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Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Ethiopia Definition

(Wikipedia) - Ethiopia This article is about the country. For other uses, see Ethiopia (disambiguation). "Ethiopian" redirects here. For other uses, see Ethiopian (disambiguation). Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia የኢትዮጵያ ፌዴራላዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ ye-Ītyōṗṗyā Fēdēralāwī Dīmōkrāsīyāwī Rīpeblīk Official languages Demonym Government Legislature Formation Area Population Currency Time zone Drives on the Calling code ISO 3166 code Internet TLD
Flag Emblem
Anthem:  የዜግነት ክብር March Forward, Dear Mother EthiopiaSorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player. You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
Capital and largest city Addis Ababa 9°1′N 38°45′E / 9.017°N 38.750°E / 9.017; 38.750
Recognised regional languages Other languages official among Ethiopia''s various ethnicities and their respective regions
Ethnic groups (2012)
  • 34.5% Oromo
  • 26.9% Amhara
  • 6.2% Somali
  • 6.1% Tigray
  • 4.0% Sidama
  • 2.5% Gurage
  • 2.3% Welayta
  • 1.7% Hadiya
  • 1.7% Afar
  • 1.5% Gamo
  • 1.3% Gedeo
  • 11.3% others
Federal parliamentary democracy
 -  President Mulatu Teshome
 -  Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
Federal Parliamentary Assembly
 -  Upper house House of Federation
 -  Lower house House of Peoples'' Representatives
 -  Dʿmt c. 980 BC 
 -  Kingdom of Aksum c. 100 AD 
 -  Empire of Ethiopia 1137 
 -  Current constitution August 1995 
 -  Total 1,104,300 km2 (27th) 426,371 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.7
 -  2014 estimate 87,952,991 (14th)
 -  2007 census 73,750,932
 -  Density 82.58/km2 (123rd) 213.89/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $132 billion
 -  Per capita $1,455
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $51 billion
 -  Per capita $570
Gini (2011) 33.6 medium
HDI (2013)  0.435 low · 173rd
Birr (ETB)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
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Ethiopia (/ˌiːθiˈoʊpiə/; Amharic: ኢትዮጵያ?, ʾĪtyōṗṗyā,  listen (help·info)), officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With about 87.9 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populated nation on the African continent. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.

Some of the oldest evidence for modern humans is found in Ethiopia, which is widely considered the region from which Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond. Tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BCE, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history. During the first centuries of the Common Era the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region.

Ethiopia derived prestige for its uniquely successful military resistance during the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, and subsequently many African nations adopted the colors of Ethiopia''s flag following their independence. Ethiopia was the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty as an independent country. It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the UN. In 1974, at the end of Haile Selassie''s reign, power fell to a communist military junta known as the Derg, backed by the Soviet Union, until it was defeated by the EPRDF, which has ruled since about the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

Ethiopia is a multilingual society with around 80 ethnic groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara. It is the origin of the coffee bean. Ethiopia is a land of natural contrasts; with its vast fertile West, jungles, and numerous rivers, the world''s hottest settlement of Dallol in its north, Africa''s largest continuous mountain ranges and the largest cave in Africa at Sof Omar. Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. Ethiopia''s ancient Ge''ez script, also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. It shares many similarities with the Armenian alphabet. The Ethiopian calendar, which is seven years and about three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Oromo calendar. A majority of the population is Christian and a third is Muslim; the country is the site of the first Hijra in Islamic history and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israel, resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s but most of them have since gradually emigrated to Israel.

Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77 and the Organisation of African Unity, with Addis Ababa serving as the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the UNECA, African Aviation Training HQ, the African Standby Force and much of global NGOs focused on Africa. Despite being the main source of the Nile, the longest river on earth, Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s, exacerbated by civil wars and adverse geopolitics. The country has begun to recover recently, and it now has the largest economy by GDP in East Africa and Central Africa.

  • 1 Names
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Prehistory
    • 2.2 Antiquity
    • 2.3 Middle Ages
    • 2.4 Aussa Sultanate
    • 2.5 Zemene Mesafint
    • 2.6 From Menelik II to Adwa (1889–1913)
    • 2.7 Haile Selassie I era (1916–1974)
    • 2.8 Derg era (1974–1991)
    • 2.9 Federal Democratic Republic (1991–present)
  • 3 Politics
  • 4 Administrative divisions
  • 5 Geography
    • 5.1 Climate
  • 6 Environment
  • 7 Economy
    • 7.1 Agriculture
    • 7.2 Exports
    • 7.3 Transportation
  • 8 Demographics
    • 8.1 Languages
    • 8.2 Script
    • 8.3 Religion
    • 8.4 Urbanization
      • 8.4.1 Rural and urban life
  • 9 Health
  • 10 Education
  • 11 Culture
    • 11.1 Naming
    • 11.2 Calendar
    • 11.3 Time
    • 11.4 Cuisine
    • 11.5 Music
    • 11.6 Sport
  • 12 World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia
  • 13 See also
  • 14 References
  • 15 Bibliography
  • 16 Further reading
  • 17 External links


The Greek name Αἰθιοπία (from Αἰθίοψ, Aithiops, ''an Ethiopian'') appears twice in the Iliad and three times in the Odyssey. The Greek historian Herodotus specifically uses it for all the lands south of Egypt, including Sudan and modern Ethiopia. Pliny the Elder says the country''s name comes from a son of Hephaestus (aka Vulcan) named Aethiops.

Similarly, in the 15th century Ge''ez Book of Aksum, the name is ascribed to a legendary individual called Ityopp''is, an extrabiblical son of Cush, son of Ham, said to have founded the city of Axum. In addition to this Cushite figure, two of the earliest Semitic kings are also said to have borne the name Ityopp''is according to traditional Ethiopian king lists. At least as early as c. 850, European scholars considered the name to be derived from the Greek words aitho "I burn" + ops "face".

The name Ethiopia also occurs in many translations of the Old Testament, but the Hebrew texts have Kush, which refers principally to Nubia. In the New Testament, however, the Greek term Aithiops, ''an Ethiopian'', does occur, referring to a servant of Candace or Kentakes, possibly an inhabitant of Meroe which was later conquered and destroyed by the Kingdom of Axum. The earliest attested use of the name Ityopya in the region itself is as a name for the Kingdom of Aksum in the 4th century, in stone inscriptions of King Ezana, who first Christianized the entire apparatus of the kingdom.

