|Preface Last Updated: 1/15/2004
An assignment to Ethiopia offers an opportunity to live and work
in a country with a rich and diverse culture and a heritage and
history of independence among the longest and proudest on the
The 17 years of revolution under the cruel, dictatorial Mengistu
regime ended in 1991. Since then, the Ethiopian Government has been
working toward the creation of a democratically based government and
a free market economy. Much progress remains to be made,
infrastructures created, and habits changed. Western donors,
including the U.S., are encouraging the Ethiopian Government through
assistance programs directed toward food security, democracy and
governance, and extensive privatization.
Ethiopia is a poor country that suffers from recurring droughts
and famines. The international community attempts to assist the
government to alleviate, and increasingly to prevent, these natural
and human disasters from recurring. The U.S. remains one of the
largest donors in this effort.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:45 AM
Ethiopia, part of the Horn of Africa, borders Eritrea, Sudan,
Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti. It has an area of 1,127,127 square
kilometers, slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Only 12% of
the total land area is arable, with about 85% of the people
dependent on agriculture or animal husbandry for subsistence.
The terrain consists of high plateaus, mountains, and dry lowland
plains. Ethiopia has some of the world’s most rugged and beautiful
scenery. Changes in vegetation and terrain offer striking
differences and are readily apparent when traveling in any direction
from Addis Ababa. Fertile farmland, high mountains with crater
lakes, deep canyons and abysses, low-lying savannas, and deserts are
some of the many aspects of Ethiopia’s topography. The climate
varies from temperate in the highlands to hot in the lowlands.
Addis Ababa’s altitude is above 8,000 feet, making this a high
altitude post. Three weeks or more are required to acclimate, which
must be repeated after an absence from post of more than two weeks.
Addis Ababa has two primary seasons: a dry season from October to
February, and for the rest of the year, a rainy season, divided into
“small rains” and “big rains.” The small rains, February through
April, are generally intermittent showers. The big rains, June
through September or longer, usually bring heavy daily
precipitation. The big rains are rarely continuous, and sunny
mornings or afternoons can be expected on many days. Average annual
rainfall in Addis Ababa is 50 inches (while by comparison,
Washington, D.C. has 41 inches).
Daytime temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year. The
dry season has bright, sunny days with moderate to cool
temperatures; nights are chilly. The average daily temperature in
Addis Ababa is 62.9ºF. Daytime temperatures are rarely above 80ºF.
Sharp drops in temperature occur in late afternoon, sometimes making
outside entertainment uncomfortable after 5 p.m. Night temperatures
drop to the low 40’s from November to January and are warmer in the
period from February to May.
Population Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:47 AM
Ethiopia’s population of about 61 million is growing by more than
2% annually. Per capita income is roughly $120 a year, one of the
world’s lowest. Major ethnic groups include Oromo (40%), Amhara
(20%), Tigrayan (12%), and Sidama (9%). Other groups include
Shankella, Gurage, Welaita, Somali, and Afar.
The official language is Amharic. English is spoken by the
educated elite and trades people, and some older people also speak
Italian. Other languages spoken are Tigrigna, Oromiffa, Afara,
Somali, Arabic, and French.
The eye-catching dress of the Amhara men, which, nowadays is seen
only on festive occasions, consists of jodhpur-type trousers worn
with a white cotton “shamma” (toga) thrown over the shoulders.
Western style suits are worn for business. Women wear a loose,
flowing shamma over a long, white, full-skirted dress, usually with
colorful embroidered borders on both the dress and shamma.
The main food of the highland people is a spicy dish called
“wot,” which is eaten with “injera,” a thin, large, flat, spongy
bread, made from a grass-like grain called “teff,” and having a
somewhat sour taste. (Teff is a range grass known in the U.S. as
lovegrass.) Wot is a highly spiced stew prepared with meat, fish,
poultry, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables, or a combination, and is
eaten by hand spooning with pieces of injera. The local beverages
include “tedj” (mead) made from a honey base, and “tella” (beer).
Both are intoxicating. Ethiopian coffee, an intense brew, is served
as a drink of hospitality and after every meal.
Ethiopian custom is to name persons to emphasize their
individuality. Family names and groups are identified by their
surnames through only one generation. A child receives a given name
from its parents and adopts the first name of the father as a second
or surname. When a woman marries, she does not change her name to
that of her husband. Her title changes from “Woizerit” (Miss) to
“Woizero” (Mrs.). Persons are universally addressed by their first
name rather than their surname, with “Ato,” (Mr.) Woizero or
Woizerit preceding the name.
The Ethiopian calendar varies from the Gregorian in that it has
12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of 5 days (or 6 in leap year).
The New Year begins on Meskerem 1 (September 11). The Ethiopian
24-hour day begins at sunrise (6 a.m.). Therefore, 7 a.m. by the
Western standard is called 1 o’clock. However, business is usually
conducted by European time and calendar.
Major religions are: Ethiopian Orthodox 45%, Muslim 45%, and the
remainder divided among animists, Protestants, and Roman Catholics.
Many Ethiopians are deeply religious and observe fasting and feasts
throughout the year, but Easter is by far the most important holiday
for the Orthodox. The gayest and most spectacular festivals are
Timket or Epiphany (in January) and Meskel (in September), the
latter commemorating the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena.
Christianity came to Ethiopia in the fourth century. The
established Ethiopian Orthodox Church, formerly linked
administratively to the Egyptian Coptic Church headquartered in
Alexandria, became autonomous in 1948. The Orthodox faith,
traditionally associated with the Ethiopian (Abyssinian) culture of
the highlands, was, until the overthrow of the Emperor, the official
state religion. Ethiopia is now a secular state.
Islam first came to Ethiopia around 622 in Aksum in the far north
of the country, when the Prophet Mohammed’s disciples sought refuge.
An Islamic military conquest of most areas of Ethiopia occurred in
the mid-16th century, and it was only under Menelik II that
religious freedom was restored in the late 19th century.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:49 AM
Under its Constitution, adopted in 1994, Ethiopia has a
parliamentary form of government, headed by a Prime Minister. The
bicameral parliament, comprised of the 545-member House of Peoples
Representatives (elected) and the 115-member House of Federation
(appointed by the regional state councils), is made up largely of
members of the ruling political coalition, the Ethiopian People’s
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Some opposition and private
candidates were elected in May 2000. The EPRDF includes a large
number of primarily ethnically based component parties, the most
influential of which by far is the Tigrayan People’s Liberation
Front (TPLF), led by a politburo of which the Prime Minister and his
most trusted advisers are members. Ethiopia’s government is
structured as a federalist system, ethnically based. The 1994
Constitution redrew regional borders along ethnic lines, to the
extent possible, and on paper devolved significant authority to
regional governments. Ethnic federalism remains an experiment to
date, but the regions do have some autonomy in areas of governance.
The EPRDF swept to power in 1991 by overthrowing the totalitarian
Communist regime, known as the Derg, of Colonel Mengistu Haile
Mariam. The Derg, which seized power in 1974 from Emperor Haile
Selassie, was marked by brutality, especially during the “Red
Terror” of the late 1970’s, and massive militarization largely
funded by the Soviet Union and Cuba. The Derg’s strength was
undermined by droughts and famine in the mid-1980s, but its collapse
was hastened by several internal insurgent groups, including the
Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), which sought Eritrea’s
independence from Ethiopia, and the TPLF. As the struggle against
the Derg continued, the TPLF allied itself with other ethnically
based insurgent groups, forming the EPRDF.
Following the fall of the Derg, the EPRDF, the Oromo Liberation
Front (OLF-the Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group) and others
formed a transitional government, which governed until national
elections in 1995. During that period, the OLF left the government,
and members of some other political groupings were expelled.
