year worldwide tour and enjoying widespread fame. Then Ardi, also from the Afar region but one million years her senior, rocked up and blew her out of the water. So you arguably also have the Ethiopians to thank for, well… you.
3. Abebe Bikila
In 1960, an Ethiopian by the name of Abebe Bikila became the first black African to win gold in the Olympics. Only making the team selection at the last minute due to another athlete’s broken foot, Bikila opted to run the marathon barefoot, pipping hot favourite Moroccan Rhadi Ben Abdesselam by a full 25 seconds. Four years later, Bikila won the Tokyo Olympics, setting a world record and becoming the first ever person to win the Olympic marathon twice. When asked if he wasn’t tired (he didn’t look it), he answered that he could’ve done with another 10 kilometres!
2. Addis Ababa
Ok, there’s no getting away from the fact that Addis fits the bill of being a big, dusty, overcrowded city. But it’s also home of the African Union, headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and, at an altitude of 2450 metres, the worlds fourth highest capital city. Its name translates to ‘New Flower’ in Amharic.
1. Ethiopia for Vegetarians
Ethiopian cooking is some of the tastiest, healthiest and most diverse cuisine on the continent. And, unlike many African countries, it’s a haven for vegetarians. The simple reason for this is that most Ethiopians follow a particular strand of Orthodox Christianity that prohibits the eating of any animal products on Wednesdays and Fridays. And the happy by-product of this for herbivores is that restaurants tend to always have a few deliciously spicy vegan stews on the menu. It also means that when you say that you don’t eat meat they’ll actually understand the idea, instead of replacing the beef you requested be left off your pizza with, say, chicken.
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