Ethiopia (IPA: /?i??i?'o?pi?/) (Ge'ez:
????? ?Ityo??ya), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia, is a country situated in the Horn of Africa that has been
landlocked since the independence of its northern neighbor Eritrea
in 1993. Apart from Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia is bordered by
Sudan to the west, Kenya to the south, Djibouti to the northeast,
and Somalia to the east.
Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world and Africa's
second-most populous nation. It has yielded some of the oldest
traces of humanity, making it an important area in the history
of human evolution.
Ethiopia was not colonized during the Scramble for Africa after
defeating Italy at the Battle of Adwa; however, it was brutally
occupied by Mussolini's Italy from 1935 to 1941. Having converted
during the fourth century AD, it is also the second-oldest country
to become officially Christian, after Armenia. Since 1974, it
has been secular and has also had a considerable Muslim community
since the earliest days of Islam.
Historically a relatively isolated mountain empire, Ethiopia by
the early 21st century became a crossroads of global international
cooperation. It became a member of the League of Nations in 1923,
signed the Declaration by United Nations in 1942, was one of the
fifty-one original members of the United Nations (UN), and formerly
hosted the UN headquarters in Africa (now located in Nairobi). Ethiopia
hosts the headquarters of the African Union (formerly the Organisation
of African Unity), of which it was the principal founder. There
are about forty-five Ethiopian embassies and consulates around the
The Ethiopian culture has the Ethiopian calendar (or Ge'ez Calendar).
2.1 Early history
2.2 D?mt and Axum
2.3 Ethiopian Empire
2.3.1 Restored contact with Europe
2.3.2 European Scramble for Africa
2.3.3 Selassie years
4.1 Climate and landforms
6 Regions, zones, and districts
9 Peoples and Languages
9.1 Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
15 See also
18 External links
It is not certain how old the name Ethiopia is. The earliest attested
use in the region was as a Christianized name for the Kingdom of
Aksum in the 4th century, in stone inscriptions of King Ezana.
The Ge'ez name ?Ityo??ya, and its English cognate, are thought by
some recent scholars to be derived from the Greek word ?????p?a
Aithiopia, from ?????? Aithiops ‘an Ethiopian’, derived
in turn from Greek words meaning "of burned face".
This etymology is disputed[attribution needed], since the Book of
Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle first composed in the 15th century, states
that the name is derived from "'Ityopp'is", a son (unmentioned
in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham who according to legend founded
the city of Axum. Pliny the Elder similarly states the tradition
that the nation took its name from someone named Aethiops. A third
etymology, suggested by the late Ethiopian scholar and poet laureate
Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin, traces the name to the "old black Egyptian"
words Et (Truth or Peace) Op (high or upper) and Bia (land, country),
or "land of higher peace".
In English, Ethiopia was also historically known as Abyssinia,
derived from the Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name "?BST,"
modern Habesha. In some countries, Ethiopia is still called by names
cognate with "Abyssinia," e.g., Turkish Habesistan and
Arabic Al Habesh, meaning land of the Habesha people. The term Habesha,
strictly speaking, refers only to the Amhara and Tigray-Tigrinya
people who have historically dominated the country politically,
and which combined comprise about 36% of Ethiopia's population.
However, in contemporary Ethiopian politics, the word Habesha is
often used to describe all Ethiopians. Abyssinia can strictly refer
to just the North-Western Ethiopian provinces of Amhara and Tigray
as well as central Eritrea, while it was historically used as another
name for Ethiopia.
Main article: History of Ethiopia
 Early history
Human settlement in Ethiopia is very ancient. Fossilized remains
of the earliest ancestors to the human species, discovered in Ethiopia,
have been assigned dates as long ago as 5.9 million years. Together
with Djibouti and the southeastern part of the Red Sea coast of
Somalia, it is considered the most likely location of the land known
to the ancient Egyptians as Punt (or "Ta Netjeru," meaning
land of the Gods), whose first mention dates to the twenty-fifth
 D?mt and Axum
The ruin of the temple at Yeha dates to the 7th or 8th century BC.Around
the eighth century BC, a kingdom known as D?mt was established in
northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern
Ethiopia. Most modern historians consider this civilization to be
indigenous, although Sabaean-influenced due to the latter's hegemony
of the Red Sea, while others view D?mt as the result of a mixture
of "culturally superior" Sabaeans and indigenous peoples.