Eritreans, including many resident in Ethiopia, voted in favor of
independence in a 1993 referendum, and Eritrea became a sovereign
state. The May 1995 elections were boycotted by most groups in
opposition to the EPRDF, and were marred by allegations of fraud and
misconduct; nonetheless, they were found to be generally free and
fair by international observers. General elections were held again
in May 2000 and opposition parties scored great success.
Following his overthrow in 1991, Derg dictator Mengistu went into
exile in Zimbabwe, where he remains. Some 2,500 other Derg officials
also took refuge outside Ethiopia. The current government
established a Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) in 1991, to
investigate and try cases of Derg extrajudicial killing, torture,
detention without charge and other forms of brutality. As of the end
of 1999, charges had been brought against over 5,000 persons, about
half of whom were in detention.
Ethiopia has diplomatic relations with more than 90 countries,
some 75 of which maintain missions in Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian
capital is the home of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and
the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Numerous other
international organizations are also represented here.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:52 AM
One of the goals of Ethiopia’s transitional government was to
broaden access to education. Results of these efforts are yet to
show obvious results, but overall there has been a significant
increase of budgetary allocations in the educational system
throughout the country.
The government, many donor countries and organizations have
committed enormous resources to upgrading educational standards in
Ethiopia. USAID has a major program to improve the quality and
equity of primary schooling as the system expands. Efforts are
underway to accommodate demand for schooling at all levels. Despite
the overwhelming problems, educational opportunities are expanding,
but unfortunately not enough to keep abreast of population growth.
The Peace Corps began an active teacher-training program in fall
1995, but withdrew from the country in 1999.
Expansion efforts have been targeted at sectors of the population
traditionally deprived of access to education, primarily girls, the
rural and less sedentary populations. Current policy aims at
universal primary education, although it will take decades to
achieve this. As of 1999, more than 5.8 million children attended
primary (grades 1–8) school. Instruction for primary students is in
the local or regional language, but changes to English at grade 7.
Participation rates for primary schools have dramatically increased
since 1994, from 24% to 45.8%. Government policies strongly favor
female participation in primary education, but girls lag boys in
attendance significantly in many areas of the country. Junior and
secondary schooling share many problems with primary, but the
largest present concern is with issues of access, quality, and
relevance of education.
The Ethiopian Government has encouraged community participation
in the expansion of education. The Ministry of Education faces
monumental problems in trying to provide education for all
Ethiopians, particularly given severe budgetary constraints and its
efforts to install a decentralized system of education. Expansion
needs to accelerate, and the challenge will be to ensure that
quality is not to be sacrificed for quantity.
Opportunity for higher education also has expanded in Ethiopia,
but entrance into institutions has become extremely competitive. The
number of high school graduates far exceeds the number of places
available in the institutes of higher learning, which now include
six public universities, 11 specialized colleges, and a number of
teacher training colleges and institutes, offering 2-, 3-, and
4-year programs. The Addis Ababa University celebrates its 50th
anniversary in 2000. Many students go abroad each year to study in
the West and India.
The Ethiopian artistic community is small but active. Many
artists derive their inspiration from the ancient Ethiopian
Christian paintings that decorate churches and monasteries. A
substantial effort is underway to collect and preserve valuable
paintings and manuscripts gathered from Ethiopian Orthodox churches.
The Institute of Ethiopian Studies at Addis Ababa University has a
recently renovated museum that includes a wide ranging collection of
Ethiopian church paintings and manuscripts. Ethiopia is also famous
for its unique crosses, some of which are quite old. The National
Museum has an interesting archeological collection, including the
famous fossilized “Lucy,” the oldest primate skeleton; and also a
collection of imperial objects taken from the various palaces
following the revolution.
Ethiopia has a rich musical heritage; encompassing a wide variety
of styles derived from the country’s many ethnic groups. Ethiopians
are very proud of their traditional music and dance, and most
theaters have regular cultural shows. Popular musicians and singers
also perform in small bars throughout Addis Ababa and have an
enthusiastic following among young and old. Western classical music
is not especially popular among Ethiopians, and is generally
performed only for foreign audiences, yet is part of the basic
curriculum at the country’s major music school.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:54 AM
After the downfall of the Marxist Derg regime in 1991, Ethiopia
began moving away from central planning for the economy and
implementing open market policies. The government passed legislation
to allow private banking and insurance companies, established
incentives to attract foreign investment, and reduced bureaucratic
hurdles and delays in registering businesses. The government also
has opened up the power and telecommunications sectors to permit
foreign investment. The exchange rate is determined by a weekly
auction. Over the 12 months ending in May 2000, the value of the
birr fell from 7.65 to the dollar to 8.20 to the dollar.
The macroeconomic picture for Ethiopia in mid-2000 after eight
years of steady growth is uncertain because of border hostilities
with Eritrea and drought. Business has slowed enormously since May
1998 and inflation exceeds 10%. A significant amount of government
expenditure goes to support the military, reducing the amount of
funds available for other projects.
Ethiopia’s infrastructure is one of the most underdeveloped in
all Africa, which has hampered economic growth. However, this
situation is beginning to change. The World Bank is providing $350
million to upgrade Ethiopia’s road network as part of the
government’s Road Sector Improvement program. Ethiopia’s lone
railway, stretching from Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti, is
also undergoing renovation. Ethiopia is committed to increasing the
number of telephone lines by 700,000 over the next decade and has
awarded contracts for the development of cellular telephone
services. The national air carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, provides
quality service to 37 domestic and 42 international destinations
throughout Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America
utilizing primarily Boeing aircraft.
Agriculture is Ethiopia’s most promising sector, contributing
half of the country’s GNP, more than 80% of its exports, and
three-fourths of the country’s employment. The country has a strong
potential for self-sufficiency and even export development in
grains, livestock, vegetables and fruits. This sector, however, is
plagued by periodic drought, soil degradation caused by overgrazing,
deforestation, and high population density, and a poor road network
that makes it difficult for farmers to get their goods to market.
The major export crop is coffee, which generates over 60% of
Ethiopia’s foreign exchange earnings. Other traditional agricultural
exports are hides and skins, textiles, fruits and vegetables,
flowers, honey and beeswax, pulses, oilseeds and “khat,” a leafy
shrub with mild narcotic qualities when chewed.
Gold, marble, limestone and tantalum are mined in Ethiopia. Other
resources with potential for commercial development include potash,
natural gas, iron ore, coal, and possibly oil and geothermal energy.
Ethiopia has vast hydroelectric potential that remains untapped. At
present, however, Ethiopia is totally dependent on imports of oil
for its manufacturing industries, vehicles and other petroleum
needs. New hydroelectric projects are expected to triple the
country’s power generation by 2005. A landlocked country, Ethiopia
uses the port of Djibouti for international trade.
Automobiles Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:55 AM
Although smaller vehicles dominate Addis Ababa’s busy streets,
post recommends strongly that employees ship a four-wheel-drive or
some other type of sturdy vehicle with high ground clearance and
heavy duty suspension for safety reasons, given the poor road
conditions within and outside the city. Bring air, oil, and fuel
filters; spark plugs; spare tires and inner tubes; extra windshield
wipers; plus all required extra supplies and parts. Ethiopian
traffic moves on the right, as in America, rather than to the left,
as in Britain.
Used cars may be purchased duty free from members of the Embassy
or other diplomatic missions. Government direct-hire employees are
permitted to import or purchase one duty-free car per 3-year period.
Ethiopian mechanics and facilities are fair, and some spare parts
are available. The liberalization of the economy is facilitating a
growing automotive service sector, but this still is primitive.
Duty-free gasoline is available to all official personnel
entitled to customs exemptions. Gasoline costs were about $1.50 per
gallon and diesel fuel about $1.00 per gallon in the spring of 2000.
