Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Millennium Challenge: Interfacing Cyber Ethiopia with reality!

Ethiopia country

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E•thi•o•pi•a (ē'thē-ō'pē-ə) (Formerly Ab•ys•sin•i•a (ăb'ĭ-sĭn'ē-ə))
A country of northeast Africa. A kingdom was established around Aksum in the 1st century A.D. and declined in the 7th century. After a long period of disorder, the area was finally reunited in 1889 by Emperor Menelik II, who greatly expanded Ethiopia by conquest. Italy invaded in 1935 and held the country until 1941.

Following the military overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie (ruled 1930–1974), a socialist state was established. The country suffered enormous hardship from war with rebels from the province of Eritrea (which declared independence in 1993) and from famine and drought. Guerrilla forces toppled the government in 1991 and subsequently established a transitional government. Addis Ababa is the capital and the largest city. Population: 74,800,000.

Classical Literature Companion

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Ethiopia, the land of the ‘burnt-faced men’ (Aithiŏpğs) according to the Greeks, situated with vague delimitations in north Africa, between the equator, the Red Sea, and the Atlantic, but especially describing the lands south of Egypt. Aeschylus had the Ethiopians extend to India, and Herodotus distinguishes between straight-haired (Asian) and curly-haired (Libyan) Ethiopians. Neither Greeks nor Romans penetrated further south than Meroë, and consequently their accounts of the various Ethiopian tribes are scanty and confused.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

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Country, eastern Africa. It is situated on the Horn of Africa, the continent's easternmost projection. Area: 435,186 sq mi (1,127,127 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 73,053,000. Capital: Addis Ababa. The people are about one-third Amhara and one-third Oromo, with the balance mostly Tigray, Afar, Somali, Saho, and Agew. Languages: Amharic, Oromo. Religions: Christianity (predominantly Ethiopian Orthodox; also Protestant), Islam, traditional beliefs. Currency: birr.

The landlocked country is mountainous in the north, with lowlands to the east and west. The central Ethiopian Plateau is split by the Great Rift Valley, which divides the eastern and western highlands. The climate is temperate in the highlands, which are mainly savanna, and hot in the arid lowlands. Intensive farming and deforestation have led to severe erosion; this, along with periodic droughts, has produced periodic food shortages.

The country's once abundant wildlife has been decimated; many species are endangered. Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries. Agriculture is mainly for subsistence, with cereals the main crop. Livestock is also important. Coffee is the main export, followed by hides and skins. A new republic was established in 1995; it has two legislative houses, the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister.

Ethiopia, the Biblical land of Kush, was inhabited from earliest antiquity and was once under ancient Egyptian rule. Ge'ez-speaking agriculturalists established the kingdom of Da'amat in the 7th century BC. After 300 BC they were superseded by the kingdom of Aksum, whose King Menilek I was, according to legend, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Christianity was introduced in the 4th century AD and became widespread (see Ethiopian Orthodox Church). Ethiopia's prosperous Mediterranean trade was cut off by the Muslim Arabs in the 7th – 8th century, and the area's interests were directed southward. Contact with Europe resumed in the late 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese.

Modern Ethiopia began with the reign of Tewodros II, who began the consolidation of the country. In the wake of European encroachment, the coastal region was made an Italian colony in 1889, but under Emperor Menilek II the Italians were defeated and ousted in 1896.

Ethiopia prospered under his rule, and his modernization programs were continued by Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1930s. In 1936 Italy again gained control of the country and held it as part of Italian East Africa until 1941, when it was occupied by the British. Ethiopia incorporated Eritrea in 1952. In 1974 Haile Selassie was deposed, and a Marxist government, plagued by civil wars and famine, controlled the country until 1991. In 1993 Eritrea gained its independence, but there were continued border conflicts with it and neighboring Somalia.
For more information on Ethiopia, visit Britannica.com.

Columbia Encyclopedia

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Ethiopia (ēthēō'pēə) , officially Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, republic (2005 est. pop. 73,053,000), 471,776 sq mi (1,221,900 sq km), NE Africa. It borders on Eritrea in the north, on Djibouti in the northeast, on Somalia in the east and southeast, on Kenya in the south, and on Sudan in the west. Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city. The country is divided into nine ethnically based regions and the capital.

Land and People
Ethiopia falls into four main geographic regions from west to east—the Ethiopian Plateau, the Great Rift Valley, the Somali Plateau, and the Ogaden Plateau. The Ethiopian Plateau, which is fringed in the west by the Sudan lowlands (made up of savanna and forests), includes more than half the country. It is generally 5,000 to 6,000 ft (1,524–1,829 m) high but reaches much loftier heights, including Ras Dashen (15,158 ft/4,620 m), the highest point in Ethiopia.

The plateau slopes gently from east to west and is cut by numerous deep valleys. The Blue Nile River (in Ethiopia called the Abbai or Abbay) flows through the center of the plateau from its source, Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake. The Great Rift Valley (which in its entirety runs from SW Asia to E central Africa) traverses the country from northeast to southwest and contains the Danakil Desert in the north and several large lakes in the south. The Somali Plateau is generally not as high as the Ethiopian Plateau, but in the Mendebo Mts. it attains heights of more than 14,000 ft (4,267 m). The Awash, Ethiopia's only navigable river, drains the central part of the plateau. The Ogaden Plateau (1,500–3,000 ft/457–914 m high) is mostly desert but includes the Webe Shebele, Genale (Jubba), and Dawa rivers.

Ethiopia's population is mainly rural, with most living in highlands above 5,900 ft (1,800 m). Almost half the people are Muslim, while over a third belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; about 15% practice traditional religions. There are a great number of distinct ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

The Amhara and Tigrean, who together make up about 33% of the people, live mostly in the central and N Ethiopian Plateau; they are Christian and hold most of the higher positions in the government. The Oromo, who make up about 40% of the country's population, live in S Ethiopia and are predominantly Muslim. The pastoral Somali, who are also Muslim, live in E and SE Ethiopia. Until the 1980s a small group of Jews, known as Beta Israel or Falashas, lived north of Lake Tana in Gondar. In the midst of famine and political instability, 10,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted (1984–85) to Israel, and another 14,000 were airlifted out in 1991. By the end of 1999 virtually all the Falashas who were practicing Jews had had been flown to Israel.

Amharic is the country's official language, but a great many other languages are spoken, including Tigrinya, Oromo, Somali, and Arabic. A substantial number of Ethiopians speak English, which is commonly taught in school. Educational facilities in the nation are very limited, however, and in the late 1990s adult literacy was estimated at just over 35%.

Ethiopia is an extremely poor and overwhelmingly agricultural country, with farm products accounting for over half of the country's gross domestic product and 90% of its exports (mainly coffee). Economically, the great majority of the population is engaged in subsistence farming. The chief farm products are coffee, teff and other millets, sorghum, barley, wheat, corn, plantains, peas, potatoes, oilseeds, cotton, and sugarcane. Large numbers of cattle, sheep, and goats are raised. Because of its degraded lands, poor cultivation practices, and frequent periods of drought, Ethiopia is chronically unable to feed its population and has to rely on massive food imports.

Industry, which is largely state-run, is mostly restricted to agricultural processing and the manufacture of consumer goods. The main industrial centers are Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, and Nazret. The leading manufactures include processed food, beverages, textiles, leather, chemicals, metal products, and cement. No large-scale mineral deposits have been found in Ethiopia; gold, platinum, salt, limestone, iron ore, and sulfur are extracted in small quantities. Foreign investment in the mining sector began in the 1990s.
Ethiopia has a poor transportation network, with few year-round roads. The country's one rail line links Addis Ababa and Djibouti; plans for its revitalization were announced in 1998. The chief ports serving Ethiopia, which became landlocked with Eritrean independence, are in other countries: Djibouti, in the country of Djibouti, and Aseb and Massawa, in Eritrea.

The annual value of imports into Ethiopia is usually considerably higher than the value of its exports. The principal imports are food, petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, and manufactured consumer goods; the main exports are coffee, hides and skins, oilseeds, grain, and gold. The leading trade partners are Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Japan.

Ethiopia is governed under the constitution of 1994, which provides for a president as chief of state and a prime minister as head of government. The bicameral parliament consists of the 108-seat Council of the Federation, which represents the ethnic interests of the regional governments, and the 547-seat Council of People's Representatives, whose members are popularly elected and who in turn elect the president. The prime minister is designated by the party in power following legislative elections.

Early History
Cushitic language speakers are believed to have been the original inhabitants of Ethiopia. They were driven out of the region by the Cushites in the 2d millennium B.C. The Cushites founded a new civilization which probably traded with the Egyptians, according to ancient Egyptian texts. The Egyptian name for Ethiopians was Habashat, which is the probable origin of the name Abyssinia.

According to tradition, the Ethiopian kingdom was founded (10th cent. B.C.) by Solomon's first son, Menelik I, whom the queen of Sheba is supposed to have borne. However, the first kingdom for which there is documentary evidence is that of Aksum (Axum), a kingdom which probably emerged in the 2d cent. A.D., thus making Ethiopia the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the most ancient in the world.

Immigrants (mainly traders) from S Arabia who had been settling in N Ethiopia since about 500 B.C. influenced the economy and culture of Ethiopia. Aksum controlled much of the Red Sea coast and had links with the Mediterranean world.

Under King Ezana, Aksum was converted (4th cent.) to Christianity by Frumentius of Tyre. Closely tied to the Egyptian Coptic Church, the established Ethiopian church accepted Monophysitism following the Council of Chalcedon (451). In the 6th cent., Jewish influence penetrated Aksum, and some Ethiopians were converted to Judaism.
With the rise of Islam in the 7th cent.