In English, and generally outside of Ethiopia, the country was also once historically known as Abyssinia, derived from Habesh, an early Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name "Ḥabaśāt" (unvocalized "ḤBŚT"). The modern form Habesha is the native name for the country''s inhabitants (while the country has been called "Ityopp''ya"). In a few languages, Ethiopia is still referred to by names cognate with "Abyssinia", e.g., modern Arabic Al-Ḥabashah.

History Main article: History of Ethiopia Prehistory

Ethiopia is widely considered the site of the emergence of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, in the Middle Paleolithic 200,000 years ago. The earliest known modern human bones were found in Southwestern Ethiopia, and are called the Omo remains. Additionally, skeletal remains of Homo sapiens idaltu were found at a site in the Middle Awash in Ethiopia. Dated to around 160,000 years ago, they may represent an extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens sapiens, or the immediate ancestors of anatomically modern humans.

According to linguists, the first Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations arrived in the region during the ensuing Neolithic era from the family''s proposed urheimat ("original homeland") in the Nile Valley, or the Near East. Other scholars propose that the Afro-Asiatic family developed in situ in the Horn, with its speakers subsequently dispersing from there.

AntiquityCoins of the Axumite king Endybis, 227–235 AD, at the British Museum. The inscriptions in Ancient Greek read "AΧWMITW BACIΛEYC" ("King of Axum") and "ΕΝΔΥΒΙC ΒΑCΙΛΕΥC" ("King Endybis").

Around the 8th century BCE, a kingdom known as Dʿmt was established in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. Its capital was around the current town of Yeha, situated in northern Ethiopia. Most modern historians consider this civilization to be a native Ethiopian one, although Sabaean-influenced because of the latter''s hegemony of the Red Sea.

Other scholars regard Dʿmt as the result of a union of Afro-Asiatic cultures of the Cushitic and Semitic branches; namely, local Agaw peoples and Sabaeans from Southern Arabia. However, Ge''ez, the ancient Semitic language of Ethiopia, is thought to have developed independently from Sabaean (also South Semitic). As early as 2000 BCE, other Semitic speakers were living in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where Ge''ez developed. Sabaean influence is now thought to have been minor, limited to a few localities, and disappearing after a few decades or a century. It may have been a trading or military colony in alliance with the Ethiopian civilization of Dʿmt or some other proto-Aksumite state.

After the fall of Dʿmt in the 4th century BCE, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms. In the first century AD the Aksumite Empire emerged in what is now northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. According to the medieval Liber Axumae (Book of Aksum), the kingdom''s first capital, Mazaber, was built by Itiyopis, son of Cush. Aksum would later at times extend its rule into Yemen on the other side of the Red Sea. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Aksum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time in the 3rd century.

In about 316 AD, Frumentius and his brother Edesius from Tyre accompanied their uncle on a voyage to Ethiopia. When the vessel stopped at a Red Sea port, the natives killed all the travellers except the two brothers, who were taken to the court as slaves. They were given positions of trust by the monarch, and converted members of the royal court to Christianity. Frumentius became the first bishop of Aksum. A coin dated to 324 shows that Ethiopia was the second country to officially adopt Christianity (after Armenia), although the religion may have been at first confined to court circles; it was the first major power to do so.

Middle AgesDawit II (Lebna Dengel), Ethiopia (nəgusä nägäst) (Emperor) of Ethiopia and a member of the Solomonic dynasty.

The Zagwe dynasty ruled many parts of modern Ethiopia and Eritrea from approximately 1137 to 1270 AD. The name of the dynasty is derived from the Cushitic-speaking Agaw of northern Ethiopia. From 1270 AD onwards for many centuries, the Solomonic dynasty ruled the Ethiopian Empire.

In the early 15th 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. In 1428, the Emperor Yeshaq sent two emissaries to Alfonso V of Aragon, who sent return emissaries. They failed to complete the return trip. The first continuous relations with a European country began in 1508 with Portugal under Emperor Dawit II (Lebna Dengel), who had just inherited the throne from his father.

King Fasilides'' Castle.

This proved to be an important development, for when the Empire was subjected to the attacks of the Adal General and Imam, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim 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. 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.

When Emperor Susenyos I converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years of revolt and civil unrest followed, resulting in thousands of deaths. The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians. On 25 June 1632 Emperor Fasilides, Susenyos''s son, declared the state religion again to be Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. He expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other Europeans.

Aussa Sultanate Main articles: Aussa Sultanate and Mudaito DynastyState flag of the Aussa Sultanate.

The Aussa Sultanate or Afar Sultanate succeeded the earlier Imamate of Aussa. The latter polity had come into existence in 1577, when Muhammed Jasa moved his capital from Harar to Aussa with the split of the Adal Sultanate into the Sultanate of Aussa and the Sultanate of Harar. At some point after 1672, Aussa declined and temporarily came to an end in conjunction with Imam Umar Din bin Adam''s recorded ascension to the throne.

The Sultanate was subsequently re-established by Kedafu around the year 1734, and was thereafter ruled by his Mudaito Dynasty. The primary symbol of the Sultan was a silver baton, which was considered to have magical properties.

Zemene MesafintThe Battle of Gundet was one of the battles into which Emperor Yohannes IV led Ethiopian troops.

Between 1755 to 1855, Ethiopia experienced a period of isolation referred to as 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.

Emperor Tewodros II''s rule is often placed as the beginning of modern Ethiopia, ending the decentralized Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Princes").

Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between the two nations; but, 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, he began modernizing Ethiopia and recentralizing power in the Emperor. Ethiopia began to take part in world affairs once again.

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. He committed suicide in 1868 after his last battle with a British expeditionary force.

After Tewodros'' death, Tekle Giyorgis II was proclaimed Emperor. He was defeated in the Battles of Zulawu (21 June 1871) and Adua (11 July 1871). Kassai was subsequently declared Emperor Yohannes IV on 21 January 1872. In 1875 and 1876, Turkish/Egyptian forces, accompanied by many European and American ''advisors'', twice invaded Abyssinia but were initially defeated at the Battle of Gundet losing 800 men, and then following the second invasion, decisively defeated by Emperor Yohannes IV at the Battle of Gura on 7 March 1875, losing at least 3000 killed or captured. From 1885 to 1889, Ethiopia joined the Mahdist War allied to Britain, Turkey and Egypt against the Sudanese Mahdist State. On 10 March 1889, Yonannes IV was killed by the Sudanese Khalifah Abdullah''s army whilst leading his army in the Battle of Gallabat (also called Battle of Metemma).

