Topography and Climate

Ethiopian Landscape is dominated by the volcanically formed highlands. The central plateau isolated on three sides by lowlands (desert and semi desert) has an average altitude of 2000m. The highlands bisected by the Rift Valley which starts at the Red sea then continues to the Danakil Depression and through southern Ethiopia to Mozambique in Southern Africa. Rift valley cuts Ethiopia into two unequal parts: the mountainous North (Simien Mountain) and the south western highlands. The smaller part includes the south eastern highlands of Bale, Harar Arsi and Sidamo.

The highlands are also criss crossed by numerous river valleys. The country is watered by four major river systems the first consist of the Takkaze, the Abay and the Baro all flow in to west wards in to the Nile. The Abay (Blue Nile) is certainly the most famous, its source Lake Tana for long exercised the imagination of traveler and geographer until the Scottish traveler James Bruce settled the issue in the second half of the 18th.

The second group belong the Ganale and web Shebelle flowing towards the Indian Ocean. The Ghibe (Omo in its lower course) originates and ends in Lake Rudolf (Turkana). The Awash sets off from the highlands west of Addis Ababa and streams along across the Rift valley and vanishes in north eastern sands.

Ethiopia shows a wide climatic variation ranging from the peaks of Bale which receive periodic snow fall to Regular day time temperature of 50 o C in the Danakil Desert. The central highlands have a temperate climate and average day time temperature of 16 o C. The eastern lowlands and the far south are dry and hot. The western lowlands are moist and hot. The Rift valley is temperate to hot and seasonally moist.

The main rainy season in Ethiopia falls between June and September and is known as kiremt, the heavy rains are caused by moist air from the high pressure area of the south Atlantic and Indian Ocean moving in to the low pressure area of the Sahara desert and Arabia. The little rainy season also known “Balg” autumn in the Ethiopian but spring in Europe occurs between March and May. These are caused by monsoon winds blowing from the Indian Ocean.

The heavy rains in the south west have given rise to a dense concentration of tropical forests mainly in illubabor and Kaffa; deforestation has reduced the country’s forest resource.

The temperate conditions of the northern and central highland have permitted the growing of a wide variety of food crops of these the most important is Teff: a small cereal processed in to the distinctive bread injera. Teff’s equivalent in the southern part of the country is the root crop enset.