Aksum declined, mainly because its land contacts with the Byzantine Empire were severed and its control of the Red Sea trade routes was ended. Thereafter, the focus of Aksum was directed inward toward the center of the Ethiopian Plateau (mainly the regions of Amhara and Shoa), and it was largely cut off from the outside world. Aksum soon lost its cohesion, and Ethiopia lapsed into a period of competition among small political units.

In 1530–31, Ahmad Gran, a Muslim Somali leader, conquered much of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian emperor Lebna Dengel (reigned 1508–40) appealed to Portugal for help against the Somalis (a Portuguese embassy had reached the Ethiopian court in 1520). The Somali war exhausted Ethiopia, ending a period of cultural revival and exposing the empire to incursions by the Oromo. For the next two centuries the Ethiopian kingdom, centered at Gondar near Lake Tana, was beset by ruinous civil wars among princes (especially those of Tigray and Amhara), was menaced by the Oromo, and was again isolated from the outside world.

Nineteenth-Century Ethiopia

The reunification of Ethiopia was begun in the 19th cent. by Kasa (Lij Kasa; c.1818–68), who conquered Amhara, Gojjam, Tigray, and Shoa, and in 1855 had himself crowned emperor as Tewodros II (Theodore II). He began to modernize and centralize the legal and administrative systems, despite the opposition of local governors. Tensions developed with Great Britain, and Tewodros imprisoned (1867) several Britons, including the British consul.

A British military expedition under Robert (later Lord) Napier was sent out, and the emperor's forces were easily defeated near Magdala (now Amba Mariam) in 1868. To avoid capture, Tewodros committed suicide.

A brief civil war followed, and in 1872 a chieftain of Tigray became emperor as John (Yohannes) IV. John's attempts to further centralize the government led to revolts by local leaders; in addition, his regime was threatened during 1875–76 by Egyptian incursions and, after 1881, by raids by followers of the Mahdi in Sudan.

The opening (1869) of the Suez Canal increased the strategic importance of Ethiopia, and several European powers (particularly Italy, France, and Great Britain) sought influence in the area. In 1889, John was killed fighting the Mahdists, and, following a short succession crisis, the king of Shoa (who had Italian support) was crowned emperor as Menelik II.

Menelik signed (1889) a treaty of friendship and cooperation with Italy at Wuchale. Due to a dispute over the meaning of the treaty (Italy claimed it had been given a protectorate over Ethiopia, which Menelik denied), Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1895 but was decisively defeated by Menelik's forces at Adwa on Mar. 1, 1896. By the subsequent Treaty of Addis Ababa (Oct., 1896), the Treaty of Wuchale was annulled, and Italy recognized the independence of Ethiopia while retaining its Eritrean colonial base.

During his reign, Menelik also greatly expanded the size of Ethiopia, adding the provinces of Harar (E), Sidamo (S), and Kaffa (SW). In addition, he further modernized the military and the government, made (1889) Addis Ababa the capital of the country, developed the economy, and promoted the building of the country's first railroad (financed by French capital).

The Twentieth Century and the Rule of Haile Selassie

Menelik died in 1913 and was succeeded by his grandson Lij Iyasu, who alienated his fellow countrymen by favoring Muslims, and antagonized the British, French, and Italians through his support of the Central Powers (which included the Muslim Ottoman Empire) in World War I. Lij Iyasu was deposed in 1916 and Judith (Zawditu), a daughter of Menelik, was made empress with Ras Tafari Makonnen as regent and heir apparent. In the 1920s, there was tension with Italy and Great Britain, as each tried to extend its influence in Ethiopia. Ras Tafari was given additional powers by the empress in 1928, and on her death in 1930 he was crowned emperor as Haile Selassie I.

Almost immediately he faced threats from Italy's ruler, Mussolini, who was determined to establish an Italian empire and to avenge the defeat at Adwa. A border clash at Welwel in SE Ethiopia along the border with Italian Somaliland on Dec. 5, 1934, increased tension, and on Oct. 3, 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia. The League of Nations (which Ethiopia had joined in 1923) called for mild economic sanctions against Italy, but they had little effect, and an attempt by the British and French governments to arrange a settlement by giving Italy much of Ethiopia failed. The Italians quickly defeated the Ethiopians and in May, 1936, Addis Ababa was captured and Haile Selassie fled the country.

On June 1, 1936, the king of Italy was also made emperor of Ethiopia. The country was combined with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to form Italian East Africa.

In 1941, during World War II, British and South African forces easily conquered Ethiopia, and Haile Selassie regained his throne. Britain had considerable influence in Ethiopian affairs until the end of the war and administered the small Haud region in the southeast (adjacent to present-day Somalia) until 1955. In 1945, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia in 1952, and in 1962 it was made an integral part of the country; Ethiopia thus gained direct access to the sea. In 1955 a new Ethiopian constitution came into force, and in 1958 the Ethiopian church became independent of the Coptic patriarch in Egypt.

Despite considerable aid from the United States and other countries, Ethiopia remained economically underdeveloped, with its wealth concentrated in the hands of a small number of large landlords and the Ethiopian church. A coup in 1960 lasted only a few days before Haile Selassie was returned to power. Between 1961 and 1967 there were border skirmishes between Ethiopia and Somalia, and in the late 1960s and early 70s there was considerable fighting between the government and a guerrilla secessionist movement in Eritrea.

In 1966, Haile Selassie instituted several reforms, including the granting of more power to the cabinet. Nevertheless, unrest continued among groups seeking more far-reaching reforms.

Ethiopia after Haile Selassie

In a gradual coup that began in Feb., 1974, and culminated in September with the ouster of Haile Selassie, a group of military officers seized control of the government. Haile Selassie's failure to deal adequately with the long-term drought in N Ethiopia in 1973–74 was reportedly a major reason for his downfall. The constitution was suspended, parliament was dissolved, and Lt. Gen. Aman Michael Andom became head of a newly formed Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC). In 1977 Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam became head of the PMAC, which soon diverted from its announced socialist course.

A popular movement, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party, began a campaign of urban guerrilla activity that was contained by government-organized urban militias in 1977. Under the Mengistu regime, thousands of political opponents were purged, property was confiscated, and defense spending was greatly increased.

In 1977, Somalia invaded disputed territory in the Ogaden Desert and Bale Province. In addition, Eritrean nationalists were able to gain control of most of Eritrea. However, with massive amounts of military aid from the USSR and troops from Cuba, the government drove the Somalis out of the country (1978) and also retook land in Eritrea. Severe droughts throughout the 1980s resulted in devastating famine and led to widespread flight to Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan.

In 1987 a new, Marxist-based constitution was approved. Ethiopia and Somalia signed a peace agreement in 1988, but internal strife worsened as bitter fighting occurred (1989) in Tigray and Eritrea. Diplomatic relations with Israel, which had been severed in 1974, were restored in 1989 as aid from the Soviet Union and Cuba declined and Ethiopia looked for other potential investment sources.

In 1991 the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of rebel organizations (led by Tigrayens) under the leadership of Meles Zenawi, began to achieve real successes and ultimately routed the Ethiopian army, forcing Mengistu to resign and flee the country. The EPRDF organized an interim government with Meles as president. A new constitution, drafted by an elected constituent assembly and approved in 1994, divided the country into ethnically based regions, each of which was given the right of secession. Eritrea had established its own provisional government in 1991 and became an independent nation in 1993.

In 1995, Negasso Gidada became president, a largely ceremonial post. Meles became prime minister after elections that were boycotted by most opposition parties. In early 1996, some 70 figures from the Mengistu regime went on trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity; many of them, including Mengistu himself, were tried in absentia. Ethiopia, despite work toward reforming the nation's agriculture, continues to face problems of famine and widespread poverty. Elections held in May, 2000, resulted in a landslide for the EPRDF.

A border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea broke out in 1998 when Eritrean forces occupied disputed territory. Fighting was largely inconclusive, with many thousands killed on both sides, until May, 2000, when Ethiopian forces launched a major offensive, securing the disputed territory and driving further into Eritrea. A cease-fire agreement signed in June called for a truce, the establishment of a 15.5 mi (9.6 km) UN-patrolled buffer zone (in Eritrean territory), and the demarcation of the border by a neutral commission, A treaty was formally signed in Dec., 2000, and there was slow progress toward the goals of the treaty in the subsequent months. The border was established in Apr., 2002, by the Hague Tribunal.

The ruling generally favored neither country, but some decisions in favor of Eritrea led Ethiopia to fail to finalize the border.

Ethiopia, despite work toward reforming the nation's agriculture, continues to face problems of famine and widespread poverty. The country is dependent on rainfall to raise its crops, and a drought in 2000–2001 affected some 10 million Ethiopians, with perhaps as many as 50,000 dying from starvation. A new famine threatened the country in 2003 as a result of a drought that began in 2002. The situation improved somewhat by 2004, but several million people were still dependent on food aid. In 2003–4 there was ethnic violence in the Gambela region (W central Ethiopia); there were accusations that the army was involved in some of the attacks.

Parliamentary elections in May, 2005, resulted in substantial gains for the opposition in the lower house, where they won more than 170 seats, but opposition parties accused the government of irregularities in many constituencies; the government also accused the opposition of irregularities in others. When opposition protests occurred in the capital in June despite a ban on demonstrations, a number of demonstrators were killed, several thousand were arrested, and the unrest spread to other areas.

