Ethiopia officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, Kenya to the south, Somalia to the east and Djibouti to the north-east. Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world and Africa's second-most populous nation.

Background History

Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile Selassie (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea late in the 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) issued specific coordinates as virtually demarcating the border and pronounced its work finished. Alleging that the EEBC acted beyond its mandate in issuing the coordinates, Ethiopia has not accepted them and has not withdrawn troops from previously contested areas pronounced by the EEBC as belonging to Eritrea


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  • conventional short form: Ethiopia
  • local long form: Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
  • local short form: Ityop'iya
  • former: Abyssinia, Italian East Africa


  • name: Addis Ababa
  • population: 2,863,000
  • geographic coordinates: 9 02 N, 38 42 E
  • time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world - at least 2,000 years

Government Type:

  • Federal Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Girma Woldegiorgis (since 8 October 2001)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (since August 1995)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers ministers selected by the prime minister and approved by the House of People's Representatives
  • elections: president elected by both chambers of Parliament for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 9 October 2007 (next to be held in October 2013)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Federation and the House of People's Representatives

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Federal Supreme Court

People & Society


  • 93,815,992 (global rank: 13)
  • growth rate: 2.142% (global rank: 42)


  • noun: Ethiopian(s)
  • adjective: Ethiopian

Major Cities:

  • Addis Ababa (capital): 2.863 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Oromo 34.5%, Amara 26.9%, Somalie 6.2%, Tigraway 6.1%, Sidama 4%, Guragie 2.5%, Welaita 2.3%, Hadiya 1.7%, Affar 1.7%, Gamo 1.5%, Gedeo 1.3%, other 11.3%


  • Orthodox 43.5%, Muslim 33.9%, Protestant 18.6%, traditional 2.6%, Catholic 0.7%, other 0.7%


  • Amarigna (Amharic) (official) 32.7%, Oromigna (official regional) 31.6%, Tigrigna (official regional) 6.1%, Somaligna 6%, Guaragigna 3.5%, Sidamigna 3.5%, Hadiyigna 1.7%, other 14.8%, English (official) (major foreign language taught in schools), Arabic (official)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 56.56 years (global rank: 195)
  • male: 53.99 years
  • female: 59.21 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 75.29 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 14)
  • male: 86.03 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 64.23 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: NA
  • people living with AIDS: NA


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 42.7%
  • male: 50.3%
  • female: 35.1%


Overview: Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for almost 50% of GDP, and 85% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with exports of some $350 million in 2006, but historically low prices have seen many farmers switching to qat to supplement income. Under Ethiopia's constitution, the state owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans. In November 2001, Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and in December 2005 the IMF forgave Ethiopia's debt. The global economic downturn led to balance of payments pressures, partially alleviated by recent emergency funding from the IMF. While GDP growth has remained high, per capita income is among the lowest in the world.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $94.76 billion (global rank: 73)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,100 (global rank: 207)
  • real growth rate: 7.5% (global rank: 13)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 49.3%, industry: 11.1%, services: 39.6%


  • currency: Birr (ETB)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 17.2


  • population below poverty line: 38.7%
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

  • cereals, pulses, coffee, oilseed, cotton, sugarcane, potatoes, qat, cut flowers; hides, cattle, sheep, goats; fish


  • food processing, beverages, textiles, leather, chemicals, metals processing, cement

Exports Commodities:

  • coffee, qat, gold, leather products, live animals, oilseeds

Imports Commodities:

  • food and live animals, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles, cereals, textiles



  • Eastern Africa, west of Somalia


  • total:1,104,300 sq km (global rank: 45)
  • land: 1 million sq km
  • water: 104,300 sq km
  • comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas


  • tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation

Land Use:

  • arable land: 10.01%
  • permanent crops: 0.65%
  • other: 89.34%

Natural Resources:

  • small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower

Current Environmental Issues:

  • deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water shortages in some areas from water-intensive farming and poor management

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by the 2002 Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but neither party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; the undemarcated former British administrative line has little meaning as a political separation to rival clans within Ethiopia's Ogaden and southern Somalia's Oromo region; Ethiopian forces invaded southern Somalia and routed Islamist Courts from Mogadishu in January 2007; "Somaliland" secessionists provide port facilities in Berbera and trade ties to landlocked Ethiopia; civil unrest in eastern Sudan has hampered efforts to demarcate the porous boundary with Ethiopia
  • refugees (country of origin): 66,980 (Sudan); 16,576 (Somalia); 13,078 (Eritrea)
  • internally displaced persons: 200,000 (border war with Eritrea from 1998-2000, ethnic clashes in Gambela, and ongoing Ethiopian military counterinsurgency in Somali region; most IDPs are in Tigray and Gambela Provinces)
  • illicit drugs: transit hub for heroin originating in Southwest and Southeast Asia and destined for Europe, as well as cocaine destined for markets in southern Africa; cultivates qat (khat) for local use and regional export, principally to Djibouti and Somalia (legal in all three countries); the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money laundering center

Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008