From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Amharic ኢትዮጵያ Ityopp'ya) is a country situated in the Horn of Africa. It has one of the most extensive known histories as an independent nation on the continent, or indeed in the world. Unique among African countries, Ethiopia maintained independence during the Scramble for Africa, and continued to do so except for a 5 year period when it was under Italian occupation. Ethiopia was historically called Abyssinia. The English name "Ethiopia" is derived from the Greek word Αἰθιοπία Æthiopia, from Αἰθίοψ Æthiops ‘an Ethiopian’ -- sometimes parsed by Westerners as a purely Greek term meaning "of burnt (αιθ-) visage (ὄψ)"; however, older Ethiopian sources state that the name is derived from "'Ityopp'is", a son of Cush, son of Ham who according to legend founded the city of Aksum.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ityopp'ya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
የኢትዮጵያ ፈደራላዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ
Flag of Ethiopia Ethiopia COA
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: —
Location of Ethiopia
Official language Amharic
Capital Addis Ababa
President Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 26th
1,127,127 km²
Ranked 16th
Currency Birr (ETB)
Time zone UTC +3
National anthem Wodefit Gesgeshi, Widd Innat Ityopp'ya (March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia)
Internet TLD .et
Calling Code 251



Main article: History of Ethiopia

The Kingdom of Aksum, the first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia, rose during the first century AD. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time. It was in the early 4th century that a Syro-Greek castaway, Frumentius, was taken to the court and eventually converted king Ezana to Christianity, thereby making it official. For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama". At various times, including a period in the 6th century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen just across the Red Sea.

The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken several times: first by the Jewish Queen Gudit around 950, then by the Zagwe dynasty. Around 1270, the Solomonid 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.

During the reign of Emperor Lebna Dengel, Ethiopia made its first successful diplomatic contact with a European country, Portugal. This proved to be an important development, for when the Empire was subjected to the attacks of the Somali General and Imam, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (called "Grany", 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. However, Jesuit missionaries eventually offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians, and in the mid-17th century Emperor Fasilidos expelled these missionaries. At the same time, the Oromo people began to question the Ethiopian Christian authorities in the Abyssinian territories, and demanded to keep their own religion.

All of this contributed to Ethiopia's isolation during the 1700s. The Emperors became figureheads, controlled by warlords like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray. Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between the two nations; however, it was not until the reign of Tewodros II that Ethiopia began to take part in world affairs once again.

Early nineteenth century warriors
Early nineteenth century warriors

The 1880s were marked by the European colonization of Africa and some modernisation, when the Italians began to vie with the British for influence in bordering regions. Assab, a port near the southern entrance of the Red Sea, was bought from the local sultan in March 1870 by an Italian company, which by 1882 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. 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 (19361941). British and patriot Ethiopian troops liberated the Ethiopian homeland in 1941, and Ethiopia's regained sovereignty was recognised by Britain upon the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944.

Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, when a pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg", deposed him and established a one-party socialist state. The ensuing regime suffered several bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and a massive refugee problem. In 1977 Somalia attacked Ethiopia in the Ogaden War, but Ethiopia defeated them with Cuban military assistance the following year. The Derg regime was finally defeated in 1991 by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of rebel forces. In 1993, the Province of Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia, following a referendum, ending more than 20 years of armed conflict. In 1994, a constitution was adopted, that led to Ethiopia's first multiparty 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. In early June and again in November, police under the command of the EPRDF shot and killed demonstrators who were protesting the alleged election fraud.


Main article: Politics of Ethiopia
Politics of Ethiopia

Politics of Ethiopia
Political parties in Ethiopia
Elections in Ethiopia
General: 2005


Politics Portal

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, ensuring 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 9 semi-autonomous administrative regions that have the power to raise and spend their own revenues. Under the present government, Ethiopians enjoy greater political participation and freer debate than ever before in their history, although some fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press, are, in practice, somewhat circumscribed.

Zenawi's government was re-elected in 2000 in Ethiopia's first multi-party elections. The incumbent President is Girma Wolde-Giorgis.

Since 1991, Ethiopia has established warm relations with the United States and western Europe and has sought substantial economic aid from Western countries and World Bank. In 2004, the government began a drive to move more than two million people away from the arid highlands of the east, proposing that these resettlements would reduce food shortages [1].

Ethiopia held another general election in May 2005, though concerns were raised about vote rigging and intimidation on the part of the ruling EPRDF coalition. In June 2005, with the results of the election still unclear, a group of unarmed university students protested these alleged discrepancies despite a ban on protests imposed on the government, which resulted in the arrest of hundreds of protesters. On June 8, police shot 22 people in Addis Ababa. On September 5, 2005, the National Elections Board of Ethiopia released the final election results in which the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front retained its control of the government, but opposition parties increased their share of parliamentary seats. Protests of the results, beginning November 1 have prompted more than 2,000 arrests and have been subject to live gunfire from government forces, killing at least 42 people.

See also: Foreign relations of Ethiopia


Main article: Subdivisions of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has been divided by the EPRDF into 9 ethnically-based administrative regions (kililoch; singular: kilil):

Additionally, there are two chartered cities (astedader akababiwoch, singular: astedader akababi): Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.


