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የኢትዮጵያ ፌዴራላዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ

yä-Ityop̣p̣əya Federalawi Dimokrasiyawi Ripäblik
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Flag of Ethiopia
Seal of Ethiopia
flag seal
Official language Amharic
Capital Addis Ababa
State and form of government parliamentary republic
Head of state President
Sahle-Work Zewde
Head of government Prime Minister
Abiy Ahmed Ali
surface 1,104,300 km²
population 112,079,000 (2019)
Population density 95 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 2.6% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 93 billion ( 65th )
  • $ 263 billion ( 61st )
  • 961 USD ( 169. )
  • 2,724 USD ( 168. )
Human Development Index 0.485 ( 173. ) (2019)
currency Birr (ETB)
founding 1995
National anthem Wädäfit Gäsgeshi Wudd Ennate Ityop'ya
National holiday 28th of May
Time zone UTC + 3
License Plate ETH
ISO 3166 ET , ETH, 231
Internet TLD .et
Phone code +251
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Ethiopia [ ʔɛˈtʰi̯oːpʰi̯ən ] ( Amharic ኢትዮጵያ Ityop̣p̣əya , from ancient Greek Αἰθιοπία Aithiopia ) is a landlocked country in northeast Africa . At the time of the Abyssinian Empire , the country was also known as Abyssinia (more rarely also Abyssinia). The country in the Horn of Africa borders Eritrea , Sudan , South Sudan , Kenya , Somalia and Djibouti .

With over 80 ethnic groups and numerous languages, Ethiopia is a multiethnic state and at the same time the most populous landlocked state in the world. A major obstacle to development is the very rapid population growth in a traditionally rural environment in which there is often a lack of elementary infrastructure . The capital Addis Ababa , on the other hand, is one of the largest metropolises in Africa. By urbanization and other growing cities like Gondar , Mek'ele , Adama , Awassa , Bahir Dar and Dire Dawa .

Ethiopia is considered to be one of the countries of origin of modern man and the country of origin of coffee . It looks back on around 3000 years of uninterrupted history . In its entire known history it was occupied by fascist Italy only once briefly during the Abyssinian War (1935–1941) and was able to successfully defend itself against all other attempts at European colonization . This long period of almost undisturbed development of culture and civilization from outside makes the country, which has nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, a popular tourist destination .

After the Second World War, Emperor Haile Selassie partially modernized the country. In 1974, the more than 800-year-old monarchy ended with a coup , which was followed by a socialist one-party dictatorship. In 1991 the rebel alliance EPRDF came to power after a civil war . The EPRDF has since established itself as a government coalition and governs largely authoritarian in a federal system . In December 2019, three of the four constituent EPRDF parties merged into a new party, the Prosperity Party , which has led the government ever since. From around 2005, Ethiopia's economy began to grow at a rapid pace (see list of countries by economic growth ).

The BTI report from 2020 noted the first successes of a political and economic transformation.

In August 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government postponed the parliamentary elections indefinitely with reference to the COVID-19 pandemic , which led to internal political conflicts. From November 2020, the conflict between the central government and the regional government of Tigray turned into a civil war.


Geographical location

Ethiopia is located in East Africa and is the tenth largest country in Africa in terms of area, around three times the size of Germany . In terms of population, the country ranks second behind Nigeria . Its borders are 5328 km long and separate the country for 349 km from Djibouti , 912 km from Eritrea , 861 km from Kenya , 1600 km from Somalia , 883 km from South Sudan and 723 km from Sudan .

Between 1952 and 1993, Ethiopia had access to the sea , but this was lost with the independence of Eritrea.


In the National Park of the Simien Mountains (Simien Mountains)

The national nature of Ethiopia has a special role within Africa. Along with Lesotho, Ethiopia is the highest country on the continent: 50 percent of its area is higher than 1200 meters, more than 25 percent over 1800 meters, and more than 5 percent even reach heights of over 3500 meters. Nevertheless, most of the highlands have the character of a low mountain range . The climate here is temperate. The highland edges and the cuts of the rivers ( Blue Nile , Omo , Tekeze ) are very steep.

