Ethiopia Economy

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Salt flats, Swamps and marshes, Water bodies and Urban and built-up area

Salt flats
The salt flats account for about 0.5% of the country and are most common in the Danakil lowlands and along the Red Sea coast where the main activity is salt mining.

Swamps and marshes
The swamps and marshes are common around some of the lakes and in stream valleys and depressions and account for about 0.8% of the country. The most extensive area occurs in the Baro-Akobo lowlands. The perennial swamps and marshes with grasses, sedges and scattered trees are important grazing areas and bird wildlife sanctuaries. The seasonal swamps and marshes provide grazing during the dry season and in some places, as around lake Tana, they are used for cultivating annual crops after the flood waters recede.

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Exposed rock or sand surface

These account for about 15.8% of the country and occur mostly in northern Hararghe, the Danakil lowlands and along the Red Sea coast. Patches are also found in parts of Bale and Hararghe lowlands in the southeast, the lower Omo valley and in parts of northwestern Tigray.

In the northeast, the region consists mostly of recent lava flows with scattered small patches of shrubs and scrub.

In other parts it consists mostly of alluvial fans and depressions and partly of overgrazed areas where the sparse vegetation of scattered scrub and grass allows some browsing and grazing during the rain season.

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The grasslands region accounts for some 30.5% of the area of the country and is most extensive in the western, southern and southeastern semi-arid lowlands of Ethiopia.

On the more humid side, open grassland and grassland interspersed with some trees are common. In these regions grass may account for as much as 90% of the area.

In the drier parts, patches of shrubs of bushes are common and the proportion of grass is reduced to about 70% of the total area. In these regions pastoral livestock grazing and browsing and some incense and honey harvesting are common.

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Bushland and shrubland

These account for about 21.4% of the area of the country and occupy the intermediate zone between the humid and semi-arid parts of the country.

They are often intermixed with the woodland and the moderately cultivated land regions. Pastoral livestock grazing and browsing and, in some parts, charcoal and incense harvesting are the main activities.

The more dense bushland occurs on the humid side of the region and consists of multi-storied bushes. In the west, lowland bamboo bushland of pure stands of Oxytenanthera abyssinica is common.

The shrubland occurs on the semi-arid side and often consists of patches of shrubs interspersing grasslands with some scattered low trees.

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Riparian woodland and bushland

These occur along river banks and on floodplains and are important in the semi-arid and arid parts of the country where they are used for grazing and browsing and scattered seasonal crop cultivation on some of the flood plains.

They are found along most of the major rivers and account for some 0.6% of the area of the country.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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The woodlands are characterized by more discontinuous canopy and smaller trees than the high forest region and account for some 2.5% of the total area of the country.

Both the physiognomy and the flora of the woodlands region vary from place to place and in many parts the woodland is interspersed with moderately cultivated land.

More dense woodland is found on the drier periphery of the high forest in the south and southwest. Here as much as 40% of the land may consist of patches of forest and the main activity is livestock grazing and browsing as well as rainfed peasant mixed agriculture.

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High forest

The high forest region accounts for some 4.4% of the country and is found mostly in the southwest and south. It consists of coniferous high forest in parts of central, southern and southeastern highlands and of mixed high forest in the southwest.

The coniferous high forests consisting mostly of Podocarpus gracilior and Juniperus procera have been substantially depleted from most of northern and central Ethiopia and only patches remain.

The mixed high forest of mostly broadleafed species is found in most humid parts of the country in the southwest in parts of Ilubabor, Kefa, northern Gamo Gofa and in parts of Welega where the mean annual rainfall is about 1,500m.

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Afro-alpine and sub-afroalpine vegetation

These account for some 0.2% of the total area of the country and are found above 3,200m altitude.

They consist mostly of short shrub and heath vegetation used partly for sedentary grazing and browsing; and, where the terrain permits, for some cultivation of barley.

The major regions are the Simen highlands of Gonder, parts of southeastern Welo, parts of central Arsi and northern Bale.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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Moderately cultivated land

This accounts for about 12.5% of the country and includes land under rainfed peasant cultivation of grains, livestock grazing and browsing on unimproved or fallow land, and rainfed peasant perennial crop cultivation of coffee, enset and chat.

In contrast to the intensively cultivated land, patches of forest or bushes and large area under natural vegetation are present.

This type of land use and land cover is found around the intensively cultivated land on most of the highlands of Ethiopia, and an estimated 50% of the total land is used for annual crops during the cropping season and about 40% is under fallow or natural vegetation cover and is used for livestock grazing or browsing.

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Intensively cultivated land

This type of land cover includes areas of intensively cultivated peasant mixed agriculture as well as state farms.

The intensively cultivated peasant mixed agriculture area accounts for about 10.3% of the total area of the country and includes land used for rainfed peasant cultivation of grains as well as sedentary peasant livestock grazing.

The major areas of this type of land use are found on the highlands of Tigray, Gonder, Gojam, Welo, Shewa, Arsi and parts of highland Harerge, northern Bale and central Welega.

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