From Menelik II to Adwa (1889–1913)

Ethiopia in its roughly current form began under the reign of Menelik II, who was Emperor from 1889 until his death in 1913. From his base in the central province of Shoa, Menelik set out to annex territories to the south, east and west, areas inhabited by the Oromo, Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta and other groups. He did this with the help of Ras Gobena''s Shewan Oromo militia, occupying lands that had not been held since Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmed Gragn)''s Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh al-Habash), as well as other areas that had never been under Abyssinian suzerainty. Menelik''s martial campaign against the Oromo was largely in retaliation for centuries of Oromo expansionism and the Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Princes"), a period during which a succession of Oromo feudal rulers dominated the highlanders. Chief among these was the Yejju dynasty, which included Aligaz of Yejju and his brother Ali I of Yejju. Ali I founded the town of Debre Tabor in the Amhara Region, which became the dynasty''s capital.

During his reign, Menelik II made advances in road construction, electricity and education; the development of a central taxation system; and the foundation and building of the city of Addis Ababa – which became Ras, capital of Shoa province in 1881. After he ascended to the throne in 1889, it was renamed as Addis Ababa, the new capital of Abyssinia. Menelik had signed the Treaty of Wichale with Italy in May 1889 in which Italy would recognize Ethiopia''s sovereignty so long as Italy could control an area north of Ethiopia (part of modern Eritrea). In return Italy was to provide Menelik with arms and support him as emperor. The Italians used the time between the signing of the treaty and its ratification by the Italian government to expand their territorial claims. This conflict erupted in the Battle of Adwa on 1 March 1896 in which Italy''s colonial forces were defeated by the Ethiopians.

About a third of the population died in the Great Ethiopian Famine (1888 to 1892).

Haile Selassie I era (1916–1974)Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor on 2 November 1930 with the titles "King of Kings", "Lord of Lords", "Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah", "Elect of God." He took—as his regnal name—Haile Selassie I which translates to "Power of the Trinity".

The early 20th century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who came to power after Iyasu V was deposed. He undertook a nationwide modernization campaign 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 I was born to parents from three of Ethiopia''s Afro-Asiatic-speaking populations: the Oromo and Amhara, the country''s two largest ethnic groups, as well as the Gurage.

The independence of Ethiopia was interrupted by the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and Italian occupation (1936–1941). During this time, 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. Also in this period, 1937, was the Italian massacre of Yekatit 12. Following the entry of Italy into World War II, British Empire forces, together with patriot Ethiopian fighters, officially liberated Ethiopia in the course of the East African Campaign in 1941. An Italian guerrilla campaign continued until 1943. This was followed by British recognition of Ethiopia''s full sovereignty, (i.e. without any special British privileges), with the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944. On 26 August 1942 Haile Selassie I issued a proclamation abolishing slavery. Ethiopia had between two and four million slaves in the early 20th century, out of a total population of about eleven million.

The 1897 Ethiopian flag with the Lion of Judah.

In 1952, Haile Selassie orchestrated the federation with Eritrea. He dissolved this in 1962 and annexed Eritrea, which resisted and finally won its Eritrean War of Independence. Haile Selassie played a leading role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.

Opinion within Ethiopia turned against Haile Selassie I owing to the worldwide oil crisis of 1973, which caused a sharp increase in gasoline prices starting on February 13, 1974; food shortages; uncertainty regarding the succession; border wars, and discontent in the middle class created through modernization. The high gasoline prices caused the taxi drivers and teachers to go on strike on February 18, 1974. Students and workers in Addis Ababa began demonstrating against the government on February 20, 1974. The feudal oligarchial cabinet of Akilou Habte Wolde was toppled. A new government was formed with Endelkachew Makonnen serving as Prime Minister.

Derg era (1974–1991) See also: Ethiopia–Russia relations, Ethiopian Civil War and Eritrean War of Independence

Haile Selassie''s reign came to an end on September 12, 1974, when a Soviet-backed Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg" led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed him. The new Provisional Military Administrative Council established a one-party communist state which was called People''s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

The ensuing regime suffered several coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and a huge refugee problem. In 1977, the Ogaden War resulted in Somalia capturing part of the Ogaden region. Ethiopia recovered it after receiving massive military aid from the USSR, Cuba, South Yemen, East Germany and North Korea. This included around 15,000 Cuban combat troops.

The Ethiopian People''s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) clashed with the Derg during the Red Terror

Up to 500,000 were killed as a result of the Red Terror, from forced deportations, or from the use of hunger as a weapon under Mengistu''s rule. 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 out by the opposition.

In 2006, after a trial that lasted 12 years, Ethiopia''s Federal High Court in Addis Ababa found Mengistu guilty in absentia of genocide. Numerous other top leaders of his were also found guilty of war crimes. He and others who had fled the country were tried and sentenced in absentia. Numerous former officials received the death sentence and tens of others spent the next 20 years in jail, before being pardoned from life sentences.

In the beginning of the 1980s, a series of famines hit Ethiopia that affected around 8 million people, resulting in 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 coalition known as 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 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 formally multi-party election took place in May 1995, in which Meles Zenawi was elected the Prime Minister and Negasso Gidada was elected President.

Federal Democratic Republic (1991–present)Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi at the 2012 World Economic Forum annual meeting.

In 1994, a constitution was adopted that led to Ethiopia''s first multiparty election the following year. In May 1998, a border dispute with Eritrea led to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, which lasted until June 2000 and cost both countries an estimated $1 million a day. This hurt Ethiopia''s economy, but strengthened the ruling coalition.

On 15 May 2005, Ethiopia held a third multiparty election, which was highly disputed, with some opposition groups claiming fraud. Though the Carter Center approved the pre-election conditions, it expressed its dissatisfaction with post-election matters. European Union election observers continued to accuse the ruling party of vote rigging. The opposition parties gained more than 200 parliamentary seats, compared with just 12 in the 2000 elections. Despite most opposition representatives joining the parliament, certain leaders of the CUD party, some of whom refused to take up their parliamentary seats, were accused of inciting the post-election violence that ensued and were imprisoned. Amnesty International considered them "prisoners of conscience" and they were subsequently released.

