Government, Politics and Economy


The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: it was founded in 1995. The republic’s principle is ‘ethnic federalism’. There are nine regional states (including the city-state of Harar) and two metropolitan regions: Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. The states and regions have their own autonomous councils and hold their own elections. Five of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups have heir own regional states: the Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayans, Afar and Somali.


The Ethiopian economy suffers from two major and very persistent weaknesses: food insecurity and an almost total dependency on coffee for foreign exchange earnings.
Agriculture provides the livelihood of 85% of the population, but droughts, pests and severe soil erosion are causing the earnings from agriculture to be very low.


Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which comprises twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (or six days in a leap year). The calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar with Christmas being celebrated on January 7 and New Year on September 11, which can be extremely confusing to westerners.

Clocks and Time

The Ethiopian clock is similar to many equatorial countries and there is a six-hour difference between Ethiopian and Western time. This means Western 6:00am is 12:00am Ethiopian time and 6pm Western time is 12 noon Ethiopian time. Ethiopia is also three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

However, there is no adjustment of clocks for Winter or Summer Time, so there is no putting clocks backward or forward an hour. Being close to the Equator there is almost twelve hours of constant daylight. In Addis Ababa, sunrise begins at around 06.30 and sunset is about 18:45.

Amharic is the official language o Ethiopia, although English, Italian, French and Arabic are widely spoken. Ethiopians are proud of their rich tongue and frequently make the point that its vocabulary is as extensive as that of English, if not more so and that English should be used for foreign correspondence. But English is still widely spoken and remains a principal medium of instruction in secondary schools.

In addition to Amharic, with the unique and elegant alphabet, there are around 80 local languages and about 200 dialects in the country.


Ethiopian enjoys complete freedom of religion. However, two religions are professed by the great majority: Christianity, as practiced by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Islam.

Other Christian churches are also present, although as minorities, including Catholic, Evangelical, and Adventist. Judaism has been represented for a long time by a group called Beta-Isarael, although today they have little representation because the majorities have emigrated to Israel.