High-octane and unleaded fuel are not available, so vehicles shipped
here should not have catalytic converters. Some employees claim that
octane boosters brought with their consumable shipment have improved
Proof of purchase of third-party liability insurance from the
Ethiopian Insurance Corporation or another local firm is required
before a vehicle can be licensed. Insurance rates are comparable to
those in the U.S. Most employees obtain comprehensive insurance from
U.S. companies. Insurance on a personally owned vehicle is at
A valid U.S. driver’s license is needed to obtain an Ethiopian
driver's license. Ethiopia will not let you drive with an
international license or licenses from most other countries. Fees
for an Ethiopian driver’s license are a personal expense.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:02 AM
Taxi and bus service is inadequate and considered dangerous due
to the high frequency of accidents, many of them serious or fatal. A
privately owned vehicle is highly recommended.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:02 AM
Ethiopian Airlines connects with the major cities in the country,
and along with other regional airlines, serves Nairobi, Djibouti,
and other African cities regularly.
International flights are currently available from Addis Ababa to
Europe on Ethiopian Airlines (Rome, Athens, Frankfurt, and London)
and Lufthansa (Frankfurt). In addition, flights are available to a
variety of locations in Africa and the Middle East, as well as
Bombay, Bangkok, Beijing, and the U.S.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:03
Telephone service is available in all Mission houses. Although
the heavy rains affect service, it is dependable most of the time.
The Embassy issues VHF handheld radios to provide reliable emergency
communications within the official community. Long-distance
telephone calls to the U.S. are via satellite and can be dialed
directly. The cost is about $3 a minute, and reception is usually
good. It is less expensive to place a collect call from Addis Ababa
to the U.S.; the least expensive method is direct dial from the U.S.
Internet Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:03 AM
Internet service is poor and limited, but there are plans to
expand service providers beyond the current state monopoly sometime
in the future. Currently, those wanting internet service must spend
months on a waiting list, then pay $75 per month for 45 hours of
use. Additional usage costs $4 per hour.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:04 AM
Addis Ababa is a Category B post. Personal or official mail
destined for the Department of State or to a category B post needs
Personal mail sent through the pouch must show a complete and
valid return address. Mail initiated in the United States for
transmission through the USPS must have sufficient postage affixed.
Each package must weigh no more than 45 pounds, have a maximum
length of 24 inches and not exceed 62 inches in length and girth
The proper mailing address format for Addis Ababa personal mail
Name of Individual (Section or Agency)
2030 Addis Ababa Pl
Dulles, VA. 20189–2030
The proper mailing address format for Addis Ababa official mail
Name of Individual (Section or Agency)
Department of State
Washington, DC 20521–2030
Pouch mail can take from 14 to 21 days between Washington, D.C.
and post. Except for rolls of film, single video cassettes, or
orders being returned to a U.S. vendor, packages may not be sent
from post by pouch, except for the Homeward Bound program. Packages
may be sent under a cost reimbursable arrangement under this
Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:05 AM
A short-wave radio is useful in Ethiopia, and reception is fair
for the Voice of America and BBC. The Voice of Ethiopia Radio, which
broadcasts on AM, FM, and short-wave stations, carries daily 1-hour
broadcasts in English. Programming is good and includes news and
various magazine-style shows.
Ethiopian Television broadcasts 4 hours daily, including a 1-hour
news program in English. Telecasts are in the 625 PAL format, which
is used throughout most of Europe and Africa. Programming is about
50% in local languages, the remainder being films and documentaries.
An increasing amount of programming is being received from the U.S.
and the West, but the majority is produced locally. Well-stocked
video shops have opened in Addis Ababa, and cassettes are generally
VHS or PAL; bring a VCR, preferably a multisystem multivoltage one.
The Embassy Public Affairs Office receives the Department of State
Worldnet Satellite TV service daily directly from the U.S. CNN and
AFRTS TV signals are received and shown in the Embassy coffeeshop
(Tun Tavern). All Mission homes have satellite TV through the Armed
Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). This includes sports,
news, movies, and other types of American commercial television
programming without the commercials. It is also possible to
subscribe for $50.00 a month to a South African-based satellite
service that provides about 20 channels of news, sports, and movie
entertainment, but this also requires one-time hookup expense
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
1/15/2004 12:06 AM
Personal subscriptions to the International Herald Tribune and
overseas editions of Time and Newsweek can be ordered or purchased
locally. The Tribune arrives regularly, usually 10–12 days later
than its publication date. Delivery of U.S. magazines usually takes
about 2 weeks. The Tukul Library, located on the Embassy compound,
has an improving selection of books, including recent bestsellers; a
collection of specialized books such as cookbooks, nature, sports,
and plays; children’s books; an excellent African-Ethiopian
collection; and some reference materials, including travel
information. The Tukul Library also has a VHS video cassette
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:06 AM
A well-equipped Health Unit, staffed by a regional medical
officer (RMO), an Ethiopian registered nurse, and a local national
laboratory technician, is located on the Embassy compound. In
addition, the Health Unit has three Western-trained physicians as
consultants (pediatrician, internist-cardiologist, and surgeon). The
Health Unit is open during work hours, and duty personnel are
available afterhours and on holidays.
Patients requiring further evaluation and treatment or
hospitalization are usually evacuated to Nairobi, London or
Pretoria. If an emergency medical problem makes travel impractical,
local facilities are used. Nairobi remains the regional dentevac
Have all routine and necessary dental work done before arrival at
post. Orthodontia, root canal treatments, prostheses, etc.,
generally are not available, and local procedures are not advisable.
Acute eye conditions can be treated, but chronic diseases should be
taken care of before arrival. Bring an adequate supply for your tour
if you need continued medications.
Health and Medicine
Community Health Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:07 AM
Common diseases in Ethiopia include malaria, trachoma,
tuberculosis, hepatitis, schistosomiasis, venereal diseases
(including HIV/AIDS), influenza and common colds, parasitic and
bacillary dysentery, and eye, ear, and skin infections. However, the
Addis Ababa area is free of malaria-bearing mosquitoes. Domestic
animals face a serious problem of tick fever for dogs and distemper
Health and Medicine
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:08 AM
You will be thoroughly briefed and receive a copy of the post’s
Medical Health and Information Booklet on arrival. Follow this
information, and you should have no special problems. The 8,700-foot
altitude of the Embassy compound can cause dizziness, insomnia,
fatigue, and shortness of breath. Symptoms usually subside after a
few weeks at post. Persons with heart or chronic pulmonary diseases
should not accept assignment to this post.
Take malaria suppressants weekly to improve prophylaxis when
traveling to lower altitudes. Too many people think that these pills
are 100% effective, but they are not, and need to be supplemented by
mosquito netting, insecticides, and repellants.
Incidence of infectious hepatitis among Americans has been small,
but it is widespread in the local community. To minimize the risk of
amebic and bacillary dysentery, you must demand scrupulous
cleanliness and proper food care. Food handlers in the home should
have periodic stool examinations. In restaurants and at social
functions, order well-cooked food and avoid salads, milk products,
and ice cubes. Always order bottled water.
Tapwater is unsafe and must be boiled and filtered before
drinking. Embassy houses are equipped with water distillers.
Powdered or canned milk is recommended over fresh milk or milk
products, but milk can be boiled and filtered as well. Long-life
sterilized milk is often available in local stores or in the
Fruits and vegetables must be cooked or peeled before eating.
Leafy vegetables must be treated by soaking with bleach, or an
equivalent, to kill bacteria. All local meats must be cooked
thoroughly to avoid tapeworm.
The danger of severe sunburn cannot be overlooked. The high
altitude makes exposure to the sun more dangerous than at lower
altitudes. Bring sunscreen and use sun hats.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/15/2004
Limited employment opportunities are available for family members
in Addis Ababa. The two governments signed a bilateral work
agreement in September 1999. There are FMA (family member
appointment) or personal service contract (PSC) positions within the
Mission, and jobs within the Employee Association. Occasionally
there are teaching openings with the International Community School
(ICS) of Addis Ababa, a K–12 school.
Some international organizations offer periodic employment as
well. Those interested in employment should contact the Embassy’s
Human Resources Officer or the Community Liaison Office.
