Hye-Ītyōppyā Fēdēralāwī Dīmōkrāsīyāwī Rīpeblīk
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Quick Facts About the Country
Capital - Addis Ababa
Government - Federal republic
Currency - birr (ETB)
Area total: 1,127,127 km2
water: 7,444 km2
land: 1,119,683 km2
Population 67,673,031 (July 2002 est.)
Language - Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other Semitic and African languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
Religion - Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, Jews and other 3%-8%
Electricity - 220V/50Hz (European & Italian plugs)
Calling Code +251
Internet TLD .et
Time Zone UTC+3
Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Ge'ez: Ītyōppyā), is a country situated in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, and Sudan to the west.
Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century B.C. describes Ethiopia in his writings. The Hebrew Bible records the Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem.
According to legend, Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, founded the Ethiopian Empire. It has one of the most extensive known histories as an independent nation on the continent.
Unique among African countries, Ethiopia maintained its independence during the Scramble for Africa, and continued to do so except for a five-year period (1936-41) when it was under Italian occupation. But even during this period there was no Italian colonization of Ethiopia as the Italians occupied a few key cities and most of Ethiopia was not affected by their presence; the Italian period is thus considered an "occupation" and not colonial rule.
In addition, Ethiopia has long been a member of international organisations: it became a member of the League of Nations, signed the Declaration by United Nations in 1942, founded the UN headquarters in Africa and was one of the 51 original members of the United Nations.
Ethiopia was also historically called Abyssinia, derived from the Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name "HBSHT," modern Habesha. The English name "Ethiopia" is thought to be derived from the Greek word Aithiopia, from Aithiops ‘an Ethiopian’, derived from Greek terms meaning "of burnt or black".
Another version is claimed by the Book of Aksum, an 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.
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Weather and Climate
The climate of Ethiopia varies mainly according to elevation. It is rugged country with arid deserts and beautiful tall mountains. The tropical zone below approximately 1,800 m (approximately 6,000 ft) has an average annual temperature of about 27°C (about 80°F) and receives less than about 500 mm (about 20 in) of rain annually.
The subtropical zone, which includes most of the highland plateau and is between about 1,800 and 2,400 m (about 6,000 and 8,000 ft) in elevation, has an average temperature of about 22°C (about 72°F) with an annual rainfall ranging from about 500 to 1,500 mm (about 20 to 60 in).
Above approximately 2,400 m (approximately 8,000 ft) is a temperate zone with an average temperature of about 16°C (about 61°F) and an annual rainfall between about 1,300 and 1,800 mm (about 50 and 70 in). The weather can be chilly in Addis and other areas where the elevation is high. The principal rainy season occurs between mid-June and September, followed by a dry season that may be interrupted in February or March by a short rainy season.
(Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003 and Wikimedia Foundation, Inc)
Major Travel and Tourism Info (Country Travel Guide)
Ethiopia 101 (Basics) - Major travel and tour destinations
Ethiopia is placed among African countries of Kenya, South-Africa, Tanzania and Zambia for preserving and well maintaining national parks for tourist attraction. The southern and south-western part of the country has a stunning natural beauty.
Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park
Awash National Park
Bale Mountains National Park
Mago National Park
Neshisar National Park Zibras in Nechisar national park.Omo National Park
Simien National Park
Sodere - Spa resort
Yangudi National Park
9 ethnically-based states
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region
Addis Ababa - Capital of Ethiopia
Adama - Capital of Oromiya region and popular weekend destination; also known as Nazareth (Nazret)
Axum - home of ancient tombs and stelea fields, near Eritrea
Bahir Dar - Near the source of the Blue Nile
Dire-Dawa -The second largest city of Ethiopia
Gondar - Some of East Africa's only castles
Harar - Ancient walled city
Lalibela - Home to 11 rock-hewn churches
Moyale - Border town for trucks going to Kenya
High plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley
lowest point: Denakil Depression -125 m
highest point: Ras Dejen 4,620 m
geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts
landlocked - entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993; the Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile, rises in T'ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia; three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and castor bean
All visitors to Ethiopia (except Kenyan and Djiboutian nationals) are required to obtain an entry visa. Since 2002, tourists from 33 countries are able to obtain entry visas upon their arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, and at the airport in Dire Dawa.
