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Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
የኢትዮጵያ ፌዴራላዊ
ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ

ye-Ītyōṗṗyā Fēdēralāwī Dīmōkrāsīyāwī Rīpeblīk
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemWodefit Gesgeshi, Widd Innat Ityopp'ya
"March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia"
(and largest city)
Addis Ababa
9°1.8′N 38°44.4′E / 9.03°N 38.74°E / 9.03; 38.74
Official language(s) Amharic
Recognised regional languages Other languages official amongst the different ethnicities and their respective regions.
Ethnic groups  Oromo 34.5%, Amhara 26.91%, Somali 6.20%, Tigray 6.07%; Sidama 4%, Gurage 2.5%, Welayta 2.3%[1][2] and around eighty other small ethnic groups.
Demonym Ethiopian
Government Federal Parliamentary republic1
 -  President Girma Wolde-Giorgis
 -  Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
 -  Traditional date 980 BC 
 -  Current constitution 1991 
 -  Total 1,104,300 km2 (27th)
426,371 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.7
 -  2008 estimate 79,221,000[3] (15th²)
 -  2007 census 73,918,505 
 -  Density 79/km2 (123rd)
194/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $71.111 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $898[4] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $26.393 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $333[4] 
Gini (1999–00) 30 (medium
HDI (2007) 0.414 (low) (175th)
Currency Birr (ETB)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .et
Calling code 251
1 According to The Economist in its Democracy Index, Ethiopia is a "hybrid regime", with 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 (pronounced /ˌiːθiˈoʊpiə/) (Ge'ez: ኢትዮጵያ ʾĪtyōṗṗyā), a landlocked state in the Horn of Africa, is one of the most ancient countries in the world.[citation needed] Officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, it is the second most populous nation in Africa with over 79.2 million people[5] and the tenth largest by area. The capital is Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is bordered by Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, Eritrea to the north and Sudan to the west.

Though most African nations are, their modern form, less than a century old[citation needed], Ethiopia has been an independent state since ancient times. A monarchical state for most of its history, the Ethiopian dynasty traces its roots to the 10th century BC.[6] Besides being an ancient country, Ethiopia is one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today—having yielded some of humanity's oldest traces,[7] it might be the place where Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond.[8][9][10] When Africa was divided up by European powers at the Berlin Conference, Ethiopia was one of only two countries that retained its independence. It was one of only three African members of the League of Nations, and after a brief period of Italian occupation, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. When other African nations received their independence following World War II, many of them adopted the colors of Ethiopia's flag, and Addis Ababa became the location of several international organizations focused on Africa.

The Modern Ethiopian state, and its current borders, are a result of significant territorial reduction in the north and expansion in the south, toward its present borders, owing to several migrations and commercial integration as well as conquests, particularly by Emperor Menelik II and Ras Gobena. In 1974, the dynasty led by Haile Selassie was overthrown as civil wars intensified. Since then, Ethiopia has been a secular state with a variety of governmental systems. Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), G-77 and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Today, Addis Ababa is still the site of the headquarters of the African Union and [11] UNECA. The country has one of the most powerful militaries in Africa. Ethiopia is the only African country with its own alphabet.[12] Ethiopia also has its own time system and unique calendar, seven to eight years behind the Gregorian Calendar. It has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa.[13]

The country is a land of natural contrasts, with spectacular waterfalls and volcanic hot springs. Ethiopia has some of Africa's highest mountains as well as some of the world's lowest points below sea level. The largest cave in Africa is located in Ethiopia at Sof Omar, and the country's northernmost area at Dallol is one of the hottest places year-round anywhere on Earth. There are altogether around 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia today, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara, both of which speak Afro-Asiatic languages. The country is also famous for its Olympic gold medalists, rock-hewn churches and as the place where the coffee bean originated. Currently, Ethiopia is the top coffee and honey-producing country in Africa, and home to the largest livestock population in Africa.

Ethiopia has close historical ties to all three of the world's major Abrahamic religions. It was one of the first Christian countries in the world, having officially adopted Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century. It still has a Christian majority, but a third of the population is Muslim. Ethiopia is the site of the first hijra in Islamic history and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. Until the 1980s, a substantial population of Ethiopian Jews resided in Ethiopia. The country is also the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari religious movement, which is influenced by Pan-Africanism. Ethiopia is the source of over 85% of the total Nile waters flow but it underwent a series of tragic famines in the 1980s, exacerbated by adverse geopolitics and civil wars, resulting in perhaps a million deaths. Slowly, however, the country has begun to recover, and today Ethiopia has the biggest economy in East Africa (GDP)[14] as the Ethiopian economy is also one of the fastest growing in the world and it is a regional powerhouse in the Horn and east Africa.[15][16][17][18]



The Book of Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle compiled in the 15th century, states that the Ge'ez name ʾĪtyōṗṗyā, Ethiopia, is derived from "'Ityopp'is" — a son (unmentioned in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham, who according to legend founded the city of Axum. Pliny the Elder[19] similarly follows the tradition that the nation took its name from someone named Aethiops. Modern scholars would not accept such ideas of eponymous originators and derive the Ge'ez name ʾĪtyōṗṗyā and its English cognate from the Greek word Αἰθιοπία, Aithiopia, from Αἰθίοψ, Aithiops, ‘an Ethiopian’, derived in turn from Greek words meaning "of burned face".[20] [21] The geographical name, in its Greek form Αἰθιοπία, indeed first appears in Classical sources, in which it refers to the regions south of Egypt and Libya, so to what we would call Sub-Saharan Africa. It appears twice in the Iliad and three times in the Odyssey.[22] The Greek historian Herodotus specifically uses it for all the lands south of Egypt [23], so including Sudan and (in principle) modern Ethiopia. The name Ethiopia also occurs in many translations of the Old Testament, but there it has the above mentioned extended Greek meaning, for the Hebrew texts themselves in reality have in all such text places Kush, which refers foremost to Nubia / Sudan [24]. In the (Greek) New Testament, however, the Greek term Aithiops, ‘an Ethiopian’, does occur [25], referring to a servant of Candace or Kentakes, so to an inhabitant of the Kingdom of Meroe. This kingdom later was conquered by the Kingdom of Axum. It is thus not surprising that the earliest attested use in the region itself is as a Christianized name for the Kingdom of Aksum in the 4th century, in stone inscriptions of King Ezana.[26]

