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People of Ethiopia
Addis Ababa-8e00855u.jpg
Total population
78 million (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Ethiopia Ethiopia

   75,067,000 (July 2006 CSA est.)

Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali


Christian 62.8% (Ethiopian Orthodox 43.5%, Protestant 19.3% (P'ent'ay and Ethiopian Orthodox Tehadeso Church), Catholic 0.9%), Muslim 33.9%, Traditional 2.6%.[1]

Ethiopia's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigreans make up more than three-fourths of the population, but there are more than 80 different ethnic groups within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members. English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is taught in all 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.



Some linguists (such as Igor Diakonoff and Lionel Bender) have proposed Ethiopia as the Afro-Asiatic Urheimat.

There are many theories regarding the beginning of the Ethiopian civilization. One theory which has existed for many centuries in the Ethiopian legends and Ethiopian Orthodox Church states that it was founded by Semitic-speaking Sabaean migrants from Yemen and Western Saudi Arabia in the past.[citation needed] Another theory, which is more widely accepted today locates its origins in Africa, while acknowledging the influence of the Sabeans on the opposite side of the Red Sea.[2] At a later period, Ethiopian civilization was exposed to Judaic influence, of which the best-known examples are the Qemant and Ethiopian Jews (or Beta Israel) ethnic groups, but Judaic customs, terminology, and beliefs can be found amongst the dominant culture of the Amhara and Tigrinya.[3] Indian alphabets have been claimed as the example used to create the vowel system of the Ge'ez abugida.[4]


Around the 8th century BC, a kingdom known as D'mt was established in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia. After the fall of D`mt in the 5th century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of one of these kingdoms, the Aksumite Kingdom, ancestor of medieval and modern Ethiopia, during the first century BC, which was able to reunite the area.[5]. 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.[6] It was in the early 4th century AD that a Syro-Greek castaway, Frumentius, was taken to the court and eventually converted King Ezana to Christianity, thereby making it the official state religion.[7] For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama" ("Father of peace"). At various times, including a period in the 6th century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen and some of southern Saudi Arabia just across the Red Sea, as well as controlling northern Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and northern Somalia.[8]

The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken several times: first by the Jewish or pagan Queen Gudit around 950[9] or 850.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] 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 400 men, who helped his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule.[15]. However, when Emperor Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years of revolt and civil unrest followed resulting in thousands of deaths.[16] 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.[17][18]

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.[19] 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.

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 from the local Afar sultan, vassal to the Ethiopian Emperor, in March 1870 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 20th 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).[20] British and patriot Ethiopian troops liberated the Ethiopian homeland 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.[21]


Amharic 32.7% (Official Language), Oromigna 31.6%, Tigrinya 6.1%, Somali 6.0%, Guragigna 3.5%, Sidamo 3.5%, other local languages; Arabic, English (major foreign language taught in schools), Italian (only spoken by white minority).

Genetic studies

Autosomal DNA

Ethiopians are also among the most genetically diverse people in the world. A 2001 study based on cluster analysis that looked at a combined sample of Amhara and Oromo found that they share 62% of their genome with Caucasians (Ashkenazi Jews, Norwegians and Armenians), 24% with other Sub-Saharan Africans (Bantus), 8% with Austro-Melanesians (Papua New Guineans), and 6% with Far East Asians (Chinese).[22]

Paternal Lineages

 Y DNA Haplogroups of Ethiopia alt text
Y DNA Haplogroups of Ethiopia [23][24][25][26][27]

In studies done so far[23][24][25][26][27] ,out of a total of 459 males sampled from Ethiopia, approximately 58% of Y-chromosome haplotypes were found to belong to Haplogroup E, of which a sizable majority (71%) were characterized by one of its further downstream sub lineage known as E1b1b, while the remainder were mostly characterized by Haplogroup E1b1(x E1b1b,E1b1a), and to a lesser extent Haplogroup E2. With respect to E1b1b, some studies have found that it exists at its highest level among the Oromo, where it represented 62.8% of the haplotypes, while it was found at 35.4% among the Amhara,[25] other studies however have found an almost equal representation of Haplogroup E1b1b at approximately 57% in both the Oromo and the Amhara[28].The haplogroup (as its predecessor E1b1) is thought to have originated in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the Horn of Africa and is reported to have an approximate coalescence time of 22,400 years ago. About one half of E1b1b found in Ethiopia is further characterized by E1b1b1a (M78), which arose later in north-eastern Africa and then back-migrated to eastern Africa.[29]