However, Ge'ez, the ancient Semitic language of Ethiopia, is now
known to not have derived from Sabaean, and there is evidence of
a Semitic speaking presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea at least as
early as 2000 BC. Sabaean influence is now thought to have
been minor, limited to a few localities, and disappearing after
a few decades or a century, perhaps representing a trading or military
colony in some sort of symbiosis or military alliance with the Ethiopian
civilization of D?mt or some other proto-Aksumite state.
After the fall of D?mt in the fifth century BC, the plateau came
to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of
one of these kingdoms during the first century BC, the Aksumite
Kingdom, ancestor of medieval and modern Ethiopia, which was able
to reunite the area. They established bases on the northern
highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward.
The Persian religious figure Mani listed Aksum with Rome, Persia,
and China as one of the four great powers of his time.
In 316 AD, a Christian philosopher from Tyre, Meropius, embarked
on a voyage of exploration along the coast of Africa. He was accompanied
by, among others, two Syro-Greeks, Frumentius and his brother Aedesius.
The vessel was stranded on the coast, and the natives killed all
the travelers except the two brothers, who were taken to the court
and given positions of trust by the monarch. They both practiced
the Christian faith in private, and soon converted the queen and
several other members of the royal court. Upon the king's death,
Frumentius was appointed regent of the realm by the queen, and instructor
of her young son, Prince Ezana. A few years later, upon Ezana's
coming of age, Aedesius and Frumentius left the kingdom, the former
returning to Tyre where he was ordained, and the latter journeying
to Alexandria. Here, he consulted Athanasius, who ordained him and
appointed him Bishop of Aksum. He returned to the court and baptized
the King Ezana, together with many of his subjects, and in short
order Christianity was proclaimed the official state religion again.
For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama"
("Father of peace").
Bete Giyorgis from above, one of the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.At
various times, including a fifty-year period in the sixth century,
Aksum controlled most of modern-day Yemen and some of southern Saudi
Arabia just across the Red Sea, as well as controlling southern
Egypt, northern Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and
The line of rulers descended from the Aksumite kings was broken
several times: first by the Jewish (unknown/or pagan) Queen Gudit
around 950 (or possibly around 850, as in Ethiopian histories).
It was then interrupted by the Zagwe dynasty; it was during this
dynasty that the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were carved
under King Lalibela, allowed by a long period of peace and stability.
 Ethiopian Empire
Main article: Ethiopian Empire
Around 1270, the Solomonic dynasty came to control Ethiopia, claiming
descent from the kings of Aksum. They called themselves Neguse Negest
("King of Kings," or Emperor), basing their claims on
their direct descent from Solomon and the queen of Sheba.
 Restored contact with Europe
In 1428, during the reign of Emperor Yeshaq, Ethiopia made its first
successful diplomatic contact with a European country since Aksumite
times, sending two emissaries to Alfons V of Aragon, who sent return
emissaries that failed to complete the trip to Ethiopia. The
first continuous relations with a European country began in 1508
with Portugal under Emperor Lebna Dengel, who had just inherited
the throne from his father.
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 Ibrihim al-Ghazi (called "Grañ",
or "the Left-handed"), Portugal responded to Lebna Dengel's
plea for help with an army of four hundred men, who helped his son
Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule. However,
when Emperor Susenyos 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, and on June 25, 1632 Susenyos' son, Emperor Fasilides,
declared the state religion to again be Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity,
and expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other Europeans.
All of this contributed to Ethiopia's isolation from 1755 to 1855,
called the Zemene Mesafint or "Age of Princes." The Emperors
became figureheads, controlled by warlords like Ras Mikael Sehul
of Tigray, and later by the Oromo Yejju dynasty. Ethiopian isolationism
ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between
the two nations; however, it was not until 1855 that Ethiopia was
completely reunited and the power in the Emperor restored, beginning
with the reign of Emperor Tewodros II. Upon his ascent, despite
still large centrifugal forces, he began modernizing Ethiopia and
recentralizing power in the Emperor, and Ethiopia began to take
part in world affairs once again.