Although election board investigators visited constituencies where the results were strongly in dispute, the board ultimately ruled largely in favor of government candidates, awarding Meles's coalition a parliamentary majority. Foreign observers called the vote generally free and fair, but noted that it was marred in some respects and criticized the slowness of the count and the handling of charges of irregularities. Government opponents protested the result through a parliamentary boycott and, in November, street demonstrations; the police killed some 200 protesters.

The government arrested hundreds, eventually releasing most of them, but many opposition leaders were not released and were charged with treason and genocide. In response, a number of nations and international organizations suspended (Dec., 2005) foreign aid to the government.
Tensions with Eritrea escalated in 2005 as both nations bolstered their forces along the disputed border. The United Nations called (Nov., 2005) for Eritrea and Ethiopia to reduce their forces along the border, and expressed concern over Ethiopia's failure to finalize the border; UN sanctions were threatened for noncompliance. A year later the boundary commission said it would demarcate the border on maps, and that the two nations would have a year to demarcate the border on the ground.

In Dec., 2005, a Permanent Court of Arbitration claims commission ruled that Eritrea had violated international law in attacking Ethiopia, and that Ethiopia was entitled to compensation.

In Apr., 2006, Ethiopian soldiers fought with Kenyan forces when the soldiers pursued Oromo rebels across the border into Kenya. Somali Islamists accused Ethiopia of invading Somalia in June after the Islamists secured control of much of S Somalia. Although Ethiopia denied the charge, Prime Minister Meles denounced Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who became leader of the Somali Islamists' shura [council], as a threat to Ethiopia; the sheikh accused Ethiopia of “occupying” the Ogaden.

In July, 2006, there were more credible reports of Ethiopian troops entering Somalia in support of the beleaguered government based in Baidoa, but Ethiopia did not acknowledge this until October, when it said the Ethiopian forces in Somalia were military trainers. In December the Somali Islamists demanded that Ethiopian troops leave or face attack. When fighting erupted, Somali government forces supported by Ethiopian forces drove the Islamists from their Somalia strongholds; warfare continued into early 2007 in extreme S Somalia. Flooding in August–September and again in October, afflicted several Ethiopian regions; several hundred thouands people were affected.

See C. Clapham, Haile Selassie's Government (1969); E. Ullendorff, The Ethiopians (3d. ed. 1973); J. Markakis, Ethiopia (1974); P. Schwab, Ethiopia (1985); C. Clapham, Transformation and Continuity in Revolutionary Ethiopia (1988); E. J. Keller, Revolutionary Ethiopia (1989); A. Dejene, Environment, Famine and Politics in Ethiopia (1991); G. Takeke, Ethiopia: Power and Protest (1991); S. Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (5 vol., 2003–).

Local Cuisine

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Some Food Words from Ethiopia:
berbere. A paste, composed of hot spices, used to season many foods.
injera. Spongy, fermented bread that tastes similar to sourdough bread and resembles a large flour torilla or large, thin pancakes
kitfo. Raw beef dish.
teff. A grain used to make teff flour, the basis for the national bread, injera
tib. Generic name for cooked meat dishes
wot. Spicy stews. If a dish has "wot" in its name, it will be hot, while "alecha" means mild.
Berbere (Spice Paste)
Niter Kebbeh or Kibe (Spiced Butter)
Injera (Ethiopian Bread)
Lab (Ethiopian Cheese)
Kitfo (Spiced Raw Beef)
Dabo Kolo (Little Fried Snacks)
Aterkek Alecha (Vegetable Stew)
Geographic Setting and Environment

Situated in eastern Africa, Ethiopia (formerly called Abyssinia) has an area of approximately 1,127,127 square kilometers (435,186 square miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Ethiopia is slightly less than twice the size of the state of Texas.

Ethiopia is a country of geographic contrasts, varying from as much as 125 meters (410 feet) below sea level in the Denakil depression to more than 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) above sea level in the mountainous regions. It contains a variety of distinct topographical zones: the Great Rift Valley runs the entire length of the country northeast-southwest; the Ethiopian Highlands are marked by mountain ranges; the Somali Plateau (Ogaden) covers the entire southeastern section of the country; and the Denakil Desert reaches to the Red Sea and the coastal foothills of Eritrea. Ethiopia's largest lake, Lake T'ana, is the source of the Blue Nile River.

The central plateau has a moderate climate with minimal seasonal temperature variation. The mean minimum during the coldest season is 6°c (43°f), while the mean maximum rarely exceeds 26°c (79°f). Temperature variations in the lowlands are much greater, and the heat in the desert and Red Sea coastal areas is extreme, with occasional highs of 60°c (140°f).

History and Food
Ethiopia was under Italian military control for a period (1935–46) when Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) was in power. Except for that time, Ethiopian culture has been influenced very little by other countries. Ethiopia's mountainous terrain prevented its neighbors from exercising much influence over the country and its customs. Exotic spices were introduced to Ethiopian cooking by traders traveling the trade routes between Europe and the Far East.

Ethiopia went through a period of recurring drought and civil war during 1974–91. In 1991 a new government took over, and civil tensions were relieved somewhat because the coastal territory seceded from the inland government, creating the new nation of Eritrea.

Ethiopian cooking is very spicy. In addition to flavoring the food, the spices also help to preserve meat in a country where refrigeration is rare.

Berbere (pronounced bare-BARE-ee) is the name of the special spicy paste that Ethiopians use to preserve and flavor foods. According to Ethiopian culture, the woman with the best berbere has the best chance to win a good husband.
See Kategna recipe.
See Berbere (Spice Paste) recipe.
See Niter Kebbeh or Kibe (Spiced Butter) recipe.

Foods of the Ethiopians

The national dish of Ethiopia is wot, a spicy stew. Wot may be made from beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or even lentils or chickpeas, but it always contains spicy berbere. Alecha is a less-spicy stew seasoned with green ginger. For most Ethiopians, who are either Orthodox Christian or Muslim, eating pork is forbidden. Ethiopian food is eaten with the hands, using pieces of a type of flat bread called injera. Diners tear off a piece of injera, and then use it to scoop up or pinch off mouthfuls of food from a large shared platter. A soft white cheese called lab is popular. Although Ethiopians rarely use sugar in their cooking, honey is occasionally used as a sweetener. An Ethiopian treat is injera wrapped around a slab of fresh honeycomb with young honeybee grubs still inside. Injera is usually made from teff, a kind of grain grown in Ethiopia. The bread dough is fermented for several days in a process similar to that used to make sourdough bread. Usually enough bread is made at one time for three days. Little fried snacks called dabo kolo are also popular.
See Injera (Ethiopian Bread) recipe.
See Lab (Ethiopian Cheese) recipe.
See Kitfo (Spiced Raw Beef) recipe.
See Dabo Kolo (Little Fried Snacks) recipe.

Food for Religious and Holiday Celebrations

About half of the Ethiopian population is Orthodox Christian. During Lent, the forty days preceding the Christian holiday of Easter, Orthodox Christians are prohibited from eating any animal products (no meat, cheese, milk, or butter). Instead they eat dishes made from beans, lentils, and chick peas called mitin shiro that is a mixture of beans and berbere. This is made with lentils, peas, field peas, chick peas, and peanuts. The beans are boiled, roasted, ground, and combined with berbere. This mixture is made into a vegetarian wot by adding vegetable oil and then is shaped like a fish or an egg; it is eaten cold. A vegetable alecha may also be eaten during Lent.

During festive times such as marriage feasts, kwalima, a kind of beef sausage, is eaten. This sausage is made with beef, onions, pepper, ginger, cumin, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and tumeric. It is smoked and dried.
See Aterkek Alecha (Vegetable Stew) recipe.

Mealtime Customs
Before eating a meal Ethiopians wash their hands under water poured from a pitcher into a basin. Then a prayer or grace is said. An appetizer of a bowl of curds and whey may be served. At the start of the meal, injera is layered directly on a round, woven basket table called a mesob. Different kinds of stews such as wot (spicy) and alecha (mild) are arranged on top of the injera.

Sometimes the meal will not begin until the head of the household or guest of honor tears off a piece of bread for each person at the table. The right hand is used to pick up a piece of injera, wrap some meat and vegetables inside, and eat. As a sign of respect, an Ethiopian may find the best piece of food on the table and put it in their guest's mouth. Ethiopians drink tej (a honey wine) and tella (beer) with their meals. Coffee, however, the most popular beverage in the country, is usually drunk at the end of a meal. Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee. Coffee is a principal export.

The coffee, or buna, ceremony begins by throwing some freshly cut grasses in one corner of the room. Incense is lit in this corner next to a charcoal burner, where charcoal is glowing and ready to roast the coffee. All the guests watch while the raw green coffee beans are roasted. The host shakes the roasting pan to keep the beans from scorching and to release the wonderful aroma of the beans. The beans are then ground with a mortar and pestle (a bowl and pounding tool). A pot is filled with water, the fresh ground coffee is added, and the pot is placed on the charcoal burner until the water boils. The coffee is then served, often with a sprig of rue (a bitter-tasting herb with a small yellow flower). The same grounds may be used for two more rounds of coffee.

Politics, Economics, and Nutrition
Approximately half of the population of Ethiopia is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 48 percent are underweight, and nearly 64 percent are stunted (short for their age).