A coalition of opposition parties and some individuals was established in 2009 to oust the regime of the EPRDF in legislative elections of 2010. Meles Zenawi''s party that has been in power since 1991, published its 65-page manifesto in Addis Ababa on 10 October 2009. The opposition won most votes in Addis Ababa, but the EPRDF halted counting of votes for several days. After it ensued, it claimed the election, amidst charges of fraud and intimidation.

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.

In mid-2011, two consecutive missed rainy seasons precipitated the worst drought in East Africa seen in 60 years. Full recovery from the drought''s effects are not expected until 2012, with long-term strategies by the national government in conjunction with development agencies believed to offer the most sustainable results.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died on 20 August 2012 in Brussels, where he was being treated for an unspecified illness. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was appointed as a new prime minister. Hailemariam will remain in the position until new elections in 2015. In 2013, the mass deportation from Saudi Arabia of Ethiopian migrant workers has caused tensions.

Politics Main article: Politics of Ethiopia See also: Rulers and Heads of State of Ethiopia, Foreign relations of Ethiopia and Ethiopian National Defense ForceEmbassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Washington, D.C.

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. The current realities of this provision are questioned in a report prepared by Freedom House.

According to the Democracy Index published by the United Kingdom-based Economist Intelligence Unit in late 2010, Ethiopia is an "authoritarian regime", ranking as the 118th most democratic out of 167 countries. Ethiopia has dropped 12 places on the list since 2006, and the latest report attributes the drop to the regime''s crackdown on opposition activities, media and civil society before the 2010 parliamentary election, which the report argues has made Ethiopia a de facto one-party state.

Governance Main article: Government of Ethiopia

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.

Addis Ababa''s city hall.

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.

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. 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.

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. 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.

Ethiopian general election, 2005. Only parties with more than 10 seats shown. Red: EPRDF Green: CUD Purple: UEDF Dark blue: SPDP Orange: OFDM Light blue: Others

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). 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 five 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.

Human rights Main article: Human rights in Ethiopia

According to surveys in 2003 by the National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia, marriage by abduction accounts for 69% of the nation''s marriages, with around 80% in the largest region, Oromiya, and as high as 92% in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People''s Region.

Among the Omotic-speaking Karo and Hamar tribes in southern Ethiopia, adults and children with physical abnormalities are considered to be ritually impure or mingi. The latter are believed to exert an evil influence upon others, so disabled infants have traditionally been disposed of without a proper burial. The Karo officially banned the practice in July 2012.

Administrative divisions Main articles: Regions of Ethiopia, Zones of Ethiopia and Districts of EthiopiaA map of the regions and zones of Ethiopia.

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

Since 1996, Ethiopia has been divided into nine ethnically based and politically autonomous regional states (kililoch, singular kilil) and two chartered cities (astedader akababiwoch, singular astedader akababi), the latter being Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. The kililoch are subdivided into sixty-eight zones, and then further into 550 woredas and several special woredas.

The constitution assigns extensive power to regional states, which can establish their own government and democracy according to the federal government''s constitution. Each region has at its apex a 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).

Region or city (ክልል/የከተማ አስተዳድር) Capital Area (km2) Population Oct 1994 census May 2007 census Jul 2012 estimate
Addis Ababa (አዲስ አበባ) astedader Addis Ababa 526.99 2,100,031 2,738,248 3,041,002
Afar (ዓፋር) kilil Semera 72,052.78 1,051,641 1,411,092 1,602,995
Amhara (አማራ) kilil Bahir Dar 154,708.96 13,270,898 17,214,056 18,866,002
Benishangul-Gumuz (ቤ/ጉሙዝ) kilil Asosa 50,698.68 460,325 670,847 982,004
Dire Dawa (ድሬዳዋ) astedader Dire Dawa 1,558.61 248,549 342,827 387,000
Gambela (ጋምቤላ) kilil Gambela 29,782.82 162,271 306,916 385,997
Harari (ሐረሪ) kilil Harar 333.94 130,691 183,344 210,000
Oromia (ኦሮምያ) kilil Finfinne 284,538 18,465,449 27,158,471 31,294,992
Somali (ሶማሌ) kilil Jijiga 279,252.00 3,144,963 4,439,147 5,148,989
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People''s Region (ደቡብ ብ/ብ/ሕ) kilil Hawassa 105,887.18 10,377,028 15,042,531 17,359,008
Tigray (ትግራይ) kilil Mekelle 41,410 3,134,470 4,314,456 4,929,999
Special enumerated zones 96,570 112,999
Totals 1,127,127.00 51,766,239 73,918,505 84,320,987
Geography Main article: Geography of EthiopiaMap of Ethiopia.

At 1,126,829 square kilometres (435,071 sq mi), Ethiopia is the world''s 27th-largest country, comparable in size to Bolivia. It lies between latitudes 3° and 15°N, and longitudes 33° and 48°E.

The major portion of Ethiopia lies on the Horn of Africa, which is the easternmost part of the African landmass. Bordering Ethiopia are Sudan and South 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.

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.

Climate Main article: Climate of EthiopiaSemien Mountains.

The predominant climate type is tropical monsoon, with wide topographic-induced variation. The Ethiopian Highlands cover most of the country and 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 2,000–2,500 m (6,562–8,202 ft) above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar and Axum.

Wonchi Lake

The modern capital Addis Ababa is situated on the foothills of Mount Entoto, at an elevation of around 2,400 m (7,874 ft). It experiences a mild 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 1,200 mm (47.2 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 (60.8 °F), with daily maximum temperatures averaging 20–25 °C (68.0–77.0 °F) throughout the year, and overnight lows averaging 5–10 °C (41.0–50.0 °F).

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. Dallol, in the Danakil Depression in this eastern zone, has the world''s highest average annual temperature of 34 °C (93.2 °F).

Environment See also: Environmental issues in Ethiopia Wildlife Main article: Wildlife of EthiopiaThe Ethiopian wolf.Spotted hyenas in Harar.

Ethiopia has 31 endemic species of mammals. The African Wild Dog prehistorically had widespread distribution in the territory. 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.

Ethiopia is a global center of avian diversity. To date more than 856 bird species have been recorded in Ethiopia, 20 of which are endemic to the country. Sixteen species are endangered or critically endangered. A large number of these birds feed on butterflies, like the Bicyclus anynana.

Historically, throughout the African continent, wildlife populations have been rapidly declining owing to logging, civil wars, pollution, poaching and other human interference. A 17-year-long civil war, along with severe drought, negatively impacted Ethiopia''s environmental conditions leading to even greater habitat degradation. 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. With carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 of 6,494,000 tonnes, Ethiopia contributes just 0.02% to the annual human-caused release of greenhouse gases.

Ethiopia has a large number of species listed as critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable to global extinction. The threatened species in Ethiopia can be broken down into three categories (based on IUCN ratings): Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.

Critically endangered mammals Endangered mammals Vulnerable mammals
Bilen gerbil Grevy''s zebra African elephant Large-eared free-tailed bat Red-fronted gazelle
Black rhinoceros Mountain nyala Ammodile Lesser horseshoe bat Rupp''s mouse
Ethiopian wolf Nubian ibex Bailey''s shrew Lion Scott''s mouse-eared bat
Guramba shrew African wild dog Bale shrew Moorland shrew Soemmerring''s gazelle
Harenna shrew Beira antelope Morris''s bat Speke''s gazelle
MacMillan''s shrew Cheetah Mouse-tailed bat species Spotted-necked otter
Walia ibex Dibatag Natal free-tailed bat Stripe-backed mouse
Dorcas gazelle Nikolaus''s mouse
Glass''s shrew Patrizi''s trident leaf-nosed bat
Deforestation Main article: Deforestation in EthiopiaMountain nyalas in Nechisar National Park, one of several wildlife reserves in Ethiopia.

Deforestation is a major concern for Ethiopia as studies suggest loss of forest contributes to soil erosion, loss of nutrients in the soil, loss of animal habitats and reduction in biodiversity. At the beginning of the 20th 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. 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.

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. 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.

Economy Main article: Economy of Ethiopia See also: Foreign aid to EthiopiaEthiopia''s Human Development Index rating 1970-2010.

According to the IMF, Ethiopia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world, registering over 10% economic growth from 2004 through 2009. It was the fastest-growing non-oil-dependent African economy in the years 2007 and 2008. Growth has decelerated moderately in 2012 to 7% and is projected to be 6.5% in the future – reflecting weaker external demand and an increasingly constrained environment for private sector activity.

Ethiopia''s growth performance and considerable development gains came under threat during 2008 and 2011 with the emergence of twin macroeconomic challenges of high inflation and a difficult balance of payments situation. Inflation surged to 40% in August 2011 because of loose monetary policy, large civil service wage increase in early 2011, and high food prices. For 2011/12, end-year inflation was projected to be about at about 22 percent and single digit inflation is projected in 2012/13 with the implementation of tight monetary and fiscal policies.

The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

In spite of fast growth in recent years, GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the world, and the economy faces a number of serious structural problems. Agricultural productivity remains low, and frequent droughts still beset 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, including the Nile. 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.

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.

The Ethiopian constitution defines the right to own land as belonging only to "the state and the people", but citizens may 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. Land distribution and administration is considered an area where corruption is institutionalized, and facilitation payments as well as bribes are often demanded when dealing with land-related issues.

AgricultureTef field near Mojo.

Agriculture accounts for almost 41% of the gross domestic product (GDP), 80% of exports, and 80% of the labor force. 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. A 2012 study suggested that new varieties of chickpea could benefit farmers and the Ethiopian economy in future. This study assessed the potential economic and poverty impact of 11 improved chickpea varieties, released by the national agricultural research organization of Ethiopia in collaboration with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The researchers estimated using the varieties would bring about a total benefit of US$ 111 million for 30 years, with consumers receiving 39% of the benefit and producers 61%. The generated benefit is expected to lift more than 0.7 million people (both producers and consumers) out of poverty. The authors concluded that further investments in the chickpea and other legume research in Ethiopia is justified as a means of poverty alleviation.

Exports are almost entirely agricultural commodities, and coffee is the largest foreign exchange earner. Ethiopia is Africa''s second biggest maize producer. According to UN estimations the per capita GDP of Ethiopia has reached $357 as of 2011. The same report indicated that the life expectancy had improved substantially in recent years. The life expectancy of men is reported to be 56 years and for women 60 years.

Exports Main article: Coffee production in Ethiopia

Exports from Ethiopia in the 2009/2010 financial year totaled $US1.4 billion. The country produces more coffee than any other nation on the continent.

Ethiopia Export Treemap from MITHarvard Economic Complexity Observatory.

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.

Cross-border trade by pastoralists is often informal and beyond state control and regulation. In East Africa, over 95% of cross-border trade is through unofficial channels and the unofficial trade of live cattle, camels, sheep and goats from Ethiopia sold to Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya generates an estimated total value of between US$250 and US$300 million annually (100 times more than the official figure).

This trade helps lower food prices, increase food security, relieve border tensions and promote regional integration. However, there are also risks as the unregulated and undocumented nature of this trade runs risks, such as allowing disease to spread more easily across national borders. Furthermore, the government of Ethiopia is purportedly unhappy with lost tax revenue and foreign exchange revenues. Recent initiatives have sought to document and regulate this trade.

Ethiopian Blessed Coffee brand bags in Takoma Park, Maryland. Coffee is one of Ethiopia''s main exports.

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. 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 also plans to export electric power to its neighbors.

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. Most regard Ethiopia''s large water resources and potential as its "white oil" and its coffee resources as "black gold".

The country also has large mineral resources and oil potential in some of 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.

In 2011, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project was commenced. When completed, it will provide surplus Energy in Ethiopia which will be able for export to neighboring countries.

Transportation Main article: Transport in EthiopiaEthiopian Airlines Boeing 737–700 on the Bole International Airport runway.

Ethiopia has 681 km of railway, which mainly consists of the Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway, with a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) narrow gauge. At present the railway is under joint control of Djibouti and Ethiopia, but negotiations are underway to privatize this transport utility. The railroad is currently being rebuilt and electrified by Chinese and Turkish companies and is scheduled to be completed by September, 2015. The new railroad will be 756km-long and is expected to reduce the travel time from Addis Ababa to Djibouti by half to less than ten hours with a designated speed of 120km/hour.

As the first part of a ten-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.

Ethiopia has 58 airports as of 2012. Among these, the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa and the Aba Tenna Dejazmach Yilma International Airport in Dire Dawa accommodate international flights. Ethiopian Airlines is the country''s flag carrier, and is wholly owned by the Government of Ethiopia. From its hub at the Bole International Airport, the airline serves a network of 62 international destinations and 16 domestic ones. It is also one of the fastest-growing carriers in the industry and one of Africa''s largest airlines.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of Ethiopia See also: People of Ethiopia and List of ethnic groups in Ethiopia Population in Ethiopia Year Million Difference
1950 18.4 -
1960 22.5 4.1
1970 29.0 6.5
1980 35.4 6.4
1990 48.3 12.9
2000 65.6 17.3
2010 82.9 17.3
2013 93.8 >10.9

Ethiopia''s population has grown from 33.5 million in 1983 to 87.9 million in 2014. The population was only about 9 million in the 19th century. 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. Currently, the population growth rate is among the top ten countries in the world. The population is forecast to grow to over 210 million by 2060, which would be an increase from 2011 estimates by a factor of about 2.5.

Ethnic groups in Ethiopia
Ethnic group Population
Oromo     25.4 (34.4%)
Amhara     19.9 (27.0%)
Somali    4.59 (6.22%)
Tigray    4.49 (6.08%)
Sidama    2.95 (4.00%)
Gurage    1.86 (2.52%)
Welayta    1.68 (2.27%)
Afar    1.28 (1.73%)
Hadiya    1.27 (1.72%)
Gamo    1.10 (1.49%)
others     9.30 (12.6%)
Population in millions according to 2007 Census

The country''s population is highly diverse, containing over 80 different ethnic groups. According to the Ethiopian national census of 2007, the Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, at 34.4% of the nation''s population. The Amhara represent 27.0% of the country''s inhabitants, while the Somali and Tigray represent 6.22% and 6.08% of the population, respectively. Other prominent ethnic groups are as follows: Sidama 4.00%, Gurage 2.52%, Welayta 2.27%, Afar 1.73%, Hadiya 1.72%, Gamo 1.49% and others 12.6%.

Afro-Asiatic communities make up the majority of the population. Among these, Semitic speakers often collectively refer to themselves as Habesha or Abesha. 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. Additionally, Nilo-Saharan-speaking Nilotic ethnic minorities inhabit the southern regions of the country; particularly in areas of the Gambela Region which borders South Sudan. The largest ethnic groups among these include the Nuer and Anuak.

In 2009, Ethiopia hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 135,200. The majority of this population came from Somalia (approximately 64,300 persons), Eritrea (41,700) and Sudan (25,900). The Ethiopian government required nearly all refugees to live in refugee camps.

Languages Main article: Languages of Ethiopia

Languages of Ethiopia as of 2007 Census.

  Oromo (33.8%)   Amharic (29.3%)   Somali (6.25%)   Tigrinya (5.86%)   Sidamo (4.04%)   Welaytta (2.21%)   Gurage (2.01%)   Afar (1.74%)   Hadiyya (1.70%)   Gamo (1.45%)   Other (11.64%)

According to Ethnologue, there are ninety individual languages spoken in Ethiopia. Most people in the country speak Afro-Asiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches. The former includes Oromiffa, spoken by the Oromo people, and Somali, spoken by the Somali people; the latter includes Amharic, spoken by the Amhara people, and Tigrinya, spoken by the Tigray-Tigrinya people. Together, these four groups make up about three-quarters of Ethiopia''s population. Other Afro-Asiatic languages with a significant number of speakers include the Cushitic Sidamo, Afar, Hadiyya and Agaw languages, as well as the Semitic Gurage, Harari, Silt''e and Argobba tongues.

Additionally, Omotic languages are spoken by Omotic ethnic minority groups inhabiting the southern regions. Among these idioms are Aari, Bench, Dawro, Dime, Dizi, Gamo, Gofa, Maale, Hamer and Wolaytta.

Languages from the Nilo-Saharan phylum are also spoken by the nation''s Nilotic ethnic minorities, who are concentrated in the southwestern parts of the country. These tongues include Nuer, Anuak, Nyangatom, Majang, Surma, Me''en and Mursi.

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 regional languages such as Oromiffa, Somali or Tigrinya. While all languages enjoy equal state recognition in the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia, Amharic is recognized as the official working language of the Federal Government. The various regions of Ethiopia are free to determine their own working languages, with Oromiffa, Somali and Tigrinya recognized as official working languages in their respective regions.


In terms of writing systems, Ethiopia''s principal orthography is Ge''ez or Ethiopic. Employed as an abugida for several of the country''s languages, it first came into usage in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE as an abjad to transcribe the Semitic Ge''ez language. Ge''ez now serves as the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches. During the 1980s, the Ethiopic character set was computerized. It is today part of the Unicode standard as Ethiopic, Ethiopic Extended, Ethiopic Supplement and Ethiopic Extended-A.

Other writing systems have also been used over the years by different Ethiopian communities. The latter include Sheikh Bakri Sapalo''s script for Oromo.

Religion Main article: Religion in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has close historical ties with all three of the world''s major Abrahamic religions. In the 4th century, the region was one of the first in the world to officially adopt Christianity as the state religion. While no longer distinguished as a state religion, it remains the majority faith. There is also a substantial Muslim demographic, representing about a third of the population. Ethiopia is also the site of the first Hijra in Islamic history. A town in the Tigray Region, Negash is the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa. Until the 1980s, a substantial population of Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) resided in Ethiopia.

The rock-hewn Church of Saint George in Lalibela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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% 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 33.9% of the population. Sunnis form the majority of Muslims with non-denominational Muslims being the second largest group of Muslims, and Shias and Ahmadis a minority. Sunnis are largely Shafi''is or Salafis, and there are also many Sufi Muslims there.

The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the first nations to officially accept Christianity, when St. Frumentius of Tyre, called Fremnatos or Abba Selama ("Father of Peace") in Ethiopia, converted Emperor Ezana during the 4th century AD. Many believe that the Gospel had entered Ethiopia even earlier, with the royal official described as being baptized 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 18th century there has existed a relatively small Ethiopian Catholic Church in full communion with Rome, with adherents making up less than 1% of the total population.

A mosque in Bahir Dar.

Islam in Ethiopia dates back to the founding of the religion in 615, when a group of Muslims were counseled by the Prophet Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca. The disciples subsequently migrated to Ethiopia via modern-day Eritrea, which was at the time ruled by Sahama, a pious Christian emperor. Moreover, Bilal ibn Ribah, 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 Ethiopians.

A small ancient group of Jews, the Beta Israel, live in northwestern Ethiopia, though most emigrated to Israel in the last decades of the 20th century as part of the Israeli government''s rescue missions: Operation Moses and Operation Solomon. Some Israeli and Jewish scholars consider these Ethiopian Jews as a historical Lost Tribe of Israel.

According to the 2007 Population and Housing Census, around 1,957,944 people in Ethiopia are adherents of traditional faiths. An additional 471,861 residents practice other creeds.

While followers of all religions can be found in each region, they tend to be concentrated in certain parts of the country. Christians predominantly live in the northern Amhara and Tigray regions, and are largely members of the non-Chalcedonian Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Those belonging to the Protestant or Pentay denomination are centered in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples'' Region (SNNP) and Oromia. Muslims in Ethiopia adhere to the Sunni branch, and generally inhabit eastern and northeastern areas; particularly the Somali, Afar, Dire Dawa and Harari regions. Practitioners of traditional religions mainly reside in the nation''s far southwestern and western rural borderlands, in the SNNP, Benishangul-Gumuz and Gambela regions.

Urbanization Main article: List of cities and towns in EthiopiaView of the capital Addis Ababa from the Sheraton Hotel.

Population growth, migration, and urbanization are all straining both governments'' and ecosystems'' capacity to provide people with basic services. 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.

In 1936, Italy annexed Ethiopia, building infrastructure to connect major cities, and a dam providing power and water. 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.

This pattern slowed due to the 1975 Land Reform program instituted by the government, which 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. This program proliferated the formation of peasant associations, large villages based on agriculture. 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. Urban populations have continued to grow with an 8.1% increase from 1975 to 2000.

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Largest cities or towns of Ethiopia CSA (estimate for 1 July 2012)Rank Name Region Pop. Rank Name Region Pop.
Addis AbabaMek''ele 1 Addis Ababa Addis Ababa 3,040,740 11 Shashamane Oromia 118,900 Dire DawaAdama
2 Mek''ele Tigray 286,600 12 Bishoftu Oromia 118,300
3 Dire Dawa Dire Dawa 273,601 13 Harar Harari 108,200
4 Adama Oromia 262,884 14 Sodo SNNPR 97,000
5 Gondar Amhara 254,450 15 Arba Minch SNNPR 95,500
6 Awasa SNNPR 212,665 16 Hosaena SNNPR 89,300
7 Bahir Dar Amhara 191,015 17 Nekemte Oromia 89,000
8 Jimma Oromia 149,166 18 Asella Oromia 79,600
9 Dessie Amhara 147,592 19 Dila SNNPR 75,400
10 Jijiga Somali 147,482 20 Debre Birhan Amhara 71,400
Rural and urban lifeGondar skyline.

Migration to urban areas is usually motivated by the hope of better lives. 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.

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. 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. 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. This land degradation reduces the production of fodder for livestock, which causes low milk yields. Since the community burns livestock manure as fuel, rather than plowing the nutrients back into the land, the crop production is reduced. 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.

Rural area in the Simien Mountains National Park.

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. 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. 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.

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. Addis Ababa has its own university as well as many other secondary schools. The literacy rate is 82%.

Many NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are working to solve this problem; however, most are far apart, uncoordinated, and working in isolation. The Sub-Saharan Africa NGO Consortium is attempting to coordinate efforts.

Health Main article: Health in Ethiopia

According to the head of the World Bank''s Global HIV/AIDS Program, Ethiopia has only 1 medical doctor per 100,000 people. However, the World Health Organization''s 2006 World Health Report gives a figure of 1,936 physicians (for 2003), which comes to about 2.6 per 100,000. Globalization is said to affect the country, with many educated professionals leaving Ethiopia for better economic opportunities in the West.

Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.

Ethiopia''s main health problems are said to be communicable (contagious) diseases worsened by poor sanitation and malnutrition. These problems are exacerbated by the shortage of trained doctors and nurses and health facilities.

The state of public health is considerably better in the cities. Birth rates, infant mortality rates, and death rates are lower in cities than in rural areas owing to better access to education, medicines and hospitals. Life expectancy is higher at 53, compared to 48 in rural areas. Despite sanitation being a problem, use of improved water sources is also on the rise; 81% in cities compared to 11% in rural areas. As in other parts of Africa, there has been a steady migration of people towards the cities in hopes of better living conditions.

There are 119 hospitals (12 in Addis Ababa alone) and 412 health centers in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a relatively low average life expectancy of 58 years. Infant mortality rates are relatively very high, as over 8% of infants die during or shortly after childbirth, (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.

Community health care workers.

Another major health problem in Ethiopia is the spread of AIDS. AIDS has mainly affected poor communities and women, due to lack of health education, empowerment, awareness and lack of social well-being. The government of Ethiopia and many private organizations like World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations, are launching campaigns and are working aggressively to improve Ethiopia''s health conditions and promote health awareness on AIDS and other communicable diseases (Dugassa, 2005). Many believe that sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea result from touching a stone after a female dog urinates on it and there is a general belief that these diseases are caused by bad spirits and supernatural causes. Others believe that eating the reproductive organs of a black goat will help expel the diseases from those same organ in their body (Kater, 2000).

Ethiopia has high infant and maternal mortality rate. Only a minority of Ethiopians are born in hospitals; most of them are born in rural households. Those who are expected to give birth at home have elderly women serve as midwives assist with the delivery (Kater, 2000) The increase in infant and maternal mortality rate is believed to be due to lack of women''s involvement in household decision-making, immunization and social capital (Fantahun, Berhane, Wall, Byass, & Hogberg, 2007). On the other hand, the "WHO estimates that a majority of maternal fatalities and disabilities could be prevented if deliveries were to take place at well-equipped health centers, with adequately trained staff" (Dorman et al., 2009, p. 622).

An Ethiopian girl about to receive her measles vaccination

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 common cultural practice, irrespective of religion or economic status, is female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting (FGC), a procedure by which some of a woman''s external genital tissue, such as the clitoral hood, the clitoris, and sometimes labia, are removed. According to a study performed by the Population Reference Bureau, Ethiopia has a prevalence rate of 81% among women ages 35 to 39 and 62% among women ages 15–19.

Ethiopia''s 2005 Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) noted that the national prevalence rate is 74% among women ages 15–49. The practice is almost universal in the regions of Dire Dawa, Somali and Afar; in the Oromo and Harari regions, more than 80% of girls and women undergo the procedure. FGC is least prevalent in the regions of Tigray and Gambela, where 29% and 27% of girls and women, respectively, are affected.

