Ethiopian Culture


  • Greetings are very important in Ethiopia. It is expected that people acknowledge one another courteously even if they do not speak the same language.
  • It is rude to rush through a greeting or pass by someone without acknowledging them even briefly. 
  • Greet the eldest people first out of respect.
  • It is common to shake hands to greet strangers, using the right hand or both hands. Make eye contact during a handshake. However, this should be the only assertive aspect of the interaction. People generally hold one another’s hands quite lightly.
  • Men often greet other men that are close friends by pulling one another into an embrace (whilst still shaking hands) and using their other hand to rub the person’s back.
  • Close friends often kiss one another on the cheek around three times. If it has been a long time since people have met, they may even kiss four or five times and embrace for longer.
  • Some Muslims may prefer not to embrace members of the opposite gender unless they are a close family member. Therefore, men should wait until a woman extends her hand first before extending his own hand for a handshake.
  • The elderly are greeted with significant respect. Some may kiss their hands to greet them, while others may give a small bow or lower their head.
  • The elderly often kiss children on the forehead, and may receive a kiss on their knee or leg in return.
  • Use people’s titles to address them until invited to move on to a casual basis. Common titles include ‘Ato’ (Mr), ‘Woizerit’ (Miss) and ‘Woizero’ (Mrs).

Verbal Greetings

  • Verbal greetings vary between ethnic groups’ languages, but generally mean the equivalent of ‘How are you?’.
  • In Amharic, friends and peers say “Indemin nih?” to a male and “Indemin nish?” to a female. To say the same greeting to an elder, one says “Indemin nawot?”.
  • In Oromiffa, one greets members of either gender with “Akam jirta?
  • The Tigrinya form is "Kameleha?" for a man and "Kamelehee?" for a woman.
  • Muslims of different ethnicities may also greet using the traditional Islamic Arabic greeting “Assalaam 'alaikum” (Peace be upon you).
  • A more formal Amharic greeting is “Tena Yistilin” (May God give you health).
  • A casual greeting is to say “Salam” (Hello).
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  • Population
    [July 2017 est.]
  • Languages
    Oromo (33.8%)
    Amharic (29.3%)
    Somali (6.2%)
    Tigrinya (5.9%)
    Sidamo (4.0%)
    Wolaytta (2.2%)
    Gurage (2.0%)
    Afar (1.7%)
    Hadiyya (1.7%)
    Other (13.2) - including over 70 other individual languages.
    [Census, 2007]
  • Religions
    Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity (43.5%)
    Islam (33.9%)
    Protestant Christianity (18.5%)
    Traditional/Animist Religions (2.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (0.7%)
    Other (0.6%)
    [Census, 2007]
  • Ethnicities
    Oromo (34.4%)
    Amhara (26.9%)
    Somali (6.2%)
    Tigrinya (6.1%)
    Sidama (4.0%)
    Gurage (2.5%)
    Welaita (2.3%)
    Hadiya (1.7%)
    Afar (1.7%)
    Other (14.1%) - including at least 70 other ethnic groups.
    [Census, 2007]
  • Cultural Dimensions
  • Australians with Ethiopian Ancestry
    13,715 [2016 census]
Ethiopians in Australia
  • Population
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Ethiopia.
  • Average Age
    [Census 2011]
  • Gender
    Male (48.5%)
    Female (51.5%)
    [Census 2011]
  • Religion
    Islam (23.9%)
    Oriental Orthodox Christianity (23.4%)
    Eastern Orthodox Christianity (18.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (5.4%)
    Other (28.7%)
    [Census 2011]
  • Ancestry
    Ethiopian (59.6%)
    Oromo (9.2%)
    Other (20.4%)
    Not stated (5.5%)
    African (undefined) (5.2%)
    [Census 2011]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Amharic (40.4%)
    Oromo (15.3%)
    English (13.4%)
    Tigrinya (9.6%)
    Other (21.3%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 82.5% speak English fluently.
    [Census 2011]
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (53.1%)
    Western Australia (13.6%)
    New South Wales (13.1%)
    Queensland (8.9%)
    [Census 2011]
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (36.7%)
    2001-2006 (30.5%)
    2007-2011 (27.7%)
    [Census 2011]
Country Flag Country Ethiopia