Most of Ethiopia is occupied by the Abyssinia highlands ; The capital Addis Ababa ( 2370  m ) is also located in these extensive high mountains . The highest mountain in the highlands is Ras Daschän ( 4533  m ); other four-thousand-meter peaks are the Talo ( 4413  m ), the Guma Terara ( 4231  m ) and the Guge ( 4203  m ). The Great African Rift Valley (also called the Abyssinian Rift ) runs through the middle of the country in a northeast-southwest direction . On the southeast side of the Somali highlands with the Deemtu ( 4377  m ). The deepest part of the state is 116 m below sea level in the Koba Depression (or Afar Depression ) on Lake Karum, west of the border with Eritrea.

In terms of natural resources, gold , tantalum and precious stones are the most common in Ethiopia . In addition, the country has proven deposits of platinum metals , niobium , nickel , copper , chromium , manganese , lime , sandstone , gypsum , clay , lignite , opal , oil shale , laterite , iron ore , bentonite , perlite , diatomite , potash and rock salt . Oil and gas deposits are suspected in Gambela and Somali , among others .


Climate distribution in Ethiopia

The climatic differences within Ethiopia are primarily due to the altitude, it is hot in the lowlands and relatively cool in the plateaus .

One can differentiate between three climatic zones : the tropical-hot zone up to 1800 m, the warm-temperate zone from 1800 to 2500 m and the cool zone above 2500 m. In the capital Addis Ababa, which is at about 2400 m altitude, is the Average daytime temperature at noon between 8 and 24 ° C.

In the tropical hot zone ( Qolla ) it is on average 27 ° C warm with an annual rainfall of less than 500 mm. The warm temperate zone ( Woyna Dega ) is 22 ° C warm with 500 to 1500 mm of precipitation per year. In the mountain area ( Dega , over 2500 m) only 16 ° C are measured, and the amount of rain rises to 1800 mm of precipitation. The main rainy season is between mid-June and September, and there is a small rainy season between February and March.

Ethiopia has a long history of extreme weather events. Precipitation is very often very concentrated as convection storms. In the past three decades there have been countless local droughts and seven major droughts, some of which have resulted in famine. With regard to future changes as a result of global warming , the situation is expected to deteriorate, which could exacerbate soil erosion , desertification, loss of biodiversity and recurrent flooding. Agriculture, water resources and human health will be most adversely affected by climate change, according to the National Action Program for Adaptation (NAPA).


Ethiopia satellite image

The largest lake is the Tana lake . In large African grave breach , there are many mostly volcanic lakes. The Shala is the largest crater lake and the deepest in the country. The Langano is because of its high content of sodium one of the few lakes where you can swim because it free of Bilharzioseerregern is.

Ethiopia is hydrologically dominated by the Nile. The Blue Nile, which flows from Lake Tana, donates 80% of the water of the Nile at its mouth. The source rivers of the Sobat, which flows into the White Nile, represent another large inflow of the Nile (about 10%). Ethiopia may not be the source of the Nile, but it is the source of most of the water that eventually flows through it into the Mediterranean. In addition, the endorhean rivers Awash and Omo, following the rift valley, have their source in the East African state; likewise the headwaters of the Juba, which drain on the other side of the rift valley towards the Indian Ocean.

The most important rivers in Ethiopia are the Blue Nile , the Akobo , the Awash , the Juba , the Ganale , the Omo , the Tekeze-Setit and the Wabi Shebelle . The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam has been under construction on the Blue Nile since 2011 .

Flora and fauna

Due to its varied topography, diverse geological layers and different climatic conditions, Ethiopia is home to a diverse flora and fauna. From the savannah to evergreen wet forests to regions with an alpine climate, many habitats have established themselves here.

Ethiopian highlands

Ethiopia is one of the eight gene centers on earth. The Ethiopian flora includes approximately 7,000 higher plant species, approximately twelve percent of which are endemic . Ethiopia is the country of origin of coffee and various types of grain, such as teff , as well as the ornamental banana (ensete). Over 20 different cultivated plants come from this country.

The umbrella acacia, baobab , juniper and sycamore fig tree are typical tree species in the country. One of the great environmental problems of Ethiopia is the deforestation , which led to the fact that many of these species were considerably weakened in their populations as early as the beginning of the 20th century. A reforestation with fast-growing eucalyptus trees in 1905 meant that these now make up the majority of the trees in Ethiopia. The settlement of Prosopis juliflora in parts of the Afar region , which began in the 1970s, has developed into a similar problem . The extremely invasive plant is seen by the local population as a threat to their agriculture.