In 2004, the Ethiopian Government enacted a law against FGC. Female circumcision is a pre-marital custom mainly endemic to Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East that has its ultimate origins in Ancient Egypt. Encouraged by women in the community, it is primarily intended to deter promiscuity and to offer protection from assault. About 76% of Ethiopia''s male population is also reportedly circumcised.

The Government of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia is signatory to various international conventions and treaties that protect the rights of women and children. Its constitution provides for the fundamental rights and freedoms for women. There is an attempt being made to raise the social and economic status of women through eliminating all legal and customary practices, which hinder women''s equal participation in society and undermine their social status.

Education Main article: Education in EthiopiaAddis Ababa University entrance.

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 regionalization 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.

In 2004 school enrollment was more than that of many other African countries. According to the 1994 census the literacy rate in Ethiopia is 23.4%, though a 2004 UNESCO education report may suggest that this rate is now higher.

Culture Main article: Culture of Ethiopia Naming Main article: Ethiopian names

Ethiopians have a different naming system to the family name-based Western system. Children add the given names of their father and paternal grandfather consecutively to their own given name. For compatibility purposes, as is done in passports, the grandfather''s given name is taken as a family surname, and a person''s given name and his/her father''s given name form the first name.

Everyone is addressed by his/her given name. In official situations, the prefixes Ato (ኣቶ), also Ayte (ኣይተ), is used for men; Weizero (ወይዘሮ) for married women; and Weizerit (ወይዘሪት) for unmarried women.

Calendar Main articles: Ethiopian calendar and Oromo calendarModel commemorating the Axum Obelisk''s return to Ethiopia, which shows the date of its departure and return according to the Ethiopian calendar.

Ethiopia has several local calendars. The most widely known is the Ethiopian calendar, also known as the Ge''ez calendar. It is based on the older Alexandrian or Coptic calendar, which in turn derives from the Egyptian calendar. Like the Coptic calendar, the Ethiopian calendar has twelve months of exactly 30 days each plus five or six epagomenal days, which comprise a thirteenth month. The Ethiopian months begin on the same days as those of the Coptic calendar, but their names are in Ge''ez.

Like the Julian calendar, the sixth epagomenal day—which in essence is a leap day—is added every four years without exception on August 29 of the Julian calendar, six months before the Julian leap day. Thus the first day of the Ethiopian year, 1 Mäskäräm, for years between 1901 and 2099 (inclusive), is usually September 11 (Gregorian), but falls on September 12 in years before the Gregorian leap year. Also a seven- to eight-year gap between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from an alternate calculation in determining the date of the Annunciation of Jesus.

Another prominent calendrical system was developed around 300 BCE by the Oromo. A lunar-stellar calendar, this Oromo calendar relies on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven particular stars or constellations. Oromo months (stars/lunar phases) are Bittottessa (Iangulum), Camsa (Pleiades), Bufa (Aldebarran), Waxabajjii (Belletrix), Obora Gudda (Central Orion-Saiph), Obora Dikka (Sirius), Birra (full moon), Cikawa (gibbous moon), Sadasaa (quarter moon), Abrasa (large crescent), Ammaji (medium crescent) and Gurrandala (small crescent).


Time in Ethiopia is counted differently from in many Western countries. The Ethiopian day is reckoned as beginning at 6 AM as opposed to 12 AM, concurrently with sunrise throughout the year. To convert between the Ethiopian clock and Western clocks, one must add (or subtract) 6 hours to the Western time. For example, 2 AM local Addis Ababa time is called "8 at night" in Ethiopia, while 8 PM is called "2 in the evening".

Cuisine Main article: Ethiopian cuisineTypical Ethiopian cuisine: Injera (pancake-like bread) and several kinds of wat (stew).

The best-known Ethiopian cuisine consists of various thick meat stews, known as wat in Ethiopian culture, and vegetable side dishes served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread made of teff flour. This is not eaten with utensils, but instead one uses the injera to scoop up the entrées and side dishes. Almost universally in Ethiopia, it is common to eat from the same dish in the center of the table with a group of people. It is also a common custom to feed others in your group with your own hands – a tradition referred to as "gursha." Traditional Ethiopian cuisine employs no pork or shellfish of any kind, as they are forbidden in the Islamic, Jewish, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faiths.

Chechebsa (ጨጨብሣ), marqa, chukko, michirra and dhanga are the most popular dishes from the Oromo. Kitfo (ክትፎ), which originated from the Gurage is one of the widely accepted and favorite foods in Ethiopia. Tihlo (ጥሕሎ)—which is a type of dumpling— is prepared from roasted barley flour. It originated in Tigray Region and is now very popular in Amhara and spreading further south.

Music Main article: Music of EthiopiaMahmoud Ahmed, an Ethiopian singer of Gurage ancestry (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 distinct modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes. As with many other aspects of Ethiopian culture and tradition, tastes in music and lyrics are strongly linked with those in neighboring Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan. Traditional singing in Ethiopia presents diverse styles of polyphony (heterophony, drone, imitation and counterpoint). Traditionally, lyricism in Ethiopian song writing is strongly associated with views of patriotism or national pride, romance, friendship and most uniquely memoire known as ''Tissita''.

Sport Main article: Sport in Ethiopia

The main sports in Ethiopia are athletics (particularly long distance running) and football. Ethiopian athletes have won many Olympic gold medals in track and field, most of them in long distance running. Haile Gebrselassie is a world-renowned long distance runner with several world record in his belt. Another sportsman, Kenenisa Bekele, is also a dominant runner, particularly in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in which he holds the world records.

Other notable Ethiopian athletes are Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter, Derartu Tulu, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, Birhane Adere, Tiki Gelana, Genzebe Dibaba and Gelete Burka. As of 2012 going into 2013 the current national Ethiopian football team (Walyia Antelopes) has made itself history by qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations (CAF) and more recently by reaching the last 10 African football teams in the last stage of qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Noted players include captain Adane Girma and top scorer Saladin Seid.

Ethiopia has Sub-Saharan Africa''s longest basketball tradition as it established a national basketball team as early as 1949.

World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia
  • v
  • t
  • e
World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia
  • Aksum
  • Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region
  • Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town
  • Lower Valley of the Awash
  • Lower Valley of the Omo
  • Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela
  • Simien National Park
  • Tiya

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