Yohannes IV, Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Zion, with his son,
Ras Araya Selassie Yohannis.By the 1880s, Sahle Selassie, as king
of Shewa, and later as Emperor Menilik II began expanding his kingdom
to the South and East, expanding into areas that hadn't been held
since the invasion of Ahmed Gragn, and other areas that had never
been under Ethiopian rule, resulting in the borders of Ethiopia
still existing today.
 European Scramble for Africa
The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.
This section has been tagged since December 2007.
The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa and modernization
in Ethiopia, when the Italians began to vie with the British for
influence in bordering regions. Asseb, a port near the southern
entrance of the Red Sea, was bought in March 1870 from the local
Afar sultan, vassal to the Ethiopian Emperor, by an Italian company,
which by 1890 led to the Italian colony of Eritrea. Conflicts between
the two countries resulted in the Battle of Adwa in 1896, whereby
the Ethiopians surprised the world by defeating Italy and remaining
independent, under the rule of Menelik II. Italy and Ethiopia signed
a provisional treaty of peace on October 26, 1896.
 Selassie years
The early twentieth century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile
Selassie I,who came to power after Iyasu V was deposed. It was he
who undertook the modernization of Ethiopia, 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.
The independence of Ethiopia was interrupted by the Second Italo-Abyssinian
War and Italian occupation (1936–1941). In those five
years Ethiopia was the center of the "Africa Orientale Italiana",
as were called the Italian East Africa colonial possessions in the
Horn of Africa. Modern Ethiopia's infrastructure at large (roads
most importantly) was built by the fascist Italian occupation troops
(not by corvee) between 1937 and 1940.
Following the entry of Italy into World War II, the British Empire
forces together with patriot Ethiopian fighters liberated Ethiopia
in the course of the East African Campaign (World War II) in 1941,
which was followed by sovereignty on January 31, 1941 and British
recognition of full sovereignty (i.e. without any special British
privileges) with the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in
December 1944. During 1942 and 1943 there was an Italian guerrilla
war in Ethiopia. On August 26, 1942 Haile Selassie I issued a proclamation
Haile Selassie's reign as emperor of Ethiopia is the best known
and perhaps most influential in all the nation's history. He is
seen by Rastafarians as Jah incarnate.In 1952 Haile Selassie orchestrated
the federation with Eritrea which he dissolved in 1962. This annexation
sparked the Eritrean War of Independence. Although Haile Selassie
was seen as a national and African hero, opinion within Ethiopia
turned against him due to the worldwide oil crisis of 1973, food
shortages, uncertainty regarding the succession, border wars, and
discontent in the middle class created through modernization.
Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, when a pro-Soviet
Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg" led by Mengistu
Haile Mariam, deposed him, and established a one-party communist
The ensuing regime suffered several coups, uprisings, wide-scale
drought, and a massive refugee problem. In 1977, there was the Ogaden
War, but Ethiopia quickly defeated Somalia with a massive influx
of Soviet military hardware and a Cuban military presence coupled
with East Germany and South Yemen the following year.
Hundreds of thousands were killed due to the red terror, forced
deportations, or from using hunger as a weapon. In 2006, after
a long trial, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide.
In 1993 a referendum was held & supervised by the UN mission
UNOVER, with universal suffrage and conducted both in and outside
Eritrea (among Eritrean communities in the diaspora), on whether
Eritreans wanted independence or unity with Ethiopia. Over 99% of
the Eritrean people voted for independence which was declared on
May 24, 1993. In 1994, a constitution was adopted that led to Ethiopia's
first multi-party elections in the following year. In May 1998,
a border dispute 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, which was a highly disputed one
with some opposition groups claiming fraud. Though the Carter center
appreciated the preelection conditions, it has expressed its dissatisfaction
with postelection matters. The 2005 EU election observers continued
to accuse the ruling party of vote rigging. Many from the international
community are divided about the issue with Irish officials accusing
the 2005 EU election observers of corruption for the "inaccurate
leaks from the 2005 EU election monitoring body which led the opposition
to wrongly believe they had been cheated of victory." In
general, the opposition parties gained more than 200 parliament
seats compared to the just 12 in the 2000 elections. Despite most
opposition representatives joining the parliament, some leaders
of the CUD party are in jail following the post-election violence.