Among the numerous animal species are 30 mammal species (12 percent) (including the Ethiopian wolf , the Ethiopian ibex , the summer ring gazelle , the Dschelada and the mountain nyala ), 23 bird species (2.6 percent) (including the ore raven , the blue-winged goose , the Rougets Ralle and the Klunkeribis ), three reptile (3.9 percent) and 17 amphibian species (31.5 percent) are endemic.

Excavation sites

The skeleton Lucy , an Australopithecus afarensis

The vast majority of paleoanthropologists refer to eastern Africa as the cradle of mankind . Long before there was writing or a tradition to which we can refer today, there were pre-humans and early representatives of the homo genus in the area of ​​present-day Ethiopia . Numerous remains of such pre-humans (for example Australopithecus afarensis ) were found in Ethiopia (" Lucy " 1974 in Hadar ; DIK 1-1 (called "Selam") 2000 in Dikika ).

National parks

There are 13 national parks in Ethiopia (as of 2012). The National Park Simien Mountains (Simien Mountains English) is part of the World Heritage of UNESCO .

The protected area system is supplemented by around 100 other national protected areas with different protection status.


Ancient empire of Aksum

As one of the major "empires" (the religious founder Mani ) in the period of late antiquity is considered the nordäthiopische kingdom of Aksum (Axum also), which is one of the first Christian kingdoms was the world. It also ruled (but only briefly) parts of the southern Arabian Peninsula and northern Sudan, but not parts of what is now southern Ethiopia. How long parts of today's Sudan south of Atbara were under Aksumite rule is a matter of dispute; This rule, which was established for a short time in the 4th century, was probably limited to temporary tribute payments. With the expansion of Islam in the 7th century ( Islamic expansion ), Ethiopian Christianity was geographically isolated.

Contacts to modern Europe

Ethiopia in Ethiopian script

Since the 14th century , the Ethiopian rulers sought contacts and alliances with the Christian empires in late medieval Europe. European soldiers of fortune made repeated appearances at the court of the Negus , and European art was in vogue in Ethiopia .

In 1493 the Portuguese Pêro da Covilhã reached the court of the Negus. He was supposed to promote a Portuguese-Ethiopian alliance, since it was at this time that Portugal began to establish its rule in the Indian Ocean . In 1543 Portuguese auxiliary troops under the son of Vasco da Gama , Cristóvão da Gama , supported the Ethiopians at the Negus' appeal for help against the troops of Ahmed Graññ from the Sultanate of Adal , who they inflicted a crushing defeat. However, their plan to convert the country to Catholicism failed.

In the course of colonialism , Ethiopia had to resist the influence of European powers again and again, first under Emperor Tewodros of the British Ethiopia expedition of 1868 , then at the end of the 19th century under the influence of the Italians and their colony Eritrea . In spite of the modern weapons of the Italian army, the Ethiopians fought back the Italian invaders in 1896 under Emperor Menelik II - who had provided for a likewise modern armament with rifles and artillery - ( Battle of Adua ). This result is considered to be an important victory for an African against a European army and in the following years it became an integral part of the Ethiopian national consciousness.

Abyssinian Empire

Map with Abyssinia's northern heartland (1886) and the borders as a result of expansion (until 1929)

The securing of independence was followed by conquests in the south, east and west of today's national territory. The newly conquered areas fell under an archaic feudal system of land grabbing.

In 1931 Emperor issued Haile Selassie , the first constitution of the country . In the interwar period , Ethiopia joined the League of Nations . On October 2, 1935, Mussolini, the Duce of the fascist Kingdom of Italy , declared war on Ethiopia and began the War of Abyssinia . There was a massive and systematic use of poison gas on the part of Italy . Although the Italian army tried to destroy the upper class of the country with mass shootings, it never succeeded in controlling the whole country. Emperor Haile Selassie was temporarily expelled. Between 1935 and 1941, between 350,000 and 760,000 Ethiopians fell victim to the Italian urge to expand, that is, between five and ten percent of the total population. During their brief rule in Ethiopia, the Italians introduced a system of racial segregation that bore certain similarities with apartheid in South Africa. Italian rule over the colony of Italian East Africa , which consisted of occupied Ethiopia, Italian Eritrea , Italian Somaliland and Oltre Giuba , ended in World War II. Ethiopia was liberated from British and local troops, and the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa in May 1941. The right to vote for women was introduced in 1955: the constitution of November 4, 1955 guaranteed universal active and passive suffrage for men and women .