In English and generally outside Ethiopia, the country was also once historically known as Abyssinia, derived from Habesh, an early Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name "Ḥabaśāt" (unvocalized "ḤBŚT"), modern Habesha, the native name for the country's inhabitants (while the country was called "Ityopp'ya"). In a few languages, Ethiopia is still referred to by names cognate with "Abyssinia," e.g., modern Arabic Al-Ḥabashah, meaning land of the Habasha people.[citation needed] The specific form /ABYSSINIa/ may be a pun derived from a claim to suzerainty over the entire region extending from ABYlē (a mountain in Mauretania, mentioned in Strabōn : Geographia 17:3:6) to the SINaI peninsula (in effect, all of Africa as viewed from the Mediterranean Sea).

The term Habesha, strictly speaking, refers only to the Amhara and Tigray-Tigrinya people who have historically dominated the country politically, and which combined comprise about 36% of Ethiopia's population.[citation needed] Sometimes, the term is used to label the nearly 45% of Ethiopian population who used Semitic languages since ancient times like the Amharic (30.1% of Ethiopian population), Tigray (6.2%), Gurage (4.3%) and other smaller Semitic speaking communities like the Harari people in South east Ethiopia. Though since Amharic became the official language of the country, most of the population of the SNNPR and a significant portion of the Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions use it as a second language. In contrast, in contemporary Ethiopia, the word Habesha is often used to describe all Ethiopians and Eritreans.[citation needed] Abyssinia can strictly refer to just the northwestern Ethiopian provinces of Amhara and Tigray as well as central Eritrea, while it was historically used as another name for Ethiopia.[27]



Ethiopia is widely considered one of the oldest human inhabited areas, if not the oldest according to some scientific findings which is possible: Ethnographic migration studies, Anthropological artifactual discoveries, Anthropological skeletal remains and Genetic variegation radiation analyses all lend evidence to this school of thought.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35] As the Washington Post's David Brown put it, "the new research further shows that genetic diversity declines steadily the farther one's ancestors traveled from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia".[28] Lucy, discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar region, is considered the world’s second oldest, but most complete, and best preserved adult Australopithecine fossil. Lucy's species is named Australopithecus afarensis, which means 'southern ape of Afar', after the Ethiopian region where the discovery was made. Lucy is estimated to have lived in Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago.[36] There have been many other notable fossil findings in the country including the recently found potential early hominin Ardipithicus ramidus, Ardi.[37]

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 a native African one, although Sabaean-influenced because of the latter's hegemony of the Red Sea,[38] while others view Dʿmt as the result of a mixture of Sabaeans and indigenous peoples.[39] However, Ge'ez, the ancient Semitic language of Ethiopia, is now thought not to have derived from Sabaean (also South Semitic). There is evidence of a Semitic-speaking presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea at least as early as 2000 BC.[40][41] 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 Dʿmt or some other proto-Aksumite state.[42]

After the fall of Dʿmt in the fourth 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 Empire, ancestor of medieval and modern Ethiopia, which was able to reunite the area.[43] They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Aksum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time.[44]

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.

Ethiopian dynasties

Zagwe dynasty ruled many parts of modern Ethiopia and Eritrea from approximately 1137 to 1270. The name of the dynasty comes from the Cushitic speaking Agaw people of northern Ethiopia. From 1270 AD on for many centuries, the Solomonic dynasty followed.

Restored contact with Europe

In the early fifteenth century Ethiopia sought to make diplomatic contact with European kingdoms for the first time since Aksumite times. A letter from King Henry IV of England to the Emperor of Abyssinia survives.[45] In 1428, the Emperor Yeshaq sent two emissaries to Alfonso V of Aragon, who sent return emissaries who failed to complete the return trip.[46] 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.[47]

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 assisted the Ethiopian emperor by sending weapons and four hundred men, who helped his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule.[48] This Ethiopian–Adal War was also one of the first proxy wars in the region as the Ottoman Empire and Portugal took sides in the conflict. However, when Emperor Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years of revolt and civil unrest followed resulting in thousands of deaths.[49] The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians, and on 25 June 1632 Susenyos's son, Emperor Fasilides, declared the state religion to again be Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other Europeans.[50][51]

Zemene Mesafint

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, Ras Wolde Selassie of Tigray, and by the Oromo Yejju dynasty, such as Ras Gugsa of Begemder, which later led to 17th century Oromo rule of Gondar, changing the language of the court from Amharic to Afaan Oromo.[52][53]

Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between the two nations; however, it was not until 1855 that Ethiopia was completely united and the power in the Emperor restored, beginning with the reign of Emperor Tewodros II. Upon his ascent, despite still large centrifugal forces, he began modernizing Ethiopia and recentralizing power in the Emperor, and 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.

But Tewodros suffered several rebellions inside his empire. Northern Oromo militias, Tigrayan rebellion and the constant incursion of Ottoman Empire and Egyptian forces near the Red Sea brought the weakening and the final downfall of Emperor Tewodros II, who died after his last battle with a British expeditionary force. In 1868, Ethiopia and Egypt went to war at Gura. Northern Ethiopian forces, led by Emperor Yohannes IV, defeated the Egyptians decisively.

In 1889 and the early 1890s, Sahle Selassie, as king of Shewa, and later as Emperor Menelik II, with the help of Ras Gobena's Shewan Oromo militia, began expanding his kingdom to the south and east, expanding into areas that had not been held since the invasion of Ahmed Gragn, and other areas that had never been under his rule, resulting in the borders of Ethiopia of today.[54] The Ethiopian Great famine that afflicted Ethiopia from 1888 to 1892 cost it roughly one-third of its population.[55]

European Scramble for Africa

See Also: Ethiopian National Defense Force

The 1880s were marked by the Berlin Conference 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 Adwa in 1896, whereby the Ethiopians defeated Italy and remained independent, under the rule of Menelik II. Italy and Ethiopia signed a provisional treaty of peace on 26 October 1896.