Amnesty International considers them "prisoners of conscience".
September 12, 2007 on the Gregorian calendar marked the beginning
of the year 2000 on the Ethiopian calendar.
Main article: Politics of Ethiopia
See also: Rulers and Heads of State of Ethiopia
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 (see discussion page for link).
According to The Economist in their Democracy Index, Ethiopia is
a "hybrid regime" situated between a "flawed democracy"
and an "authoritarian regime". It ranks 106 out of 167
countries (with the larger number being less democratic). Cambodia
ranks as more democratic at 105, and Burundi as less democratic
at 107, than 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
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
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.
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).
Map of Ethiopia.Main article: Geography of Ethiopia
At 435,071 square miles (1,127,127 km²), Ethiopia is the
world's 27th-largest country (after Colombia). It is comparable
in size to Bolivia, and is about two-thirds as large as the US state
The major portion of Ethiopia lies on the Horn of Africa, which
is the eastern-most part of the African landmass. Bordering Ethiopia
is Sudan to the west, Djibouti and Eritrea to the north, Somalia
to the east, and Kenya to the south. 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 semi-desert. The great
diversity of terrain determines wide variations in climate, soils,
natural vegetation, and settlement patterns.
 Climate and landforms
Elevation and geographic location produce three climatic zones:
the cool zone above 2,400 meters (7,900 ft) where temperatures range
from near freezing to 16 °C (32 °–61 °F); the
temperate zone at elevations of 1,500 to 2,400 meters (4,900–7,900
ft) with temperatures from 16 to 30 °C (61–86 °F);
and the hot zone below 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) with both tropical
and arid conditions and daytime temperatures ranging from 27 to
50 °C (81–122 °F). The topography of Ethiopia ranges
from several very high mountain ranges (the Semien Mountains and
the Bale Mountains), to one of the lowest areas of land in Africa,
the Danakil depression.
Ethiopian Highlands with Ras Dashan in the background.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, ranging from the deserts
along the eastern border to the tropical forests in the south to
extensive Afromontane in the northern and southeastern 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.
Main article: Environmental issues 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 Twentieth 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
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.
 Regions, zones, and districts
Main articles: Regions of Ethiopia and Zones of Ethiopia
Before 1996, Ethiopia was divided into 13 provinces, many derived
from historical regions. Ethiopia now has a tiered government system
consisting of a federal government overseeing ethnically-based regional
states, zones, districts (woredas), and neighborhoods (kebele).
Ethiopia is divided into nine ethnically-based administrative states
(kililoch, sing. kilil) and subdivided into sixty-eight zones and
two chartered cities (astedader akababiwoch, sing. astedader akababi):
Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa (subdivisions 1 and 5 in the map, respectively).
It is further subdivided into 550 woredas and six special woredas.
The constitution assigns extensive power to regional states that
can establish their own government and democracy according to the
federal government's constitution. Each region has its apex 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).
The regions and chartered cities of Ethiopia, numbered alphabeticallyThe
nine regions and two chartered cities are:
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region
Coffee farmer filling cups with coffeeMain article: Economy of Ethiopia
See also: Foreign aid to Ethiopia
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Some regions
of the country are prone to famine and weak government policies
have long harmed progress. During Haile Selassie's imperial government
of the mid 1900s, around 200,000 Ethiopians died due to famine.
And during Mengistu Haile Mariam's 1980 government over 300,000
Ethiopians died due to famine.
After the change in government in 1991, there have been attempts
to improve the economy but critics state the shortage of private
sector business development. Some claim many government-owned
properties during the previous regime have been transferred to pro-government
enterprises in the name of privatization. But others praise the
gradual growth of the private sector, particularly in the urban.
Yet Telecommunications remains a state monopoly, stifling the development
of mobile phones that have become ubiquitous elsewhere in Africa.
In financial services, no foreign banks are allowed and it remains
almost impossible to find start-up loans for small and medium businesses.
Youth unemployment is estimated to be as high as 70%. According
to the Economist, because of population growth, just to stand still
the country must produce hundreds of thousands of jobs every year.
The Ethiopian constitution defines the right to own land as belonging
only to "the state and the people," but citizens may only
lease land (up to 99 years), and are unable to mortgage, sell, or
own it. Various groups and political parties have sought for
full privatization of land, while other opposition parties are against
privatization and favor communal ownership.
Agriculture accounts for almost 41 percent of the gross domestic
product (GDP), 80 percent of exports, and 80 percent of the labour
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.
Recently, Ethiopia has had a fast growing annual GDP and it was
the fastest growing non-Oil dependent African nation in 2007.
Exports are almost entirely agricultural commodities, and coffee
is the largest foreign exchange earner. Ethiopia is Africa's second
biggest maize producer. Ethiopia's livestock population is believed
to be the largest in Africa, and as of 1987 accounted for about
15 percent of the GDP. Despite recent improvements,
the rapidly exploding population means that Ethiopia remains one
of the poorest nations in the world.
Ethiopia was the original source of the coffee bean, and coffee
beans are the country's largest export commodity.
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.
With the private sector growing slowly, designer leather products
like bags are becoming a big export business making them 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, it has also begun
exporting electric power to its neighbors. However,
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 the less inhabited regions; however, political instability
in those regions has harmed progress.
Main article: Demographics of Ethiopia
Schoolboys in western Oromia, Ethiopia.Ethiopia's population has
grown dramatically in the last several decades, from 33.5 million
in 1983 to 75.1 million in 2006. The country's population is
highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language.
The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigray make up more than three-quarters of
the population, but there are more than 80 different ethnic groups
within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members.
Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially Semitic-speaking ones, collectively
refer to themselves as Habesha or Abesha, though others reject these
names on the basis that they refer only to certain ethnicities.
The Arabic form of this term (Al-Habesh) is the etymological basis
of "Abyssinia," the former name of Ethiopia in English
and other European languages.
According to the Ethiopian national census of 1994, the Oromo are
the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia at 32.1%. The Amhara represent
30.2%, while the Tigray people are 6.2% of the population. Other
ethnic groups are as follows: Somali 6%, Gurage 4.3%, Sidama 3.4%,
Wolayta 2%, Afar 2%, Hadiya 2%, Gamo 1%.
View from the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa.
 Peoples and Languages
 Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
Main article: Languages of Ethiopia
Ethiopia has eighty-four indigenous languages. Some of these are:
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 local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya. Ethiopia has its
own alphabet, called Ge'ez or Ethiopic (???), and calendar.
This leather painting depicts Ethiopian Orthodox priests playing
sistra and a drum.See also: Christianity in Ethiopia, Islam in Ethiopia,
Beta Israel, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, P'ent'ay, and Ethiopian
Orthodox Tehadeso Church
According to the most recent 1994 National Census, Christians
make up 61.6% of the country's population, Muslims 32.8%, and practitioners
of traditional faiths 5.6%. This agrees with the updated CIA World
Factbook, Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in
Ethiopia. but the US State department has contradictory figures,
putting Islam as being about equal or a slight majority, so a need
for review of the figures might be needed (Sunnis Islam=45%-50%,
Orthodoxy= 40%, Protestant 5% and the rest traditional). Orthodox
Christianity has a dominant presence in central and northern Ethiopia,
while both Orthodox & Protestant Christianity has large representations
in the South and Western Ethiopia. A small ancient group of Jews,
the Beta Israel, live in northwestern Ethiopia, though most have
emigrated to Israel in the last decades of the twentieth century
as part of the rescue missions undertaken by the Israeli government,
Operation Moses and Operation Solomon.  Some Israeli and Jewish
scholars consider these Ethiopian Jews as the historical "Lost
Tribe of Israel." Sometimes Christianity in Africa is thought
of as a European import that arrived with colonialism, but this
is not the case with Ethiopia. The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the
first nations to officially adopt Christianity, when St. Frumentius
of Tyre, called Fremnatos or Abba Selama ("Father of Peace")
in Ethiopia, converted King Ezana during the fourth century AD.
