With a surface area of about 1.2 million square Kilometers, Ethiopia is the 7th largest country in Africa. Located in East Africa in the sub-region better known as the Horn of Africa, the topography of the country is largely a high plateau. It ranges from 100 meters below sea level in the Dallol Depression of Afar, to mountain peaks of over 4000 meters above sea level in Semien Mountains. The highest peaks are Ras Dashen in the Semien and Batu in the Bale mountains.
The Rift Valley separates the western and the eastern highlands; and these highlands gradually descend to the lowland areas in the east, west, and south of the country.
Much of the country consists of high plateau and mountain ranges, which are dissected by numerous streams and rivers. Among the biggest river basins are Blue Nile, Awash, Baro, Omo, Tekkeze, Wabe Shebelle and Genale.
The climate in Ethiopia is mainly influenced by altitude and the main climatic regions are the following:-
- Dega (cool to cold temperature)
This is typical of the cool highlands where average temperature falls between 10°C and 16°C. The altitude is above 2500 meters above sea level.
- Weina Dega (warm to cool climate)
Average annual temperature ranges between 16°C and 20°C and comprises much of the highlands between 1,500 to 2,500 meters above sea level.
- Kolla (warm to hot climate)
This is the climate of the hot lowlands, and the average temperature is between 20°C to 30°C. The altitude ranges from 500 to 1,500 meters above sea level.
- Bereha (Hot and arid climate)
This covers the area of the desert lowlands below 500 meters above sea level and the average annual temperature is over 30°C.
There are two distinct seasons in Ethiopia, the dry season which is for the most part from October to May (mostly winter season in Europe) and rainy season from June to September (summer season in Europe.)
With an area of 114 million square kilometers, Ethiopia is as large as France and Spain combined and is five times the size of the UK. From the north and running down the centre are the Abyssinian highlands. To the west of the chain the land drops to the grasslands of Sudan, to the east to the deserts of the Afar. South of Addis Ababa, the land is dominated by the Rift Valley Lakes.
Ethiopia is strategically located in the Horn of Africa. Its proximity to the Middle East and Europe, together with its easy access to the major ports of the region, enhances its international trade. It is bordered by the Sudan in the west, Somalia and Djibouti in the east, Eritrea in the north and Kenya in the south.
Ethiopia's central plateau varies in height between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In the north and centre of the country there are some 25 mountains whose peaks rise over 4,000 meters (13,200ft), the highest being Ras Dashen at 4,543 meters (14,538ft).