Ethiopia Factsheet


1 127 127km2



90 Million



The climate of Ethiopia varies from hot and arid, to cold and humid types. Three seasons are known in Ethiopia, namely Bega (dry season) which extends from October-January, Belg (short rain season), which extends from (February-May) and Kiremt (long rain season) from June-September. Mean annual rainfall distribution over the country is characterized by large spatial variation which ranges from about 2000 mm over some pocket areas in the southwest to less than 250 mm over the Afar and Ogaden low lands. The temperatures of Ethiopia are normally modified by the diverse altitude of the country. In general, the country experiences mild temperatures for its tropical latitude because of topography. Mean annual temperature distribution over the country varies from about 100C over the highlands of northwest, central and southeast, to about 350C over north-eastern lowlands.

Natural Resources:

Agriculture, fishing and allied activities contributes 46% to the GDP and employs about 80% of the population. The contribution of industry and services sectors to the countries GDP is about 14% and 40% respectively.  


In the highlands, grains (barley, corn, teff, and wheat) as well as pulses and oilseeds are the major crops. In the lower elevations, sorghum and sugarcane are more favored. Ethiopia is home to an estimated 7 million pastoralists who tend a large number of livestock. In the south, two bush crops namely coffee – the major export earner in the southern highlands – and chat – a mild stimulant that is also exported from southeastern lowlands – flourish.  

Climate Vulnerabilities:

Clearly climate vulnerabilities have been revealed through warming trend in the annual minimum temperature over the past 55 years. It has been increasing by about 0.37 0C every ten years. The country has also experienced both dry and wet years over the same period. Drought and famine, flood and malaria, have been the main sources of risk and vulnerability in most parts of the country. Vulnerable sectors to climate variability and change are agriculture, water and human health. In terms of livelihood approach, smallholder rain-fed farmers and pastoralists are found to be the most vulnerable. The arid, semiarid and the dry sub-humid parts of the country are affected most by drought.



Afar Depression: also known under the outdated name Danakil depression, is part of the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, and is located in the north of the region. It has the lowest point in Ethiopia and one of the lowest in Africa. The southern part of the region consists of the valley of the Awash River, which empties into a string of lakes along the Ethiopian-Djibouti border. 

Bega: a short period of hot dry weather from October-January and occurs between the two rainy seasons.  During the Bega, most of the highland Ethiopia is sunny during the day and cold during the night and morning, which includes frost in December and January.  Farmers harvest their meher (also referred to as main crop season) crops during this dry period. 

Belg: short and moderate rains from February to May are known as the little rains or belg, and correspond to the Ethiopia’s secondary harvest season for the northern highland areas. The belg rains are also the main annual rains for the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of southern and southeastern Ethiopia.  The planting period for the belg rains in the south starts in March and harvesting takes place in June or July.  The belg rains are also critical in assuring pasture and water for livestock in the south.

Kiremt: long and heavy rains from mid-June to mid-September, which correspond to the main “meher” growing season. Violent thunderstorms in the highlands are common in late June.

Ogaden: is a plateau, with an elevation above sea level that ranges from 1,500 metres in the northwest, falling to about 300 metres along the southern limits and the Wabi Shebelle valley. The areas with altitudes between 1,400 and 1,600 metres are characterized as semi-arid; receiving as much as 500–600 mm of rainfall annually. More typical of the Ogaden is an average annual rainfall of 350 mm and less. The landscape consists of dense shrubland, bush grassland and bare hills.

Teff: is an annual grass, a species of love-grass native to the northern Ethiopian Highlands of northeast Africa. Common names include teff, love-grass, and annual bunch grass. Has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in dietary fiber and iron and providing protein and calcium.