Ethiopia Demographics

What is the population of Ethiopia?

Population 108,113,150
Population - note note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Population Growth Rate 2.9%
Urban Population 17.000000
Population in Major Urban Areas ADDIS ABABA (capital) 2.979 million
Nationality Noun Ethiopian(s)
Ethnic Groups Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%
Language Note Amharic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic is the official national language and is used in commerce and administration. Tigrinya is the most widely spoken daily language and Orominga is also used. The liturgical language (Geéz) of the Ethiopian Orthodox church has produced a large and vibrant literature of considerable importance. English is taught in most schools, making it the most widely understood foreign language.

The Amharic alphabet has thirty-three(33) root letters or constants with seven(7) phonetics (vowels) or 231 symbols or letters. Additionally there are 40 characters that are use as combinations or shortenings of the 231 characters.

Ethiopia Learning

What is school like in Ethiopia?


In Ethiopia the modern school system was introduced during the reign of Emperor Menelik II in 1908, with the opening of Ecole Imperiale Menelik II (known today as Menelik II Secondary School). The majority of school expansion was limited to the major cities or towns. The Ethiopian civil war ended in 1991 with the overthrow of the Marxist Dergue regime. The school and education systems were in shambles and the statistics painted a grim picture.

But after a slow start and some blunders the new government has made progress on almost all fronts of the education system. There has been a constant growth in the number of schools, teachers and the school materials and supplies. The average age of the primary schools in the rural areas is around 5 to 7 years. The schools are blocks of houses built with the basic necessities needed to function. It may or not have a boundary marked by a barbed wire fence. The roof is corrugated iron and the walls are made of cement blocks. Behind the main blocks there are rows of taps for drinking water and at least two toilets. If lucky, and connected to the power grid, the school may have a library with donated books and a computer or two in the lab. It is encouraging to see that the number of plasma televisions, making their way into almost all the schools for the past 5 years, has introduced the remotest students to the modern lessons beamed via satellites. It has made them go from the outdated information in the old books to the 21st century with one great leap.

Education Culture

To the average rural family, education is an escape from poverty. Any family that can send children to school does. Getting any kind of schooling is seen as the most important thing a family can give a child. Some families even send their children away to cities to work, as domestic laborers, and live with a distant relative who in return will pay for their education.


Like the Ethiopian New Year, the school year starts on September 11th of every year. It goes on for 10 of the thirteen months, yes, Ethiopia has thirteen, not twelve months.

Primary school starts at 8:00 a.m. every day, when the bell is rung and the children line up in front of the flag pole for the singing of the national anthem and the raising of the Ethiopian flag. In schools where uniforms are mandatory, a general check is made to see if anyone stands out or has improper attire.

With the new curriculum introduced in the late 1990’s children go to school from 8:00 a.m. till 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. in the cities. In rural areas, because of the acute shortage of teachers, and because the children mostly live far away from their schools and also because rural schools cannot provide lunches for the children, they have to go home after one shift has ended. In the classroom of a rural primary school each class is 40 minutes long and consists of 3 classes each, with a 30 minute break. Morning classes end at 12:30 PM. The afternoon shift starts at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m.

There are, on average, 50 to 60 students to a class. These students sit three or four to a bench. As the teacher walks into the classroom all students stand up and shout their greetings- ‘Good morning, teacher’ to which the teacher answers ‘Good morning, students. Please, sit down.’ and the students take their places. Attendance is recorded at the start of each class and then it’s on to the lessons. The subjects taught in Ethiopian schools are English, Amharic (or whatever the native tongue of the children is), mathematics, social studies, art, music and physical education.

In Ethiopia corporal punishment in schools, though illegal, is still acceptable, and children may be punished with the swat of a switch or by being made to kneel in a corner for the duration of the class. However, teachers are revered in the rural areas, and headmasters are the absolute authoritarians, and there isn’t much need for punishment. The thirst for knowledge makes it a taboo to go against such persons or their institutions. It is in the cities with that respect for teachers is slowly being eroded due to the effects of ‘modernization’ and corruption of traditional cultures.

Most primary school students do not go on to get a secondary or higher education. The first reason is the fact that secondary schools are much rarer than primary schools or inaccessibly far away and the second is that families do not encourage their daughters to go on to higher education because they think it is a waste since she is nearing , or in some areas already are of, marriageable age.

To School

Getting to school is a trip that can take as long as two hours. While the city children get to school on public or school buses, taxis or family cars, the rural children have no other choice but to walk. If along the way there is a main road the lucky few may get rides half or all the way. But there is a risk involved in this mode of transport: The traffic on these routes consists mostly of trucks transporting goods to and from the cities. The children usually have to climb into the back of these trucks, which are sometimes over laden with goods. It is too often that news is heard of dozens of children killed in traffic accidents. If it is the rainy season, then even this might not be possible.

Ethiopia Population Comparison

Ethiopia Health Information

What are the health conditions in Ethiopia?