Wars, drought, political unrest, and population pressures of the 1970s and early 1980s have left their mark on the health of Ethiopians. Hundreds of thousands of people died during a famine (widespread food shortage) in 1973, and as many as one million may have died between 1983 and 1985. Ethiopia's coffee farmers produce one of the largest coffee crops in Africa; however, food crops are mainly produced by small farmers, known as subsistence farmers, who attempt to grow just enough food to feed their family. These farmers are not as successful. Ethiopians continues to suffer from malnutrition and a general lack of food. Sanitation (toilets and sewers to carry away human waste) is a problem as well, with only one-fifth of the population having access to adequate sanitation. Between 1994 and 1995, a little over one-quarter had access to safe drinking water.

Further Study
Amin, Mohamed. Spectrum Guide to Ethiopia. New York: Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., 2000.
Harris, Jessica B. The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
Merson, Annette. African Cookery. Nashville, TN: Winston-Derek Publishers, Inc., 1987.
Sandler, Bea. The African Cookbook. New York: First Carol Publishing Group, 1983.
Web Sites
Ethiopian Resources. [Online] Available http://www.ethiopianresources.com (accessed February 28, 2001).
IWon. [Online] Available http://advertise.iwon.com/home/food_n_drink/globaldest_overview/0,15463,250,00.html (accessed March 23, 2001).
Lonely Planet. [Online] Available http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/africa/ethiopia/culture.htm (accessed March 23, 2001).
Spiced Butter Recipe. [Online] Available http://www.wube.net/butter.html (accessed June 13, 2001).
World Gourmet. [Online] Available http://www.globalgourmet.com/destinations/ethiopia/ethiback.html (accessed March 23, 2001).

Geography Dictionary

Home > Library > Places > Geography Dictionary
Country in northeastern Africa bordered by Eritrea to the northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, and Sudan to the west. Formerly called Abyssinia. Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is Black Africa's oldest state, tracing its history back more than two thousand years.

Of all African nations, it most successfully withstood European attempts at colonization, remaining independent throughout its history, with the exception of a six-year period (1935-1941) during which it was occupied by Italy, which was then governed by fascists (see fascism).

Ethiopia is one of the world's oldest Christian nations, having been converted in the fourth century.

Ethiopia was ruled from 1930 to 1936 and again from 1941 to 1974 by the powerful and charismatic Emperor Haile Selassie I (born Ras Tafari Makonnen). Called the “Lion of Judah,” he claimed direct descent from the biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba.
Selassie was overthrown by a military junta, which proclaimed a communist government and became closely allied with the Soviet Union.

The junta was overthrown in 1991 and the first multiparty elections were held in 1995.
The country was plagued by famine and economic chaos in the 1980s and 1990s.


Home > Library > Places > Regional Stats
Background: Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II.

In 1974 a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

A constitution was adopted in 1994 and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A two and a half year border war with Eritrea ended with a peace treaty on 12 December 2000. Final demarcation of the boundary is currently on hold due to Ethiopian objections to an international commission's finding requiring it to surrender sensitive territory.
Location: Eastern Africa, west of Somalia
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1,127,127 sq km
land: 1,119,683 sq km
water: 7,444 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries: total: 5,328 km
border countries: Djibouti 349 km, Eritrea 912 km, Kenya 861 km, Somalia 1,600 km, Sudan 1,606 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation
Terrain: high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Denakil Depression -125 m
highest point: Ras Dejen 4,620 m
Natural resources: small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 10.71%
permanent crops: 0.75%
other: 88.54% (2001)
Irrigated land: 1,900 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts
Environment - current issues: deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water shortages in some areas from water-intensive farming and poor management
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked - entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993; the Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile by water volume, rises in T'ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia; three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and castor bean


Population: 73,053,286

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.9% (male 16,082,504/female 15,999,602)
15-64 years: 53.4% (male 19,452,737/female 19,525,746)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 905,648/female 1,087,049) (2005 est.)
Median age: total: 17.75 years
male: 17.64 years
female: 17.85 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.36% (2005 est.)
Birth rate: 38.61 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate: 15.06 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: repatriation of Ethiopians who fled to Sudan for refuge from war and famine in earlier years is expected to continue for several years; some Sudanese and Somali refugees, who fled to Ethiopia from the fighting or famine in their own countries, continue to return to their homes (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 95.32 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 105.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 85.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 48.83 years
male: 47.67 years
female: 50.03 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.33 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 4.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 1.5 million (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 120,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and hepatitis E
vectorborne diseases: malaria and cutaneous leishmaniasis are high risks in some locations
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2004)
Nationality: noun: Ethiopian(s)
adjective: Ethiopian
Ethnic groups: Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%
Religions: Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%
Languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.7%
male: 50.3%
female: 35.1% (2003 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
conventional short form: Ethiopia
local long form: Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
local short form: Ityop'iya
former: Abyssinia, Italian East Africa
abbreviation: FDRE
Government type: federal republic
Capital: Addis Ababa
Administrative divisions: 9 ethnically-based states (kililoch, singular - kilil) and 2 self-governing administrations* (astedaderoch, singular - astedader); Adis Abeba* (Addis Ababa), Afar, Amara (Amhara), Binshangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa*, Gambela Hizboch (Gambela Peoples), Hareri Hizb (Harari People), Oromiya (Oromia), Sumale (Somali), Tigray, Ye Debub Biheroch Bihereseboch na Hizboch (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples)
Independence: oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world - at least 2,000 years
National holiday: National Day (defeat of MENGISTU regime), 28 May (1991)
Constitution: ratified December 1994; effective 22 August 1995
Legal system: currently transitional mix of national and regional courts
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President GIRMA Woldegiorgis (since 8 October 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister MELES Zenawi (since NA August 1995)
cabinet: Council of Ministers as provided for in the December 1994 constitution; ministers are selected by the prime minister and approved by the House of People's Representatives
elections: president elected by the House of People's Representatives for a six-year term; election last held 8 October 2001 (next to be held October 2007); prime minister designated by the party in power following legislative elections
election results: GIRMA Woldegiorgis elected president; percent of vote by the House of People's Representatives - 100%
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Federation or upper chamber (108 seats; members are chosen by state assemblies to serve five-year terms) and the House of People's Representatives or lower chamber (548 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote from single-member districts to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 15 May 2005 (next to be held NA 2010)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats by party - OPDO 177, ANDM 134, TPLF 38, WGGPDO 27, EPRDF 19, SPDO 18, GNDM 15, KSPDO 10, ANDP 8, GPRDF 7, SOPDM 7, BGPDUF 6, BMPDO 5, KAT 4, other regional political groupings 22, independents 8; note - 43 seats unconfirmed
note: irregularities and violence at some polling stations necessitated the rescheduling of voting in certain constituencies; voting postponed in Somali regional state because of severe drought
Judicial branch: Federal Supreme Court (the president and vice president of the Federal Supreme Court are recommended by the prime minister and appointed by the House of People's Representatives; for other federal judges, the prime minister submits to the House of People's Representatives for appointment candidates selected by the Federal Judicial Administrative Council)
Political parties and leaders: Afar National Democratic Party or ANDP [leader NA]; Benishangul Gumuz People's Democratic Unity Front or BGPDUF [Mulualem BESSE]; Coalition for Unity and Democracy or CUD [HAILU Shawil]; Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front or EPRDF [MELES Zenawi] (an alliance of ANDM, OPDO, SEPDF, and TPLF); Gurage Nationalities' Democratic Movement or GNDM [leader NA]; United Ethopian Democratic Forces or UEDF [MERARA Gudina]; dozens of small parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: Afar Revolutionary Democratic Union Front or ARDUF [leader NA]; Council of Alternative Forces for Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia or CAFPDE [BEYANE Petros]; Southern Ethiopia People's Democratic Coalition or SEPDC [BEYANE Petros]
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, AU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, ONUB, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador KASSAHUN Ayele
chancery: 3506 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-1200
FAX: [1] (202) 686-9551
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
consulate(s): New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Aurelia A. BRAZEAL
embassy: Entoto Street, Addis Ababa
mailing address: P. O. Box 1014, Addis Ababa
telephone: [251] (1) 550666
FAX: [251] (1) 551328
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and red with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centered on the three bands; Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, and the three main colors of her flag were so often adopted by other African countries upon independence that they became known as the pan-African colors
Economy - overview: Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with exports of some $156 million in 2002, but historically low prices have seen many farmers switching to qat to supplement income. The war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and recurrent drought have buffeted the economy, in particular coffee production. In November 2001, Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Under Ethiopia's land tenure system, the government owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans. Drought struck again late in 2002, leading to a 2% decline in GDP in 2003. Normal weather patterns late in 2003 helped agricultural and GDP growth recover in 2004.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $54.89 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 11.6% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $800 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 47%
industry: 12.4%
services: 40.6% (2004 est.)
Labor force: NA (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture and animal husbandry 80%, industry and construction 8%, government and services 12% (1985)
Unemployment rate: NA (2002)
Population below poverty line: 50% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 33.7% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 40 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 17.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.887 billion
expenditures: $2.388 billion, including capital expenditures of $788 million (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products: cereals, pulses, coffee, oilseed, sugarcane, potatoes, qat; hides, cattle, sheep, goats
Industries: food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metals processing, cement
Industrial production growth rate: 6.7% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production: 2.149 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - consumption: 1.998 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 23,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports: NA
Oil - imports: NA
Oil - proved reserves: 214,000 bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 12.46 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance: $-464.4 million (2004 est.)
Exports: $562.8 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities: coffee, qat, gold, leather products, live animals, oilseeds
Exports - partners: Djibouti 13.6%, Germany 9.7%, Japan 9%, Saudi Arabia 6.5%, US 5.4%, Italy 4.9%, UK 4.3% (2004)
Imports: $2.104 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities: food and live animals, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles, cereals, textiles
Imports - partners: Saudi Arabia 25%, US 15.9%, China 6.7% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $923.1 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external: $2.9 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $308 million (FY00/01)
Currency (code): birr (ETB)
Exchange rates: birr per US dollar - 8.68 (2004), 8.5997 (2003), 8.5678 (2002), 8.4575 (2001), 8.2173 (2000)
note: since 24 October 2001 exchange rates are determined on a daily basis via interbank transactions regulated by the Central Bank
Fiscal year: 8 July - 7 July
Telephones - main lines in use: 435,000 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 97,800 (2003)
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate for government use
domestic: open-wire; microwave radio relay; radio communication in the HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies; two domestic satellites provide the national trunk service
international: country code - 251; open-wire to Sudan and Djibouti; microwave radio relay to Kenya and Djibouti; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 0, shortwave 1 (2001)
Television broadcast stations: 1 plus 24 repeaters (2002)
Internet country code: .et
Internet hosts: 9 (2003)
Internet users: 75,000 (2003)
Railways: total: 681 km (Ethiopian segment of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad)
narrow gauge: 681 km 1.000-m gauge
note: railway under joint control of Djibouti and Ethiopia (2004)
Highways: total: 33,297 km
paved: 3,996 km
unpaved: 29,301 km (2002)
Ports and harbors: Ethiopia is landlocked and has used ports of Assab and Massawa in Eritrea and port of Djibouti
Merchant marine: total: 8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 81,933 GRT/101,287 DWT
by type: cargo 6, roll on/roll off 2 (2005)
Airports: 83 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 14
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 69
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 23 (2004 est.)
Military branches: Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF): Ground Forces, Air Force
note: Ethiopia is landlocked and has no navy; following the secession of Eritrea, Ethiopian naval facilities remained in Eritrean possession (2003)
Military manpower - military age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service (2001)
Military manpower - availability: males age 18-49: 14,568,277 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 18-49: 8,072,755 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 803,777 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $337.1 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 4.6% (2004)
Transnational Issues
Disputes - international: Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by the 2002 Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but despite international intervention, mutual animosities, accusations and armed posturing prevail, preventing demarcation; Ethiopia refuses to withdraw to the delimited boundary until technical errors made by the EEBC that ignored "human geography" are addressed, including the award of Badme, the focus of the 1998-2000 war; Eritrea insists that the EEBC decision be implemented immediately without modifications;
Ethiopia has only an administrative line and no international border with the Oromo region of southern Somalia where it maintains alliances with local clans in opposition to the unrecognized Somali Interim Government in Mogadishu; "Somaliland" secessionists provide port facilities and trade ties to landlocked Ethiopia; the UNHCR expects most of the remaining 23,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia to be repatriated in 2005; efforts to demarcate the porous boundary with Sudan have been delayed by civil war

Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 93,032 (Sudan) 23,578 (Somalia)
IDPs: 132,000 (border war with Eritrea from 1998-2000 and ethnic clashes in Gambela; most IDPs are in Tigray and Gambela Provinces) (2004)
Illicit drugs: Transit hub for heroin originating in Southwest and Southeast Asia and destined for Europe and North America as well as cocaine destined for markets in southern Africa; cultivates qat (khat) for local use and regional export, principally to Djibouti and Somalia (legal in all three countries); the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center

National Anthem

Home > Library > Government > National Anthems
National Anthem of: Ethiopia
Ethiopia land of our fathers
the land where our God wants to be
like bees to a hive swiftly gather
God children are gathered to thee.
With our red, gold and green floating for us
and our Emperor to shield us from wrong
with our hope and our future before us
we hail and we chant and we sing
God bless our Negus, Negus I
who keeps Ethiopia free
to advance with truth and right, truth and right
to advance with love and light, love and light.
With righteousness pleading
we hail to our God and King.
Humanity pleading - one God for us all
Ethiopia the tyrants are falling
who once smote thee ´pon thy knee.
Thy children are heartically calling
from over the distant seas.
Jahoviah - the great one has heard us.
He has come to protect us from wrong.
He has sent his holy angel to guide us
and to protect us in this time
God bless our Negus, Negus I
who keeps Ethiopia free....
to advance with truth and right, truth and right
to advance with love and light, love and light.
With righteousness pleading
we hail to our God and King.
Humanity pleading - one God for us all


Home > Library > Reference > WordNet
Note: click on a word meaning below to see its connections and related words.
The noun Ethiopia has one meaning:
Meaning #1: Ethiopia is a republic in northeastern Africa on the Red Sea; formerly called Abyssinia
Synonyms: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Yaltopya, Abyssinia


Wodefit Gesgeshi, Widd Innat Ityopp'ya
"March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia"

(and largest city)
Addis Ababa
9°01′N, 38°44′E

Official languages

Federal republic1

- President
Girma Wolde-Giorgis

- Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi


- Traditional date c.980 BC

- Kingdom of Dʿmt
8th century BC

- Kingdom of Aksum
1st century BC


- Total 1,104,300 km² (27th)
426,371 sq mi

- Water (%) 0.7

- 2006 estimate 75,067,000 (15th2)

- 1994 census 53,477,265
- Density
70 /km² (123rd)
181 /sq mi
2005 estimate
- Total $69.099 billion (69th)

- Per capita
$823 (175fth)

Gini? (1999–00)
30 (medium)
HDI (2004)
0.371 (low) (170th)

Birr (ETB)

Time zone

- Summer (DST)
not observed (UTC+3)

Internet TLD

Calling code: +251

1 Ethiopia is a democracy, but has a dominant-party system led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

2 Rank based on 2005 population estimate by the United Nations.
Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ኢትዮጵያ ʾĪtyōṗṗyā), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country (after the independence of Eritrea in 1993) situated in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea on the north, Sudan in the west, Kenya in the south, Djibouti in the northeast, and Somalia in the east. The second-most populous African nation, Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world, and the only African nation to have enjoyed continuous sovereignty throughout and beyond the Scramble for Africa, excepting a brief occupation in World War II.[1] Often regarded as the "Cradle of Humanity" for the peerlessly ancient traces of humanity unearthed there, Ethiopia is also the second oldest officially Christian nation,[2] having converted in the 4th century AD.

Historically an intersection of African and Middle Eastern civilizations, Ethiopia has more recently become a crossroads of global international cooperation: it became a member of the League of Nations in 1923 and signed the Declaration by United Nations in 1942, founded the UN headquarters in Africa, was one of the 51 original members of the United Nations, and is currently the headquarters for and the main founder of the former Organisation of African Unity and current African Union.


Main article: History of Ethiopia
Early history

Human settlement in Ethiopia is very ancient; bones of the earliest ancestors to the human species, discovered in Ethiopia, have been assigned dates as long ago as 5.9 million years.[3] Together with Eritrea and the southeastern part of the Red Sea coast of Sudan, it is considered the most likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt (or "Ta Netjeru," meaning land of the Gods), whose first mention dates to the twenty-fifth century BC.
Aksum and D'mt

The ruin of the temple at Yeha dates to the 7th or 8th century BC.
Around the eighth century BC, a kingdom known as Dʿmt was established in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia. Most modern historians consider this civilization to be indigenous, although Sabaean-influenced due to the latter's hegemony of the Red Sea,[4] while others view D`mt as the result of a mixture of "culturally superior" Sabaeans and indigenous peoples.[5] However, Ge'ez, the ancient Semitic language of Ethiopia, is now known to not have derived from Sabaean, and there is evidence of a Semitic speaking presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea at least as early as 2000 BC.[6][7]

Sabaean influence is now thought to have been minor, limited to a few localities, and disappearing after a few decades or a century, perhaps representing a trading or military colony in some sort of symbiosis or military alliance with the Ethiopian civilization of D`mt or some other proto-Aksumite state.[8]

After the fall of D`mt in the fifth century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of one of these kingdoms during the first century BC, the Aksumite Kingdom, ancestor of medieval and modern Ethiopia, which was able to reunite the area.[9] They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time.[10]

In 316 AD, a Christian philosopher from Tyre, Meropius, embarked on a voyage of exploration along the coast of Africa. He was accompanied by, among others, two Syro-Greeks, Frumentius and his brother Aedesius. The vessel was stranded on the coast, and the natives killed all the travelers except the two brothers, who were taken to the court and given positions of trust by the monarch. They both practiced the Christian faith in private, and soon converted the queen and several other members of the royal court. Upon the king's death, Frumentius was appointed regent of the realm by the queen, and instructor of her young son, Prince Ezana. A few years later, upon Ezana's coming of age, Aedesius and Frumentius left the kingdom, the former returning to Tyre where he was ordained, and the latter journeying to Alexandria. Here, he consulted Athanasius, who ordained him and appointed him Bishop of Axum. He returned to the court and baptized the King Ezana, together with many of his subjects, and in short order Christianity was proclaimed the official state religion.[11] For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama" ("Father of peace").