Many believe that the Gospel had entered Ethiopia even earlier,
with the royal official described as being baptised 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 eighteenth century
there has existed a relatively small Uniate Ethiopian Catholic Church
in full communion with Rome, with adherents making up less than
1% of the total population.
The name "Ethiopia" (Hebrew Kush) is mentioned in the
Bible numerous times (thirty-seven times in the King James version).
Abyssinia is also mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith. While many
Ethiopians claim that the Bible references of Kush apply to their
own ancient civilization, pointing out that the Gihon river, a name
for the Nile, is said to flow through the land, most non-Ethiopian
scholars believe that the use of the term referred to the Kingdom
of Kush in particular or Africa outside of Egypt in general. Some
have argued that biblical Kush was a large part
of land that included Northern Ethiopia, Eritrea and most of present
day Sudan. The capital cities of biblical Kush were in Northern
A traditional Ethiopian depiction of Jesus and Mary with distinctively
"Ethiopian" features.Islam in Ethiopia dates back to the
founding of the religion; in 615, when a group of Muslims were counseled
by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Ethiopia,
which was ruled by Ashama ibn Abjar, a pious Christian king. Moreover,
Bilal, the first muezzin, the person chosen to call the faithful
to prayer, and one of the foremost companions of Muhammad, was from
There are numerous indigenous African religions in Ethiopia, mainly
located in the far southwest and western borderlands. In general,
most of the (largely members of the non-Chalcedonian Ethiopian Orthodox
Tewahedo Church) Christians generally live in the highlands, while
Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions tend to inhabit
more lowland regions in the east and south of the country.
Ethiopia is also the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari movement,
whose adherents believe Ethiopia is Zion. The Rastafari view Emperor
Haile Selassie I as Jesus, the human incarnation of God, a view
apparently not shared by Haile Selassie I himself, who was staunchly
Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The concept of Zion is also prevalent
among Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, though it represents a separate
and complex concept, referring figuratively to St. Mary, but also
to Ethiopia as a bastion of Christianity surrounded by Muslims and
other religions, much like Mount Zion in the Bible. It is also used
to refer to Axum, the ancient capital and religious centre of Ethiopian
Orthodox Christians, or to its primary church, called Church of
Our Lady Mary of Zion. The Bahá'í Faith has been
established in Ethiopia since the 1950s, and today is concentrated
primarily in Addis Ababa, but also in the suburbs of Yeka, Kirkos
and Nefas Silk Lafto.
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 in its 2006 World Health Report gives
a figure of 1936 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 a better economic
opportunity in the West.
Ethiopia's main health problems are said to be communicable diseases
caused by poor sanitation and malnutrition. These problems are exacerbated
by the shortage of trained manpower and health facilities.
There are 119 hospitals (12 in Addis Ababa alone) and 412 health
centers in Ethiopia.
Main article: Education in Ethiopia
See also: Universities and colleges in Ethiopia
Education in Ethiopia has been dominated by the Orthodox Church
for many centuries until secular education was adopted in the early
1900s. The elites, mostly Christians and central ethnic Amhara population,
had the most privilege until 1974, when the government tried to
reach the rural areas. The current system follows very similar school
expansion schemes to the rural areas as the previous 1980s system
with an addition of deeper regionalisation 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.
Main article: Culture of Ethiopia
Typical Ethiopian cuisine: Injera (pancake-like bread) and several
kinds of wat (stew).Main article: Ethiopian cuisine
The best known Ethiopian cuisine consists of various vegetable or
meat side dishes and entrees, usually a wat, or thick stew, served
atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread. One does not eat with
utensils, but instead uses injera to scoop up the entrees and side
dishes. Tihlo prepared from roasted barley flour is very popular
in Amhara, Agame, and Awlaelo (Tigrai). Traditional Ethiopian cuisine
employs no pork or shellfish of any kind, as they are forbidden
in the Islamic, Jewish, and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faiths.
