Officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populated nation on the African continent, with over 91,000,000 inhabitants. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 km2 and its capital Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists. It may be the region from which Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond. Until the end of Haile Selassie I’s reign in 1974, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history – tracing its roots to the 2nd century BC. Alongside Rome, Persia, China and India, the Kingdom of Aksum was one of the great world powers of the 3rd century and the first major empire in the world to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century. During the Scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was the only African country beside Liberia that retained its sovereignty as a recognized independent country, and was one of only four African members of the League of Nations.
The major portion of Ethiopia lies on the Horn of Africa, which is the easternmost part of the African landmass. Bordering Ethiopia are Sudan and South Sudan to the west, Djibouti and Eritrea to the north, Somalia to the east, and Kenya to the south. Within Ethiopia is a vast highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs generally southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes, or semi-desert. The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns.
Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country, ranging from the deserts along the eastern border to the tropical forests in the south to extensive Afromontane in the northern and southwestern parts. Lake Tana in the north is the source of the Blue Nile. It also has a large number of endemic species, notably the Gelada Baboon, the Walia Ibex and the Ethiopian wolf (or Simien fox). The wide range of altitude has given the country a variety of ecologically distinct areas; this has helped to encourage the evolution of endemic species in ecological isolation.
The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. The Ethiopian Highlands cover most of the country and have a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country’s major cities are located at elevations of around 2,000–2,500 m (6,562–8,202 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum.
The modern capital Addis Ababa is situated on the foothills of Mount Entoto at an elevation of around 2,400 m (7,874 ft), and experiences a healthy and pleasant climate year round. With fairly uniform year round temperatures, the seasons in Addis Ababa are largely defined by rainfall, with a dry season from October–February, a light rainy season from March–May, and a heavy rainy season from June–September. The average annual rainfall is around 1,200 mm (47.2 in). There are on average 7 hours of sunshine per day, meaning it is sunny for around 60% of the available time. The dry season is the sunniest time of the year, though even at the height of the rainy season in July and August there are still usually several hours per day of bright sunshine. The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is16 °C (60.8 °F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20–25 °C (68–77 °F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5–10 °C (41–50 °F).
Most major cities and tourist sites in Ethiopia lie at a similar elevation to Addis Ababa and have a comparable climate. In less elevated regions, particularly the lower lying Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands in the east of the country, the climate can be significantly hotter and drier. Dallol, in the Danakil Depression in this eastern zone, has the world’s highest average annual temperature of 34 °C (93.2 °F).