Haplogroup J, characterized by the mutation 12f2.1,has been found at a frequency of approximately 18% in Ethiopians, with a relatively higher prevalence among the Amhara, where it has been found to exist at levels as high as 35% , of which about 33% is of the type J-M267, almost all of which was acquired during Neolithic times or earlier, while 2% is of the derived J-M172 type representing admixture due to recent and historic migrations.[30]

Another fairly prevalent lineage in Ethiopia belongs to Haplogroup A, occurring at a frequency of about 17% within Ethiopia, it is almost all characterized by its downstream sub lineage of A3b2 (M13). Restricted to Africa, and mostly found along the Rift Valley from Ethiopia to Cape Town, Haplogroup A represents the deepest branch in the Human Y- Chromosome phylogeny.[31]

Finally, Haplogroup T at approximately 4% and Haplogroup B at approximately 3%, make up the remainder of the Y-DNA Haplogroups found within Ethiopia.

Maternal Lineages

mtDNA Haplogroups of Ethiopia alt text
mtDNA Haplogroups of Ethiopia[32]

The maternal ancestry of Ethiopians is similarly diverse. About half (52.2%) of Ethiopians belongs to mtdna Haplogroups L0, L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, or L6. These haplogroups are generally confined to the African continent. They also originated either in Ethiopia or very near. The other portion of the population belong to Haplogroup N (31%) and Haplogroup M1 (17%).[32] There is controversy surrounding their origins as either native or a possible ancient back migration into Ethiopia from Asia.

A study done in 1998 suggested that "Caucasoid gene flow into the Ethiopian gene pool occurred predominantly through males. Conversely, the Niger-Congo contribution to the Ethiopian population occurred mainly through females."[33] While there is debate among the scientific community of what exactly constitutes of “Caucasoid gene flow”,[34][35] the same study further stated: “Indeed, Ethiopians do not seem to result only from a simple combination of proto–Niger-Congo and Middle Eastern genes. Their African component cannot be completely explained by that of present-day Niger-Congo speakers, and it is quite different from that of the Khoisan. Thus, a portion of the current Ethiopian gene pool may be the product of in situ differentiation from an ancestral gene pool.”[33]

Population and geographical spread

Ethnographic subdivisions

Oromo 35.1%, Amhara 26,9%, Tigray 6.2%, Somali 6.0%, Gurage 4.3%, Sidama 3.4%, Wolayta 2%, Afar 2%, Hadiya 2%, Gamo 1% (smaller groups are listed at Category:Ethnic groups in Ethiopia) .


Christian 61.6% (Ethiopian Orthodox 50.6%, Protestant 10.1% (P'ent'ay and Ethiopian Orthodox Tehadeso Church), Catholic 0.9%), Muslim 32.8%, Traditional 5.6%.[4]


The most recent census in the United States recorded 72,000 Ethiopians in the country.[36] Despite this some other sources put it at a much higher figure, 1.2 million Ethiopians in the US being one of these.[37] There are also large number of Ethiopian emigrants in the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Sweden and Australia.


