Ethiopia is a country of great geographical diversity. Located within the tropics, its physical conditions and variations in altitude have resulted in great range of terrain, climate, soil, flora and fauna. Ethiopia has high and rugged mountains, flat-topped plateau called “Ambas,” deep gorges, incised river valleys and vast rolling plains. Its altitude ranges from the highest peak at Ras Dashen (4620 meters above sea level) down to the Dalol (also known as the Danakil) depression, approximately 148 meters below sea level.
The major features of Ethiopia’s landscape are lines of great escarpments overlooking the Afar plains and along its western borderlands, as well as great massifs. From lush plains and mountains to arid expanses, much of Ethiopia is dissected by tributaries to well known rivers including Abay (The Blue Nile), Tekeze, Awash, Omo, the Wabe Shebellie and Baro-Akobo.
Resulting from an extensive fault that cracked the old crystalline block of the African continent along the eastern side, Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley stretches from the eastern end of the Mediterranean Basin down to Mozambique in the southeastern part Africa. The Great Rift Valley system separates the western highlands and the southeastern highlands. On each side the highlands, the Rift Valley system give way to vast semi-arid lowland area in the east, west and especially the south.