Regional Overview of Ethiopia

Addis and Surroundings


Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia, the country’s largest city, and site of the headquarters of the African Union. Highlights include Entoto Mountain on which stands the Palace of Menelik II, the National Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, Trinity Cathedral, St George Cathedral, Merkato and the Piazza.

Addis Ababa, or ‘new flower’ in Amharic, was founded in 1886 by Emperor Menekik II with the encouragement of his wife, the Empress Taitu Betul, and remains the centre of government today. The city was occupied by the Italians from 1936 until 1941. In 1963, Emperor Haile Selassie helped form the Organisation of African Unity, headquartered in Addis, which was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union. Entoto Mountain, the highest peak overlooking...(continue)



The historic north is home to what are arguably Ethiopia’s most popular sites. The legendary historic route includes Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, Lalibela and Gheralta. The region also includes Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, and the Simien Mountains, with Ethiopia’s highest peaks and most diverse wildlife.

Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, is the largest lake in Ethiopia and was formed by volcanic activity. In 2015, Lake Tana was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The lake has distinctive fish species, about 70% of which are endemic, and numerous wetland birds including flotillas of great white pelicans. The islands and peninsulas of the lake are the sites of a number of 14th century monasteries, many of which might...(continue)



This remote and remarkable region includes the scalding and volcanically active Danakil Depression, with colourful bubbling sulphur, desiccated salt lakes and the live Erte Ale volcano. Also in the region is Awash National Park and the Islamic walled city of Harar.

Afar Region, stretching towards the borders with Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia, has a desolate and hostile frontier feeling; its nomadic people, known for being hardy and tough, move with their camels through bleak desert, stopping occasionally in one of the simple settlements dotting the region. The Danakil Depression, at 116m below sea level, is one of the lowest places in the world, and its temperatures, frequently over 50°C, have the...(continue)



Ethiopia’s south is perhaps best known for the tribes who dwell here, particularly around the Omo Valley, who live according to their traditional customs. The region is also known for the Bale Mountains National Park, and for the chain of lakes that stud the Rift Valley.

Visiting the tribes of the Omo Valley can feel like stepping back in time. The villages appear to have changed little in centuries, and the way of life of the people is much as it has been throughout time. Possibly the most well-known tribe are the Mursi, who’s population is around 8,000. Famous for inserting plates into their lower lips, the Mursi women also adorn themselves with intricate headdresses and...(continue)