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The major characteristics of Ethiopia’s relief and landscape

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The major characteristics of Ethiopia’s relief and landscape which have been summarised above are also illustrated in the cross-sections which have been associated with the relief map. In particular, these cross-sections serve to illustrate:

(a) the highly dissected character of the landscape over much of Ethiopia’s territory
(b) the limited extent to which flat surfaces are present in Ethiopia.

The highly dissected nature of the landscape has proved a barrier to the development of internal surface communications and has resulted in the long-term isolation of many communities in mountainous area difficult of access.

In the present day, although the major road system and the pattern of penetration and feeder roads has increased very significantly, road construction over this difficult terrain remains an expensive enterprise and maintenance costs are high.

On the other hand, differences in elevation and therefore of climate conditions have provided the scene for a wide variety of cropping patterns in agriculture.

The extreme differences in altitude coupled with high rainfall have also created the conditions for a very high potential in the production of hydro-electric power.

Extensive plains are found only in the eastern Welo and Harege Regions, and in the southern half of Sidamo and Bale Regions.

The western ‘panhandle’ of the Gambela area is the only example of a flood plain in the flat area between the Baro and Akob rivers.

Less extensive but agriculturally important area of high flat plateauland are to be found in the central highlands, particularly in northern Shewa, western Welo and parts of Gojam and Gonder Regions.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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