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Ethiopian culture is multi-faceted, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the country; refer the articles on the Ethnic groups of Ethiopia for details of each group.

Among many traditional customs, respect (especially of one's elders) is very important. In Ethiopian culture it is customary to rise up out of one's seat or give up one's bed for an older friend or family member, even if they may be just a year older. As Donald Levine notes about customs in the southern Amhara Region:
As soon as the child is capable of understanding he is made aware that all individuals older than he is should be respected and shown the most deference. Not to do so is a sign of being balage ("rude").



's traditional clothes in Ethiopiamarker are made from cloth called shemma and used to make habesha qemis: it is basically cotton cloth, about 90cm wide, woven in long strips which are then sewn together. Sometimes shiny threads are woven into the fabric for an elegant effect (see upper left photo). It takes about two to three weeks to make enough cloth for one dress. The bottom of the garment or shirt may be ornamented with patterns.

These traditional clothes are still worn on a day-to-day-basis in the countryside. In cities and towns, western clothes are popular, though on special occasions, such as]] New Year (Enkutatash), Christmas (Genna) or weddings, some wear traditional clothes.
Woman wearing neTela cotton shawl with decorative trim, over western clothing.

Often, a woman will cover her head with a shash, a cloth that is tied at the neck. Shama and kuta, gauze-like white fabrics, are often used. This is common among both Muslim and Christian women. Elderly women will wear a sash on a day-to-day basis, while other women only wear a sash while attending church.


Ethiopian cuisine consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrees, often prepared as a wat or thick stew. One or more servings of wat are placed upon a piece of injera, a large sourdough flatbread, which is 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter and made out of fermented teff flour. One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera (always with the right hand) to scoop up the entrees and side dishes. Traditional Ethiopian food does not use any pork or seafood (aside from fish), as most Ethiopians have historically adhered to Islam, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, or Judaism, all of which prohibit eating pork. Additionally, throughout a given year, Orthodox Christians observe numerous fasts (such as Lent), during which food is prepared without any meat or dairy products. Another food eaten in Ethiopia is Doro Wat which is chicken stew with hard boiled eggs.


Ethiopia's most popular sport is track and field, in which they have won many medals in the Olympic Games. Soccer, despite lack of success by the national team, is loved by a significant part of the population.


Radio and television are under the control of the Ethiopian government. There are nine radio broadcast stations, eight AM and one shortwave, licensed to operate. The major radio broadcasting stations (all AM) are Radio Ethiopia, Radio Torch (pirate), Radio Voice of One Free Ethiopia, and the Voice of the Revolution of Tigray. The single television broadcast network is Ethiopian Television. In keeping with government policy, radio broadcasts occur in a variety of languages. Print media, because of high poverty levels, low literacy rates, and poor distribution outside of the capital, serve only a small portion of the population. Major daily newspapers include Addis Zemen, the Daily Monitor, and the Ethiopian Herald. There is also a small but lively film industry.


The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic, a Semitic language which is spoken by about 27 million people (2.7 million expatriate). Amharic is written with the Ge'ez script, which derives its name from the ancient Semitic Ge'ez language. Ge'ez is largely extinct as a productive language but is still in liturgical use by the Beta Israel Jewish community and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The second largest language in Ethiopia is the Oromo language, a Cushitic language spoken by about 30% of the population. The third largest language in Ethiopia is the Tigrinya language, related to Amharic but mostly spoken in northern Ethiopia in the state of Tigray. Additionally, most villagers are accustomed to their ethnical languages over the official Amharic language.



Date English name Local name Remarks
January 7 Orthodox Christmas Day Genna or Lidet  
January 10 Feast of the Sacrifice 'Id al-Adha varies; this date is for 2006
January 19 Feast of Epiphany Timket  
March 2 Adwa Daymarker Ye'adowa Bä'al  
April 11 Birthday of The Prophet Muhammad Mawlid an-Nabi varies; this date is for 2006
April 21 Orthodox Good Friday Siqlet (Crucifixion) varies; this date is for 2006
April 23 Orthodox Easter Fasika varies; this date is for 2006
April 24 Easter Monday (public holiday)   varies; this date is for 2006
May 1 International Workers' Day    
May 5 Patriots' Day Arbegnoch Qen  
May 28 National Day   Downfall of Derg Regime
August 18   Buhe  
September 11 Ethiopian New Year Inqut'at'ash  
September 27 Finding of the True Cross Meskel  
October 24 End of the holy month of Ramadan 'Id al-Fitr varies; this date is for 2006

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