Facts about Ethiopia

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EthiopiaUnique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II. 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. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission in November 2007 remotely demarcated the border by geographical coordinates, but final demarcation of the boundary on the ground is currently on hold because of Ethiopian objections to an international commission's finding requiring it to surrender territory considered sensitive to Ethiopia.

Geography of Ethiopia

Eastern Africa, west of Somalia
8 00 N, 38 00 E
total: 1,127,127 sq km
water: 7,444 sq km
land: 1,119,683 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
total: 5,328 km
border countries: Djibouti 349 km, Eritrea 912 km, Kenya 861 km, Somalia 1,600 km, Sudan 1,606 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation
high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Denakil Depression -125 m
highest point: Ras Dejen 4,620 m
Natural resources:
small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower
Natural hazards:
geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts
Environment current issues:
deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water shortages in some areas from water-intensive farming and poor management
Geography - note:
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 by water volume, 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

Population of Ethiopia

82,544,840 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.7% (male 16,373,718/female 16,280,766)
15-64 years: 53.6% (male 19,999,482/female 20,077,014)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 929,349/female 1,117,652)
Median age:
17.8 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
93.62 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.03 years
male: 47.86 years
female: 50.24 years
Fertility rate:
5.22 children born/woman
noun: Ethiopian(s)
adjective: Ethiopian
Ethnic groups:
Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%
Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%
Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.7%
male: 50.3%
female: 35.1% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
local short form: Ityop'iya
former: Abyssinia, Italian East Africa
local long form: Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
abbreviation: FDRE
Government type:
federal republic
Addis Ababa
Administrative divisions:
9 ethnically-based states (kililoch, singular - kilil) and 2 self-governing administrations* (astedaderoch, singular - astedader); Adis Abeba* (Addis Ababa), Afar, Amara (Amhara), Binshangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa*, Gambela Hizboch (Gambela Peoples), Hareri Hizb (Harari People), Oromiya (Oromia), Sumale (Somali), Tigray, Ye Debub Biheroch Bihereseboch na Hizboch (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples)
oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world - at least 2,000 years
National holiday:
National Day (defeat of MENGISTU regime), 28 May (1991)
ratified December 1994; effective 22 August 1995
Legal system:
currently transitional mix of national and regional courts
18 years of age; universal
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 as provided for in the December 1994 constitution; ministers are selected by the prime minister and approved by the House of People's Representatives
elections: president elected by the House of People's Representatives for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 9 October 2007 (next to be held in October 2013); prime minister designated by the party in power following legislative elections
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the House of Federation or upper chamber (108 seats; members are chosen by state assemblies to serve five-year terms) and the House of People's Representatives or lower chamber (547 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote from single-member districts to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Federal Supreme Court (the president and vice president of the Federal Supreme Court are recommended by the prime minister and appointed by the House of People's Representatives; for other federal judges, the prime minister submits to the House of People's Representatives for appointment candidates selected by the Federal Judicial Administrative Council).


Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for almost half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% 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. The war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and recurrent drought have buffeted the economy, in particular coffee production. In November 2001, Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and in December 2005 the IMF voted to forgive Ethiopia's debt to the body. 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. Drought struck again late in 2002, leading to a 3.3% decline in GDP in 2003. Normal weather patterns helped agricultural and GDP growth recover during 2004-07.

$56.05 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 47.5%
industry: 9.9%
services: 42.6%
Inflation rate:
revenues: $2.338 billion
expenditures: $2.88 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 1.3%
hydro: 97.6%
other: 1.2%
nuclear: 0%
food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metals processing, cement
cereals, pulses, coffee, oilseed, sugarcane, potatoes, qat; hides, cattle, sheep, goats
coffee, qat, gold, leather products, live animals, oilseeds
Export partners:
Japan 66.9%, Djibouti 4.3%, Germany 3.5%
food and live animals, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles, cereals, textiles
Import partners:
Saudi Arabia 26.2%, US 14.6%, China 8.1%, Italy 5.3%
birr (ETB)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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