Country topographic profile

•  With an area of 1, 112, 000 square kilometers, Ethiopia is as large as France and Spain combined. 

•  From the north and running down the center are the Abyssinian highlands, to the west of the chain the land drops to the grasslands of Sudan, to the east the deserts of the Afar and the Red Sea. South of Addis Ababa, the land is dominated by the Rift Valley Lakes . 

•  The main rivers are the Blue Nile , the Tekezze (which joins the Nile in Sudan ) the Awash, the Wabe Shebelle, the Omo, and Baro and Birbir.


•  The current population is about 71 million, making it the third most populated country in Africa .


•  85% of the populations get their livelihood from the land. Coffee (the word originates from the name of the province Kaffa, in the south west of Ethiopia ) provides 65% of foreign currency earnings. 

•  The opening up of the economy since the overthrow of the previous government in 1991 has created more favorable grounds for development of Ethiopia 's resources. 

•  Ethiopia is the "water tower" of the region (the Blue Nile contributes to 85% of the main Nile flow) and plans are now in progress to better exploit the country's water resources both to boost agricultural production and for power generation. 

•  Mineral exploration and mining has stepped up in recent years-there are reserves of natural gas, coal, Gold, copper, tantalum, potash, zinc, iron ore, marble, precious and semi-precious stones.

•  The export of livestock, skins and hides (Ethiopia has the largest domestic livestock population in Africa) oilseeds, pulses and animal feed makes up the rest of Ethiopia's foreign currency earnings, with tourism set to make an increasingly important contribution.

Health and Medical

•  All volunteer's should be in possession of valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Immunization for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid and Polio is recommended.

•  Malaria: in many sites malaria is not a problem because of the elevation - this is true in Lower Omo Valley for example, but it can occur around Ethiopia at the end of the rainy season and after unseasonable rains. Chloroquine resistant strains have been identified in some areas so you should consult your doctor about the prescription. Alternatively, you can keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay with repellent creams and sprays. (Climatic changes and phenomena such as el-Nino has meant the appearance of Malaria at unseasonable times, and its spread to areas previously malaria free)

•  Volunteers should take a simple first aid pack, which would include: different size plasters, antiseptic cream, anti-histamine cream and/or tablets for insect bites, sun barrier cream (while temperatures are moderate the sun is strong) and anti diarrhea tablets such as Imodium for emergencies (they will not cure the problem but will control the symptoms). Generally, visitors should take out standard holiday health insurance in their home countries.

Money Matters

•  Volunteers should declare all currency in their possession on arrival and only change at banks and authorized foreign exchange dealers. 

•  The Ethiopian currency is the birr , the rate of which against the US dollar is fixed in weekly auctions. (In 2006 the rate fluctuated from 8.60 to 8.70 birr to US$1.00). 

•  In order to change Birr back to Dollars on leaving the country, visitors will be asked to produce bank receipts.