Ethiopians are very proud of their heritage, culture, and nation. Avoid criticizing their cultural way of life, particularly their type of Christianity (Ethiopian Orthodox). Avoid any heated theological debates at all costs, or you risk losing all good will and hospitality that might have been extended to you. Rather of debating the virtues of Orthodoxy or Islam, ask acquaintances to describe their traditions, holidays, and beliefs, and then listen respectfully.
The relationship between Ethiopians and Westerners is usually devoid of racial hatred. In the countryside, though, there is widespread mistrust and even xenophobia of immigrants. Ethiopians may be irritable if they believe they are not treated equally.
Men should avoid making eye contact with women as a show of respect. Maintaining a formal distance from ladies is considered good etiquette if you are a foreign guy. If you come across a lady who is with a guy, seek the male’s permission before approaching her. Similarly, if you are a foreign woman in public with a guy, don’t be surprised if Ethiopian men direct all inquiries to him. They will do this not to offend you, but to express their appreciation. This will be true on public transportation as well as in eateries.
When entering a house, it is important to remove your shoes.