At various times, including a fifty-year period in the sixth century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen and some of southern Saudi Arabia just across the Red Sea, as well as controlling southern Egypt, northern Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and northern Somalia.[12]

Bete Giyorgis from above, one of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken several times: first by the Jewish (unknown/or pagan) Queen Gudit around 950[13] (or possibly around 850, as in Ethiopian histories).[14] It was then interrupted by the Zagwe dynasty; it was during this dynasty that the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were carved under King Lalibela, allowed by a long period of peace and stability.[15] Around 1270, the Solomonic dynasty came to control Ethiopia, claiming descent from the kings of Axum. They called themselves Neguse Negest ("King of Kings," or Emperor), basing their claims on their direct descent from Solomon and the queen of Sheba.[16]
Restored contact with Europe

During the reign of Emperor Yeshaq, Ethiopia made its first successful diplomatic contact with a European country since Aksumite times, sending two emissaries to Alfons V of Aragon, who sent return emissaries that failed to complete the trip to Ethiopia.[17] The first continuous relations with a European country began in 1508 with Portugal under Emperor Lebna Dengel, who had just inherited the throne from his father.[18]

King Fasilides' Castle.

This proved to be an important development, for when the Empire was subjected to the attacks of the Adal General and Imam, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (called "Grañ", or "the Left-handed"), Portugal responded to Lebna Dengel's plea for help with an army of four hundred men, who helped his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule.[19] However, when Emperor Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years of revolt and civil unrest followed resulting in thousands of deaths.[20] The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians, and on June 25 1632 Susenyos' son, Emperor Fasilides, declared the state religion to again be Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other Europeans.[21][22]
All of this contributed to Ethiopia's isolation from 1755 to 1855, called the Zemene Mesafint or "Age of Princes

." The Emperors became figureheads, controlled by warlords like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray, and later by the Oromo Yejju dynasty.[23] Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between the two nations; however, it was not until the reign of Emperor Tewodros II, who began modernizing Ethiopia and recentralizing power in the Emperor, that Ethiopia began to take part in world affairs once again.

Yohannes IV, Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Zion, with his son, Ras Araya Selassie Yohannis.

Escaping the scramble for Africa

The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa and modernization in Ethiopia, when the Italians began to vie with the British for influence in bordering regions. Asseb, a port near the southern entrance of the Red Sea, was bought in March 1870 from the local Afar sultan, vassal to the Ethiopian Emperor, by an Italian company, which by 1890 led to the Italian colony of Eritrea. Conflicts between the two countries resulted in the Battle of Adowa in 1896, whereby the Ethiopians surprised the world by defeating the colonial power and remaining independent, under the rule of Menelik II. Italy and Ethiopia signed a provisional treaty of peace on October 26 1896.
The early twentieth century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who undertook the rapid modernization of Ethiopia — interrupted only by the brief Italian occupation (1936–1941).[24] British Empire forces together with patriot Ethiopian fighters liberated Ethiopia in the course of the East African Campaign (World War II) in 1941, which was followed by sovereignty on January 31, 1941 and British recognition of full sovereignty (i.e. without any special British privileges) with the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944.[25]

Selassie years

In 1962, Haile Selassie's government annexed Eritrea, a state that had already been federated with the Ethiopian Crown; this act led to the Eritrean War of Independence. Furthermore, Ethiopia suffered from various economic issues that led to the 1972-74 drought in Wallo, killing 200,000 Ethiopians. Although Haile Selassie was seen as a national and African hero, opinion turned against him as nobility filled their pockets while millions of landless peasants went hungry. In 1974 students, workers, peasants and the army rose against him.[26] Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, mostly due to economic hardship, when a pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg" led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed him and established a one-party communist state. Haile Selassie was imprisoned and probably tortured to death by the junta, who were demanding that he turn over Ethiopia's 25-million-dollar deposits in Switzerland to the junta. The ensuing regime suffered several coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and a massive refugee problem. In 1977, Somalia attacked Ethiopia, sparking the Ogaden War, but Ethiopia quickly defeated them with a massive influx of Soviet military hardware and a Cuban military presence coupled with East Germany and South Yemen the following year. Mengistu resides in Zimbabwe, despite attempts by Ethiopia to extradite him to face trial by the present Ethiopian government. 106 officials were accused, but only 36 of them were present in the court. Several former members of the Derg have been sentenced to death in absentia.

The trial began in 1994 and ended in 2006. Mengistu Haile Mariam was tried in absentia and convicted for crimes (genocide) committed by his Marxist government from 1974 to 1991, the period called “Red Terror". There is no extradition treaty between Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Red Terror

The efforts by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party to discredit and undermine the Derg and its MEISON collaborators escalated in the fall of 1976. It targeted public buildings and other symbols of state authority for bombings and assassinated numerous Abyot Seded and MEISON members, as well as public officials at all levels. The Derg, which countered with its own Red Terror campaign, labeled the EPRP's tactics the White Terror. Mengistu asserted that all "progressives" were given "freedom of action" in helping root out the revolution's enemies, and his wrath was particularly directed toward the EPRP. Peasants, workers, public officials, and even students thought to be loyal to the Mengistu regime were provided with arms to accomplish this task.

Mengistu's decision resulted in fratricidal chaos. Many civilians he armed were EPRP sympathizers rather than supporters of MEISON or the Derg. Between early 1977 and late 1978, roughly 5,000 people were killed. In the process, the Derg became estranged from civilian groups, including MEISON. By early 1979, Abyot Seded stood alone as the only officially recognized political organization; the others were branded enemies of the revolution. Growing human rights violations prompted the United States, Ethiopia's superpower patron, to counsel moderation. However, the Derg continued to use extreme measures against its real and perceived opponents to ensure its survival. From 1975-1978, Mengistu Haile Mariam was alleged to be responsible for the 7th worst genocide in world history. Around 1,500,000 Ethiopians were claimed to be the victims of the Derg genocide.[27]

In addition to the urban guerrilla warfare being waged by the EPRP, nationalist movements such as the EPLF, the OLF, the TPLF, and the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) also stepped up their military campaigns in the countryside. By the end of 1976, the Eritreans had made substantial gains in rural areas, forcing Ethiopian troops into garrisons and urban centers in Eritrea. Meanwhile, armed groups such as the OLF and the TPLF were severely testing the regime, and in 1977 the WSLF, with the assistance of Somali troops, occupied most of the Ogaden. The Ethiopian government, however, with aid from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Eastern Europe, reasserted its authority over contested areas by the following spring

In 1993, following a referendum, the annexed province of Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia, ending more than thirty years of armed conflict, one of the longest in Africa. In 1994, a constitution was adopted that led to Ethiopia's first multi-party elections in the following year. In May 1998, a dispute over the undemarcated border with Eritrea led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War that lasted until June 2000. This has hurt the nation's economy, but strengthened the ruling coalition. On May 15, 2005, Ethiopia held another multiparty election, and resulted in the EPRDF's disputed return to power.
Main article: Politics of Ethiopia
See also: Rulers and Heads of State of Ethiopia

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Politics of Ethiopia takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. The Judiciary is more or less independent of the executive and the legislature.

The election of Ethiopia's 547-member constituent assembly was held in June 1994. This assembly adopted the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in December 1994. The elections for Ethiopia's first popularly-chosen national parliament and regional legislatures were held in May and June 1995. Most opposition parties chose to boycott these elections. There was a landslide victory for the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). International and non-governmental observers concluded that opposition parties would have been able to participate had they chosen to do so.

The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was installed in August 1995. The first President was Negasso Gidada. The EPRDF-led government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has promoted a policy of ethnic federalism, devolving significant powers to regional, ethnically-based authorities. Ethiopia today has nine semi-autonomous administrative regions that have the power to raise and spend their own revenues. Under the present government, some fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press, are, in practice, somewhat circumscribed.[citation needed] Citizens have access to one television station, which is owned and operated by the government [28].
Zenawi's government was re-elected in 2000 in Ethiopia's first multi-party elections. The incumbent President is Girma Wolde-Giorgis.

Ethiopian police massacre

Main article: Ethiopian police massacre

On October 18 2006 an independent report said Ethiopian police massacred 193 protesters, mostly in the capital Addis Ababa, in the violence of June and November following the May 2005 elections. The information was leaked before the official independent report was handed to the parliament. The leak made by Ethiopian judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha found that the government had concealed the true extent of deaths at the hands of the police.[28] This leak also brought more accusations that the opposition party which provoked the riots was trying to damage the reputation of the government by leaking the inquiry unlawfully. Gemechu Megerssa, a member of the independent Inquiry commission, which Mr. Meshesha once worked with, said Mr. Meshesha taking the report "out of context and presenting it to the public to sensationalise the situation for his political end is highly unethical."[29] The incident is just one of many examples of human rights violations in Ethiopia in recent times.[30]
The Crown Council of Ethiopia

Main article: Monarchies of Ethiopia

The Crown Council of Ethiopia is the constitutional body which advises the reigning Emperors of Ethiopia, acts on behalf of the Crown and the council’s members are appointed by the Emperor.

The Ethiopian monarchy currently has no power in the Ethiopian government, but Ethiopian royalists continue to operate the Crown Council. On March 16, 2005, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie was reconfirmed by Crown Prince Zera Yacob Amha Selassie as President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia. Zera Yacob Amha Selassie is considered Emperor in Exile of Ethiopia. [5]PDF (108 KiB)

Map of Ethiopia.
Main article: Geography of Ethiopia

At 435,071 square miles (1,127,127 km² [6]), Ethiopia is the world's 27th-largest country (after Colombia). It is comparable in size to Bolivia, and is about two-thirds as large as the US state of Alaska.