Selassie years

Haile Selassie's reign as emperor of Ethiopia is the best known and perhaps most influential in the nation's history. He is seen by Rastafarians as Jah incarnate.

The early twentieth century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who came to power after Iyasu V was deposed. It was he who undertook the modernization of Ethiopia, from 1916, when he was made a Ras and Regent (Inderase) for Zewditu I and became the de facto ruler of the Ethiopian Empire. Following Zewditu's death he was made Emperor on 2 November 1930.

Haile Selassie was born from parents of the three main Ethiopian ethnicities of Oromo, Amhara and Gurage. He played a leading role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity,

The independence of Ethiopia was interrupted by the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and Italian occupation (1936–1941).[56] During this time of attack, Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations in 1935, delivering an address that made him a worldwide figure, and the 1935 Time magazine Man of the Year.[57] Following the entry of Italy into World War II, British Empire forces, together with patriot Ethiopian fighters, liberated Ethiopia in the course of the East African Campaign in 1941. This was followed by British recognition of full sovereignty, (i.e. without any special British privileges), with the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944.[58] During 1942 and 1943 there was an Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia. On 26 August 1942 Haile Selassie I issued a proclamation outlawing slavery.[59][60]

In 1952 Haile Selassie orchestrated the federation with Eritrea which he dissolved in 1962. This annexation sparked the Eritrean War of Independence. Although Haile Selassie was seen as a national hero, opinion within Ethiopia turned against him owing to the worldwide oil crisis of 1973, food shortages, uncertainty regarding the succession, border wars, and discontent in the middle class created through modernization.[61]

Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, when a Soviet-backed Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg" led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed him, and established a one-party communist state.


The ensuing regime suffered several coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and a huge refugee problem. In 1977, there was the Ogaden War, when Somalia captured the part of the Ogaden region, but Ethiopia was able to recapture the Ogaden after receiving military aid from the USSR, Cuba, South Yemen, East Germany and North Korea, including around 15,000 Cuban combat troops.

Hundreds of thousands were killed as a result of the red terror, forced deportations, or from the use of hunger as a weapon under Mengistu's rule.[61] The Red Terror was carried out in response to what the government termed "White Terror", supposedly a chain of violent events, assassinations and killings carried by the opposition.[62] In 2006, after a long trial, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide.[63]

In the beginning of 1980s, a series of famines hit Ethiopia that affected around 8 million people, leaving 1 million dead. Insurrections against Communist rule sprang up particularly in the northern regions of Tigray and Eritrea. In 1989, the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF) merged with other ethnically based opposition movements to form the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Concurrently the Soviet Union began to retreat from building World Communism under Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika policies, marking a dramatic reduction in aid to Ethiopia from Socialist bloc countries. This resulted in even more economic hardship and the collapse of the military in the face of determined onslaughts by guerrilla forces in the north. The Collapse of Communism in general, and in Eastern Europe during the Revolutions of 1989, coincided with the Soviet Union stopping aid to Ethiopia altogether in 1990. The strategic outlook for Mengistu quickly deteriorated.

In May 1991, EPRDF forces advanced on Addis Ababa and the Soviet Union did not intervene to save the government side. Mengistu fled the country to asylum in Zimbabwe, where he still resides. The Transitional Government of Ethiopia, composed of an 87-member Council of Representatives and guided by a national charter that functioned as a transitional constitution, was set up. In June 1992, the Oromo Liberation Front withdrew from the government; in March 1993, members of the Southern Ethiopia Peoples' Democratic Coalition also left the government. In 1994, a new constitution was written that formed a bicameral legislature and a judicial system. The first free and democratic election took place in May 1995 in which Meles Zenawi was elected the Prime Minister and Negasso Gidada was elected President. Though it is widely suspected that Meles Zenawi rigged the election. This suspicion is supported by Zenawi's very low approval rating in Ethiopia.[citation needed]


In 1993 a referendum was held and supervised by the UN mission UNOVER, with universal suffrage and conducted both in and outside Eritrea (among Eritrean communities in the diaspora), on whether Eritreans wanted independence or unity with Ethiopia. Over 99% of the Eritrean people voted for independence which was declared on May 24, 1993.

In 1994, a constitution was adopted that led to Ethiopia's first multi-party elections in the following year. In May 1998, a border dispute 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 15 May 2005, Ethiopia held another multiparty election, which was a highly disputed one with some opposition groups claiming fraud. Though the Carter Center approved the preelection conditions, it has expressed its dissatisfaction with postelection matters. The 2005 EU election observers continued to accuse the ruling party of vote rigging. Many from the international community are divided about the issue with Irish officials accusing the 2005 EU election observers of corruption for the "inaccurate leaks from the 2005 EU election monitoring body which led the opposition to wrongly believe they had been cheated of victory."[64] In general, the opposition parties gained more than 200 parliamentary seats compared to the just 12 in the 2000 elections. Despite most opposition representatives joining the parliament, some leaders of the CUD party were wrongly imprisoned following the post-election violence. Amnesty International considered them "prisoners of conscience" and they were subsequently released.

The coalition of opposition parties and some individuals that was established in 2009 to oust at the general election in 2010 the regime of the TPLF, Meles Zenawi’s party that has been in power since 1991, published its 65-page manifesto in Addis Ababa on October 10, 2009.

Some of the eight member parties of this Ethiopian Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD or Medrek in Amharic) include the Oromo Federalist Congress (organized by the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement and the Oromo People’s Congress), the Arena Tigray (organized by former members of the ruling party TPLF), the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ, whose leader is imprisoned), and the Coalition of Somali Democratic Forces.


The 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.

On the basis of Article 78 of the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution, the Judiciary is completely independent of the executive and the legislature.[65] The current realities of this provision are questioned in a report prepared by Freedom House (see discussion page for link).