American Embassy - Addis Ababa
Post City Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:09 AM
Addis Ababa, or “new flower,” with an estimated population of
over 3 million, spreads over a large hilly area in the mountains of
the central highlands. The climate is temperate and pleasant most of
the year. This high mountain settlement, a very new city by
Ethiopian standards, became the capital in 1890.
Its architecture is a combination of older, Italian-style
buildings, modern offices and apartments, Western-style villas, and
mud-walled, tin-roofed dwellings. Slum areas are scattered about the
city, as are attractive and well-groomed homes.
Only a few of the main streets have names that are generally
known or used. Street signs are rare, and although businesses and
residences have house numbers, these appear to be in random order
and are difficult to locate. The main streets are paved, but many
side streets are rocky and, in the rainy season, muddy. All streets
suffer from neglect and large potholes. Traffic is impaired not only
by road conditions, but also by unruly drivers, animals, pedestrians
walking on the roadway, and poor street lighting. Road accident
rates in Addis Ababa are high, fatalities frequent, and medical care
Addis Ababa is often called the “Capital of Africa” because the
Organization of African Unity (OAU) makes the city its headquarters.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) was
established here in 1958 as well, and many international conferences
are held in its impressive Africa Hall.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:11 AM
Diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and the U.S. began in 1903
when a Treaty of Commerce was negotiated in Addis Ababa by Robert P.
Skinner. From 1906 until 1913, the U.S. was represented in Ethiopia
first by a consular agent and later by a minister resident. The
first American Legation opened in Addis Ababa on March 1, 1928, and
closed in November 1936, following the Italian occupation. It
reopened September 1, 1943, after Ethiopia’s liberation, and was
raised to Embassy status May 3, 1949. During the Derg period,
relations were strained; the rank of the Chief of Mission was raised
from Charge d’Affaires to Ambassador in 1992, following the Derg’s
In a letter from Emperor Haile Selassie I dated August 24, 1944,
the Government of Ethiopia transferred title of the 20-acre Embassy
compound to the U.S. Government. Copies of the letter and the reply
from Franklin Roosevelt are on display in the Administration
Building and at the Ambassador’s residence. Mission offices are
located on the Chancery compound, except for USAID offices, three
leased warehouses, and the Commercial Library.
Duty hours are 7:45 am to 5:15 pm, with lunch from 12:15 pm to 1
pm, Monday through Thursday, and 7:45 am to 12:45 pm, Friday. Since
most American and Ethiopian employees live some distance from the
compound, a snack bar serves breakfast and lunch.
All new employees are met and assisted through Customs at the
airport on arrival. In the event of a problem, call the Embassy at
55-06-66, 55-25-58, or 55-01-99 and ask for the Human Resources
Officer, or after office hours, for the duty officer.
New arrivals are assigned sponsors. If quarters are immediately
available, the sponsor will make preliminary arrangements to set up
your household. Hotel reservations are made if permanent quarters
are not immediately available. Your sponsor also assists in your
office check-in and getting you settled. The Community Liaison
Office has a very active newcomers welcoming program.
Housing Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:12 AM
The Mission maintains 15 residences on the compound and leases 50
others in off-compound residential areas: Old Airport (near the
International Community School) and Bole Road (near the
international airport and the USAID offices) are the two largest
concentrations of leased housing. The General Services Section and
USAID Executive Office obtain all leased housing. Housing
assignments are made by the Inter-Agency Housing Board, in
accordance with the post Housing Handbook.
MSG watchstanders reside in the Marine House located on the
Embassy compound. The MSG Detachment Commander will provide details
on facilities and entitlements to incoming MSG personnel. The MSG
Detachment Commander and family also occupy government-owned
quarters located on the Embassy compound. The DAO residence is a
dedicated house off the main compound. Other DAO personnel
frequently occupy U.S. Government-leased quarters on the economy;
however the possibility exists that the post Inter-Agency Housing
Board (IAHB) assign enlisted personnel to quarters on Embassy
compound. Temporary lodging allowance is authorized for all DAO
permanent party until they can relocate to temporary or permanent
quarters. Every effort is made to house long-term (45 days or more)
DOD temporary duty personnel in U.S. Government-leased temporary
quarters. Short-term temporary duty personnel will be quartered in
local hotels within per diem.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:12 AM
The Embassy makes every effort to permanently house new arrivals,
but it may be necessary for personnel to stay in transient quarters
or a hotel until permanent quarters become available.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:13 AM
Personnel are housed in government-owned or government-leased
quarters. Government-owned housing is on the Ambassador’s Residence
Embassy Compound Embassy compound where the Ambassador and DCM
residences are located. On-compound housing also is provided to the
Marine Security Guard Detachment and others.
Leased housing consists mostly of single-family houses. A typical
house has an entrance hall, living/dining room, three bedrooms, two
baths, kitchen, storage room (often an extra bedroom), and separate
servants quarters. Most houses have fireplaces, which are very
useful on cold evenings, as no houses have central heating. The
Embassy supplies firewood and small electric space heaters. Some use
electric blankets for additional warmth at night, especially during
the rainy season. All rented housing units need extensive
“make-ready”work prior to initial occupancy. Our Housing Handbook
provides a great deal of information on applicable policies and
If your family has special housing needs, send your requirements
to post as soon as possible. Location of housing in relation to
school and work is one of the factors considered by the post
Inter-Agency Housing Board in assigning housing to incoming
Furnishings Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:14 AM
All housing is completely furnished with furniture, carpeting,
and draperies. The following furnishings are usually provided:
Living room: sofa, love seat, chairs, coffee table, end tables,
lamps, rug, and draperies. Dining room: buffet, china cabinet,
dining table with 6 to 10 chairs, rug, and draperies. Kitchen: gas
or electric stove, refrigerator, freezer, microwave oven, vacuum
cleaner, water distiller, fire extinguisher, and cabinets (if
built-in cabinets are not adequate). Master bedroom: two twin beds
or a queen-size bed, chest of drawers, dresser, mirror, night
tables, lamps, desk and chair, side chair, electric heater, rug, and
draperies. Additional bedrooms: same as master bedroom, but without
desk. Bathroom: medicine cabinet, mirror, shower rod, and towel
rack. Additional items: washer and dryer are provided. Transformers
for government-owned appliances and two additional units are
provided. Some garden tools are also provided if available.
Employees are responsible for providing transformers for personal
appliances and equipment as well as plugs or adapters designed to
fit the European outlets common to leased houses or the British
three-prong plugs in the compound housing (both types can be
purchased in Addis Ababa). The furnishings listed above represent
the maximum normally issued. However, these may be modified on the
basis of representational requirements, size of quarters, number of
family members, and the availability of furnishings and funds. For
more details on furnishings, write to the general services officer.
Employees must supply their own china, glassware, flatware,
kitchen utensils, table linens, bedding, towels, iron and ironing
board, small kitchen appliances, scatter rugs, and cleaning
implements such as brooms, mops, sponges, etc. Bring knickknacks,
pictures, vases, books, radio, tape recorder, TV, VCR, stereo,
step-down transformers, and whatever else you need to give your home
a personal touch.
A Hospitality Kit is provided until the employee’s airfreight
shipment (UAB) arrives. This kit contains the essentials for
housekeeping; i.e., sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, dishes,
flatware, cooking utensils, iron, and ironing board.
DAO personnel are authorized U.S. Governmentowned basic furniture
provided by DIA. Furnishings include major appliances, and although
a Welcome Kit is available, personnel must provide their own china,
glassware, bed and bath linens and kitchen utensils. DAO personnel
are authorized shipment of 25% of JTR HHG weight allowance, plus
1,000 pounds of hold baggage and 2,500 pounds of consumables.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:14 AM
Electric current is 220v, 50-cycle, AC. Transformers are needed
for all 110v electrical appliances. Although voltage fluctuates,
variable voltage regulators are unnecessary. Computer and other
sensitive electronic equipment should be protected by voltage
The kitchens in some houses have electric stoves, while others
use bottled gas. Intermittent gas shortages occur, but
self-rationing relieves demand. Hot water is supplied from electric
heaters in kitchens and bathrooms.
