Ethiopia: Country Profile
Ethiopia, five time
the size of the United Kingdom, is strategically located in the Horn of
Africa. Its proximity to the Middle East and Europe, together with its
easy access to the major ports of the region, enhances its international
trade. Covering an area of approximately 1.14 million square kilometers
(444,000 square mile), Ethiopia is bordered by the Sudan on the west,
Somalia and Djibouti on the east, Eritrea on the north and Kenya on the
The History - (top)
The history of Ethiopia,
known to many as Abyssinia, is rich, ancient, and still in part unknown.
Anthropologists believe that East Africa's Great Rift Valley is the site
of the origin of humankind. The first recorded account of the region dates
back to almost 5,000 years ago during the time of the Egyptian pharaohs,
when the ancient Egyptians sent expeditions down the Red Sea in quest
of gold, ivory, incense, and slaves.
The country's rich history is woven with legends of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba; the Ark of the Covenant that is said to rest in Axum; the great Axumite kingdom and the birth of Christianity; the rise of Islam; and the story of King Lalibela, who is believed to have had constructed eleven rock-hewn churches, still standing today and considered the eighth wonder of the world.
Ethiopia is the only African country which was not colonized by European colonial forces. It was briefly occupied by the Italians between 1936 and 1941.
In recent history, between 1889 and 1913 Emperor Menelik II reigned, fending off the encroachments of European powers. Italy posed the greatest threat, having begun to colonize part of what would become its future colony of Eritrea in the mid 1880s. In 1896, Ethiopia defeated Italy at The Battle of Adwa, which was considered the first victory of any African nation over a European colonial power.
Menelik's successor, Haile Selassie I (reigned 1930-74) was left with the task of dealing Italy's resurgent expansionism. In the early years of World War II, Ethiopia was liberated from the Italians by the joint forces of the Resistance Movement and British army.
After being restored to power, Emperor Haile Selassie attempted to implement reforms and modernize the state. However, increasing internal pressures, including conflict with Eritrea and severe famine placed strains on Ethiopian society that contributed in a large part to the 1974 military rebellion that ended the Haile Selassie regime.
The biggest impact of the coup d'etat was the emergence of Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam as head of state, and the reorientation of the government and national economy from capitalism to Marxism. During the 17 years of the military control, the economy deeply worsened, while civil unrest grew beyond the control of the military.
Growing civil unrest and a unified force of the Ethiopian people, led by the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary democratic Front (EPRDF) against their communist dictators finally led to the demise of the Mengistu regime in 1991. Between 1991 and 1995 the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, a coalition of 27 political and liberation organizations embarked on its path to transform Ethiopia from a centralized, military-controlled country to a free and democratic federation.
The People - (top)
Capital City - (top)
Addis Ababa, the largest
city, is the seat of the Federal Government of Ethiopia, and lies on the
central plateau at an altitude of 2,400 meters, 9 degree north of the
equator. Its average temperature is 16 degree Centigrade.
Ethiopia's other important
cities of trade and industry are: Awassa, Dire Dawa, Gondar, Dessie, Nazareth,
Jimma, Harar, Bahir Dar, Mekele, Debere Markos and Nekemte. All these
towns are connected to Addis Ababa by asphalt and gravel roads, and most
of them have good infrastructural facilities, such as first class hotels
Religion - (top)
The Main ....
Ethiopia is a country
with many nations and nationalities where many languages are spoken. Amharic
is the official language of Ethiopia. The working languages of the national/regional
government may differ according to regions. English, French, Italian and
Arabic are also widely spoken.
Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. The 12 hour clock is sometimes used locally and this can be confusing to visitors. The first cycle starts with "one" at 7 A.M. and goes on to "12" at 6 P.M. The second cycle starts at 7 P.M. "one" and goes on to 6 A.M. "12".
Calendar - (top)
Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (six days in a leap year). The calendar is about eight years behind the Western (Gregorian) calendar.
The New Year is Celebrated
on September 12, 2003 which is 1 Meskerem 1996 E.C. (Ethiopian Calender).