• According to a government projection based on the 2007 census, Ethiopia’s population stands at 89 million, making it the second most populous country in Africa (after Nigeria) and fourteenth in the world. Surprisingly, the only Ethiopian city to top the 500,000 mark is Addis Ababa, home to almost four million people.

• At 1,104,300 square kilometres, Ethiopia is similar in size to Spain, Portugal and continental France combined.

• Around 62 percent of Ethiopians are Christian, with two-thirds being members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Muslims account for 34 percent of the population, and the remainder adhere to traditional animist beliefs.

• The Ethiopian Highlands lie mostly above an elevation of 2000m, and form the most extensive montane region in Africa. At the other end of the spectrum, the Danakil Depression, which dips to 116m below sea level, is one of the lowest (and hottest) points on Earth.

• At least ninety different languages are spoken. Dominant are Oromo (a Cushitic tongue) and Amharic (part of the Semitic group), the first language of respectively 34 percent and 30 percent of the population.

• Ethiopia was formerly known – mainly outside of the country – as Abyssinia. Specifically associated with the former Christian empire of the north-central Ethiopian Highlands, the term is seldom used today as it is perceived to exclude Islamic and other non-Orthodox Ethiopians.

• In 1930, Evelyn Waugh was dispatched to Ethiopia to cover the coronation of Haile Selassie. The trip informed several of his writings, most overtly the 1936 travelogue Waugh in Abyssinia. Another literary figure associated with Ethiopia is the suffragette and anti-colonialist Sylvia Pankhurst, who received a state funeral in Addis Ababa on her death in 1960.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Ethiopia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

A first-timer's guide to Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world: its long archaeological history – which traces back to the first humans – has left behind a successio…

04 Sep 2017 • Nellie Huang insert_drive_file Article
17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundar…

20 May 2016 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January eac…

07 Jan 2016 • Karoki Lewis insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right