Traveling by plane
Ethiopian Airlines is one of the most successful and reputable airlines in Africa and, indeed in the world. Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is the main hub for Ethiopian Airlines and also hosts Lufthansa, Sudan Airways, British Airways, and KLM. A new runway and international terminal, which was said to be the largest in Africa, opened in 2003. If you have a prior arrangement, many hotels will send a vehicle to pick up pre-booked guests from the airport.
There is also another international airport in Dire Dawa
CAUTION;- Arriving without a major currency such as Euros or American dollars is not recommended, especially if one has not obtained a visa prior to arrival. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at the airport.
A railroad links Addis Ababa with Djibouti. According to the U.S. State Department, "travel in Ethiopia via rail is strongly discouraged due to episodes of derailment, sabotage, and bombings as recently as February 2003."
The road from Ethiopia to Kenya passing by Lake LanganoOne way to get in from Sudan is via the border village of Metema. One way to get in from Kenya is via the border town of Moyale. The road from Kenya to Ethiopia through the town of Moyale is much better and well maintained than the road from Sudan to Ethiopia through Metema.
Public transportation brings you to the border. To/from Sudan or Kenya you just walk to the other side. If you arrive to the border towns late at night, try not to cross the border in the dark. Wait in the town and do your traveling in the morning.
Busses that cover some distance start in early morning. This implies that if you arrive during the day you would be stuck at least untill the next morning.
From Gedaref (Sudan) catch a bumpy bus or truck (700 SDnr) to the border. The Sudanese side is consisted of several small villeges and a tiny town. In Ethiopia you could find better, but basic accommodation.
There is a comprehensive network of cheap buses along the major roads, although these are slow and basic. Buses generally leave whenever they have filled up with passengers (in practice, these means once an hour or so). Buses do not travel at night; they will stop before sundown in a town or village with accommodation for the passengers. Between some cities (e.g. Adama and Addis Ababa), minibuses will run after the larger buses have stopped for the night.
Ethiopia is landlocked and currently uses the seaport in Djibouti.
There is a (slow) train between Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.
A good way to tour Ethiopia is by car. You can take small airplanes to expedite your tour, but you will take in more of scenery if you travel by car. Two reasonable touring companies are NTO and Focus Tours Ethiopia. They can take you off the beaten track so you can see the beauty and attractions of Ethiopia.
Road conditions vary considerably around Ethiopia; some roads are tarred while others consist mostly of large stones.
Accommodation, Food and Leisure
Accommodation is cheap and available in almost every village (although these "hotels" usually double as bars and brothels). Food and drink are also easily available. You will attract considerable attention (it is not uncommon for whole schools to empty out as the children “chase” (befriend) you).
There is a wide range of accommodation in Ethiopia. There is a luxurious Sheraton hotel in Addis Ababa. At the same time, you can find a "hotel" nothing more than a small room with a tiny bed, and no running water in the border town of Moyale - very cheap.
Staying in tourist areas generally results in a broader range of choices, but watch out for tourist prices. It is acceptable to bargain with the hotel owner, for they usually tend to charge you "faranji" (foreigner) prices at first. However, you won't be able to bargain down to local prices (close to nothing) but you can bargain down a lot. This is NOT true at the government run "Ghion" chain, and the fancier private chains as well. (Bekale Mola, for example).
Addis: Addis is full of cheap hotels. Most tourists stay in the piazza area, where there are many hotels ranging from very cheap (2-3 USD) to moderately cheap ($12USD). Except for the cheapest most of them have running hot water, and fairly clean. Park Hotel starts at 20 Birr a single and 30 Birr a double. Two big ones are Taitu hotel and Wutma hotel.
The two biggest hotels in Addis are the Sheration, referred to by expats as "The Sheza", and the Hilton. Both are enormous and really lovely from a western point of view. They are also very expensive and charge over 100 USD a night. Both have swimming pools, good restaurants, souvenir shops and bakeries: the rooms are comfortable. If you cannot afford these two hotels, visit them and chat up the expats (especially at lunch time when they take their break by the pool) and if your accommodation needs to be improved, they might be able to help out. You also could have a glimpse of a rich or famous celebrity or high powered world politician, who are in Addis to do some charity work or to deal with some sort of African politics. (For example, Bono, Bob Gildof....)
