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Interaction between Tourists and the people of Ethiopia

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Ethiopians are proud of their culture and civilization, which per-date those Europe. They do not expect or warrant snobbish behavior. For the most part, they are sociable toward visitors.

In the cities, you will regularly find young men – or rather, they will find you – who will recommend guiding you about. Unemployment is high, so they will most likely be out of work and hoping for a tip and a chance to learn something about your part of the world.

In Ethiopia, bribery and corruption exit; however on a much lower scale than in many other countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

You may take pictures of most things and scenes you see. Some people will be offended by having their picture taken, and it is a courtesy to ask, even if by sign language (such as bowing before taking a photo).

However, Government installations such as the palaces and military establishments are forbidden, and there are signs saying so – although they are often only in Amharic. Some religious leaders, as well, are offended by photos taken on holy ground without prior consent.

People in service industries that you will get – such as those working in hotels, tour agencies, car hires, and restaurants – are friendly and supportive. Tips of up to ten per cent are an established practice and valued. At night it is diplomatic to tip the guard who watches your car out side a restaurant. One birr is standard.

During the day, street parking boys will wish for a tip for watching your car while you shop. You are not required to tip them for their unwanted services.

Street crime exists typically in the form of pickpocketing or the snatching of handbags, gold neck chains and earrings. You can walk the streets securely in the daytime, though you should be aware of incidents in which people unnecessarily push you – a technique pick pockets often use.

In a country where there is extensive poverty it isn’t wise to display the trappings of a more affluent society. It is recommended not to wear gold jewellery on the streets and leave valuables with hotel security.

Vehicles are in general safe if locked and valuables are not on display. Take precaution, but don’t let unnecessary fear spoil your enjoyment of a country that has so much to offer.

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