Ethiopian Highlands



This is a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, situated in the Horn region in northeast Africa. It forms the largest continuous area of its elevation in the continent, with little of its surface falling below 1,500 m (4,900 ft), while the summits reach heights of up to 4,550 m (14,930 ft). It is sometimes called the Roof of Africa due to its height and large area. Most of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of central and northern Ethiopia, and its northernmost portion reaches into Eritrea.

The Highlands are divided into northwestern and southeastern portions by the Main Ethiopian Rift, which contains a number of salt lakes. The northwestern portion, which covers the Tigray and Amhara Regions, includes the Semien Mountains, part of which has been designated the Simien Mountains National Park. Its summit, Ras Dashen (4,550 m), is the highest peak in Ethiopia. Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, also lies in the northwestern portion of the Ethiopian Highlands.

The southeastern portion’s highest peaks are located in the Bale Zone of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region. The Bale Mountains, also designated a national park, are nearly as high as those of Semien. The range includes peaks of over 4,000 m. Among these are Mount Tullu Demtu (4,337 m), which is the second-highest peak in Ethiopia, and Mount Batu.


Once on the southern part of the Ethiopian Highlands, there was a kingdom named the Kingdom of Kaffa a medieval-early modern state, whence the coffee plant was exported to the Arabian Peninsula.

In the southern parts of the Ethiopian Highlands once was located the Kingdom of Kaffa, a medieval early modern state, whence the coffee plant was exported to the Arabian Peninsula. The land of the former kingdom is mountainous with stretches of forest. The land is very fertile, capable of three harvests a year. The term “coffee” derives from the Arabic qahwah and is traced to Kaffa.

The Ethiopian Highlands began to rise 75 million years ago, as magma from the Earth’s mantle uplifted a broad dome of the ancient rocks of the Arabian-Nubian Shield.


The predominant climate of the Ethiopian Highlands is tropical monsoon, which in general is cooler than in other regions at similar proximity to the equator due to elevation. Blue Nile also courses through the northern part of the highlands. The Blue Nile is so called because floods during the summer monsoon erode a vast amount of fertile soil from the Ethiopian Highlands.


Aside from being among Africa’s highest mountains, the area is also the source of the Blue Nile, Lake Tana.




Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) looks out over a frosty landscape shortly, Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopian highlands, Ethiopia.