In the off-compound housing, electric wall sockets (220v) require
the European-style round, two-pronged plugs. Adapters for U.S.
appliances are available locally. In the on-compound housing,
British three-prong (square) fused and switched outlets are in use.
It is not uncommon to experience electrical power outages,
occasionally lasting hours. Each house has an emergency generator.
Water shortages occur, especially during the dry season. The
Embassy attempts to meet basic demand by the use of a water truck,
and by building water-holding tanks at each house off the compound.
Food Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:15 AM
The post has a commissary operated by the Employee Association,
which supplies basic items to new arrivals and TDY personnel and to
supplement consumable shipments. Due to high transportation costs,
commissary prices are considerably higher than in the U.S.
Employees, especially those with families, should ship a partial
consumable allowance (about 1,000 pounds net weight), including
staples such as flour, sugar, salt, shortening, oil, powdered milk,
condiments, spices, cleaning supplies, paper products, pet food,
baby food, and snack and specialty food items. Once at post, you can
determine additional needs. The remainder of the consumable
allowance must be shipped within a year of your arrival. The post
Community Liaison Office has a good listing of items suggested for a
consumable shipment that is sent to personnel assigned to post with
the initial welcome material.
In addition to the basics, the commissary has a limited variety
of foods, including canned goods, cereals (hot and cold), crackers,
pasta, spices, condiments, local eggs, dairy products, meat, fruit
juice, cleaning supplies, paper products, and toiletries.
Vegetables such as potatoes, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots,
zucchini, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, leaf lettuce, spinach,
beets, artichokes, and avocados are abundant much of the year on the
local economy, though the quality varies with the season. Many
families have their own vegetable gardens that are very productive
due to the long growing season. Fresh fruits such as bananas,
oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, papayas, melons, mangoes,
pineapples, plums, and strawberries usually are plentiful. A variety
of meats (beef, lamb, veal, fish, pork, and chicken) are available,
but the quality is uneven. The variety and availability of locally
supplied food have been improving over the past several years.
Fresh milk and dairy products are sold locally, but the milk must
be boiled before use. Non-fat powdered milk is usually stocked in
the commissary, and full-fat powdered milk is available at local
shops. Bread can be purchased locally. Baked goods are usually
prepared at home. European-style grocery stores are opening
throughout Addis Ababa, with an increasingly wide variety of
products, mostly imported from Italy. Availability can be quite
good, including a wide selection of wine, but prices are high.
The commissary stocks a limited variety of liquor, liqueurs,
wine, beer, and local soft drinks; sale of alcohol is controlled.
Cigarettes are also sold at the commissary.
A cookbook with recipes for high altitude cooking is useful, and
several are included in the Recommended Reading.
The Embassy coffee shop, operated by the Employee Association,
offers complete breakfast and lunch on weekdays, and cold lunch on
Clothing Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:16 AM
Bring enough clothing for your tour, supplement your wardrobes by
mail order from the U.S., or buy when traveling to the U.S. or
Europe on leave. Addis Ababa has some reliable local dressmakers,
but bring fabrics from the U.S. Clothing can be custom made and
prices are very reasonable.
Bring bathing suits for the entire family. You will need two or
three pairs of sturdy walking shoes since sidewalks are few, and
roadways generally unpaved. “Shoesaver” or similar water repellant
will help to protect shoes during the rainy season. The secret of
dealing with the often-wide range of daily temperatures is clothes
Men Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:17 AM
Spring- and fall-weight woolen business suits, sport coats, and
slacks will fulfill your needs in Addis Ababa. Summer suits are also
comfortable during daytime much of the year. Jackets, sweaters, and
raincoats are advisable. Sun hats and warm weather clothes are
needed if you plan to spend time outdoors during the dry season or
to travel to lower, warmer areas.
Bring sturdy casual clothing for sports, outdoor activities, and
occasional excursions around the countryside.
Black tie attire is needed only for special events, such as the
Marine Ball or New Year’s Eve celebrations. Business suits are worn
for all government and diplomatic corps functions.
Women Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:17 AM
Light fall or spring wool suits and dresses combined with a
limited number of wool skirts and sweaters will provide a basic
wardrobe. Cotton or silk can be worn midday. Sports clothes are
needed for overnight camping trips and day activities. Layered
dressing such as sweaters or vests over blouses or dresses are often
worn since homes and offices are unheated. Both wool and cotton
slacks can be worn here. Shorts are acceptable for tennis or
jogging. A light daytime jacket and wool shawls are useful. A coat,
jacket, or shawl is always needed at night. Bring one or two evening
dresses, either short or long. Raincoats, umbrellas, and rainboots
Children Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:18 AM
Bring all children’s clothing from the U.S. unless you sew.
Children need a good supply of pants, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters,
sweatshirts, light jackets, sturdy shoes, socks, raincoats,
rainboots, warm pajamas, and bathrobes. Bring cotton sunhats or caps
as they are not available and sunburn is frequent at this altitude.
Jeans are acceptable for school and particularly suitable for play
clothes, since weather permits outdoor play much of the year. Shorts
and T-shirts are worn during warm weather.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:18 AM
Although it is becoming easier to find many of the desired
supplies in Addis Ababa, the quality is uneven and the prices are
very high. The commissary carries a limited selection of toiletry
articles. Bring or plan to order most of your toiletries and
cosmetics. Some European products are appearing in the newer grocery
Bring gift wrap and ribbon, party favors, gifts for children’s
parties, games, playing cards, and holiday decorations. Also bring
sports gear, including tennis rackets and tennis balls (high
altitude), fishing gear, and a softball glove, plastic water shoes
if you intend to walk or swim in Lake Langano. If you own camping
equipment, bring it. An ice chest is useful for weekend trips. Nice
days for barbecuing are plentiful, and charcoal is available
locally. Artists should bring their own canvasses, paints, and other
Supplies and Services
Basic Services Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:19 AM
Tailors are adequate for minor repairs and fittings. Seamstresses
can reproduce a dress from a picture, pattern, or sketch to your
measurements; however, the result may not be exactly what you want.
If you plan to sew or have clothes made, bring a good supply of
fabric, patterns, and sewing notions. A good sewing machine is
Men’s and women’s shoe repair is adequate and inexpensive. Dry
cleaning and laundry service is satisfactory, although laundry
usually is done in the home. Beauty shop prices are reasonable;
however, the quality of service is not always good. Barbershops
patronized by post personnel are clean, and haircutting techniques
Supplies and Services
Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:19 AM
Servants are readily available, and some have worked in American
homes for years. Many servants speak some English. Average monthly
wages for servants can run to $100 for a cook, $80 for a steward,
$70 for a nursemaid or “mamita,” and about $60 for a gardener.
Additional expenses may include uniforms, physical examinations,
holiday gratuities, insurance, and medical costs. Information on
customs and laws regarding household staff and recommendations for
domestic employment is available at post.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:21 AM
The American Community School opened in the fall of 1966. It
became the International Community School (ICS) in May 1980. Classes
are offered from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The high school
offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Advanced
Placement (AP) Program. Enrollment was 330 students in the spring of
2003. The student body included more than 50 different
nationalities. A small number of Ethiopian students, who have
received scholarships, also attended ICS. ICS offers a wide range of
sports facilities and other activities — for example, field trips to
various regions within Ethiopia.
Bingham Academy is a nondenominational missionary-sponsored
American school, which admits international students who can pass an
English proficiency test. Bingham operates an American curriculum
from kindergarten through grade 8. In spring 2003, there was a
sizable waiting-list for Bingham. Interested parents should contact
the Academy as far in advance of their arrival as possible.
The Sandford English Community School, which follows a British
curriculum, offers instruction in English, and has begun to offer
the IB program. More recently, the Sandford school has incorporated
more Ethiopia-focused subjects into its curriculum.
