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To which language should you translate to localize in Ethiopia?

What we know from our community

Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a nation characterized by its rich linguistic and cultural
diversity. With over 80 languages spoken, Ethiopia is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in
the world. Despite this incredible variety, Amharic is Ethiopia’s sole official language.
Amharic is a Semitic language that belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family. Following the
Arabic language, it is the second most-spoken Semitic language in the world. Amharic uses a
unique script known as Ge’ez (ሀ ለ ሐ መ ሠ ረ ሰ ሸ ቀ). Additionally, Ge’ez is used to write other
Ethiopian languages, including Tigrinya and Gurage. The most popular other languages in
terms of the number of speakers are Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya.
To localize in Ethiopia, Amharic can attract a sizable audience, especially the younger, educated
demographic. However, due to issues of diversity and inclusiveness, individuals often prefer receiving
messages in their native languages. As a result, when attempting to engage with an Ethiopian audience, it
is crucial to prioritize creating content in the respective native language.


በአፍሪካ ቀንድ ውስጥ የምትገኘው ኢትዮጵያ፣ በቋንቋ እና በባህል ብዝሃነት የምትታወቅ ሀገር ነች። ከ80 በላይ ቋንቋዎች የሚነገሩባት ሀገሪቱ ከዓለማችን ትልቅ የቋንቋ ብዝሃነት ካላቸው ሀገራት አንዷ ነች። ይህ በንዲህ እንዳለ አማርኛ የኢትዮጵያ ብቸኛ ኦፊሴላዊ ቋንቋ ነው።

አማርኛ የአፍሮ-እስያ ቋንቋ ቤተሰብ የሆነ ሴማዊ ቋንቋ ነው። የአረብኛ ቋንቋን ተከትሎ በዓለም ላይ ሁለተኛው ባለ ብዙ ተናጋሪ ሴማዊ ቋንቋ ነው። አማርኛ ግዕዝ (ሀ ለ ሐ መ ረ ሰ ሸ ቀ) በመባል የሚታወቅ ልዩ ፊደል ይጠቀማል። ግእዝ ከአማርኛ በተጨማሪ ትግርኛ እና ጉራግኛን ጨምሮ ሌሎች የኢትዮጵያ ቋንቋዎችን ለመጻፍ ይጠቅማል። ከተናጋሪ ብዛት አንፃር በጣም ትላልቅ የሆኑት ሌሎች ቋንቋዎች ኦሮምኛ፣ ሶማሊኛ እና ትግርኛ ናቸው።

ፅሑፍዎን ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ተደራሽ ለማድረግ፣ አማርኛ ቋንቋን መጠቀም ብዙ ተመልካቾችን በተለይም ለወጣት እና ለተማረው የሕብረተሰብ ክፍል እንዲደርስ ሊያደርግልዎ ይችላል። ሆኖም፣ በብዝሃነት እና አቃፊነት ጥያቄዎች ምክንያት ግለሰቦች መልእክቶች በአፍ መፍቻ ቋንቋቸው መቀበልን ይመርጣሉ። በዚህ ምክንያት መልእክትዎ ለኢትዮጵያውያን ታዳሚዎችዎ ለማድረስ በሚሞክሩበት ጊዜ፣ ፅሑፍዎን በሚመለከተው የአፍ መፍቻ ቋንቋ ማዘጋጀትን ቅድሚያ መስጠት አስፈላጊ ነው።

Mihretab, English/Ahmaric translator



Official language
Amharic 29.3%

Actual languages

Oromo 33.8%, Somali 6.25%, Tigrinya 5.86%, Sidamo 4.04%, Wellayatta 2.21%, Gurage 2.01%, Afar 1.74%, Haddiya 1.70%, Gamo 1.45% , other 13.09%.

T-index 0.091%

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.

Low proficiency (EF) – 63rd of 112 countries/regions in the world- 6/21 position in Africa.


Capitals: Addis Ababa
Currency: Ethiopian birr
Population: 117,87 m
Population density: 102/km2


GDP: 111.27 billion USD (2021)
GDP per capita: 944.0 USD‎(2021)
Exports: $3.5 billion USD (2020)


Unemployment rate2.08% (2020)
39% (2018)
Internet users25% penetration, 29.83 million

By 2025 more than 50% of SubSaharan Africa will have a mobile connection, of which 65% will have a smartphone. This will result in more than 475 million mobile internet users; the top three markets for smartphone users are projected to be Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya.


Numbering system
Ethiopic numerals.

Date format: yyyy – mm – dd / dd – mm – yyyy
Time: 12h time system
Country code: 002251

Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal

Facts and data


11.1 billion USD (2020).   Refined Petroleum ($1.24B), Gas Turbines ($532M), Planes, Helicopters, and/or Spacecraft ($406M), Wheat ($320M), and Packaged Medicaments ($317M), importing mostly from China ($2.75B), India ($903M), United Arab Emirates ($798M), United States ($554M), and Kuwait ($530M).

Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of  age)
• 35% have an account with a financial institution
• 0.3% have a credit card
• 0.3% have a mobile money account
• 0.6% make online purchases

Ease of doing business
Ease of conducting business is below average (rated 48 out of 100). Ranked 29th out of 48 African countries. Ranked 159th out of 190 countries worldwide (2019, World Bank)

3.5 billion USD (2020).  Coffee ($860M), Other Oily Seeds ($384M), Gas Turbines ($328M), Other Vegetables ($261M), and Gold ($194M), exporting mostly to United States ($409M), Somalia ($294M), Hong Kong ($253M), United Arab Emirates ($247M), and Saudi Arabia ($203M).

