The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia 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. Unique among African countries, Ethiopia maintained independence during the Scramble for Africa, and continued to do so until 1936, when the Italian army invaded the country. British and Ethiopian troops defeated the Italians in 1941, and Ethiopia regained its sovereignty upon the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944. Ethiopia was historically called Abyssinia.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
የኢትዮጵያ ፈደራላዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ
Flag of Ethiopia Ethiopia COA
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: —
Missing image
Location of Ethiopia

Official language Amharic
Capital Addis Ababa
President Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 26th
1,127,127 km?
Ranked 16th
Independence December 1944 (from the British) [1] (
Currency Birr (ETB)
Time zone UTC +3
National anthem Whedefit Gesgeshi Woude Henate Ethiopia (March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia)
Internet TLD .et
Calling Code 251


Main article: History of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has an extremely long and storied history. The first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia was that of Axum in the first century AD. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time. It was at this time that Frumentius introduced Christianity into the country, converting king Ezana. For a short period in the 6th century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen across the Red Sea.

The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken several times: first by Queen Judith 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 negus negusti ("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 Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, Portugal responded to Lebna Dengel's plea for help with an army of 400 men, who helped his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule. However, Jesuit missionaries eventually offended the faith of the local Ethiopians, and in the mid-16th century Emperor Fasilidos expelled these missionaries. At the same time, the Oromo people began to migrate north into Ethiopian territorities, and settle in the depopulated lands.

All of this contributed to Ethiopia's isolation during the 1700s. The Emperors of Ethiopia became figureheads, controlled by war lords like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray. Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission which 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.

The 1880s were marked by European colonization of Africa and some modernisation, when the Italians began to replace the British influence. 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 1896 to the Battle of Adowa, which the Ethiopians surprised the world by defeating the colonial power and remained 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, who undertook the modernization of Ethiopia, despite several years of occupation by Italy (1936-1942). His reign came to an end in 1974, when a pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist military junta, the Derg, deposed him, and established a one-party socialist state. The ensuing regime suffered several bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problem. It was eventually defeated in 1991 by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of rebel forces. In 1993, the Province of Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in an amicable separation following a referendum. In 1994, a constitution was adopted leading to Ethiopia's first multiparty elections in the following year. In May 1998, a dispute over the undemarcated border with Eritrea led to the Ethiopia-Eritrea 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, which returned the EPRDF to power. In early June police shot and killed demonstrators protesting alleged election fraud.


Main article: Politics of Ethiopia

Template:Election 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, ensuring a landslide victory for the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). International and non-governmental observers concluded that opposition parties would have been able to participate had they chosen to do so.

The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was installed in August 1995. The first President was Negasso Gidada. The EPRDF-led government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has promoted a policy of ethnic federalism, devolving significant powers to regional, ethnically-based authorities. Ethiopia today has 9 semi-autonomous administrative regions that have the power to raise and spend their own revenues. Under the present government, Ethiopians enjoy greater political participation and freer debate than ever before in their history, although some fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press, are, in practice, somewhat circumscribed.

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

Ethiopia remains one of Africa's poorest states: many Ethiopians rely on food aid from abroad. 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 [2] (

See also:Foreign relations of Ethiopia

See also:Ethiopian general elections, 2005


Main article: Regions of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is divided into 9 ethnically-based administrative regions (kililoch; singular - kilil):

Additionally, there are two chartered cities (astedader akababiwach, singular - astedader akabibi): Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.


Main article: Geography of Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is 1,127,127 km? in size, and is the major portion of the Horn of Africa, which is the eastern-most part of the African landmass. Within Ethiopia is a massive highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs generally southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes, or semidesert. The great diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation, and settlement patterns. Elevation and geographic location produce three climatic zones: the cool zone above 2,400 meters where temperatures range from near freezing to 16?C; the temperate zone at elevations of 1,500 to 2,400 meters with temperatures from 16?C to 30?C; and the hot zone below 1,500 meters with both tropical and arid conditions and daytime temperatures ranging from 27?C to 50?C. The normal rainy season is from mid-June to mid-September (longer in the southern highlands) preceded by intermittent showers from February or March; the remainder of year generally dry.

Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country. Lake Tana in the north is the source of the Blue Nile. It also has a large number of endemic species, notably the Gelada Baboon, the Walia Ibex and the Ethiopian wolf (or Simien fox).


Main article: Economy of Ethiopia

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 approximately 40 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.

See also: Communications in Ethiopia, Transportation in Ethiopia


Main article: Demographics of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is home to many different groups of people, the three largest groups being the Oromo, Amhara (whose Amharic language is used for official purposes), and Tigrawot. Some Ethiopians (as well as some Eritreans) collectively refer to themselves as Abesha or Habesha, though others reject these names on the basis that they refer only to certain ethnicities.[3] ( Both of these terms are Arabic in origin, and form the basis of "Abyssinia," the ancient name of Ethiopia.[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; Islamic tradition states that Bilal 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.


Ethopia has 84 indigenous languages. Some of these are:


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

Main article: Culture of Ethiopia

In April 2005, the Axum obelisk, one of Ethiopia's religous 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.


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

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