Outside Addis: up north, in every one of the cities (Axum, Lalibella, Bahir Dar, Gondar) one can find hotels ranging from the overpriced 50 USD a night government run Ghion chain hotels to cheaper hotels ranging from 3-20 USD. Even as low as 2 for a double in some places. But also in smaller places on the major roads offer cheap places if you do not mind the most basic rooms. A tourist town like Debark that serves for trekking the Simien Mountains also offers a range of rooms, with the most popular being the Simien Park Hotel (25/30 Birr), where you could also pitch a tent for 20. It meets the normal standards for food, electricity, water, cleanliness and hygiene.
In the south, all of the cities (Shashemane, Wondo Genet, Awasa, Arba Minch, Jinka...) have descent, cheap hotels. The most basic rooms start at 15 Birr for a single and 20 Birr for a double. Many of them don't have hot water and electricity all hours of the day, so you should schedule time for a shower in advance. There are also three (fairly expensive) resort hotels on the shore of Lake Langano. In the smaller villages in and around the Omo valley (Weyto, Turmi, Key Afar, Dimeka, Konso, etc.) there are usually few (very basic) or no hotels, but if you are travelling through the valley to see the tribes, there is always a campground or a restaurant that offers beds. If you camp out at one of these villages, you should hire a guard to watch over your stuff overnight.
Language and Communication
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia. The language is a semetic language originated from the house of Hibrew and Arabic. It is not uncommon to find so many similar words with Hebrew or Arabic in Amharic language. In all parts of the country everyone speaks Amharic to some extent, no matter what their first language may be.
In big cities, most people under 40 somewhat speak English. (English is a primary foreign language tought in schools). In rural areas, find local school children to translate for you for a fee that could be next to nothing. (Ethiopians have a distinct way of speaking English. Because it is heavily accented, it might be a bit difficult to understand it at the beginning. However, when you get used to the way they pronounce some English words, it will become fairly understandable).
Up north in Tigray, Tigrigna is the primary language. However, if you use some of the Amharic words that you found in your travel guide, people happily understand and assist you.
In the south, Oromo is widely spoken. Oromo language uses a latin alphabet, (the same as English). There is no easily available travel guide phrase book for Oromo language. Therefore, stick with the few Amharic words you learned from your travel books. If it is neccessary learn the basic phrases from locals.
Important Amharic Phrases
Tena Yistilign Means Hello (This also can be translated as, may God preserve your health.)
Sint new? Means How much is it?
Ameseginalehu Means Thank you
Simeh man naw? Means What is your name? (only for male)
Simish man naw? Means What is your name? (only for female)
Sime (insert your name) Yibalal Means My name is (insert your name)
Dehna hun Means Good bye
Aye or Aydelem Means No
Awo Means Yes
Ishi Means Ok
You can also greet people informaly as:
Endemin-neh?! Means How are you doing?!(Only For male)
Endemin-nesh?! Means How are you doing?' (Only for female)
Tadias Means What's up
SOME RESPECT & CAUTION:- Just for the sake of being cultured and respectful please do not use the informal greetings with the elderly, dignitaries and generally people who are not your friends. Respect for elderly and people with authority is paramount in Ethiopia. Therefore, in order not to give your acquaintance a wrong impression of yourself, make sure you adjust your behaviour according to the circumstances.
Time and calendar
In Ethiopia, the 12-hour clock cycles do not begin at midnight and noon, but instead are offset six hours. Thus, Ethiopians refer to midnight (or noon) as 6 o'clock.
Ethiopia is one of the few countries (perhaps even the only one), not to have changed the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian calendar, at the beginning of the 19th century. Therefore, the Julian calendar (Ethiopians call it incorrectly 'Ethiopian calendar') starts on September 11 (By the way both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars are classified as Christian calendars (See article)).
One year consists of twelve months, each lasting thirty days, plus a thirteenth month of five or six days (hence the "Thirteen Months of Sunshine" tourism slogan). The year number is eight years less than the year on the Gregorian calendar until September 10 or 11, after which it is seven years less. For example, for most of 2005, it will be 1997 in Ethiopia.
On September 11, 2006, Ethiopia will celebrate New Year's Day (Enkutatesh) for 1999.
Note:- Airline timetables are based on the 24-hour clock and use the Gregorian calendar.
The official currency is the Ethiopian Birr (ETB). You are only supposed to import and export 100 birr. Often, hotel and car rental bills must be paid in cash.