At the beginning of the 1970s, the empire fell into a serious crisis. The impoverished peasants suffered from the taxes paid to the large landowners, and the aspiring bourgeoisie of Addis Ababa saw its opportunities for political development restricted. The inflation due to the drought of 1973 and the oil crisis sparked mass demonstrations by students and strike waves from. Finally, at the beginning of 1974, parts of the Ethiopian army also revolted . Haile Selassie was overthrown on September 12, 1974.

Socialist military dictatorship 1974–1991

The military quickly seized the revolution, and a military administrative council led by Major Mengistu Haile Mariam took power. On March 21, 1975 the monarchy was abolished, which, according to the tradition in the national epic Kebra Negest, refers to the foundation by Menelik I in the 10th century BC. The declining empire ended and the country became a socialist people's republic.

Military clashes with neighboring countries soon followed. In 1977/1978 an invasion of Somalia was repelled during the Ogaden War with the support of the Soviet Union and Cuba . Due to the excessive repression against the civilian population, separatists in Eritrea gained increasing support. In Tigray was Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is active, and also in the south and east of the country there was armed resistance against the government.

In 1984, Ethiopia came under the Ethiopian Workers' Party in the spotlight of the world through a report on BBC television. Years of lack of rainfall in the Sahel zone led to crop failures and famine in twenty African countries. Also because of the ongoing civil war, Ethiopia was hardest hit by this disaster. The famine in Ethiopia in 1984–1985 claimed between half a million and one million victims.

Reorganization of Ethiopia as an "ethnic federation"

Administrative division of Ethiopia from 1991 to 1995
Federal states of Ethiopia since 1995

In 1991 the regime finally collapsed. A political coalition of various liberation movements, the Revolutionary Democratic Front of the Ethiopian Peoples (EPRDF), took power and introduced a federal system with nine autonomous regions for the largest peoples and two city-states (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa). This coalition, led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front, partially democratized the country and remained in power until 2019. In Article 48 of the new constitution, which came into force in 1995, Ethiopia was defined as a federal republic made up of federal states that should be “delimited by settlement patterns, language, identity and a sense of belonging”. In research this form of government is referred to as "ethnic federation". Although the largest ethnic groups (Oromo, Amharen, Somalis, Tigrinya and others) were granted territorial self-determination, other smaller of the more than 80 ethnic groups were not given a chance and their attempts at autonomy were suppressed by the government. Relations between the individual regions were also not free of tension due to territorial claims and ethnic rivalries. The balancing of ethnic interests and rivalries has remained a basic constant of Ethiopian politics ever since.

Tensions with Eritrea 1998–2018 and internal conflicts

Under the new interim government of Meles Zenawis , Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in May 1993 after almost 30 years of war. Border disputes and presumably also economic disputes, however, led again to war between the two countries in 1998 . After the Ethiopian air force bombed the Eritrean capital Asmara and an invasion by Ethiopian ground troops, the Ethiopian ground troops withdrew shortly before Asmara. Thus, no party to the conflict emerged victorious from the war. The conflict ended with the Algiers Agreement in December 2000, according to which blue helmet soldiers from the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) monitor the fragile peace. On April 13, 2002, the Independent Boundary Commission issued a final recommendation to resolve the dispute ( Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission , EEBC). A year after the announcement, however, Ethiopia rejected it on the grounds that the city of Badme , which had been the point of dispute in the war, should, contrary to what the Commission had proposed, continue to belong to Ethiopia. Since then there has been an uneasy peace between the two warring parties.

In 2015, protests developed as a result of an extreme drought followed by massive floods and simultaneous social inequality . These were partly put down by police forces from the government of Hailemariam Desalegn , with several hundred people dead by October 2016.