Other national groups — for example, German, Italian, French, and
Swedish — also maintain schools. Since Ethiopian students represent
a large majority in many of these schools, they afford an excellent
opportunity for cross-cultural education and learning more about the
Tuition costs for students in kindergarten through grade 12 are
paid by the U.S. Government. The Embassy provides transportation to
and from ICS at no cost. None of the schools has a cafeteria, so
children must bring their own lunches. Each student should have a
lunch box and thermos for drinks. (ICS has budgeted for cafeteria
services, which may be available for the 2004–05 school year.)
Contact the post Community Liaison Office for more details and
Several nursery schools in Addis Ababa accept children beginning
at age 3. The Embassy has its own preschool on the Embassy compound,
which operates Monday through Friday mornings. It has an enrollment
of 12 children between the ages of 2 to 4 years. Admission is open
to all nationalities, with precedence given to children of Mission
Away From Post Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:21 AM Away from post,
schooling is authorized for students in grades 9 to 12 who prefer
not to attend ICS. The allowance rates change frequently. Refer to
the standardized regulations for the current allowance.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:22 AM
Classes at Addis Ababa University are taught in English. Please
check with the Embassy for enrollment information. Various cultural
centers offer courses in French, Italian, German, Russian, and other
Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:22 AM
Among the most difficult adjustments at this post are its
isolation, high altitude, lack of amenities, and socio-cultural
complexity. You must often rely on your own resources to find the
necessary stimuli for a full and satisfying tour.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:23 AM
The recreational facilities located on the Chancery compound
include a heated swimming pool, sauna, two tennis courts (one clay
and one hard surface), beach volleyball court, and a playground for
Private tennis lessons can be arranged with the local tennis pro.
Weekend picnics, horseback riding, camping, hunting, and fishing
are possible. Volleyball, softball, and basketball are popular
sports activities in Addis Ababa.
Riding enthusiasts who prefer Western saddles should bring their
own, as only English saddles are available here. A riding horse can
be purchased and boarded. Horses also can be leased on an hourly
basis from stables.
The Hilton Hotel has a sports club with a thermally heated
outdoor pool, tennis courts, miniature golf, and a sauna. The
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Zebu Club has
tennis courts, squash courts, swimming pool, restaurant, and bar,
and daily fees are available.
The five-star Sheraton Addis opened in 1998. It has all the
amenities that a five-star hotel has to offer. There are five
restaurants and a 24-hour business center. Its Health Club has a
swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, steam bath, and sauna.
Annual membership fees are expensive and vary based on facilities
used. Daily fees are available.
A private, small 6-hole golf course is operated on the British
Embassy compound. The season runs from October to June, and you have
to apply in advance for membership. Bring clubs, balls, and tees.
There also is a public course used by many expatriate players.
Addis Ababa has two bowling alleys. Local equipment is adequate,
but serious bowlers will want to bring their own balls and shoes.
Recreation and Social Life
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:26 AM
Gardening is popular because results are almost immediate, and
the growing season is year round. Flower and vegetable seeds are
available on the local market although sometimes past their
expiration date. It is a good idea to bring your own seeds, pots,
and specialized gardening tools.
Overland travel in Ethiopia is difficult, due to the poor
condition of roads and the questionable quality of many of the rest
stops. In addition, roadside banditry occurs with some regularity in
various parts of the country, and sensible precautions need to be
taken. It is current Embassy policy that driving at night outside
metropolitan areas is prohibited.
The Adama Ras Hotel in Nazareth, about 2 hours from Addis Ababa,
has a swimming pool and is a good place to spend a weekend. A Sunday
buffet emphasizes Italian specialties.
Sodere, about 2 hours from Addis Ababa, has hot mineral springs.
Two swimming pools (one olympic size), a small restaurant,
bungalows, and camping facilities make Sodere a pleasant weekend
resort or day trip.
A 4-hour drive northwest of Addis Ababa takes you to the Blue
Nile Gorge and to some of the most spectacular scenery in Ethiopia.
Debre Libanos, a historic monastery, is located on the rim of a
tributary canyon along the route. A nearby bridge is reputed to be
400 hundred years old and built by the Portuguese. Visitors will
find a spectacular view of the canyon from this vantage point, which
they will share with numerous baboons and monkeys.
The Ras Hotel at Ambo (2-hour drive) is 78 miles west of Addis
Ababa on a good road that passes through beautiful countryside and
the Menagesha Forest Preserve. It has a large outdoor pool filled by
a warm mineral — water spring. Camping sites are available for a
modest fee near the pool.
Ghion, also called Welisso, is a small resort town 71 miles
(2-hour drive) southwest of Addis Ababa. The Ras Hotel at Ghion has
water from hot mineral springs piped into large sunken baths in the
hotel rooms, as well as hot indoor and outdoor swimming pools are
filled by warm mineral springs.
The Awash Game Park, about 140 miles from Addis Ababa, is another
interesting point to visit. It offers an excellent opportunity for
camera buffs to photograph game of the Awash River Valley. Overnight
trailer accommodations are available in the heart of the park near
the Awash River Falls. Fees are high and conditions poor. However,
the camping enthusiast can enjoy roughing it at a campsite for only
a few dollars a night. White-water rafting trips, organized by
expatriate guides, are offered from July to September on the Awash
River. Cost for such weekend outings is about $150 per person.
Favorite spots for Ethiopians and foreigners alike are the chain
of lakes in the Great Rift Valley. Lake Awassa is a 4-hour drive
from Addis Ababa. It abounds with fish (catfish and tilapia) and is
an excellent spot for relaxation. Three motel-type hotels with cafes
are located here. Lake Chamo at Arba Minch offers the thrill of
fishing for Blue Nile perch and watching crocodiles move about. The
fish is outstanding for eating and weighs up to 200 pounds.
Excellent camping is offered on virtually all of the lakes.
One of the favorite weekend spots frequented by Embassy families
is Lake Langano (the only bilharzia-free lake for swimming in the
Rift Valley), which is a 3-hour drive from Addis Ababa. The employee
association maintains a pleasant campsite for its members, equipped
with tents, cots, sleeping bags, bathhouse with toilet and shower,
and a large cooking and eating facility. Fishing for catfish and
tilapia, using light tackle and baited small hooks instead of
artificial bait, is excellent. Two hotels with restaurants are also
found at Lake Langano for those who prefer not to camp. Nearby is a
game reserve where ostriches and other bird life is abundant.
If you are interested in ancient civilizations, you should visit
the towns of the “historic route,” comprised of Gonder, Bahir Dar,
Axum, and Lalibela. Gonder was the seat of government in the 16th
and 17th centuries and has several interesting castles. The
spectacular Tis-Esat Falls on the Blue Nile River is located near
Bahir Dar. Lalibela is the site of fabulous below ground monolithic
stone churches hewn by hand out of solid stone during the 12th
Dire Dawa and Harar are two interesting cities east of Addis
Ababa and may be reached by car (10 hours), rail (10 hours), or air
(35 minutes). Harar, a walled city, is the birthplace of the former
Emperor Haile Selassie and the site of the Harar Military Academy.
It is considered by many to be the fourth most holy city in Islam.
Road travel in this area can be hazardous, and travelers are
required to consult with the Embassy Security Office before
Addis Ababa is an R&R post with a round trip to Frankfurt or
Washington, the U.S. port of entry. Personnel assigned to a 2-year
tour in Addis Ababa may take R&R once during their tour; those
assigned to a 3-year tour have two R & R’s.