Main article: Geography of Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is 1,127,127 km² in size, and is the major portion of the Horn of Africa, which is the eastern-most part of the African landmass. 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 semidesert. The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns. Elevation and geographic location produce three climatic zones: the cool zone above 2,400 meters where temperatures range from near freezing to 16°C; the temperate zone at elevations of 1,500 to 2,400 meters with temperatures from 16°C to 30°C; and the hot zone below 1,500 meters with both tropical and arid conditions and daytime temperatures ranging from 27°C to 50°C. 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 year generally dry.

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).


Woman coffee farmer with basket of coffee beans in Ethiopia
Woman coffee farmer with basket of coffee beans in Ethiopia

Main article: Economy of Ethiopia

Ethiopia remains one of Africa's poorest nations: many Ethiopians rely on food aid from abroad.

After the 1974 revolution, the economy of Ethiopia was run as a socialist economy: strong state controls were implemented, and a large part of the economy was transferred to the public sector, including most modern industry and large-scale commercial agriculture, all agricultural land and urban rental property, and all financial institutions. Since mid-1991, the economy has evolved toward a decentralized, market-oriented economy, emphasizing individual initiative, designed to reverse a decade of economic decline. In 1993, gradual privatization of business, industry, banking, agriculture, trade, and commerce was underway.

Agriculture accounts for almost 41 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), 80 percent of exports, and 80 percent of the labor 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, 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.


A gari in Adama (Nazareth), Ethiopia
A gari in Adama (Nazareth), Ethiopia

Main article: Demographics of Ethiopia

Ethiopia's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigrayans 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.

Semitic-speaking Ethiopians (as well as some Eritreans) collectively refer to themselves as Abesha or Habesha, though others reject these names on the basis that they refer only to certain ethnicities [2]. The name is said to have originally signified "mixture", i.e. of HAm with (BE) SHem, as applied to tribes of partly Cushitic and partly Semitic extraction. The Arabic form of this term is the etymological basis of "Abyssinia," the former name of Ethiopia in English and other European languages.[3]

The Axumite Kingdom was one of the first nations to officially adopt Christianity, when St. Frumentius of Tyre converted Ezana of Axum during the fourth century CE. Islam in Ethiopia dates back almost to the founding of the religion; in 616, a band of Muslims were counseled by the Prophet Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Abyssinia, which was ruled by, in the Prophet's estimation, a pious Christian king. Moreover, Islamic tradition states that Bilal, one of the foremost companions of the Prophet Muhammad, was from present-day Ethiopia. A small group of Jews, the Beta Israel, lived in Ethiopia for centuries, though most emigrated to Israel in the last decades of the 20th century. There are numerous indigenous African religions in Ethiopia. In general, most of the Christians live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions tend to inhabit lowland regions.


Ethiopia has 84 indigenous languages. Some of these are:

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.


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

Main article: Culture of Ethiopia

In April 2005, the Axum obelisk, one of Ethiopia's religious and historical treasures, was returned to Ethiopia by Italy [4]. Italian troops seized the obelisk in 1937 and took it to Rome. Italy agreed to return the obelisk in 1947 in a UN agreement.

Ethiopia is the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari movement, that believes Ethiopia is Zion. Rastafari view Emperor Haile Selassie I as Jesus, the human incarnation of God.

Holidays (also see Ethiopian calendar)
Date English name Local name Remarks
January 7 Orthodox Christmas Day Genna  
January 19 Feast of Epiphany Timket  
February 2 Feast of the Sacrifice Eid ul-Adha varies; this date is for 2005
March 2 Adwa Day Ye'adowa B'al  
April 21 Birthday of The Prophet Muhammad Mawlid varies; this date is for 2005
April 29 Orthodox Good Friday Siqlet (Crucifixion) varies; this date is for 2005
May 1 Orthodox Easter Fasika varies; this date is for 2005
May 2 Easter Monday (public holiday)   varies; this date is for 2005
May 5 Patriots' Day Arbegnoch Qen  
May 28 National Day   Downfall of Derg Regime
August 18 Buhe  
September 11 Ethiopian New Year Inqut'at'ash  
September 27 Finding of the True Cross Meskel  
November 3 End of Ramadan Eid ul-Fitr varies; this date is for 2005

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Look up Ethiopia on Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Relief Organizations









Countries in Africa

Algeria | Angola | Benin | Botswana | Burkina Faso | Burundi | Cameroon | Cape Verde | Central African Republic | Chad | Comoros | Democratic Republic of the Congo | Republic of the Congo | Côte d'Ivoire | Djibouti | Egypt | Equatorial Guinea | Eritrea | Ethiopia | Gabon | The Gambia | Ghana | Guinea | Guinea-Bissau | Kenya | Lesotho | Liberia | Libya | Madagascar | Malawi | Mali | Mauritania | Mauritius | Morocco | Mozambique | Namibia | Niger | Nigeria | Rwanda | São Tomé and Príncipe | Senegal | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Somalia/Somaliland | South Africa | Sudan | Swaziland | Tanzania | Togo | Tunisia | Uganda | Western Sahara/SADR | Zambia | Zimbabwe

Dependencies: British Indian Ocean Territory | Canary Islands | Ceuta and Melilla | Madeira Islands | Mayotte | Réunion | Saint Helena and dependencies
Personal tools