On June 5, 2018, the Ethiopian government declared its readiness to accept the provisions of the 2002 border agreement. This also includes handing Badme over to Eritrea. On July 8, 2018, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that Ethiopia and Eritrea would resume diplomatic relations . At the same time a peace treaty was concluded between the two countries. Abiy was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for this reconciliation policy in particular .

Protests developed in October 2019, in which at least 67 people died after Jawar Mohammed , a media owner , political activist and leader of the 2016 protest movement, suspected and announced an impending killing. After the murder of the Ethiopian Oromo musician Hachalu Hundessa and a mourning meeting that was broken up by the police with tear gas, protests broke out across the country at the end of June 2020, in which more than 160 people died within a few days.

In August 2020, the parliamentary elections, which were actually scheduled to rotate, were postponed by one year by the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian electoral commission, with the official reason that regular elections were not possible under the rampant COVID-19 pandemic . The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) , which ruled the Tigray region, did not agree with this. The TPLF announced that the regional parliament elections would be held in Tigray and accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of “illegitimately” conducting the official business. After that, tensions between the regional and central governments intensified. The government of Tigray emphasized Tigray's right to “self-determination and self-government” and had the Tigray police, who are well armed with heavy weapons, march in the towns of the region. After a regional army base in Tigray was taken over by security forces of the regional government, Prime Minister Ahmed ordered a military offensive against Tigray on November 5, 2020. A six-month state of emergency was imposed on Tigray and the telephone, electricity and internet connections to Tigray were interrupted.


Population development 1961–2003

Population development

Population structure of Ethiopia in 2016: Ethiopia has a very young population

Ethiopia has a large and rapidly growing population. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 11 million people lived in Ethiopia, by 1960 the population doubled to about 22 million people, by 1987 about 44 million people lived in the country and for 2016 it was estimated to be 100 million. Between 1994 and 2007, the population grew by 2.6 percent annually, which is due to the rapidly increasing life expectancy and high fertility at the same time . In 2040, the population will be around 136 million if fertility falls rapidly or around 161 million if it falls slowly. By 2050 it is expected to be one of the ten most populous countries in the world. Fertility reached 6.6 children per woman in the 1980s and has since fallen to around 4.6 children per woman. The number of children is still high in the countryside, while it has fallen sharply in the cities. Addis Ababa is the only city in Africa where it is 1.3 below the substitute level of 2.1 children per woman. Since the urban population only accounts for 16 percent of the total population of Ethiopia, population growth will persist at around 2.5 percent per year. With the slight decline in fertility, the dependency quotient also fell from 1.12 in 1984 to 0.91 in 2007.

It is therefore controversial whether Ethiopia is already at the beginning of the demographic transition and can derive the associated benefits from it, or whether the high population growth will continue to have a negative impact on the country's economic development in the future.

Due to the rapid growth, 45 percent of Ethiopians are under 15 years old while only 3.1 percent of the population are over 65 years of age. In 2020, almost 750,000 refugees, mainly from neighboring countries, were registered in Ethiopia.


Market women in Asosa , Benishangul-Gumuz , Western Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state with 120 ethnic groups, ranging in size from several million to a few hundred. Although geographically sub-Saharan Africa is included, large parts of the country are heavily influenced in their historical and cultural development by influences from the Middle East.

The country has been dominated by the Amhars on the political and cultural level since the end of the 19th century . Although they officially represent only about 27 percent of the population, their language is Amharic , the official language and especially in the cities as a lingua franca widespread. Together with the Tigray , who make up about six percent of the Ethiopian population, they traditionally settled as farmers in the northern highlands, the heartland of the historic Ethiopian Empire. Amharen and Tigray can be summarized under the Ethio-Semitic term Habescha (Abyssinian), both languages ​​belong to the Ethiosemitic languages . Most of them are followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church .

Agame workers (around 1845)

The Oromo , however, form the largest ethnic group in terms of numbers . They were formerly known as "Galla", which in Amharic also means "pagan" or "non-Christian"; this term is now considered pejorative and out of date. The Oromo live in the south, east and west of the country and officially make up 34 percent of the population. Many Oromo are Muslims, but there are also Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant Christians among them. The Oromo belong to the Cushitic language group . This also includes the Somali (6.2 percent) and Afar (1.7 percent) in the lowland areas in the east of the country, the Agau (various subgroups in the northern highlands, together more than 1 percent) and the Sidama (4 percent) , Hadiyya (1.7 percent) and others in the southern highlands.

