Ethiopia is strategically located in northern part of Africa known as the 'Horn of Africa', at crossroads between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. It covers an area of 1.14 km2 (445,000 square miles) with population density of 58.9 inhabitants per km2 (2002). It is bordered by Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Eritrea to the north. The Sudan to the west and Kenya to the south. It is situated within easy reach of the Horn's major ports, which connect it with the rest of the world. Access to these ports has played a prominent role in enhancing the country's international trade.
Geographically, Ethiopia is a country of immense contrasts. It has high and rugged mountains, flattopped plateaus called' Ambas', deep gorges, incised river valleys and vast rolling plains. Its altitude ranges from 148 meters below sea level at the Dallol Depression (the lowest depression .in the, world), in the northeast, to the highest peak at Ras Dashen, which is 4620 meters above sea level on the Seimen Mountains in the northwest. Surrounding the highlands, which constitute 56% of the total area of the country, are extensive low lands with altitudes of less than 1,000 meters. Climate
Ethiopia enjoys a pleasant climate varying from cold to temperate and from sub-tropical to tropical. Much of -the country has, however, a climate tempered by high altitude though it lies just within 15° north of the equator. There are two rainy seasons in the country: the 'small' rains in February and March, and the 'big' rains from June to September. Two extreme cases are hot arid climate with a mean annual rainfall of less than 450mm, and mean annual temperature of 27oC – 32oC; and a cool highland climate where the mean temperature of the warmest month is less than 10oC with a mean annual rainfall of 800 – 2000mm. Thus, arid areas and areas of plentiful moisture, hot lowlands and cool highlands are found in the country.
People of Ethiopia
It has a population of 77 million (2006) ranking the third most populous country in Africa after Nigeria and Egypt. The people are ethnically and culturally diverse. There are about 80 ethnic groups. These groups altogether speak over 80 different languages constituting Cushitic, Omotic, Nilo-Saharan and Semitic languages. Amharic is the working language of the Federal Government. English is the medium of instructions, and it is widely used in business transaction, particularly in banking and insurance.
Ethiopians are generally considered as courteous and hospitable. They are also regarded as trustworthy, sincere, friendly and hardworking. Homer in his book “Iliad” wrote that Ethiopians are blameless race with whom the gods have dined. The Italian historian, Conti Rossini, wrote that, “Ethiopians are people of never failing good will and kindness and exceedingly polite.”
As regards Ethiopian culture and tradition, Christianity, Islam and animism have exerted much influence on the development of complex and diverse culture traits. While the lives and day-to-day activities of the people are influenced by their respective religions, topographic and climatic variations also had impact on the natural, historical and cultural heritages of the Ethiopian peoples.