According to The Economist in its Democracy Index, Ethiopia is a "hybrid regime" situated between a "flawed democracy" and an "authoritarian regime". It ranks 105 out of 167 countries (with the larger number being less democratic). Georgia ranks as more democratic at 104, and Burundi as less democratic at 106, than Ethiopia.[66]

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 current government of Ethiopia was installed in August 1995. The first President was Negasso Gidada. The EPRDF-led government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi 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 circumscribed.[67] Citizens have little access to media other than the state-owned networks, and most private newspapers struggle to remain open and suffer periodic harassment from the government.[67] At least 18 journalists who had written articles critical of the government were arrested following the 2005 elections on genocide and treason charges. The government uses press laws governing libel to intimidate journalists who are critical of its policies.[68]

Zenawi's government was elected in 2000 in Ethiopia's first ever multiparty elections; however, the results were heavily criticized by international observers and denounced by the opposition as fraudulent. The EPRDF also won the 2005 election returning Zenawi to power. Although the opposition vote increased in the election, both the opposition and observers from the European Union and elsewhere stated that the vote did not meet international standards for fair and free elections.[67] Ethiopian police are said to have massacred 193 protesters, mostly in the capital Addis Ababa, in the violence following the May 2005 elections in the Ethiopian police massacre.[69] The government initiated a crackdown in the provinces as well; in Oromia state the authorities used concerns over insurgency and terrorism to use torture, imprisonment, and other repressive methods to silence critics following the election, particularly people sympathetic to the registered opposition party Oromo National Congress (ONC).[68] The government has been engaged in a conflict with rebels in the Ogaden region since 2007. The biggest opposition party in 2005 was the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD). After various internal divisions, most of the CUD party leaders have established the new Unity for Democracy and Justice party led by Judge Birtukan Mideksa. A member of the country's Oromo ethnic group, Ms. Birtukan Mideksa is the first woman to lead a political party in Ethiopia.

As of 2008, the top four opposition parties are the Unity for Democracy and Justice led by Judge Birtukan Mideksa, United Ethiopian Democratic Forces led by Dr.Beyene Petros, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement led by Dr. Bulcha Demeksa, Oromo People's Congress led by Dr. Merera Gudina, and United Ethiopian Democratic Party-Medhin Party led by Lidetu Ayalew.

Regions, zones, and districts

Before 1996, Ethiopia was divided into 13 provinces, many derived from historical regions. Ethiopia now has a tiered government system consisting of a federal government overseeing ethnically based regional countries, zones, districts (woredas), and neighborhoods (kebele).

Ethiopia is divided into nine ethnically based administrative countries (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 several 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 apex regional council where members are directly elected to represent the districts and the council has legislative and executive 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-Gumuz
  5. Dire Dawa
  1. Gambela
  2. Harari
  3. Oromia
  4. Somali
  5. Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region
  6. Tigray


Map of Ethiopia.

At 435,071 square miles (1,126,829 km2),[70] Ethiopia is the world's 27th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Bolivia.

The major portion of Ethiopia lies on the Horn of Africa, which is the easternmost 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 vast 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 and landforms

The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. The Ethiopian Highlands which cover most of the country have a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Most of the country's major cities are located at elevations of around 2000–2500 metres (6600–8200 ft)above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum.

The modern capital Addis Ababa is situated on the foothills of Mount Entoto at an elevation of around 2400 metres (8000 ft), and experiences a healthy and pleasant climate year round. With fairly uniform year round temperatures, the seasons in Addis Ababa are largely defined by rainfall, with a dry season from October-February, a light rainy season from March-May, and a heavy rainy season from June-September. The average annual rainfall is around 1200mm (47 in). There are on average 7 hours of sunshine per day, meaning it is sunny for around 60% of the available time. The dry season is the sunniest time of the year, though even at the height of the rainy season in July and August there are still usually several hours per day of bright sunshine.

The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16°C (61°F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20-25°C (68-77°F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5-10°C (41-50°F). A light jacket is recommended for the evenings, though many Ethiopians prefer to dress conservatively and will wear a light jacket even during the day.

Most major cities and tourist sites in Ethiopia lie at a similar elevation to Addis Ababa and have a comparable climate. In less elevated regions, particularly the lower lying Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands in the east of the country, the climate can be significantly hotter and drier. The town of Dallol, in the Danakil Depression in this eastern zone, has the world's highest average annual temperature of 34°C.

Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country, ranging from the deserts along the eastern border to the tropical forests in the south to extensive Afromontane in the northern and southwestern parts. 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 encourage the evolution of endemic species in ecological isolation.


Endangered species

Historically, throughout the African continent, wildlife populations have been rapidly declining owing to logging, civil wars, hunting, pollution, poaching and other human interference.[71] A 17-year-long civil war along with severe drought, negatively impacted Ethiopia's environmental conditions leading to even greater habitat degradation.[72] Habitat destruction is a factor that leads to endangerment. When changes to a habitat occur rapidly, animals do not have time to adjust. Human impact threatens many species, with greater threats expected as a result of climate change induced by greenhouse gas emissions.[73]

Ethiopia has a large number of species listed as critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable to global extinction. To assess the current situation in Ethiopia, it is critical that the endangered species in this region are identified. The endangered species in Ethiopia can be broken down into three categories; Critically endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.[74]

Critically endangered Endangered Vulnerable
Bilen Gerbil Grevy's Zebra African Elephant
Black Rhinoceros Mountain Nyala Ammodile
Ethiopian Wolf Nubian Ibex Bailey's Shrew
Guramba Shrew African Wild Dog Bale Shrew
Harenna Shrew Beira Antelope
MacMillan's Shrew Cheetah
Walia Ibex Dibatag
Dorcas Gazelle
Glass's Shrew
Large-eared Free-tailed Bat
Lesser Horseshoe Bat
Moorland Shrew
Morris's Bat
Mouse-tailed Bat species
Natal Free-Tailed Bat
Nikolaus's Mouse
Patrizi's Trident Leaf-nosed Bat
Red-fronted Gazelle
Rupp's Mouse
Scott's Mouse-eared Bat
Soemmerring's Gazelle
Speke's Gazelle
Spotted-necked Otter
Stripe-backed Mouse