The major portion of Ethiopia lies on the Horn of Africa, which is the eastern-most part of the African landmass. Bordering Ethiopia is Sudan to the west, Djibouti and Eritrea to the north, Somalia to the east, and Kenya to the south. Within Ethiopia is a massive highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs generally southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes, or semi-desert. The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns.
Climate, ecology and landforms

Elevation and geographic location produce three climatic zones: the cool zone above 2,400 meters (7,900 ft) where temperatures range from near freezing to 16°C (32°–61°F); the temperate zone at elevations of 1,500 to 2,400 meters (4,900–7,900 ft) with temperatures from 16°C to 30°C (61°–86°F); and the hot zone below 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) with both tropical and arid conditions and daytime temperatures ranging from 27°C to 50°C (81°–122°F). The topography of Ethiopia ranges from several very high mountain ranges (the Semien Mountains and the Bale Mountains), to one of the lowest areas of land in Africa, the Danakil depression.

The normal rainy season is from mid-June to mid-September (longer in the southern highlands) preceded by intermittent showers from February or March; the remainder of the year is generally dry.

Ethiopian Highlands with Ras Dashan in the background.
Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country. Lake Tana in the north is the source of the Blue Nile. It also has a large number of endemic species, notably the Gelada Baboon, the Walia Ibex and the Ethiopian wolf (or Simien fox). The wide range of altitude has given the country a variety of ecologically distinct areas, this has helped to enourage the evolution of endemic species in ecological isolation.


Main article: Environmental issues in Ethiopia
Deforestation is a major concern for Ethiopia as studies suggest loss of forest contributes to soil erosion, loss of nutrients in the soil, loss of animal habitats and reduction in biodiversity. At the beginning of the Twentieth century around 42 million hectares or 35 percent of Ethiopia’s land was covered by trees but recent research indicates that forest cover is now approximately 11.9 percent of the area.[31] Ethiopia is one of the seven fundamental and independent centers of origin of cultivated plants of the world.
Ethiopia loses an estimated 141,000 hectares of natural forests each year. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost approximately 2.1 million hectares.

Current government programs to control deforestation consist of education, promoting reforestation programs and providing alternate raw material to timber. In rural areas the government also provides non-timber fuel sources and access to non-forested land to promote agriculture without destroying forest habitat.

Organizations such as SOS and Farm Africa are working with the federal government and local governments to create a system of forest management.[32] Working with a grant of approximately 2.3 million Euros the Ethiopian government recently began training people on reducing erosion and using proper irrigation techniques that do not contribute to deforestation. This project is assisting more than 80 communities.
Administrative divisions

Main article: Subdivisions of Ethiopia

Before 1996, Ethiopia was divided into thirteen provinces, many derived from historical regions. Ethiopia now has a tiered government system consisting of a federal government overseeing ethnically-based regional states, zones, districts (woredas), and neighborhoods (kebele).

Ethiopia is divided into nine ethnically-based administrative regions (kililoch, sing. kilil) and subdivided into sixty-eight zones and two chartered cities (astedader akababiwoch, sing. astedader akababi): Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa (subdivisions 1 and 5 in the map, respectively). It is further subdivided into 550 woredas and six special woredas.
The constitution assigns extensive power to regional states that can establish their own government and democracy according to the federal government's constitution. Each region has its appex regional council where members are directly elected to represent the districts and the council has legislative and excutive power to direct internal affairs of the regions. Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution further gives every regional state the right to secede from Ethiopia. There is debate, however, as to how much of the power guaranteed in the constitution is actually given to the states.
The councils implement their mandate through an executive committee and regional sectoral bureaus. Such elaborate structure of council, executive, and sectoral public institutions is replicated to the next level (woreda).

The regions and chartered cities of Ethiopia, numbered alphabetically
The nine regions and two chartered cities are:
1 Addis Ababa
2 Afar
3 Amhara
4 Benishangul-Gumaz
5 Dire Dawa
6 Gambela
7 Harari
8 Oromia
9 Somali
11 Tigray

Chartered cities shown in italics.
* Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region.

Woman coffee farmer filling cups with coffee in Ethiopia
Main article: Economy of Ethiopia
In 1972 and 1973, more than 200,000 people died in the Wallo famine. The Emperor Haile Selassie tried to hide the famine but university students revealed the drought to the world.[33] After the 1974 revolution, the economy of Ethiopia was run as Command economy.

Stronger state controls were implemented, and a large part of the economy was transferred to the public sector, including all agricultural land and urban rental property, and all financial institutions. The bad weather also continued to harm the agriculture sector. However since Mengistu Haile Mariam's relationship with the west was poor, the government hid the famine in Tigray and Wallo region causing the death of more than 250,000 Ethiopians.

When the government finally allowed UN workers to witness the condition, one of the worst humanitarian crises of the decade was revealed. Together with a flawed relocation project and the Red Terror around 1,500,000 Ethiopians were killed under Mengistu Haile Mariam.[34] Also six million people were affected by further famine before the EPRDF-led government overthrew the Derg regime.[35] Since then, many economic reforms were carried out. From mid-1991 onwards, the economy has evolved toward a decentralized, market-oriented economy, emphasizing individual initiative, which was intended to reverse a decade of economic decline. In 1993, gradual privatization of business, industry, banking, agriculture, trade, and commerce was underway.

Nevertheless, Ethiopia is still privatized. Many government owned properties during the previous regime have now been transferred to these EPRDF owned enterprises in the name of privatization. Furthermore, the Ethiopian constitution defines the right to own land as belonging only to "the state and the people," but citizens may only lease land (up to 99 years), and are unable to mortgage, sell, or own it.[7]

Agriculture accounts for almost 41 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 80 percent of exports, and 80 percent of the labour force. Many other economic activities depend on agriculture, including marketing, processing, and export of agricultural products. Production is overwhelmingly of a subsistence nature, and a large part of commodity exports are provided by the small agricultural cash-crop sector. Principal crops include coffee, pulses (e.g., beans), oilseeds, cereals, potatoes, sugarcane, and vegetables. Exports are almost entirely agricultural commodities, and coffee is the largest foreign exchange earner. Ethiopia's livestock population is believed to be the largest in Africa, and as of 1987 accounted for about 15 percent of the GDP.


Schoolboys in western Oromia, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's population has grown dramatically in the last several decades, from 33.5 million in 1983 to 75.1 million in 2006.[36] The country's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigray make up more than three-quarters of the population, but there are more than 80 different ethnic groups within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members.
Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially Semitic-speaking ones, collectively refer to themselves as Habesha or Abesha, though others reject these names on the basis that they refer only to certain ethnicities.[37] The Arabic form of this term (Al-Habesh) is the etymological basis of "Abyssinia," the former name of Ethiopia in English and other European languages.[38]

According to the Ethiopian national census of 1994, the Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia at 32.1%. The Amhara represent 30.2%, while the Tigray people are 6.2% of the population. Other ethnic groups are as follows: Somali 6.0%, Gurage 4.3%, Sidama 3.4%, Wolayta 2%, Afar 2%, Hadiya 2%, Gamo 1%.[39][40]


Main article: Languages of Ethiopia
Ethiopia has eighty-four indigenous languages. Some of these are:
English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is the medium of instruction in secondary schools. Amharic was the language of primary school instruction, but has been replaced in many areas by local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya. Ethiopia has its own alphabet, Ethiopic (ግዕዝ), and calendar.

See also: Islam in Ethiopia, Beta Israel, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, P'ent'ay, and Ethiopian Orthodox Tehadeso Church

This leather painting depicts Ethiopian Orthodox priests playing sistra and a drum.
According to the most recent 1994 National Census,[39] Christians make up 61% of the country's population, Muslims 33%, and practicioners of traditional faiths 5%. Orthodox Christianity has a dominant presence in central and northern Ethiopia, while both Orthodox & Protestant Christianity has large representations in the South and Western Ethiopia. A small ancient group of Jews, the Beta Israel, live in northwestern Ethiopia, though most have emigrated to Israel in the last decades of the twentieth century as part of the rescue missions undertaken by the Israeli government, Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.[8]

An ancient Ethiopian Islamic manuscript.
Sometimes Christianity in Africa is thought of as a European import that arrived with colonialism, but this is not the case with Ethiopia. The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the first nations to officially adopt Christianity, when St. Frumentius of Tyre, called Fremnatos or Abba Selama ("Father of Peace") in Ethiopia, converted King Ezana during the fourth century AD. Many believe that the Gospel had entered Ethiopia even earlier, with the royal official described as being baptised by Philip the Evangelist in chapter nine of the Acts of the Apostles. Today, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, part of Oriental Orthodoxy, is by far the largest denomination, though a number of Protestant (Pentay) churches and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tehadeso Church have recently gained ground. Since the eighteenth century there has existed a relatively small Uniate Ethiopian Catholic Church in full communion with Rome, with adherents making up less than 1% of the total population.[39]

The name "Ethiopia" (Hebrew Kush) is mentioned in the Bible numerous times (thirty-seven times in the King James version), and is in many ways considered a holy place. Ethiopia is also mentioned many times in the Qu'ran and Hadith. While most Ethiopians accept that these are references to their own ancient civilisation, pointing out that the Gihon river, a name for the Nile, is said to flow through the land, most modern scholars believe that the use of the term referred to the Kingdom of Kush in particular or Africa outside of Egypt in general. Some have argued[citation needed] that biblical Kush was a large part of land that included Northern Ethiopia, Eritrea and most of present day Sudan.

A traditional Ethiopian depiction of Jesus and Mary with distinctively "Ethiopian" features.