  1. ^ Berhanu Abegaz, "Ethiopia: A Model Nation of Minorities" (accessed 6 April 2006)
  2. ^ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: University Press, 1991, pp. 57f.
  3. ^ For an overview of this influence see Ullendorff, Ethiopia and the Bible, pp. 73ff.
  4. ^ Henze, Paul B. (2000). Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia. New York: Palgrave. ISBN 0-312-22719-1. 
  5. ^ Pankhurst, Richard K.P. Addis Tribune, "Let's Look Across the Red Sea I", January 17, 2003.
  6. ^ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: A Civilization of Late Antiquity (Edinburgh: University Press, 1991), p. 13.
  7. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia: 1270-1527 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), pp. 22-3.
  8. ^ Munro-Hay, Aksum, p. 36
  9. ^ Taddesse, Church and State, pp. 38-41.
  10. ^ Tekeste Negash, "The Zagwe period re-interpreted: post-Aksumite Ethiopian urban culture."PDF (51.4 KiB)
  11. ^ Tekeste, "Zagwe period-reinterpreted."
  12. ^ Taddesse, Church and State, pp. 64-8.
  13. ^ 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), pp. 13f.
  14. ^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, p. 25.
  15. ^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pps.45-52
  16. ^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pps.91;97-104.
  17. ^ Girma and Merid, Question of the Union of the Churches, pp.105.
  18. ^ van Donzel, Emeri, "Fasilädäs" in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha (Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), p. 500.
  19. ^ Pankhurst, Richard, The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles, (London:Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 139-143.
  20. ^ Clapham, Christopher, "Ḫaylä Śəllase I" in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha (Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), pp. 1062-3.
  21. ^ Clapham,"Ḫaylä Śəllase I", Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, p. 1063.
  22. ^ Wilson, James F.; Weale, Michael E.; Smith, Alice C.; Gratrix, Fiona; Fletcher, Benjamin; Thomas, Mark G.; Bradman, Neil; Goldstein, David B. (2001). "Population genetic structure of variable drug response". Nature Genetics 29 (3): 265. doi:10.1038/ng761. PMID 11685208. 
  23. ^ a b Underhill PA, Shen P, Lin AA, et al. (November 2000). "Y chromosome sequence variation and the history of human populations". Nature Genetics 26 (3): 358–61. doi:10.1038/81685. PMID 11062480. 
  24. ^ a b Cruciani F, Santolamazza P, Shen P, et al. (May 2002). "A back migration from Asia to sub-Saharan Africa is supported by high-resolution analysis of human Y-chromosome haplotypes". American Journal of Human Genetics 70 (5): 1197–214. doi:10.1086/340257. PMID 11910562. 
  25. ^ a b c Semino O, Santachiara-Benerecetti AS, Falaschi F, Cavalli-Sforza LL, Underhill PA (January 2002). "Ethiopians and Khoisan share the deepest clades of the human Y-chromosome phylogeny". American Journal of Human Genetics 70 (1): 265–8. doi:10.1086/338306. PMID 11719903. 
  26. ^ a b Moran et. al. (2004)[1] Y chromosome haplogroups of elite Ethiopian endurance
  27. ^ a b Shenn et. al. (2004)[2] Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation
  28. ^ Cruciani et al. (2004)[3] Phylogeographic Analysis of Haplogroup E3b (E-M215) Y Chromosomes Reveals Multiple Migratory Events Within and Out Of Africa
  29. ^ Cruciani F, La Fratta R, Trombetta B, et al. (June 2007). "Tracing past human male movements in northern/eastern Africa and western Eurasia: new clues from Y-chromosomal haplogroups E-M78 and J-M12". Molecular Biology and Evolution 24 (6): 1300–11. doi:10.1093/molbev/msm049. PMID 17351267. 
  30. ^ Semino O, Magri C, Benuzzi G, et al. (May 2004). "Origin, diffusion, and differentiation of Y-chromosome haplogroups E and J: inferences on the neolithization of Europe and later migratory events in the Mediterranean area". American Journal of Human Genetics 74 (5): 1023–34. doi:10.1086/386295. PMID 15069642. 
  31. ^ Chiaroni J, Underhill PA, Cavalli-Sforza LL (December 2009). "Y chromosome diversity, human expansion, drift, and cultural evolution". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106 (48): 20174–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0910803106. PMID 19920170. 
  32. ^ a b Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu E, et al. (November 2004). "Ethiopian mitochondrial DNA heritage: tracking gene flow across and around the gate of tears". American Journal of Human Genetics 75 (5): 752–70. doi:10.1086/425161. PMID 15457403. 
  33. ^ a b Passarino, G; Semino, O; Quintanamurci, L; Excoffier, L; Hammer, M; Santachiarabenerecetti, A (1998). "Different Genetic Components in the Ethiopian Population, Identified by mtDNA and Y-Chromosome Polymorphisms". The American Journal of Human Genetics 62: 420. doi:10.1086/301702. 
  34. ^ Hunley, Keith L.; Healy, Meghan E.; Long, Jeffrey C. (2009). "The global pattern of gene identity variation reveals a history of long-range migrations, bottlenecks, and local mate exchange: Implications for biological race". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139 (1): 35. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20932. PMID 19226641. 
  35. ^ Relethford, John H. (2009). "Race and global patterns of phenotypic variation". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139 (1): 16. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20900. PMID 19226639. 
  36. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  37. ^ "A loveless liaison.". Economist. 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2008-04-11. "Many in Ethiopia's 1.2 m-strong diaspora in the United States have lobbied their congressional representatives to condemn Mr Zenawi's government as tyrannical." 


  • E. Sylvia Pankhurst, The Ethiopian People. Their Rights and Progress. Woodford Green, Essex: New Times & Ethiopia News 1946.
  • Edward Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: an introduction to country and people. London: Oxford University Press 1960, ²1965, ³1973 (ISBN 0-19-285061-X), ⁴1990 (Wiesbaden: F. Steiner; ISBN 3-515-05693-9).

Further reading



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. Plural form of Ethiopian.

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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