Overall, Ethiopia is a very safe country. I’ve never had even the slightest threat to my safety or possessions during my six visits to the country. This of course does not mean that you should dispense with your common sense, so activities such as walking in dark areas alone at night, not keeping an eye on valuables and the like are not recommended.
The biggest area of concern is the Danakil Depression, due to a number of kidnappings of foreigners in recent years. Check the security situation there before you travel. It is also not advisable to travel alone in that region, it is an extremely hot and inhospitable climate and any breakdown without support could prove fatal. This is one place where it is strongly recommended to travel with a tour.
The border area with Eritrea has been an area of tension for many years and is reported to be heavily mined, so straying too close to the border has its risks.
Travelling to the Southern Tribes in the Lower Omo Valley you will see many automatic weapons. However, I have never met or heard of any traveller having gun-related problems in this area. It has been reported directly to me that the Mursi tribe are best visited in the morning due to potential problems due to alcohol consumption in the afternoon. I visited on two different mornings and never felt any threat though the tactics used to encourage you to take photos of them (for a fee) are aggressive.
The roads in Ethiopia are steadily improving but there are still some fairly poor sections in the country. Public transport, though cheap, can be crowded and sometimes not safe due to the conditions of the road, vehicle and the driver.
If you wish to visit Ethiopia, it is important to read the following information: