What’s EtHioPiA?

Here you can learn more about this far away land called Ethiopia! Enjoy!

Location: Ethiopia is located in East Africa, it’s a landlocked country bordered by Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya.

Area: 1,127,127 sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US.

Capital City: Addis Ababa – This is where we will be living and working!

Population: Over 73 million people live in Ethiopia

Language: Amharic is Ethiopia’s official language and the most widely spoken, others include: Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, and Arabic. English is the major foreign language taught in schools.

Here a few phrases we learned while we were there!

  • Thank you: amesege’nallo’ -Our teammates taught us to say this by saying “I’m a soggy marshmallow”.
  • Hello: teanaste’lle’n -Because of a strong Italian presence in the past, Ethiopians often say “chow” for bye.
  • Is there peace?: Salamno -This is a common greeting that we learned to use.

Religion: Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, and other 3%-8%.

  • While you might be familiar with Orthodox, “Ethiopian Orthodox” is different. The theology is different and would be considered incorrect in relation to the Orthodox we know of and understand in the US.

Climate: Ethiopia’s climate is extremely varied and despite being close to the equator doesn’t follow the typical tropical climate patterns. One the driest and hottest places on earth is the Danakil Depression in Northern Ethiopia. Central Ethiopia is a vast plateau known as the Ethiopian Highlands. Cool temperatures prevail here and the higher peaks have snow in winter. Southern Ethiopia and the surrounding lowlands enjoy a tropical climate with lots of heat and humidity. There is a rainy season from mid-June to mid-September and some rain also falls from February – March.

  • While we were in Addis in October the evenings and early mornings were around 50 degrees or even cooler. The day hours reached between 70-80. It was beautiful weather!

Currency: the Birr. 1 Birr is divided into 100 cents. There are 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Birr notes. The Birr is very stable and there is no significant difference between the official rate and black market rate.

  • Currently about $17 to $1 of ours

Food: Ethiopia’s staple food is injera, a spongy bread made of a unique crop only grown in Ethiopia called “teff.” Injera is baked in a clay pan and eaten with sauce made of either meat, ground grains, beans or vegetables. The following recipe for Misir Wat is served with injera, which you can buy from an Ethiopian market or restaurant. If you would like to make your own injera, get a recipe online and visit your local health food store to buy teff in the bulk grains section.

  • There are a couple of Ethiopian restaurants in Indianapolis and one of them has a store connected to it where teff is available!
  • Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands and shared in a communal setting.


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