The omotic language group in southwest Ethiopia includes Wolaytta (2.3 percent), Gamo (1.5 percent), Kaffa (1.2 percent) and numerous smaller groups.

In the west of the country, in the border areas with Sudan and South Sudan, there are also smaller minorities who speak Nilo-Saharan languages , such as Berta (0.25 percent), Gumuz (0.22 percent), Anuak (0.12 percent) and Nuer (0.2 percent) and Majangir (0.03 percent). Some of these ethnic groups also live in Sudan and South Sudan. They used to be pejoratively called Shanqella by the highland Ethiopians . They are usually of darker skin color and are therefore considered black Africans , from which the highland inhabitants distinguish themselves.

In 2017, 1.2% of the population was born abroad. Most of them are refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan.


Over 80 languages ​​are spoken in Ethiopia. The official language at the federal level is Amharic , which belongs to the (South) Semitic branch of Afro-Asian and is spoken as a mother tongue by around 19.8 million people and as a second language by another 4 million Ethiopians. With around 25.5 million speakers, the Cushitic Oromo is the language with the most speakers. However, the number of speakers in individual languages ​​is often a political issue and information on this should therefore be treated with caution. English is the language of education and is used as the language of instruction in high schools. In individual states, whose borders were drawn along language borders, the regional languages ​​Oromo, Tigrinya , Somali , Afar and Harari serve as the working language of the authorities; In addition to the Amhara region, Amharic is also the working language in the ethnically and linguistically mixed regions of Gambela , Benishangul-Gumuz and in the region of the southern nations, nationalities and peoples . Other languages ​​such as Sidama and Kafficho are used locally in primary schools.

In 2020, the cabinet decided to approve Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali and Afar as further official languages ​​at the federal level.

The languages ​​of Ethiopia belong - very unequally - to two large language families: Afro-Asian (formerly called Semito-Hamitic) and Nilo-Saharan . Almost 99 percent of this is Afro-Asian, which is represented in Ethiopia with its branches Semitic (predominantly in the northern half of the country), Omotic (in the southwest) and Cushitic (in the south, west and east). The Nilo-Saharan languages (in western Ethiopia, with the branches Nilotic , Surmish and Komuz ) only make up between 500,000 and 1 million speakers.

The Ethiopian Sign Language is spoken by between 250,000 and 1 million people. The basis of this language is likely to be the American Sign Language , which is part of the French sign language family.


The Cross of Tewodros II (around 1870)

The country's religious population is as diverse as its ethnic. The most important religious communities are the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians , the Sunni Muslims and various Ethiopian Evangelical churches. Small minorities are the followers of traditional religions , Catholics and Jews . The Ethiopian Jews ( Falascha , Beta Isra'el) were almost completely evacuated to Israel in three air missions .

There are contradicting statements about the religious composition of the population in Ethiopia. The provisional results of the last census of 2007 give the following figures: 62.8 percent Christians - of which 43.5 percent Ethiopian Orthodox (1994 census: 50.6 percent), 18.6 percent Protestants (1994: 10.2 percent) and 0.7 percent Catholics - compared to 33.9 percent Muslims (1994: 32.8 percent), 2.6 percent followers of traditional religions (1994: 4.6 percent) and 0.6 percent others (e.g. atheists, 1994 : 1.8 percent). In various encyclopedias and reference works, on the other hand, numbers are given that sometimes differ greatly from these official figures. The proportion of Christians is between 40 and 55 percent and that of Muslims fluctuates between 40 and 50 percent. The comparatively low proportion of Muslims in the population in the official figures is also viewed with skepticism on the part of academics:

“The 1994 CSA census put the percentage of the Muslim population of Ethiopia at 32.8%, however, this number is doubted by Muslims and many scholars alike. A percentage of approx. 45% Muslims in Ethiopia […] is believed to be a more realistic estimate. "

For the Rastafarian religious community , Emperor Haile Selassie and the country itself are of central importance. A very small group of followers of this religious movement lives in Shashemene south of Addis Ababa (in Oromia), since African returnees first from the USA , later from Jamaica and then from all over the world settled there.