There are 31 endemic species, meaning that a species occurs naturally only in a certain area, in this case Ethiopia.[74] The African Wild Dog prehistorically had widespread distribution in Ethiopia; however, with last sightings at Fincha, this canid is thought to be potentially extirpated within Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Wolf is perhaps the most researched of all the endangered species within Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Wolf

Ethiopian wolves are decreasing rapidly in population. Fewer than 500 remain today owing to the increased pressure from agriculture, high altitude grazing, hybridization with domestic dogs, direct persecution, and diseases such as rabies.[76] The EWCP (Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Project) actively works on protecting this conservation reliant species.[77] Scientists working with this project have found that this species has some resistance to the effects of small population sizes and some resilience to fragmentation.[77] A 2003 study on the Ethiopian wolf resulted in the conclusion that the key to its survival resides in securing its habitat and isolating its population from the impact of people, livestock and domestic dogs.[77] The interaction between humans and Ethiopian wolves has become increasingly threatening to their conservation as these negative interactions increase as human density increases. Human interactions include poisoning, persecution in reprisal for livestock losses, and road kills.[78] Mountainous areas are critical for Ethiopian wolves survival to provide a healthy habitat.[77] Protecting this unique creature entails securing protected status for conservation areas where ecological processes are preserved in an ecosystem, and addressing and counteracting direct threats to survival (human persecution, fragmented populations and coexistence with domestic dogs.) Biologists also recommend the goal of preserving a minimum of 90% of the existing genetic diversity of the species for 100 years, which may require establishing a Nucleus I captive breeding population (preferably in Ethiopia). These aspirations are being pursued by a group called the Ethiopian Wolf Recovery Programme (EWRP).[79]


Several conservation programs are in effect to help endangered species in Ethiopia. A group was created in 1966 called The Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, which focuses on studying and promoting the natural environments of Ethiopia along with spreading the knowledge they acquire, and supporting legislation to protect environmental resources.[80]

There are multiple conservation organizations one can access online, one of which connects directly to the Ethiopian Wolf. Funding supports the World Wildlife Fund’s global conservation efforts. The majority of the funds received (83%) goes towards conservation activities, while only 6% goes towards finance and administration. The remaining 11% of funds are allocated for fundraising, which is much needed. The WWF Chairman of the Board, Bruce Babbitt holds this organization accountable for the best practices in accountability, governance and transparency throughout all tiers within the organization.[81]

A critical way to help threatened animals survive would be to protect their habitat permanently through national parks, wilderness areas and nature reserves. By protecting the places where animals live, human interference is limited. Protecting farms, and any place along roadsides that harbor animals helps encourage protection.[82]


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 420 000 km² or 35% of Ethiopia’s land was covered by trees but recent research indicates that forest cover is now approximately 11.9% of the area.[83] Ethiopia is one of the seven fundamental and independent centers of origin of cultivated plants of the world.

Ethiopia loses an estimated 1 410 km² of natural forests each year. Between 1990 and 2005 the country lost approximately 21 000 km².[citation needed]

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.[84] 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.


Ethiopia has shown a fast-growing annual GDP and it was the fastest-growing non-oil-dependent African nation in 2007 and 2008.[85] Since 1991, there have been attempts to improve the economy; however, there has been some political opposition to the policies as well as a 2008 drought which slowed progress.[86] The effectiveness of these policies is reflected in the ten-percent yearly economic growth from 2003-2008. Despite these economic improvements, urban and rural poverty remains an issue in the country.

Ethiopia is often ironically referred to as the "water tower" of Eastern Africa because of the many (14 major) rivers that pour off the high tableland. It also has the greatest water reserves in Africa, but few irrigation systems in place to use it. Just 1% is used for power production and 1.5% for irrigation.[87]

Historically, Ethiopia's feudal and communist economic structure has always kept it one rainless season away from devastating droughts. But Ethiopia has a big potential and it is one of the most fertile countries. According to the New York Times, Ethiopia "could easily become the breadbasket for much of Europe if her agriculture were better organized."[citation needed]

Provision of telecommunications services is left to a state-owned monopoly. It is the view of the current government that maintaining state ownership in this vital sector is essential to ensure that telecommunication infrastructures and services are extended to rural Ethiopia, which would not be attractive to private enterprises.

Coffee farmer filling cups with coffee

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 or sell. Renting of land for a maximum of twenty years is allowed and this is expected to ensure that land goes to the most productive user.

Agriculture accounts for almost 41 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 80 percent of exports, and 80 percent of the labour force.[citation needed] Many other economic activities depend on agriculture, including marketing, processing, and export of agricultural products. Production is overwhelmingly by small-scale farmers and enterprises 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. Recently, Ethiopia has had a fast-growing annual GDP and it was the fastest-growing non-oil-dependent African nation in 2007.[88][89] Exports are almost entirely agricultural commodities, and coffee is the largest foreign exchange earner. Ethiopia is Africa's second biggest maize producer.[90] Ethiopia's livestock population is believed to be the largest in Africa, and as of 1987 accounted for about 15 percent of the GDP.[citation needed] According to a recent UN report the GNP per capita of Ethiopia has reached $1541 (2009). The same report indicated that the life expectancy had improved substantially in recent years. The life expectancy of men is reported to be 52 years and for women 54 years.


Ethiopia was the original source of the coffee bean, and coffee beans are the country's largest export commodity.[91]

Ethiopia is also the 10th largest producer of livestock in the world. Other main export commodities are khat, gold, leather products, and oilseeds. Recent development of the floriculture sector means Ethiopia is poised to become one of the top flower and plant exporters in the world.[92]

With the private sector growing slowly, designer leather products like bags are becoming a big export business, with Taytu becoming the first luxury designer label in the country.[93] Additional small-scale export products include cereals, pulses, cotton, sugarcane, potatoes and hides. With the construction of various new dams and growing hydroelectric power projects around the country, Ethiopia has also begun exporting electric power to its neighbors.[94][95][96] However, coffee remains its most important export product and with new trademark deals around the world, including recent deals with Starbucks, the country plans to increase its revenue from coffee.[97] Most regard Ethiopia's large water resources and potential as its "white oil" and its coffee resources as "black gold".[98][99]

The country also has large mineral resources and oil potential in some the less inhabited regions. Political instability in those regions, however, has inhibited development. Ethiopian geologists were implicated in a major gold swindle in 2008. Four chemists and geologists from the Ethiopian Geological Survey were arrested in connection with a fake gold scandal, following complaints from buyers in South Africa. Gold bars from the National Bank of Ethiopia were found to be gilded metal by police, costing the state around US$17 million, according to the Science and Development Network website.[100]


Ethiopia has 681 km of railway that mainly consists of the Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway, with a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in) narrow gauge. At present the railway is under joint control of Djibouti and Ethiopia, but negotiations are underway to privatize this transport utility.

As the first part of a 10-year Road Sector Development Program, between 1997 and 2002 the Ethiopian government began a sustained effort to improve its infrastructure of roads. As a result, as of 2002 Ethiopia has a total (Federal and Regional) 33 297 km of roads, both paved and gravel.


Population growth, migration, and urbanization are all straining both governments' and ecosystems' capacity to provide people with basic services.[101] Urbanization has steadily been increasing in Ethiopia, with two periods of significantly rapid growth. First, in 1936–1941 during the Italian occupation of Mussolini’s fascist regime, and from 1967 to 1975 when the populations of urban centers tripled.[102] In 1936, Italy annexed Ethiopia, building infrastructure to connect major cities, and a dam providing power and water.[103] This along with the influx of Italians and laborers was the major cause of rapid growth during this period. The second period of growth was from 1967 to 1975 when rural populations migrated to urban centers seeking work and better living conditions.[102] This pattern slowed after to the 1975 Land Reform program instituted by the government provided incentives for people to stay in rural areas. As people moved from rural areas to the cities, there were fewer people to grow food for the population. The Land Reform Act was meant to increase agriculture since food production was not keeping up with population growth over the period of 1970–1983.[104] This program proliferated the formation of peasant associations, large villages based on agriculture.[104] The act did lead to an increase in food production, although there is debate over the cause; it may be related to weather conditions more than the reform act.[104] Urban populations have continued to grow with an 8.1% increase from 1975 to 2000.[105]

Street scene of buses on Bole Road in Addis Ababa

Rural vs. urban life

Migration to urban areas is usually motivated by the hope of better living conditions. In peasant associations daily life is a struggle to survive. About 16% of the population in Ethiopia are living on less than 1 dollar per day (2008). Only 65% of rural households in Ethiopia consume the World Health Organization's minimum standard of food per day (2,200 kilocalories), with 42% of children under 5 years old being underweight.[106] Most poor families (75%) share their sleeping quarters with livestock, and 40% of children sleep on the floor, where nighttime temperatures average 5 degrees Celsius in the cold season.[106] The average family size is six or seven, living in a 30-square-meter mud and thatch hut, with less than two hectares of land to cultivate.[106] These living conditions are deplorable, but are the daily lives of peasant associations.

The peasant associations face a cycle of poverty. Since the landholdings are so small, farmers cannot allow the land to lie fallow, which reduces soil fertility.[106] This land degradation reduces the production of fodder for livestock, which causes low milk yields.[106] Since the community burns livestock manure as fuel, rather than plowing the nutrients back into the land, the crop production is reduced.[106] The low productivity of agriculture leads to inadequate incomes for farmers, hunger, malnutrition and disease. These unhealthy farmers have a hard time working the land and the productivity drops further.[106]

Although conditions are drastically better in cities, all of Ethiopia suffers from poverty, and poor sanitation. In the capital city of Addis Ababa, 55% of the population lives in slums.[103] Although there are some wealthy neighborhoods with mansions, most people make their houses using whatever materials are available, with walls made of mud or wood. Only 12% of homes have cement tiles or floors.[103] Sanitation is the most pressing need in the city, with most of the population lacking access to waste treatment facilities. This contributes to the spread of illness through unhealthy water.[103]

Despite the living conditions in the cities, the people of Addis Ababa are much better off than people living in the peasant associations owing to their educational opportunities. Unlike rural children, 69% of urban children are enrolled in primary school, and 35% of those eligible for secondary school attend.[103] Addis Ababa has its own university as well as many other secondary schools. The literacy rate is 82%.[103]

Health is also much greater in the cities. Birth rates, infant mortality rates, and death rates are lower in the city than in rural areas owing to better access to education and hospitals.[103] Life expectancy is higher at 53, compared to 48 in rural areas.[103] Despite sanitation being a problem, use of improved water sources is also greater; 81% in cities compared to 11% in rural areas.[105] This encourages more people to migrate to the cities in hopes of better living conditions.

Many NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are working to solve this problem; however, most are far apart, uncoordinated, and working in isolation.[105] The Sub-Saharan Africa NGO Consortium is attempting to coordinate efforts among NGOs in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sudan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana, and Nigeria.[105]


View from the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia's population has grown from 33.5 million in 1983 to 75.1 million in 2006.[107] The 2007 Population and Housing Census results show that the population of Ethiopia grew at an average annual rate of 2.6% between 1994 and 2007, down from 2.8% during the period 1983–1994. The country's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak an Afro-Asiatic language, mainly of the Semitic or the Cushitic branches. The Oromo, Amhara, Tigray and Somali make up 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.[108] The Arabic form of this term (Al-Habasha) is the etymological basis of "Abyssinia," the former name of Ethiopia in English and other European languages.[109]

According to the Ethiopian national census of 2007, the Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia at 34.49%. The Amhara represent 26.89%, while the Tigray people are 6.07% of the population. Other ethnic groups are as follows: Somali 6.20%, Sidama 4.01%, Gurage 2.53%, Wolayta 2.31%, Afar 1.73%, Hadiya 1.74%, Gamo 1.50%, Kefficho 1.18% and others 11%.[1][2]

In 2007, Ethiopia hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 201,700. The majority of this population came from Somalia (approximately 111,600 persons), Sudan (55,400) and Eritrea (23,900). The Ethiopian government required nearly all refugees to live in refugee camps.[110]


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, called Ge'ez or Ethiopic (ግዕዝ), and calendar.


Religion in Ethiopia
religion percent
Mosque in Harar

According to the 2007 National Census, Christians make up 62.8% of the country's population (43.5% Ethiopian Orthodox, 19.3% other denominations), Muslims 33.9%, practitioners of traditional faiths 2.6%, and other religions 0.6%[1] This is in agreement with the updated CIA World Factbook, which states that Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in Ethiopia. According to the latest CIA factbook figure Muslims constitute 32.8% of the population.[111] Orthodox Christianity has a long history in Ethiopia dating back to the first century, and a dominant presence in central and northern Ethiopia. Both Orthodox and Protestant Christianity have large representations in the South and Western Ethiopia. A small ancient group of Jews, the Beta Israel, live in northwestern Ethiopia, though most 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.[112] Some Israeli and Jewish scholars consider these Ethiopian Jews as a historical Lost Tribe of Israel.

This leather painting depicts Ethiopian Orthodox priests playing sistra and a drum.

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 eight of the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 8:26–39) 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.[1]

A traditional Ethiopian depiction of Jesus and Mary.

The name "Ethiopia" (Hebrew Kush) is mentioned in the Bible numerous times (thirty-seven times in the King James version). Abyssinia is also mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith. While many Ethiopians claim that the Bible references of Kush apply to their own ancient civilization, pointing out that the Gihon river, a name for the Nile, is said to flow through the land, most non-Ethiopian 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. The capital cities of biblical Kush were in Northern Sudan.

Islam in Ethiopia dates back to the founding of the religion; in 615, when a group of Muslims were counseled by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Ethiopia via modern day Eritrea, which was ruled by Ashama ibn Abjar, a pious Christian king. Moreover, Bilal, the first muezzin, the person chosen to call the faithful to prayer, and one of the foremost companions of Muhammad, was from Abyssinia (Eritrea, Ethiopia etc.). Also, the largest single ethnic group of non-Arab Companions of Muhammad was that of the Ethiopian's.

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 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. The Emperor himself was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, which also has a concept of Zion, 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.[113] The Bahá'í Faith is concentrated primarily in Addis Ababa, but also in the suburbs of Yeka, Kirkos and Nefas Silk Lafto.[114]

Ethiopian calendar

Ethiopia has its own calendar, which is based on the Coptic calendar, and is roughly eight years behind the Gregorian calendar.


According to the head of the World Bank's Global HIV/AIDS Program, Ethiopia has only 1 medical doctor per 100,000 people.[115] However, the World Health Organization in its 2006 World Health Report gives a figure of 1936 physicians (for 2003),[116] which comes to about 2.6 per 100,000. Globalization is said to affect the country, with many educated professionals leaving Ethiopia for a better economic opportunity in the West.

Ethiopia's main health problems are said to be communicable diseases caused by poor sanitation and malnutrition. These problems are exacerbated by the shortage of trained manpower and health facilities.[117]

There are 119 hospitals (12 in Addis Ababa alone) and 412 health centers in Ethiopia.[118] Ethiopia has a relatively low average life expectancy of 45 years.[119] Infant mortality rates are relatively very high, as over 8% of infants die during or shortly after childbirth,[119] (although this is a dramatic decrease from 16% in 1965) while birth-related complications such as obstetric fistula affect many of the nation's women. HIV is also prevalent in the country.

Ethiopian traditional medicine

The low availability of health care professionals with modern medical training, together with lack of funds for medical services, leads to the preponderancy of less reliable traditional healers that use home-based therapies to heal common ailments.

One medical practice that is commonly practiced irrespective of religion or economic status is female genital mutilation, a procedure by which some of the woman's genital areas are cut or burned away in order to preserve her chastity. Sometimes, most of the tissue covering the vagina may be removed. This procedure is often carried out without anesthesia and crude instruments such as broken glass, scissors or knives may be used on the woman. This procedure is carried out when the girl is usually a small child. .[120] As of 1965, close to four out of five Ethiopian women were circumcised.[120]


Education in Ethiopia had been dominated by the Orthodox Church for many centuries until secular education was adopted in the early 1900s.The current system follows very similar school expansion schemes to the rural areas as the previous 1980s system with an addition of deeper regionalisation giving rural education in their own languages starting at the elementary level and with more budget allocated to the education sector. The sequence of general education in Ethiopia is six years of primary school, four years of lower secondary school and two years of higher secondary school.[121] in 2004 school enrollment was below that of many other African countries.[122] Half the population of Ethiopia are illiterate.[123]



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 entrées, usually a wat, or thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread made of teff flour. One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera to scoop up the entrées and side dishes. Tihlo prepared from roasted barley flour is very popular in Amhara, Agame, and Awlaelo (Tigrai). Traditional Ethiopian cuisine employs no pork or shellfish of any kind, as they are forbidden in the Islamic, Jewish, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faiths. It is also very common to eat from the same dish in the center of the table with a group of people.


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 old and young musicians include Teddy Afro (Tewodros Kasahune), Tilahun Gessesse, Aster Aweke, Hamelmal Abate, Dawite Mekonen, Ilfinish Keno, Ebisa Adugna, Tewodros Tadesse, Kemer Yusuf, Ephrem Tamiru, Muluken Melesse, Bizunesh Bekele, Hirut Bekele, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tadesse Alemu, Alemayehu Eshete, Asnaketch Worku, Ali Birra, Gigi, Dawit (Messay) Mellesse,Mulatu Astatke and Gossaye Tesfaye.


The main sports in Ethiopia are soccer and track. Ethiopian athletes have won many Olympic gold medals in track and field but the national football team was not successful. Some success came from a world record set by Haile Gebrselassie in the marathon in an incredible two hours, three minutes, and fifty-nine seconds. Another man, Kenenisa Bekele, is also a dominant runner, particuolary in the 5000 and 10,000 meters. Some notable Ethiopian athletes are Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter, Haile Gebrselassie, Derartu Tulu, Kenenisa Bekele, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and Gelete Burka.