Life Expectancy at Birth 60.000000
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 8.87
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 58.280000
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 4.7%
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population .03
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 6.3
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk very high
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 96.800000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 350
Mean Age for Mother's First Birth (age 25-49) 19.6
Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 12-49 28.6%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 5.31
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 1.1%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 27.400000
Underweight - percent of children under five years 29.2%

Ethiopia Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Ethiopia?

Life Expectancy at Birth 60.000000
Median Age 17.500000
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 28.6%
Infant Mortality Rate 58.280000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 350
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 5.31

Ethiopia median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 38
Median Age 17.500000
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population -0.23
Population Growth Rate 2.9%
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.030000
Age Structure 43.710000
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 28.6%
Infant Mortality Rate 58.280000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 350
Mother's mean age at first birth 19.6
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 5.31

Ethiopia Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Ethiopia?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Health facilities in Ethiopia are very limited and are generally inadequate outside the capital. Even the best hospitals in Addis Ababa suffer from inadequate facilities, antiquated equipment, and shortages of supplies (particularly medicines). There is a shortage of physicians. Emergency assistance is limited. Psychiatric services and medications are practically nonexistent. Serious illnesses and injuries often require travelers to be medically evacuated from Ethiopia to a location where adequate medical attention is available. Such “medevac” services are very expensive and are generally available only to travelers who either have travel insurance that covers medevac services or who are able to pay for the service in advance (often in excess of USD 40,000). See Medical Insurance information below. Travelers must carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines, as well as a doctor's note describing the medication. If the quantity of drugs exceeds that which would be expected for personal use, a permit from the Ministry of Health is required.

Malaria is prevalent in Ethiopia outside of the highland areas. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and explain to the health care provider their travel history and which anti-malarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention malaria website.

Ethiopia is a mountainous country and the high altitude may cause health problems, even for healthy travelers. Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world, at an altitude of 8,300 feet. Travelers may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headaches and an inability to sleep. Individuals with respiratory (including asthma) or heart conditions should consult with a health care professional before traveling to Ethiopia. Travelers to Ethiopia should also avoid swimming in any lakes, rivers, or still bodies of water (other than Lake Langano). Most bodies of water have been found to contain parasites. Travelers should be aware that Ethiopia has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

Ethiopia has had outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea, possible cholera, typhoid, and other bacterial diarrhea in the recent past, and the conditions for reoccurrences continue to exist in both urban and rural settings. Further information on prevention and treatment of cholera and other diarrheal diseases can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases webpage.

Health Expenditures - percent of GDP


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Ethiopia Education

What is school like in Ethiopia?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 4.7%
Literacy - female 35.1%
Literacy - male 50.3%
Literacy - total population 42.7%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 7.000000

Ethiopia Literacy

Can people in Ethiopia read?

Literacy - female 35.1%
Literacy - male 50.3%
Literacy - total population 42.7%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write

Ethiopia Crime

Is Ethiopia a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

U.S. citizens are strongly advised to review their personal safety and security posture, to remain vigilant and to be cautious when frequenting prominent public places and landmarks. Varying your travel times and routes is advised. Pick-pocketing, “snatch and run” thefts, including from occupied vehicles and other petty crimes are common in Addis Ababa. These are generally crimes of opportunity rather than planned attacks. Beginning in 2011, purse snatchings and harassment by gangs of youths in the Bole area of Addis Ababa have increased. These incidents have occurred in both the daytime and nighttime. There were also beatings and stabbings of expats in the area. The number of residential burglaries has also increased. Travelers should exercise caution in crowded areas, and especially in the Mercato in Addis Ababa, a large open-air market. You should limit the amount of cash you carry and leave valuables, such as passports, jewelry, and airline tickets in a hotel safe or other secure place. You should keep wallets and other valuables where they will be less susceptible to pick-pockets. If you have a cellular phone, carry it with you.

You should be cautious at all times when traveling on roads in Ethiopia. Highway robbery by armed bandits in some border areas has been reported. Some of these incidents have been accompanied by violence. You are cautioned to limit road travel outside major towns or cities to daylight hours and travel in convoys, if possible, in case of breakdowns. When driving, be wary of other motorists warning you of a mechanical problem or loose tire. This may be a ruse used by thieves to get you to stop the vehicle. Most of all be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times to ensure that you aren't being followed.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Ethiopia Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Ethiopian law strictly prohibits the photographing of military installations, police/military personnel, industrial facilities, government buildings, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, airfields, etc.). Such sites are rarely marked clearly. Travel guides, police, and Ethiopian officials can advise if a particular site may be photographed. Photographing prohibited sites may result in the confiscation of film and camera and arrest.

Persons violating Ethiopian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ethiopia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

If you are arrested in Ethiopia, you have the right to request that authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your detention or arrest in accordance with the 1951 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Ethiopia. If you are detained or arrested in Ethiopia you should use whatever means of communication available to alert the U.S. Embassy of your situation. Please be aware that the Government of Ethiopia does not recognize dual nationality, so U.S. citizens born in Ethiopia are accorded the same rights as any other U.S. citizens in the case of arrest or detention.

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