Islam in Ethiopia dates back to the founding of the religion; in 615, when a band of Muslims were counseled by the Prophet Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Ethiopia, which was ruled by a pious Christian king. Moreover, Islamic tradition states that Bilal, one of the foremost companions of the Prophet Muhammad, was from Ethiopia.
There are numerous indigenous African religions in Ethiopia, mainly located in the far southwest and western borderlands. In general, most of the (largely members of the non-Chalcedonian Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church) Christians generally live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions tend to inhabit more lowland regions in the east and south of the country.

Ethiopia is also the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari movement, whose adherents believe Ethiopia is Zion. The Rastafari view Emperor Haile Selassie I as Jesus, the human incarnation of God, a view apparently not shared by Haile Selassie I himself, who was staunchly Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The concept of Zion is also prevalent among Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, though it represents a separate and complex concept, referring figuratively to St. Mary, but also to Ethiopia as a bastion of Christianity surrounded by Muslims and other religions, much like Mount Zion in the bible. It is also used to refer to Axum, the ancient capital and religious centre of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, or to its primary church, called Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.[41] The Baha'i Faith has had roots in Ethiopia dating from the 1950s, and today is concentrated primarily in Addis Ababa, but also in the suburbs of Yeka, Kirkos and Nefas Silk Lafto.[42]


Main article: Culture of Ethiopia
Main article: Ethiopian cuisine

Typical Ethiopian cuisine: Injera (pancake-like bread) and several kinds of wat (stew).
The best known Ethiopian cuisine consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrees, usually a wat or thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread. One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera to scoop up the entrees and side dishes. Traditional Ethiopian cuisine employs no pork or shellfish of any kind, as Muslims, Jews, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are prohibited from eating either. It is also very common to eat from the same big dish in the center of the table with a group of people.

Main article: Music of Ethiopia

Mahmoud Ahmed, an Ethiopian singer of Gurage ancestry, in 2005.
The Music of Ethiopia is extremely diverse, with each of the country's 80 ethnic groups being associated with unique sounds. Ethiopian music uses a unique modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes. Influences include ancient Christian elements and Muslim and folk music from elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, especially Sudan and Somalia. Popular musicians included Tilahun Gessesse,Aster Aweke, Mahmoud Ahmed,Neway Debebe,Asnaketch Worku, Gigi and Mulatu Astatke.


Ethiopia has some of the finest athletes of the world, most notably middle-distance and long-distance runners. Kenya and Morocco are often its opponents in World Championships and Olympic middle and long-distance events. As of March 2006, two Ethiopians dominate the long-distance running scene, mainly: Haile Gebreselassie (World champion and Olympic champion) who has set over twenty new world records and currently holds the 20 km, half-marathon and 25 km world record, and young Kenenisa Bekele (World champion, World cross country champion, and Olympic champion), who holds the 5,000 m and 10,000 m world records.

Other notable Ethiopian distance-runners include Derartu Tulu, Abebe Bikila and Miruts Yifter. Derartu Tulu was the first Ethiopian woman from Africa to win an Olympic gold medal, doing so over 10,000 metres at Barcelona. Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon in 1960 and 1964, setting world records both times. He is well-known to this day for winning the 1960 marathon in Rome while running barefoot. Miruts Yifter, the first in a tradition of Ethiopians known for their brilliant finishing speed, won gold at 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the Moscow Olympics. He is the last man to achieve this feat.


Ethiopia offers a greater richness in archaeological finds and historical buildings than any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa (including Sudan). In April 2005, the Axum obelisk, one of Ethiopia's religious and historical treasures, was returned to Ethiopia by Italy.[43] Under the orders of dictator Benito Mussolini, Italian troops seized the obelisk in 1937 and took it to Rome. Italy agreed to return the obelisk in 1947 in a UN agreement, and it was finally returned in 2005. As of January 2006 the obelisk has not been erected in Ethiopia. The monument was returned to Ethiopia in three or four large segments to facilitate easier transport. The pieces are so large that the Ethiopian government has been unable to erect it or even devise a way it could feasably be done. The original site of the obelisk is an unexcavated area that would be damaged by heavy machinery, if that were determined to be an appropriate method of erection. There have been plenty of significant discoveries including the oldest complete human fossil, Lucy. Other discoveries are still being made.[44]

See also
Communications in Ethiopia
Ethiopia Scout Association
List of Ethiopia-related topics
List of Ethiopian companies
Military of Ethiopia
Monarchies of Ethiopia
National parks in Ethiopia
Transport in Ethiopia
Universities and colleges in Ethiopia

^ Kissinger, Henry (1994). Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 300. isbn 978-0671659912.

^ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/july-dec03/ethiopia_7-3.html
^ "Earliest Human Ancestors Discovered In Ethiopia; Discovery Of Bones And Teeth Date Fossils Back More Than 5.2 Million Years" ScienceDaily.com article references a report in the July 12, 2001 issue of Nature
^ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: University Press, 1991, pp.57.
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia: 1270-1527 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), pp.5-13.
^ ibid.
^ Herausgegeben von Uhlig, Siegbert. Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, "Ge'ez". Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005, pp. 732.
^ Munro-Hay, Aksum, pp.57.
^ Pankhurst, Richard K.P. Addis Tribune, "Let's Look Across the Red Sea I", January 17, 2003.
^ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: A Civilization of Late Antiquity (Edinburgh: University Press, 1991), pp.13.
^ Taddesse, Church and State, pp.22-3.
^ Munro-Hay, Aksum, pp.36
^ Taddesse, Church and State, pps.38-41.
^ Tekeste Negash, "The Zagwe period re-interpreted: post-Aksumite Ethiopian urban culture."PDF (51.4 KiB)
^ Tekeste, "Zagwe period-reinterpreted."
^ Taddesse, Church and State, pps.64-8.
^ Girma Beshah and Merid Wolde Aregay, The Question of the Union of the Churches in Luso-Ethiopian Relations (1500-1632) (Lisbon:Junta de Investigações do Ultramar and Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, 1964), pps.13-4.
^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pp.25.
^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pps.45-52
^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pps.91;97-104.
^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pp.105.
^ van Donzel, Emeri, "Fasilädäs" in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha (Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), pp.500.
^ Pankhurst, Richard, The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles, (London:Oxford University Press, 1967), pps.139-143.
^ Clapham, Christopher, "Ḫaylä Śəllase" in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha (Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), pps.1062-3.
^ Clapham, "Ḫaylä Śəllase", Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, pp.1063.
^ 1974 revolution
^ 1,500,000 Ethiopians killed in the Derg genocide
^ [1]
^ Post-election violence inquiry commission
^ [2]
^ Mongabay .com Ethiopia statistics. (n.d).Retrieved November 18, 2006, from http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Ethiopia.htm.
^ Parry, J (2003). Tree choppers become tree planters. Appropriate Technology, 30(4), 38-39. Retrieved November 22, 2006, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 538367341).
^ Wallo Famine during Haile Sellasie reign
^ Genocide of 1,500,000 Ethiopians during the DERG regime
^ Six million people in famine under Mengistu
^ Diercke Landerlexicon, 1983
^ Abesha.com - About us
^ Time Europe - Abyssinia: Ethiopian Protest 9 August 1926
^ a b c Berhanu Abegaz, Ethiopia: A Model Nation of MinoritiesPDF (51.7 KiB) (accessed 6 April 2006)
^ Embassy of Ethiopia, Washington, DC (accessed 6 April 2006)
^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State.
^ [3]
^ Obelisk arrives back in Ethiopia BBC 19 April 2005
^ [4] Discovery Fossil Sheds Light on Ape-Man Species 21 September 2006
This article contains material from the Library of Congress Country Studies, which are United States government publications in the public domain.
Pankhurst, Dr. Richard. History of Northern Ethiopia - and the Establishment of the Italian Colony or Eritrea. Civic Webs Virtual Library. Retrieved on {{#time:F j, Y|March 25, 2005}}.
Stand for Silenced Ethiopians: Support the Ethiopian Struggle for Democracy, Peace and Unity
Henze, P.B., (2004), Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia, Shama Books, ISBN 1-931253-28-5
This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.
External links
Rural poverty in Ethiopia (IFAD)
Ethiopia travel guide from Wikitravel
Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Tourism Commission
Walta Information Center
Aiga Forum
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Translations for: Ethiopia
Dansk (Danish)
n. - Etiopien
Français (French)
n. - Éthiopie
Deutsch (German)
n. - Äthiopien
Português (Portuguese)
n. - Etiópia
Español (Spanish)
n. - Etiopía

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Dictionary definition of Ethiopia
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2007, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2007. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. More from Dictionary

Classical Literature Companion information about Ethiopia
The Concise Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. Copyright © 1993, 2003 by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. More from Classical Literature Companion

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia information about Ethiopia
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. All rights reserved. More from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

Columbia Encyclopedia information about Ethiopia
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/ More from Columbia Encyclopedia

Maps information about Ethiopia
©2007 Google. All rights reserved. More from Maps

Local Time information about Ethiopia
Copyright © 2001 - Chaos Software. All rights reserved More from Local Time

Local Cuisine information about Ethiopia
Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. Copyright © 2002 by The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved. More from Local Cuisine

Geography Dictionary definition of Ethiopia
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved. More from Geography Dictionary

Statistics information about Ethiopia
The World Factbook 2005 is prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency. More from Statistics

National Anthem information about Ethiopia
© 1999-2007 by Answers Corporation. All rights reserved. More from National Anthem

WordNet information about Ethiopia
WordNet 1.7.1 Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University. All rights reserved. More from WordNet

Wikipedia information about Ethiopia
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ethiopia". More from Wikipedia

Translations for Ethiopia
Copyright © 2007, WizCom Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved. More from Translations

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