Ethiopian priest with typical Ethiopian crosses

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Christianity spread in Ethiopia at the beginning of the 4th century . Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, which is particularly widespread among the Amhars and Tigray , is the country's most historically significant religion. Along with Armenia and Georgia, Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian states in the world.

In contrast to the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches , the Ethiopian Church is Miaphysite , which means that it split off from Western Christianity at the Council of Chalcedon and is therefore not an Orthodox Church in the sense of the Dyophysite Russian or Greek Orthodox Church can be seen. She is therefore close to the Indian Thomas Christians , the Armenians , the Arameans and also the Egyptian Copts . The religious division goes back to the definition of the nature of Christ. The Miaphysite churches advocate the teaching that Jesus had only one divine-human nature, while the Dyophysites believe that he had a divine and a human nature. The Ethiopian round churches are typical of this denomination .

Protestants and Catholics

Debre Damo Monastery in Northern Ethiopia

Evangelical missionaries have been in Ethiopia since 1830; from 1855 to 1868 the pilgrim mission St. Chrischona from Basel worked in collaboration with the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem with mostly German missionaries in Ethiopia. Among other things, a Protestant movement among the Jewish Beta Isra'el (so-called "black Jews") can be traced back to this. The Hermannsburg Mission tried to evangelize the Oromo from 1853 to 1857 , but only became really active in 1927; the first German-Swiss mission among the Oromo existed as early as 1840 (in Shewa ), later in 1867 ( Benishangul / Gubbe ) and for a long time with some success at the mission station in Balli , south of Shewa, from 1872 to 1886, led by Germans Missionaries of the St. Chrischona pilgrim mission from Basel. There are also missions from Sweden , Norway , the USA and Denmark . The Seventh-day Adventist Church has around 145,000 members.

There are currently the following Protestant churches in Ethiopia:

The Ethiopian Catholic Church is an Eastern Church united with the Roman Catholic Church . It was elevated to the state church in 1622 and banned again in 1636 because the patriarch Alfonso Mendez, sent from Rome, replaced the native rite with the Latin one. An Ethiopian Catholic Archdiocese of Addis Ababa has existed again since 1961 . The mass is celebrated in the Alexandrian rite and in the Amharic language.


An Oromo manuscript in Arabic script from Wällo

The history of Islam in Ethiopia goes back more than a thousand years. Its cultural and historical significance is therefore comparable to that of Christianity.

Islam's first contact with Ethiopia took place during the lifetime of the Prophet Mohammed , when a group of Muslims fled to Ethiopia in 615 and found refuge there for several years. About 20 of the Muslims died in Ethiopia. The friendly reception of the Muslim refugees by the Ethiopian ruler is said to have induced the prophet to pronounce the commandment that the Christian Ethiopians be the only non-Muslims to be spared from jihad . This event still has an identity-forming meaning for the Muslim Ethiopians. From the 9th century onwards, several Islamic principalities and states emerged, especially in the east and south-east of the country. Through the conquests under Menelik II at the end of the 19th century, large regions, which are predominantly Islamic, became part of the modern Ethiopian state.

An important role in the formation of the Ethiopian Islam played Sufibruderschaften ( Sufi brotherhoods ), mainly engaged in Harar , Wollo Province and Jimma founded Islamic Centers scholarship. While Muslims in modern Ethiopia under Haile Selassie were suppressed for a long time, they achieved equality from the Derg period. Since then, for example, the important Islamic festivals have been celebrated as national holidays.

Today, large parts of the country are dominated by Islam, such as the Somali and Afar, Bale , Arsi , parts of the Gurage region, the eastern Wollo, the Harar region, the Jimma region, Ilubabor and Beni Shangul . At least 34 percent of Ethiopians are Muslim, especially the Afar , Gurage and Somali peoples and a large part of the Oromo .