People and languages

Nations, nationalities and peoples

See also


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  2. ^ a b Embassy of Ethiopia, Washington, DC. Retrieved 6 April 2006.
  3. ^ Ethiopia Central Statistics Office -- Population Projection for mid-2008
  4. ^ a b c d "Ethiopia". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  5. ^ Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country
  6. ^ Speaking after his signing the disputed treaty between Ethiopia and Italy in 1889, Emperor Menelik II made clear his position: "We cannot permit our integrity as a Christian and civilised nation to be questioned, nor the right to govern our empire in absolute independence. The Emperor of Ethiopia is a descendant of a dynasty that is 3,016 years old — a dynasty that during all that time has never submitted to an outsider. Ethiopia has never been conquered and she never shall be conquered by anyone." Ethiopia Unbound: Studies In Race Emancipation - p. xxv by Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford
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  10. ^ By KAREN KAPLAN, Los Angeles Times (2008-02-21). "Around the world from Addis Ababa". Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  11. ^ United Nations Economic Comission for Africa UNECA
  12. ^ the only African country with its own alphabet
  13. ^ "World Heritage List – Africa". UNESCO. Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  14. ^ Ethiopia surpasses Kenya to become East Africa's Biggest Economy
  15. ^ Ethiopia has fastest growing non-Oil Economy in Africa – IMF
  16. ^ Ethiopia will be 5th fastest growing economy in the world in 2010 - economist
  17. ^ Ethiopia regional powerhouse
  18. ^ CSIS on Ethiopia regional power
  19. ^ Nat. Hist. 6.184–187
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  21. ^ The etymology suggested by the late Ethiopian poet laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, which traces the name Ethiopia to the "old black Egyptian" words Et (Truth or Peace) Op (high or upper) and Bia (land, country), or "land of higher peace", is not taken seriously by any mainstream scholar. To begin with, you will not find any such words in an Ancient Egyptian dictionary.
  22. ^ Histories, book 2, chapters 29 and 146; book 3 chapter 17 Odyssey, book 1, lines 22-23; book 4, line 84
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  25. ^ Acts 8:27
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  45. ^ Ian Mortimer, The Fears of Henry IV (2007), p.111
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  47. ^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pp. 25.
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  50. ^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, p. 105.
  51. ^ van Donzel, Emeri, "Fasilädäs" in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha (Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), p. 500.
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  55. ^ Famine Hunger stalks Ethiopia once again -- and aid groups fear the worst. Time. December 21, 1987
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 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.
 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

  • Bahru Zewde (1991). A History of Modern Ethiopia, 1855–1974. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. ISBN 0852550677. 
  • Haile Selassie I. (1999). My Life and Ethiopia's Progress: The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Translated by Edward Ullendorff. Chicago: Frontline. ISBN 0948390409. 
  • Henze, Paul B. (2004). Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia. Shama Books. ISBN 1-931253-28-5. 
  • Marcus, Harold G. (1975). The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia, 1844–1913. Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon.  Reprint, Trenton, NJ: Red Sea, 1995. ISBN 1569020094.
  • Marcus, Harold G. (2002). A History of Ethiopia (updated ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520224795. 
  • Mockler, Anthony (1984). Haile Selassie's War. New York: Random House.  Reprint, New York: Olive Branch, 2003. ISBN 1902669533.
  • Pankhurst, Richard. "History of Northern Ethiopia — and the Establishment of the Italian Colony or Eritrea". Civic Webs Virtual Library. Retrieved 5 April 2008. 
  • Rubenson, Sven (2003). The Survival of Ethiopian Independence (4th ed.). Hollywood, CA: Tsehai. ISBN 0972317279. 
  • Siegbert Uhlig, et al. (eds.) (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Vol. 1: A-C. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Siegbert Uhlig, et al. (eds.) (2005). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Vol. 2: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Siegbert Uhlig, et al. (eds.) (2007). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Vol. 3: He-N. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Arnaldo Mauri, The Early Development of Banking in Ethiopia, International Review of Economics, Vol. L, n. 4, 2003, pp. 521–543.
  • Arnaldo Mauri, The re-establishment of the national monetary and banking system in Ethiopia, 1941-1964, The South African Journal of Economic History, 24 (2) , 2009, pp. 82–131.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  • IPA: /ˌiːθiˈəʊpiən/, SAMPA: /%i:Ti"@Upi@n/




Ethiopian (plural Ethiopians)

  1. A person from Ethiopia or of Ethiopian descent.



Ethiopian (comparative more Ethiopian, superlative most Ethiopian)


more Ethiopian

most Ethiopian

  1. Of, from, or pertaining to Ethiopia, the Ethiopian people or the Ethiopian culture.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Ethiopia article)

From BibleWiki

Meaning: country of burnt faces

The Greek word by which the Hebrew Cush is rendered (Gen 2:13; 2Kg 19:9; Est 1:1; Job 28:19; Ps 6831; Ps 874), a country which lay to the south of Egypt, beginning at Syene on the First Cataract (Ezek 29:10; 30:6), and extending to beyond the confluence of the White and Blue Nile. It corresponds generally with what is now known as the Soudan (i.e., the land of the blacks). This country was known to the Hebrews, and is described in Isa 18:1; Zeph 3:10. They carried on some commercial intercourse with it (Isa 45:14).

Its inhabitants were descendants of Ham (Gen 10:6; Jer 13:23; Isa 18:2, "scattered and peeled," A.V.; but in R.V., "tall and smooth"). Herodotus, the Greek historian, describes them as "the tallest and handsomest of men." They are frequently represented on Egyptian monuments, and they are all of the type of the true negro. As might be expected, the history of this country is interwoven with that of Egypt.

Ethiopia is spoken of in prophecy (Ps 6831; 87:4; Isa 45:14; Ezek 30:4-9; Dan 11:43; Nah 3:8-10; Hab 3:7; Zeph 2:12).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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