Ethiopian Food and Diet
Injera is Ethiopia's national dish. Injera is a spongy, tangy tasting bread made from the grain teff, which grows in the highlands of Ethiopia. It is eaten with wot (or wat), the traditional stews made with spices and meat or legumes. Some popular wats: Doro (chicken) wat, Key (lamb) wat and Asa (fish) wat. Another popular dish is Tibbs, spicy beef fried in butter. It can be either really bad (burnt to a crisp and resembling petrified wood) or juicy and delicious in more fancy restaurants. (The Holiday Hotel in Addis serves delicious Tibbs).
The injera sits directly on a large round plate or tray and is covered with wat placed symmetrically around a central item. The various wats are eaten with other pieces of injera, which are served on a side plate. Injera is eaten with the right hand - rip a large piece of injera from the side plate and use it to pick up one of the various flavors of wat on the main platter. Do not eat with your left hand! In Ethiopia food is a respected gift from God and eating with your left hand is a sign of disrespect.
Another popular injera dish is firfir: fried,shredded injera. It can be served with or without meat or with all sorts of veggies.
If you prefer vegetarian foods, try the 'shiro wat' which is a vegetable stew served with injera, most of the times you have to specifically ask for it as it doesn't come with most of the combinations as ethiopians prefer meat.
Kitfo is minced meat, spiced with chilli. You can have it raw (the locally preferred way, but there's a risk of getting the tape worm), 'leb-leb' (lightly cooked) or fully cooked. It comes with a local cheese 'ayeb' and a spinach.
For the pickier traveler, almost every place in Ethiopia also serves spaghetti (thanks to the short lived and unsuccessful Italian occupation.) In nice restaurants in Addis you can find excellent spaghetti (Try the Blue Tops or Top View restaurants), and in the more peripheral places you will usually find it overcooked with bland tomato paste as sauce.
Coffee and Beverages
The coffee ceremony involves drinking a minimum of three cups of coffee and eating popcorn. It is a special honour, or mark of respect to be invited into somebody's home for the coffee ceremony.
In preparation for the ceremony the coffee beans are roasted in a flat pan over charcoal. The beans are then ground using pestle and mortar. The coffee is brewed with water in a clay coffee pot and is considered ready when it starts to boil. Coffee in Ethiopia is served black with sugar.
Tej is a honey wine, similar to mead, that is frequently drunk in bars (in particular, in a tejbeit)
Studying in Ethiopia
These are some colleges and Universities in Ethiopia. (Major universities in bold)
Addis Ababa University
Alfa College of Distance Education (Harar)
Ambo College of Agriculture
Arba Minch University
Awasa Adventist College (Awasa) (Foreign (USA Adventist church) affiliated)
Bahir Dar University
Commercial College of Addis Ababa
Gondar University (One of the two Medical colleges of the country)
Kotoebe Teachers' Education College
People to People College (Harar)
Theological College of the Holy Trinity
Unity College (Private)
Graduate School of Telecommunications and Information Technology (GSTIT)
Work in Ethiopia
The country's economy is based on agriculture. 80% of the people lead an agrarian lifestyle. However, in the big cities, especially in Addis-Ababa,
There is a high demand of IT professionals. Many start-up companies search for individuals with computer networking and consulting backgrounds. Many expatriates work in NGO's and small start-up IT companies. Compared with other African cities, Addis-Ababa has a high number of big, medium and small sized computer training schools, and governmental and private learning institutions. Many students who attend hope to obtain an IT or consulting job, in the very scarce job market of the city.
Addis-Ababa has the highest number of NGO's in Africa, and possibly among all third world countries. They are reputed for providing generous salaries to their employees.
CAUTION:- The unemployment rate in Addis is extremely high. Especially among the unskilled young men and women.
For the most part, the country is safe. Avoid traveling to the eastern part of the country beyond the city of Harar. The Somali separatist groups occasionally launch a guerilla attack. Most expatriates who go there are US military personnel actively training the Ethiopian army's anti-terrorism unit. Many others are Chinese, Indian or Malaysian representatives of oil companies.
Organized crime and gang violence are very unusual in most parts of the country. However, in the border areas of Sudan (Gambella Region) and Kenya, there are some reports indicating occurrences of banditry. Avoid these areas.
