Geography and Climate

Geography and Climate

Ethiopia is located in Eastern Africa or Horn of Africa with the Geographic coordinates 3 o N - 15 o N, 38 o E to 48 oE longitude. The Country covers a total area of 1,127,127 sq km, which is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Out of which 1million Sq km is covered by land while the remaining 104,300 Sq km is covered by water.

The country neither has a coastline nor maritime claims. It is landlocked country. Ethiopia’s borders total 5,328 kilometers. Bordering countries are: Djibouti (349 kilometers), Eritrea (912 kilometers), Kenya (861 kilometers), Somalia (1,600 kilometers), and Sudan (1,606 kilometers).

The climate of Ethiopia can be typified as a tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation. The topography is also characterized by terrain where high plateau with mountain range divided by great Rift Valley.

Rainfall and temperature patterns vary widely because of Ethiopia’s location in the tropics and its diverse topography. In general, the highlands above 1,500 meters enjoy a pleasant, temperate climate, with daytime temperatures between 16°C and 30°C and cool nights.

In areas below 1,500 meters, such as large river valleys, the Danakil  Depression, the Ogaden in the southeast, and parts of the southern and western borderlands, daytime temperatures range from very warm (30°C) to torrid (upwards of 50°C), sometimes accompanied by high humidity. Precipitation is determined by differences in elevation and by seasonal shifts in monsoon winds.

The highlands receive by far the most rainfall, most of it between mid-June and mid-September, whereas lower elevations receive much less. In general, relative humidity and rainfall decrease from south to north and vary from scant to negligible in the eastern and southeastern lowlands.

Ethiopia’s topography consists of a central high plateau bisected by the Ethiopian segment of the Great Rift Valley into northern and southern highlands and surrounded by lowlands, more extensive on the east and southeast than on the south and west.

The plateau varies from 1,500 to 3,000 meters above sea level and features mountainous uplands separated by deep gorges and river valleys, especially in the north. The highest point is Ras Dashen at 4,620 meters in the northern highlands. In the north east, the Danakil Depression, part of the Rift Valley, is in places 116 meters below sea level and is one of the hottest places on earth.

A chain of lakes lie in the southern Rift Valley, but the largest inland body of water is Lake Tana in the northwest. The diversity of Ethiopia’s terrain determines regional variations in climate, natural vegetation, soil composition, and settlement patterns.