Main local online stores
Jumia (by far the leading online marketplace in the country),,, ShebaShopping and Delala

Economic freedom
‘‘Mostly not free’ (rated 49.6 out of 100). Ranked 35th out of 47 African countries. Ranked 150th out of 186 countries worldwide (2022, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal).

Global Innovation Index
Ranked 23rd out of 27 Sub-Sahara African countries, 126th out of 132 worldwide.

The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.

conomy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal

Service Imports (2018)

Source: OEC

Service Exports (2018)

Source: OEC

Most complex product by PCI

Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters

Source: OEC

Most Specialized Products by RCA Index

Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between Ethiopia observed and expected exports in each product

Source: OEC

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that Ethiopia is not specialized in

Source: OEC



Reach most of the online purchasing power

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales. It estimates the market share of each country in relation to global e-commerce.

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Media language English, Amaric.

Information channels
Ethiopia’s media looked set for profound change under reforms championed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who took office in early 2018. Imprisoned journalists were freed and exiled pro-opposition media and journalists began to return home. The government unblocked hundreds of mainly opposition websites. Before the change of government, Ethiopia was repeatedly ranked among the worst countries in the world for media freedom. Anti-terrorism laws criminalised reporting of the activities of banned opposition groups and in 2016 the government announced strict controls over the media amid a state of emergency over anti-government protests. The rules outlawed watching or listening to outlets belonging to what the government called “terrorist organisations”, such as the Amsterdam-based opposition ESAT TV and US-based OMN. Radio is an important medium, reaching rural areas where most Ethiopians live. Although the state controls most broadcasting outlets, there is a handful of private TV and radio stations. Press circulation is largely confined to the literate urban elite. Poor infrastructure and a government monopoly in the ICT sector make online services prohibitively expensive for many Ethiopians.

The press

Addis Zemen – state-owned daily
Ethiopian Herald – state-owned English-language daily
The Daily Monitor – private, English-language
Addis Admass
– private, Amharic-language weekly
The Reporter
– private, English-language web pages
– English-language, business weekly
Addis Fortune
– English-language business weekly


Ethiopian Television (ETV) – state-owned
Fana TV – private
Walta TV – private
ESAT – opposition satellite station s


Radio Ethiopia – state-owned, operates National Service and regional stations
Voice of Tigray Revolution – Tigray Regional State government radio
Radio Fana – founded in 1994 by ruling party
Sheger FM – private, Addis Ababa
Zami Radio – private, Addis Ababa

News agency

Walta Information Centre (WIC) – privately-owned, pro-government
Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) – state-owned

Media data source: BBC

Internet Data

Internet users
25% penetration, 29.83 million

Share of web traffic by device
61.21% mobile phones, 37.07% computers (laptops and desktops), 1.71% tablet devices, others 0.02

Median speed of mobile Internet connection
14 Mbps

Median speed of fixed Internet connection
3.31 Mbps

Mobile connection as a percentage of total population

Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G)

Most popular web search engines
Google (96.53%), Bing (2.94%), Yahoo (1.91%), DuckduckGo (0.23%), Yandex Ru (0.15%), Baidu (0.09%)

Most used social media
Facebook (60.76%), Pinterest (15.4%), Twitter (9.56%), YouTube (8.87%), Instagram (4.84%),  Tumbrl (0.28%)

Internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter

Social statistics

Life expectancy
67 yrs (2020)

2.08% (2020)

Healthcare Expenditure
3.24% of GDP (2019)

39% (2018)

Average age of the population
19.5 yrs (2020)

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic society. The present structure of the government – a federation of ethnic based states – has created more tension. It is public knowledge that those who belong to the ruling ethnic group have better access to services and can get things done or decisions made in a relatively shorter time than others.

Gender and religion have very limited influence in the workplace. On the other hand, ethnicity could affect the work environment, in particular, when it is used as means of associating with a manager or supervisor. This could limit interaction and openness among co-workers and isolates those who belong to other ethnic groups. Ethnicity is causing a significant problem in the present-day Ethiopia and it is being used as a means of gaining power and privileges.

Cultural Curiosities

Ethiopia is home to over 80 different ethnicities. Despite this ethnic and religious diversity, however, a strong feeling of patriotism and pride unites the country’s citizens.

When visiting an Ethiopian household, it is considered impolite to decline the offer of food, as in many cultures. It is also tradition that guests be fed the tastiest part of a meal by hand. This is called “Gursha” and is done to honor guests. 

As mentioned previously, Ethiopians use a different numerical system, so be prepared when discussing numbers or presenting statistics to locals. 

Another difference is the calendar: the Ethiopian year starts on September 11th of the Gregorian calendar.

Ethiopian women are fully engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services of the economy but the majority of them are not fully compensated for their contribution to the economic development and welfare of society. Even in Addis Ababa and among the well-educated, liberal members of the society, men’s opinions are valued more than those of women. In the workplace, Ethiopian women are paid an equal amount for equal work, experience and education but when it comes to promotion to a higher position, men seem to be favoured. Women are seen as soft and delicate and are not perceived as being capable of making tough decisions and undertaking hazardous duties.

Ethiopia is a multi-religious country with the domination of the two religions: Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Islam. These two religions account for 95% of the population. So far, there have been no major religious conflicts within major cities, there is evidence of some incidents associated with orthodox thinking and ultra-right tendencies influenced by external forces in certain areas.

It is no longer accurate to say that class exists in Ethiopian society and more so after the fall of the land tenure system and the 1974 Ethiopian revolution. However, Ethiopian society is very hierarchical and wealth does brings respect and recognition. The role of community leaders and elders, in the urban areas, has diminished but is still very relevant in rural areas.

Social statistics sources: WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF

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Languages research

Languages spoken in Ethiopia

The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to

Photo credit: Yohannes Minas, Unsplash