It is also very common to eat from the same big dish in the center
of the table with a group of people.
Mahmoud Ahmed, an Ethiopian singer of Gurage ancestry, in 2005.Main
article: Music of Ethiopia
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 unique modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically
long intervals between some notes. Influences include ancient Christian
elements and Muslim and folk music from elsewhere in the Horn of
Africa, especially Sudan and Somalia. Popular musicians include
Tilahun Gessesse, Aster Aweke,Kemer yousuf, Neho Gobena, Taddala
Gemechu, Dawite mekonen, Tsegaye Dendana, Muhammed Tawil, Hamelmal
Abate, Tewodros Tadesse, Ephrem Tamiru, Muluken Melesse, Bizunesh
Bekele, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tadesse Alemu, Alemayehu Eshete, Neway Debebe,
Asnaketch Worku, Ali Birra, Teddy Afro, Gigi, Dawit (Messay) Mellesse,
and Mulatu Astatke, Kiros Alemayehu, Atakilti Hailemichael, Sofia
Atsbeha, Tadesse Abraha, Abraham Gebremedhin, Abebe Araya, Iyasu
Berhe, Letai Mesfin, Aregai Tiemben, Gebretsadik Gebre-egzeabher,
Nigsti Hayelom, and Getachew Sihul.
Ethiopia has some of the best middle-distance and long-distance
runners in the world. Kenya and Morocco are often its opponents
in World Championships and Olympic middle and long-distance events.
As of March 2006, two Ethiopians dominate the long-distance running
scene, mainly: Haile Gebreselassie (World champion and Olympic champion)
who has set over twenty new world records and currently holds the
20 km, half-marathon, 25 km, and marathon world record,[citation
needed] and Kenenisa Bekele (World champion, World cross country
champion, and Olympic champion), who holds the 5,000 m and 10,000
m world records. Ethiopia has also had various
successful sweeps by taking all three medals in various world races
including during the Olympics. The last few years Ethiopian women
runners have joined the men in dominating athletics, particularly
the multi-gold medalists Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba.
Ethiopia has added more events to the list of its preeminence in
athletics, including the steeplechase which Legese Lamiso recently
took the top honors.
Ethiopian distance-runners include Derartu Tulu, Abebe Bikila,
Mamo Wolde, Miruts Yifter, Addis Abebe, Gebregziabher Gebremariam,
Belayneh Densamo, and Werknesh Kidane. Derartu Tulu was the first
woman from Africa to win an Olympic gold medal, doing so over 10,000
metres at Barcelona. Abebe Bikila, the first Olympic champion representing
an African nation, won the Olympic marathon in 1960 and 1964, setting
world records both times. He is well-known to this day for winning
the 1960 marathon in Rome while running barefoot. Miruts Yifter,
the first in a tradition of Ethiopians known for their brilliant
finishing speed, won gold at 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the Moscow
Olympics. He is the last man to achieve this feat.
Ethiopia offers a greater richness in archaeological finds and historical
buildings than any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa (including
Sudan). In April 2005 , the Obelisk of Axum, one of Ethiopia's religious
and historical treasures, was returned to Ethiopia by Italy.
Under the orders of dictator Benito Mussolini, Italian troops seized
the obelisk in 1937 and took it to Rome. Italy agreed to return
the obelisk in 1947 in a UN agreement, and it was finally returned
in 2005 . As of January 2007 the obelisk has not been erected in
Ethiopia. The monument was returned to Ethiopia in three or four
large segments to facilitate easier transport. The pieces are so
large that the Ethiopian government has been unable to erect it
or even devise a way it could feasibly be done. The original site
of the obelisk is an unexcavated area that would be damaged by heavy
machinery, if that were determined to be an appropriate method of
erection. There have been plenty of significant discoveries including
the oldest known, complete fossilized human skeleton, Lucy. Other
discoveries are still being made. Recently, archeologists uncovered
the ruins of the legendary ancient Islamic kingdom of Shoa, that
included evidence of a large urban settlement as well as a large