Calendar & Time

Calendar & Time & Currency

Ethiopia has had its own 13-month Julian calendar since biblical times, which happens to be seven or eight years (depending on the month) behind the Gregorian calendar that the Christian West adopted in 1582.

There is also a local system of time. This is based on the concept that the Ethiopian day is constituted of roughly 12 hours of daylight, starting at 6 am, and roughly 12 hours of darkness, starting at 6 pm. Being close to the equator means that day length is very consistent. So 7 am is 1 am Ethiopian time. Airports, large hotels and hospitals run on regular 24-hour clocks.

Urban Ethiopians often use both systems as appropriate. Nevertheless, in general, when asking about dates and times, it is always worth checking which system is being used.

Currency exchange is also an issue. Australian dollars cannot be exchanged in Ethiopia. There appears to be little computerisation of exchanges, or computer banking. The ATMs at hotels often do not issue receipts and no more than 200 Birr is to be taken out of the country. The government insists that businesses inspect all receipts for currency exchange from travellers, prior to accepting Birr. Credit cards are not widely accepted.