Recreation and Social Life
Entertainment Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:26 AM
Lunches, dinners, cocktail parties, and dances in private homes
are the usual means of entertainment. Americans patronize several
restaurants and the dining rooms of main hotels. Foreign cuisine
includes Chinese, Italian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, French,
and Armenian. Many restaurants serve Ethiopian food. The number,
variety and quality of restaurants have increased markedly over the
past several years, yet precautions must be exercised to avoid
intestinal difficulties. Several embassies have cultural centers
offering a variety of programs, from music and dance to art
exhibitions and films. The ethnological and archeological museums
are interesting. Various special interest groups are active,
including drama and music groups and wildlife and horticulture
Recreation and Social Life
Social Activities Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:27 AM
Rotary and Lions have chapters in Addis Ababa. The International
Women’s Club is a social and charitable organization for foreign and
Ethiopian women. It is not limited to the diplomatic community, but
provides contact with the foreign business community as well. Many
churches have their own denominational clubs, and numerous
opportunities exist for extracurricular activities.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:27 AM
Officers on the Diplomatic List have a great deal of social
contact with the diplomatic corps and certain Ethiopian officials.
Officers often attend events without their spouses, a common custom
in many African countries.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:27 AM
As diplomatic missions from around the world are located in Addis
Ababa, one is strongly encouraged to review the updated edition of
Social Usage Abroad.
Special Information Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:30 AM
Military Personnel visiting Ethiopia on leave or temporary duty
must comply with the provisions of the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide.
Department of Defense Presence
No U.S. military facilities (APO/FPO, PX/BX, etc.) exist in
Ethiopia, and no military aircraft are assigned. The US. Defense
Attaché Office (USDAO) and the Embassy Marine Security Guard (MSG)
are the two US. military elements permanently assigned. Some
Department of Defense (DOD) personnel associated with exercise and
security assistance activity are attached to the USDAO from time to
Uniforms DOD personnel not on deployment for exercise or not
members of aircrews should arrive in civilian clothing. The normal
work attire is civilian clothing (coat and tie for attaches).
However, uniforms are worn frequently in Ethiopia and permanently
assigned personnel should arrive with the following:
Army Army Green (Class A) Army Dress Blue Mess Dress Raincoat
Battle Dress Uniform Army Blue and Mess Dress are optional for
Marine Corps Service Alpha USMC Dress Blue Mess Dress Raincoat
Camouflage Uniform (Mess dress is optional for enlisted personnel)
Air Force Service Dress Raincoat Mess Dress Battle Dress Uniform
(Mess dress is optional for enlisted personnel.)
Long-term temporary duty personnel should bring a service dress
appropriate for the season. Field equipment is not required.
Eligible Family Member Education
Eligible children of DOD personnel attend the International
Community School (ICS), which has DOD certification. See section on
education elsewhere in the Post Report.
English is adequate for the performance of duties at DAO and the
MSG Detachment. Some familiarity with Amharic, Tigrigna, Italian, or
French is useful. The post’s active language training program
includes DOD personnel.
Special Mail and Pouch Information
All pouch and mail privileges are determined by the Department of
State in Washington.
Fulbright Grantees, Peace Corps Volunteers, and Personal Services
Contract Employees of USAID
American citizen Fulbright grantees assigned to Ethiopia are
authorized a one-time outbound shipment from Washington to Addis
Ababa of educational material. This one-time shipment of educational
material cannot exceed four packages. Each package must weigh no
more than 35 pounds, have a maximum length of 24 inches and not
exceed 62 inches in length and girth combined. The mailing address
for this material is:
Public Diplomacy Department of State 2030 Addis Ababa Place
Washington, D.C. 20521–2030
Return of this material to the U.S. via diplomatic pouch is not
The Department’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) stipulates
that U.S. citizen Fulbright grantees are authorized use of the
diplomatic pouch to send and/or receive first-class letter mail
only. This agreement precludes the use of the pouch for flat mail,
magazines, newspapers and video cassettes.
Authorized mail should be addressed as follows:
Public Diplomacy For [Name of Fulbright grantee] Department of
State 2030 Addis Ababa Place Washington, D.C. 20521–2030
Offshore-hired American citizen contract employees and/or those
offshore-hired American citizens performing USAID-financed functions
under specific support grants or cooperative agreements with USAID
are authorized use of the diplomatic pouch under the following
conditions and limitations:
Official mail should be addressed as follows:
Name of individual or organization (followed by letter C
[contractor]or G [grant]) Agency for International Development 2030
Addis Ababa Place Washington, D.C.20523–2030
The maximum weight of enveloped documents is 2 pounds.
Personal mail should be addressed as above without name of
organization. The maximum weight for personal enveloped mail is one
USAID contract personnel are not authorized to receive
merchandise parcels, magazines, or newspapers in the pouch system.
Locally hired contractors are not authorized pouch usage.
Post Orientation Program
New arrivals are given an Information Kit to help acquaint them
with official and personnel matters. They also receive a briefing
upon arrival. Amharic language training is available at post.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:32 AM
The most direct air route from the U.S. to Addis Ababa is on U.S.
flag carriers to Frankfurt, London, or Rome, connecting with
Ethiopian Airlines and Lufthansa.
Customs clearance for your airfreight and household effects (HHE)
will be expedited if, as soon as you have packed, you send the
packers list and bill of lading for each to the general services
General Services Office Addis Ababa Department of State 2030
Addis Ababa Place Washington, D.C. 20521–2030
If the list or bill of lading is not available, please send a
letter or cable to the GSO stating the number of pieces or cases and
a brief list of the kinds of items included. Also, provide an
approximate value of the total shipment.
Do not mark airfreight shipments via Djibouti. They should be
flown directly to Addis Ababa. Lift vans should be banded.
Airfreight shipments normally take 4 to 6 weeks.
Surface shipments and household effects should be consigned to:
U.S. Government European Logistical Support Office (ELSO)
American Consulate General Antwerp, Belgium
Shipment should be marked for:
American Embassy (Owner’s Initials) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Shipment of automobiles should be consigned to:
American Embassy (Owner’s Initials) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia via
Insure your effects, since the risk of water damage and pilferage
is high. The risk of water and mildew damage for shipments
transiting in the long rainy season is considerable. Waterproof vans
and crates for both incoming and outgoing shipments. Only short-term
storage facilities are available at the Embassy.
Airfreight shipment should be marked as follows:
American Embassy Entoto Street P.O. Box 1014 Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia (for [employee’s name])
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:33 AM
Diplomatic employees assigned to the Embassy are entitled to full
duty-free privileges for the duration of their tour of duty.
Administrative and Technical Staff personnel are entitled to full
duty-free privileges for 6 months following arrival.
Employees and family members traveling on diplomatic passports
are not subject to currency declaration requirements, but those
using official or regular passports must complete currency
declarations on arrival. No limit is imposed on the amount of
foreign currency imported, provided declaration is made on arrival
by those who must do so. Those arriving with official or regular
passports are subject to luggage inspection, although this
frequently is waived.
Avoid including musical instruments, radios, tape recorders, or
electronic equipment in your accompanying luggage. Customs officials
may take them into custody until necessary formalities are
completed. Include these items in your HHE or UAB. Permits are
required from the Ethiopian Telecommunications Authority for the
import of any communications equipment (such as telefax machines).
Please inform GSO if you plan to bring in such equipment in your
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Passage Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:33 AM
A valid Ethiopian visa is required for entry. Holders of
diplomatic and official passports receive a gratis visa; regular
passport holders must pay approximately $70 for a tourist visa or
$52 for an entry visa. Bring at least 12 passport-size photos of
yourself and each adult family member. These photos are needed
immediately after arrival for identity cards and local driver’s
Current yellow fever immunizations are needed for entry into
Ethiopia and must be recorded on the vaccination certificates with
the vaccination date, signature of the medical officer administering
the vaccination, and an official seal. The record for yellow fever
inoculations must also have the name of the serum manufacturer and
the batch number. Yellow fever shots are not valid until 10 days
after date of initial vaccination.
