Addis Ababa and Around
There are close to 90 million people divided in over 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia, and they speak over 200 dialects. Ethiopia has never been colonized by a foreign power which has led to its distinctive identity. When we talk of Ethiopia as a cultural destination we think of the tribes in the south which does injustice to the rest of the country because the people in the south are so much more than just a 'cultural attraction'.

There are four linguistic groups in Ethiopia; people who speak Semitic, Cushitic, Nilotic and Omotic languages. The last group of languages is only spoken in the Omo Valley of the area.


Christianity is followed by most of the population in Ethiopia following their very own Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Approximately 34% of the population is Muslim.

Food and drinks

The main traditional food is called 'enjera'; a huge, sour tasting pancake with a spongy structure. It is made from teff a grain unique for the highlands of Ethiopia. The dish is served with all kind of 'wot': meat or vegetable stews. Because there are several fasting days in Ethiopia, it is the perfect place for vegetarians and vegans. The spicy stew is washed down with the local drink called 'tella' and honey-wine 'tej'.

Coffee ceremony

Coffee originated from the Kaffa region in western Ethiopia. Today it is one of the big contributors to the economy. Ethiopians are proud coffee consumers. Coffee ceremonies are very common here, and often follows a series of steps; the fresh beans are washed and roasted over a charcoal fire, while grinding the beans in a mortar, water is boiled and a first cup of coffee is prepared. A second round is prepared next by adding extra water in the coffee pot. The ceremony will finish after the third serving, also known as 'beraka' (luck) - it is polite to take all three servings. During the ceremony incense is burnt, popcorn and roasted barley known as 'kolo' are served. The floor is also covered with fresh grass as a sign of hospitality.

Music and dance

Music and dance is very distinctive and differs from region to region. Instruments like masinko, krar and begena are almost not known outside of Ethiopia. Cultural restaurants in Addis Ababa are a good way of becoming familiar with music from all over the country, meanwhile you can enjoy a wide selection of delicious Ethiopian food.

Calendar and time

History left Ethiopia with its own calendar. It consist of 12 months of 30 days and 1 month of 5 days (6 days in a leap year). New year is celebrated on September 11th (12th in a leap year) and the calendar is between 7 and 8 years behind the Gregorian calendar. Hence the slogans: 'Enjoy 13 months of sunshine'.

As in more countries near to the equator time is measured in 12 hour cycles starting at sunrise, 6.00 in the morning. 07.00 (7 AM) is 1 o'clock in Ethiopia, noon is 6 o'clock and 18.00 (6 PM) is 12 o'clock.

Eastern Ethiopia
Northern Ethiopia
Southern Ethiopia
Western Ethiopia
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