261 - Ethiopia; Getting to Know The Local Customs
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Ethiopia; Getting to Know The Local Customs

In Ethiopia is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. People are proud of their heritage, and as such, it is important to respect local traditions, customs, and religions at all times when traveling or working there. It is equally important to be aware of your actions so that they do not offend the locals. Here are some of the most common local customs in Ethiopia.

The local customs of Ethiopia

There has been religious freedom for centuries in Ethiopia. Christianity and Islam have co-existed peacefully for hundreds of years. Though the dominant religion has always been Orthodox Christian with ‘fasting’ each Wednesday, Friday and during Lent.

Age is a major factor in social behavior. The elderly people are treated with uttermost respect. When an older person or guest enters a room, it is custom to stand until that person is seated. Dining etiquette is also important. Make sure you always wash your hands before a meal, because all food is eaten using the hands from a communal dish.

Guests customarily initiate eating, and it is proper form to pull injera only from the space directly in front of oneself while dining. It is considered polite to participate in a conversation during the meal; complete attention to the food itself is thought to be rude.

Handshakes can last quite a bit longer than you're used to, and they are not especially firm. Shaking hands is always combined with direct eye contact. Between the sexes, there usually is no touching. However, if you’re a female foreign humanitarian, cosmopolitan Ethiopians won’t refuse your hand, to avoid causing offense.

Communication is still a sensitive issue for Ethiopians. The country doesn’t have a long history with collaborating with foreigners, so they are still getting used to new ways of doing business and communicating. Ethiopians are humble, and they equally respect other people.

People from Ethiopia generally are non-confrontational. They’ll often give a response they believe is the expected response rather than say something that might embarrass another. That is because honor and dignity are crucial to Ethiopians. People will go out of their way to avoid doing something that could bring embarrassment to someone else.

We’re proud to serve any humanitarian who’s willing to help those in need in Ethiopia or anywhere else around the world by letting you worry about your invaluable humanitarian work and not how you’ll get to that remote location. We regularly arrange travel for compassionate humanitarian organizations dedicated to helping those in dire need of help. Never hesitate to contact us through our quick address locator should you have any questions.