Quarantine authorities in Ethiopia are exacting in these matters,
and people have been subjected to long delays and embarrassment when
certificates have not been filled out. Polio (oral),
tetanus-diphtheria, and typhoid immunizations are strongly
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Pets Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:34 AM
Tick fever and intestinal parasites are a special problem with
pets, and rabies is common in Ethiopia. Bring a good supply of flea
and tick collars and shampoos. African tick fever has killed several
American-owned dogs. Rabies and puppy vaccines are available only
sporadically. There are American and European veterinarians working
in Addis Ababa.
The General Services Office should be notified as early as
possible if pets are being shipped, identifying the number and type
of pet. The Embassy is required to obtain authorization from the
Ministry of Agriculture in advance of the arrival of pets. A
certificate of good health showing valid rabies vaccination and
freedom from communicable diseases is required when bringing pets
into Ethiopia. No quarantine period is imposed, provided these
health certificates are in order.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:34 AM
U.S. Government personnel assigned to Ethiopia may not bring any
types of firearms or ammunition into this country.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
1/15/2004 12:35 AM
Ethiopia’s official currency is the birr. The exchange rate late
in calendar year 2000 was 8.3 to the U.S. dollar. The birr is
divided into 100 cents, with coins of 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 cent.
Bills are in the denominations of birr 100, 50, 10, 5, and 1. The
metric system of weights and measures is use.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 1/15/2004
Under Ethiopian Customs regulations, U.S. Government employees
assigned to duty in Addis Ababa are permitted to import one
duty-free car per 3-year period. Duty must be paid on any additional
vehicle purchased. Sales of duty-free automobiles or other dutiable
items is restricted to individuals or organizations authorized
duty-free privileges. Recent changes in Customs regulations permit
the sale of vehicles to anyone after the appropriate duties have
been paid, but the process can to be time-consuming and costly.
A checking account with a U.S. bank is absolutely essential.
Salary and allowance payments are paid in U.S. dollars, while
foreign national employees are paid in Ethiopian birr unless
otherwise authorized. The majority of payments made by the Embassy
to American employees is by check sent directly to the U.S. bank
account. It is illegal to exchange U.S. currency except through the
Embassy cashier and authorized dealers, such as the Hilton and
Sheraton Hotels and the National Bank of Ethiopia. Local checking
accounts are available, although few employees use them. The
American Commissary Association (AMCOM) sells American Express US.
dollar travelers checks and U.S. stamps.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:39 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse
The following publications provide more detail on Ethiopia and
places and personalities of interest.
Beckwith and Fischer, Angela, African Ark. Harry A. Abrahams: New
Buxton, David. The Abyssinians. Thames & Hudson: London, 1970. A
good concise historical overview through 1970.
Clapham, Christopher. Transformation and Continuity In
Revolutionary Ethiopia. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1988.
Gerster, Geog. Churches in Rock: Early Christian Art in Ethiopia.
Phaidon: London, 1970. A beautiful book about the rock churches of
Gilkes, Patrick. The Dying Lion: Feudalism and Modernization in
Ethiopia. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 1978. A history of modern
Ethiopia up to the 1974 revolution.
Giorgis, Dawit Wolde. Red Tears. Red Sea Press: Trenton, NJ,
Hancock, Graham. The Sign and the Seal. Simon and Schuster: New
Harbeson, John W. The Ethiopian Transformation: The Quest for the
Post-Imperial State. Westview Press: Boulder, CO and London, 1988.
Henze, Paul B. Ethiopian Journeys, Travels in Ethiopia 1969–72.
Ernest Benn Ltd.: London, 1977. A good source of ideas for
Kane, Thomas L. Ethiopian Literature in Amharic. Otto
Harassowitz: Wiesbaden, 1975. A comprehensive review of what is
written in Amharic.
Kaplan, Robert D. Surrender or Starve. Westview Press: Boulder,
CO and London, 1988.
Kapuscinski, Ryszard. The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat.
Vintage Books: New York, 1984. Really about Poland, but also a very
telling evocative account of the waning days of Haile Selassie’s
Keller, Edmond J. Revolutionary Ethiopia: From Empire to People’s
Republic. Indiana University Press: Bloomington: 1991.
Korn, David A. Ethiopia, The U.S. and the Soviet Union. SIU
Press: Carbondale, IL, 1986.
Levine, Donald H. Wax and Gold. University of Chicago Press:
Chicago, 1968. Culture and a social structure with a historic
perspective, the “classic”about Amhara culture, a must-read.
Marcus, Harold. A History of Ethiopia. Oxford University Press:
Marcus, Harold. Ethiopia, Great Britain and the United States,
1941–1974: The Politics of Empire. University of California Press:
Berkeley, 1983. Ethiopia’s relations with the U.S. and U.K. up to
the 1974 revolution.
Markakis, John. National and Class Conflict in the Horn of
Africa. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1987.
Mockler, Anthony. Haile Selassie’s War: The Italian-Ethiopian
Campaign, 1935–41. Random House: New York, 1985. A highly readable
account of the war against and occupation of Ethiopia.
Ottoway, Marina. Soviet and American Influence in the Horn of
Africa. Praeger: New York, 1982. An analysis of superpower rivalry
Ottoway, Marina and David. Ethiopia: Empire in Revolution.
Africana Publishing: New York, 1978.
Pankhurst, Helen. Gender, Development and Identity: An Ethiopian
Study. Zed Press: London, 1992.
Pankhurst, Richard. Economic History of Ethiopia. Haile Selassie
I Press: Addis Ababa, 1968.
Pankhurst, Richard. A Social History of Ethiopia. Red Sea Press:
Trenton, NJ, 1992.
Parfitt, Tudor. Operation Moses. Werdenfeld and Nicolson: London,
1985. ces: London, 1986.
Prouty, Christ. Empress Taytu and Menlek II: Ethiopia 1883–1910.
Raven’s Educational and Development Services: London, 1986.
Sorensen, John. Imaging Ethiopia. Rutgers University Press: New
Spencer, John H. Ethiopia at Bay. Reference Publications Inc.:
Algonac, MI, 1984. Memoir and history covering the period from 1935
to 1974 by an American adviser to Emperor Haile Selassie.
Tessema, Mammo, Richard Pankhurst, and S. Chojnacki. Religious
Art of Ethiopia. Institut fiir Auslandsbeziehunger: Stuttgart, 1973.
Many pictures in color.
U.S. Government, Department of the Army. Ethiopia — A Country
Study. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1993.
Williams, J. G. A Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa.
Collins: London, 1980. A must for birdwatchers.
Williams, J.G. A Field Guide to the Mammals of East Africa.
Collings: London, 1980. Recommended for wildlife enthusiasts.
Wolde-Mariam, Mesfin. Ethiopia’s Vulnerability to Drought. Vikas
Publishing House: New Delhi, 1984. A geographer’s analysis of the
climate and policies affecting cyclical droughts in Ethiopia.
Zewdie, Bahru. A History of Modern Ethiopia, 1855–1974. Ohio
University Press: Athens, 1991.
Cookbooks for High Altitude Cooking Cassell, Elizabeth Dyer.
Mile-High Cakes. Colorado State University, Colorado Agricultural
Experimental Station: Fort Collins, CO.
Cassell, Elizabeth Dyer. Deep Fat Frying at High Altitudes.
Wyoming Agricultural Experimental Station: Laramie, WY.
Kennedy, Lillian. Altitude Recipes. More Mercantile Company:
Swanson, Alice. Cake Mixing at High Altitude. St. Paul, MN.
Thiessen, Emma. High Altitude Vegetable Cookery.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 1/15/2004 12:40 AM
Ethiopian Christmas January 7 Id A1 Fetir (Ramadan) January 8*
Epiphany January 20 Victory of Adwa March 2 Id A1 Adha (Arefa) March
16* Good Friday April 28 Labor Day May 1 Patriots’ Victory Day May 5
Downfall of the Dergue May 28 Birthday of Mohammed (Moulid) June 15*
Ethiopian New Year September 11 Meskel September 27
*Subject to annual change. Note: Not all local holidays may be
observed by the Embassy.