Painted Ethiopian Boys
Photograph by Charles Meacham, My Shot
Many members of tribes in southern Ethiopia have resisted the temptation to move to cities and abandon their cultural traditions. Here, two tribal boys painted for a ceremony wait at a roadside hotel near the Omo Valley.
Photograph by David Sacks/Getty Images
Most rural Ethiopians are farmers and herders. But in the past few decades, deforestation, drought, and soil degradation have caused crop failures and famine. Millions have faced starvation. Here a young herder outside the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, seeks shade in a tree while his cattle graze nearby.
Photograph by Carsten Peter
Sulfur, salt, and other minerals color the crater of Dallol, a volcano in the hottest place on Earth, Ethiopia's Danakil Depression. At 157 feet (48 meters) below sea level, Dallol is also the world's lowest land volcano.
Farmers With Camel
Photograph by Gaylon Wampler, My Shot
In Ethiopia, livestock help determine wealth and social status. In the eastern part of the country, where camels are most prevalent, farmers use these hardy symbols of the desert for milk, meat, transport, and, as here, for plowing.
Photograph by Nick Bastis, My Shot
An Orthodox priest in Lalibela, in northern Ethiopia, displays the processional cross of his church—Bieta Masqal, or House of the Cross. Each of Lalibela’s 12 famed rock churches has its own ceremonial cross.
Photograph by Fabio Murtas, My Shot
The dietary traditions of Ethiopia's varied regions and cultures have created a unique cuisine. The essential components include berbere, a spicy, red pepper paste; niter kibbeh, a spice-infused clarified butter; and injera, a flat, moist sourdough bread with a tangy flavor and airy texture. Food is generally eaten with the hand from a communal plate.
Photo: Close-up of a male gelada monkey
Photograph by Michael Nichols/National Geographic
Gelada monkeys, the last surviving species of a once numerous genus of grazing primates, live only in the high mountain meadows of north-central Ethiopia. Though somewhat protected by the remoteness of their location, they’re facing pressure from humans as hunters and farmers encroach. Only about 100,000 to 200,000 geladas remain.
Photograph by Remi Benali/Getty Images
All Omo Valley tribes wear traditional attire and adornments, but the Hamar, like this woman, are by far the most elaborately turned out, often sporting multiple beaded necklaces, armfuls of metal bracelets, and elaborate, sculptured hairstyles.
Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
Photograph by Carsten Peter/National Geographic
Disks of travertine, a calcium-rich deposit, ring a hot spring in Ethiopia's Danakil Depression. Afar tribeswomen extract water from this forbidding landscape by building small stone towers over the geothermal vents. The steam condenses, and the water runs into a reservoir. When it cools, the women pour it into their goatskin bags.
Pelicans Over Lake Chamo
Photograph by Michael Poliza/National Geographic
Pelicans fly above Lake Chamo, a shallow lake that, like its sister lake Abaya, is located within the Great Rift Valley in southwestern Ethiopia. Part of Nechisar National Park, Chamo is home to an abundance of wildlife, including large numbers of hippopotamuses and Nile crocodiles.
Photograph by Philippe Bourseiller/Image Bank
The town of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia is renowned for 12 Christian churches that were hewed out of solid stone some 800 years ago. The most stunning is Bieta Giyorgis, shown here, a massive monolith 40 feet (12 meters) tall, intricately carved and shaped like a cross.
Photograph by Andrew Geiger/The Image Bank
A man stands by the huts of his tribespeople near Yabēlo, a town nearly on the border with Kenya. Most Ethiopians reside in the country's western highlands, and its population is almost evenly split between Christians, living in the highlands, and Muslims inhabiting the lowlands. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigreans are the largest ethnic groups.
Photograph by Jodi Cobb/National Geographic
Among the Mursi tribeswomen of Ethiopia's Omo Valley, lip plates are a source of pride and a sign of strength. When a girl is 15 or 16, her lower lip is cut and held open by a wooden plug. Over the next several months, progressively larger plugs are inserted to stretch the lip. Not all girls continue until they can wear plates of the size shown here.
2015 Traveler Photo Contest
Explore the submissions, share your favorites, and check back for the winning images.