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ye-Ityopp'ya Federalawi Dimokrasiyawi Ripeblik
የኢትዮጵያ ፈደራላዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Flag of Ethiopia Coat of arms of Ethiopia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: Wodefit Gesgeshi, Widd Innat Ityopp'ya
(March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia)
Location of Ethiopia
Capital Addis Ababa
9°03′ N 38°74′ E
Largest city Addis Ababa
Official language(s) Amharic
Prime Minister
Federal republic1
Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Meles Zenawi
Liberation Day
From Italy
May 5, 1941
• Total

• Water (%)

1,127,127 km² ( 27th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

• 2005 est.
• [[As of |]] census

• Density

73,053,286 ( 16th)

64/km² ( 103rd)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
,930,000,000 ( 72nd)
0 ( 223rd)
HDI ( 2003) 0.367 ( 170th) – low
Currency Birr ( ETB)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
( UTC+3)
( UTC+4)
Internet TLD .et
Calling code +251
1Ethiopia is ostensibly a democracy, but has a dominant-party system led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has the only real chance of holding power in elections.
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’ — traditionally derived from Greek terms meaning "of burnt (αιθ-) visage (ὄψ)"; however, this etymology is uncertain. The Book of Axum, Ethiopian chronicles dating from the country's Christian era, state that the name is derived from "'Ityopp'is", a son of Cush, son of Ham (unmentioned in the Bible) who according to legend founded the city of Aksum.

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History - Contents

The Kingdom of Aksum, the first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia, rose during the first century CE. 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, when Emperoror Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism, officially in 1622, years of revolt and civil unrest followed. The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians, and in the mid- 17th century Susenyos' son, 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 ( 1936– 1941). British and patriot Ethiopian troops liberated the Ethiopian homeland in 1941, and Ethiopia's regained sovereignty was recognised by the United Kingdom 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 communist 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 quickly defeated them with a massive influx of Soviet military hardware, direct Cuban military presence, coupled with East German and South Yemeni military assistance the following year. In spite of accruing one of the largest armies in Africa due to benevolent military assistance from Socialist Bloc countries, an unending insurgency in the then provinces of Eritrea and Tigray, a major drought in 1985 and regime changes in the former Socialist Bloc culminated in the Derg regime being defeated in 1991 by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) in the far north, and elsewhere by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a loose coalition of rebel forces mainly dominated by the Tigrean People's Liberation Front. In 1993, the province of Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia, following a referendum, ending more than 20 years of armed conflict, one of the longest in Africa. 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.
  • See also: Rulers and Heads of State of Ethiopia

Politics - Contents

Politics - Politics portal

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Prime Minister
Political parties in Ethiopia
Elections in Ethiopia: 2005
Foreign relations 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.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, which drew a record number of voters, with 90% of the electorate turning out to cast their vote. While the election was deemed by the European Union election observer team to fall short of international standards for fair and free elections, other teams drew different conclusions. The African Union report on September 14 commended "the Ethiopian people's display of genuine commitment to democratic ideals", and on September 15 the US Carter Center concluded that "the majority of the constituency results based on the May 15 polling and tabulation are credible and reflect competitive conditions". The US Department of State said on September 16, "these elections stand out as a milestone in creating a new, more competitive multi-party political system in one of Africa's largest and most important countries." Even the EU preliminary statement of 2005 also said "...the polling processes were generally positive. The overall assessment of the process has been rated as good in 64% of the cases, and very good in 24%".The opposition complained that the ruling EPRDF engaged in widespread vote rigging and intimidation, alleging fraud in 299 constituencies. All allegations were investigated by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia in cooperation with election monitors, a process which delayed the release of the final results. In June 2005, with the results of the election still unclear, a group of university students protested these alleged discrepancies, encouraged by supporters of the Coalition for Unity opposition party, despite a ban on protests imposed by the government. On June 8, 26 people were killed in Addis Ababaas a result of rioting, which led to the arrest of hundreds of protesters. On September 5, 2005, the National Elections Board of Ethiopia released the final election results in which confirmed that the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front retained its control of the government, but showed that opposition parties had increased their share of parliamentary seats, from 12 to 176. The Coalition for Unity and Democracy won all the seats in Addis Ababa, both for the Parliament and the City Council.Street protests broke out again November 1, when the opposition called for a general strike and boycotted the new Parliament, refusing to accept the results of the election. The police forces once again attempted to contain the protests and this time 42 people were killed in Addis Ababa, including seven policemen, and another of whom later died because of fatal injuries caused by a hand grenade detonation. Thousands were arrested, and were taken to various detention centers across the country. By February 2006, six hundred remained in custody, facing trial in March.On 14 November, the Ethiopian Parliament passed a resolution to establish a neutral commission to investigate the incidents of June 8 and November 1 and 2. In February 2006, UK Prime Minister Blair, acknowledging that the EPRDF has won the election, said he wanted to see Ethiopia resolve its internal problems and continue on a democratic path [2].

Regions - Contents

Ethiopia has been divided by the EPRDF into 9 ethnically-based administrative regions (kililoch; singular: kilil):
  • Afar
  • Amhara
  • Benishangul-Gumaz
  • Gambela
  • Harari
  • Oromia
  • Somali
  • Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region
  • Tigray
Additionally, there are two chartered cities (astedader akababiwoch, singular: astedader akababi): Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.

Geography - Contents

Map 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 the year is 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).

Economy - Contents

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

Demographics - Contents

A gari in Adama (Nazareth), Ethiopia
A gari in Adama (Nazareth), 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 Habesha or Abesha, though others reject these names on the basis that they refer only to certain ethnicities [3]. The Arabic form of this term is the etymological basis of "Abyssinia," the former name of Ethiopia in English and other European languages. [4]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 was 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:
  • Afar language
  • Amharic language
  • Anfillo language
  • Berta language
  • Bussa language
  • Ge'ez language
  • Konso language
  • Ongota
  • Oromo language
  • Rer Bare language
  • Saho language
  • Soddo language
  • Silt'e language
  • Somali language
  • Tigrigna language
  • Weyto language
  • Hadiya language
  • Harari language
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.

Culture - Contents

This leather painting depicts Ethiopian Orthodox priests playing sistra and a drum.
This leather painting depicts Ethiopian Orthodox priests playing sistra and a drum.
In April 2005, the Axum obelisk, one of Ethiopia's religious and historical treasures, was returned to Ethiopia by Italy [5]. 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, whose adherents believe Ethiopia is Zion. Rastafari view Emperor Haile Selassie I as Jesus, the human incarnation of God.
  • Cuisine of Ethiopia
  • Music of Ethiopia
  • Islam in Ethiopia
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
  • P'ent'ay
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Tehadeso Church

Holidays - Contents

Date English name Local name Remarks
January 7 Orthodox Christmas Day Genna
January 10 Feast of the Sacrifice 'Id al-Adha varies; this date is for 2006
January 19 Feast of Epiphany Timket
March 2 Adwa Day Ye'adowa B'al
April 11 Birthday of The Prophet Muhammad Mawlid an-Nabi varies; this date is for 2006
April 21 Orthodox Good Friday Siqlet (Crucifixion) varies; this date is for 2006
April 23 Orthodox Easter Fasika varies; this date is for 2006
April 24 Easter Monday (public holiday) varies; this date is for 2006
May 1 International Workers' Day
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
October 24 End of the holy month of Ramadan 'Id al-Fitr varies; this date is for 2006
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