Though Ethiopia has a secular government, the Ethiopian people are very religious. The two dominant religions (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Islam) strongly influence people's day-to-day life. Therefore, according to their influence the government implements certain rules and laws that could appear unsettling to westerners. For example, homosexuality is illegal, and any perceived indication of gay behaviour will not be tolerated.
Be mindful of expressing dissenting views to followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church or Islamic religions. You may get a violent response if you criticise these beliefs, so proceed with tact and understanding during such conversations.
Be careful of the food you eat, and don't stay in the sun too long. If you get sick, contact your embassy for advice. Ethiopian doctors are expensive. However, the very expensive hospitals, especially in Addis-Ababa are clean and well maintained.
Ethiopians are very proud of their culture, identity, and country. DO NOT criticise their cultural lifestyle, especially their brand of Christianity (Oriental Orthodox). In a discussion, if a westerner tries to convince an Ethiopian Christian by comparing the differences between Protestant Christianity and Ethiopian Orthodoxy, their response will often be quick and standard. They angrily remind their western friend that, “Ethiopia was a Christian nation 2000 years ago, before Christianity even reached Europe.” Therefore, no foreigner has a right to lecture them about Christianity. Unless you are a Christian missionary, avoid all religious discussion, or you may risk all good will hospitality you could have been afforded.
Because they have no history of being colonized, the Ehtiopians’ relationship with the westerners is free of racial animosity or old grudges. Therefore they show sincere respect, as long as they receive the same in return. However, condescending behavior is not acceptable or tolerated. Ethiopians can be short-fused if they feel they are not treated as equals.
If a woman is with another man, please ask the man's permission to talk to her beforehand. Traditional gender values are quite widespread although there is continual progress.
The country code for calling Ethiopia is 251. The Ethiopian dialing plan changed on September 17, 2005, such that the two-digit city code changed to three digits (or, from outside the country, one to two digits) and six-digit telephone numbers changed to seven digits. The city code for Addis Ababa, as of Sept. 17, 2005, is 011 (or 11 from outside Ethiopia). An on-line telephone number converter, which will convert an old number to the new number, is available here.
There are numerous internet cafes in Addis Ababa and other cities, though internet access is often made using a dial-up connection. Within Addis Ababa, dial-up speeds are more than adequate for performing tasks such as checking one's e-mail.
A typical Internet Cafe will have a dozen computers using a single 56K dialup link. In Adama, dial-up speeds are slow enough to make internet usage impracticable. As of 2005, the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation is expanding broadband internet access throughout the country.
Ethiopia has one of the most efficient postal services in Africa. Many attribute this success to the extensive network of Ethiopian Airlines. However, mail does not get delivered to your physical address. You are required to buy a post office box. Once you get your PO Box, the flow of your mail is consistent and well served.
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History in Brief: Summary
Human settlement in Ethiopia is very ancient: bones discovered in eastern Ethiopia have been assigned dates as long ago as 3.2 million years.
The tradition that the biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem in ancient Israel is supported by the 1st century ad Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a queen of Egypt and Ethiopia. The ancient Aksum (Axum) Kingdom, ancestor of modern Ethiopia, was founded by Semitic-speaking immigrants from southern Arabia who landed in about 1000 bc on the northeastern African coast.
They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. 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 AD that a Syro-Greek castaway, Frumentius, was taken to the court and eventually converted King Ezana to Christianity, thereby making it the official state religion. For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama" ("Father of peace"). At various times, including a period in the 6th century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen and some of southern Saudi Arabia just across the Red Sea, as well as controlling northern Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and northern Somalia.
King Ezana's Stele in Aksum, Tigray Region.The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken several times: first by the Jewish or pagan Queen Gudit around 950 or 850. 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. Around 1270, the Solomonic 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 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. 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 400 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.
Fasilides' Castle in Gondar, Amhara Region.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 the reign of Emperor Tewodros II, who began modernizing Ethiopia and recentralizing power in the Emperor, that Ethiopia began to take part in world affairs once again.
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. Assab, a port near the southern entrance of the Red Sea, was bought from the local Afar sultan, vassal to the Ethiopian Emperor, in March 1870 by an Italian company, which by 1890 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, under the rule of Menelik II. 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, 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.
Early nineteenth century warriorsHaile 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.
(Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003 and Wikimedia Foundation, Inc)
Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003
The World Factbook 2006
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc