For a lot of people the continent of Africa is a mystery, Ethiopia is a greater mystery to even more people. Before creating a character or at the very least before beginning the adventures, both players and game master should know some basic information.
Climate and Geography
Elevation and geographic location produce three climatic zones: the cool zone above 2,400 meters where temperatures range from near freezing to 16°C, the temperate zone at elevations of 1,500 to 2,400 meters with temperatures from 16 to 30°C; and the hot zone below 1,500 meters with both tropical and arid conditions and daytime temperatures ranging from 27 to 50°C.
The normal rainy season is from mid- June to mid-September (longer in the southern highlands), the remainder of year generally dry.
The official language is Amharic and there are about 80 other local languages and dialects. English is widely spoken. French, Italian, Arabic are also spoken by some people.
Ethiopia is a relatively safe country. However it is advised that women dress modestly, take taxi after dark and avoid travelling alone if possible. All people should be careful in Addis Ababa and in areas of great need.
There are beggars almost everywhere, especially in the towns. Crowds of small children can be very persistent and occasionally aggressive. Persistent beggars may follow you quite a long way asking for money or food.
The currency in Ethiopia is “Birr”, an estimate is 1$ = 8 birr and 1€ = 10 birr.
To get a meal is cheep for foreigners. A three-course meal in a fine restaurant coast 80 birr. In a mid range restaurant a two course meal coast 40-80 birr, but the cheapest restaurant will satisfy your hunger for 16 to 40 birr.
The tap water is generally held to be unsafe or at least unreliable. Water on bottle is to prefer.
Long journeys traveller’s, without a car, should use the big buses as a first choice. They are rather comfortable and safe in comparison to the minibuses, which has very poor safety and often is terrible overcrowded.
The coast for transport is approximate 4 birr per every 10 kilometres.
The post office is open 08.00 to 12.00 and 13.00 to 16.00. Mail is delivered only to PO Box numbers. Poste Restante is a viable at all post offices. If you want to phone, the telecommunications are good, even from small towns.
Education & Press
The Ethiopian Herald is published daily in English, but it is government-owned and covers only domestic issues. There are some independent newspapers as Sun, Addis Tribune (a section in France), Al Ahem who comes every week.
Adult literacy is estimated to 35 %, and this is poor even by African standard.
There is one television channel witch broadcast 19.00 to 23.00 Monday to Friday and Sunday, 18.00 to 24.00 on Saturday. A third of the programmes are in English, the rest in mostly Amharic.
The most effective way to get news is with a radio. Many of the big cities have a relay system which broadcast international stations such as BBC World Service on a local FM frequency. Unless you are staying in an area with FM service, the radio must have short waveband reception.
Ethiopia is divided into nine ethnically- based administrative regions; there are also two chartered cities, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.