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Preface Last Updated: 1/15/2004 11:43 AM

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 African continent.

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 vehicle performance.

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 employee expense.

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 AM

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 no postage.

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 combined.

The proper mailing address format for Addis Ababa personal mail is:

Name of Individual (Section or Agency)

2030 Addis Ababa Pl

Dulles, VA. 20189–2030

The proper mailing address format for Addis Ababa official mail is:

Name of Individual (Section or Agency)

Addis Ababa

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 program.


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 library.

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 point.

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 for cats.

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 commissary.

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 12:08 AM

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 poor.

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 fall.

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 procedures.

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 personnel.


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 surge/spike protectors.

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 Saturdays.

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 layering.


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 are essential.


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 stores.

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.

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 useful.

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 are acceptable.

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 host country.

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 enrollment information.

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 employees.


Dependent Education

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 languages.

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 children.

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 century.

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 undertaking trips.

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 clubs.

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.

Official Functions

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.

Official Functions

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 time.

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 enlisted personnel.)

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.

Language Requirement

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 authorized.

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 pound.

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 officer:

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 Djibouti

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 effects.

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 licenses.

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 recommended.

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 12:36 AM


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 unofficial publications.

The following publications provide more detail on Ethiopia and places and personalities of interest.

Beckwith and Fischer, Angela, African Ark. Harry A. Abrahams: New York, 1990.

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 Lalibela.

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, 1989.

Hancock, Graham. The Sign and the Seal. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1992.

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 in-country trips.

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 court.

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: Oxford, 1994.

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 and policies.

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 Brunswick, 1993.

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: Denver, CO.

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.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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