The Ethiopian Jews, whose history is older than the Talmud , play a special role . The Ethiopian Jews are divided into three groups:

The Falashes are Ethiopians of Jewish faith who consider themselves descendants of the Dan tribe and practice an archaic form of Judaism. They lived in the regions of Begemder and Sämen north and northeast of Lake Tana and were shunned by the Amhara and Tigray as craftsmen . They were evacuated to Israel in the three airlifts Operation Moses 1984, Operation Salomon 1991 and Operation Taubenflügel (2011) .

The Kemant settle in the area north of Lake Tana and are historically and ethnically closely related to the Falashes . They gave up their Jewish religion in favor of Ethiopian Christianity. They are critically endangered and have shrunk to a community of fewer than 300 members.

The Falaschamura do not belong to the actual Falashes, but are regarded by the Israeli chief rabbinate as a forced Christianized Ethiopian originally of Jewish faith . They are of various origins, but claim to ultimately descend from the Beta Israel . Since the Israeli state only allows their immigration to a limited extent, in 2010 there were still 8,000 falaschamura waiting in Ethiopia to emigrate to Israel.

Social situation

To reach a watering hole, people often have to walk for hours

Despite great progress in the 21st century, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world in 2019. An estimated 49 percent of the population is undernourished (2001), and millions of Ethiopians still depend on food aid even in high-yield harvest years . The causes of hunger are drought and floods, exacerbated by widespread deforestation and erosion .

Between 1960 and 2012, the forest cover decreased from 37 to 3 percent of the area of ​​Ethiopia. Most of the people in Ethiopia are subsistence farmers. Due to the strong population growth, however, it was no longer possible for them to feed their families with the yields of the available arable land, which resulted in clearing. However, the forest protected the land from soil erosion, so that in the long term an even greater loss of arable land is to be feared.

A population growth of two million people annually in the previous ten years, but also the drop in coffee prices, led to an increase in hunger in 2003 as a result of food shortages in some parts of the country. While periods of drought had previously occurred at intervals of 25 to 30 years, the intervals had shortened to 4 to 5 years.

Food aid is mostly imported from abroad, while food from economically strong regions in Germany can only be transported with difficulty to those parts of the country affected by hunger due to the inadequate infrastructure. The dependency on external aid and its consequences also contribute to the precarious food situation and should be reduced with longer-term development strategies of the Ethiopian government and international aid organizations.

As of 2017, the proportion of undernourished people had fallen to 20.6% of the population despite the existing problems, which is mainly due to the positive economic development of the country.

According to WHO and UNICEF, not even every second Ethiopian citizen has access to clean drinking water , a UN human right since 2010 .

Child labor is widespread: 58.1 percent of boys and 41.6 percent of girls between the ages of 5 and 14 regularly work, the vast majority (95 percent) in family businesses. Hundreds of thousands of street children live in the big cities.

According to the World Bank in December 2012, the strong economic growth of the previous five years enabled 2.5 million Ethiopians to emerge from poverty. Accordingly, the poverty rate fell from 38.7 percent in 2004/05 to 29.6 percent in 2010/11.


Political indices
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 94.6 out of 120 21 of 178 Stability of the country: Alarm
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index   3.38 of 10   123 of 167 Authoritarian regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World 24 of 100 --- Freedom status: not free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 33.63 out of 100 101 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)   38 out of 100   94 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Political system

Ethiopia has been a federal parliamentary republic since 1991 (confirmed by the Constitution in 1995). Ethiopian federalism is ethnically shaped, with strong proportional elements in the state organs related to the individual ethnic groups and the constitutional right of the individual ethnic groups to establish autonomous areas and to leave the state structure entirely.

The head of state is the president, who is elected by parliament ( Shengo ) and has predominantly representative tasks. The head of government is the prime minister who appoints the members of the Council of Ministers . The parliament consists of two chambers: the Federal House ( Yefedereshn Mekir Bet ) with 198 seats and the House of Representatives ( Parlama for short ) with 548 seats. The members are directly elected by the people for a term of five years.

The political system was dominated by the Revolutionary Democratic Front of the Ethiopian Peoples (EPRDF) and its allied parties. In 2019 it was re-established under the name Prosperity Party and took over the leadership role again.

In the parliamentary elections in 2010 , the government alliance EPRDF, together with the regional governing parties, received a total of 99.6% or 545 of the 547 parliamentary seats in the House of Representatives. The opposition under the party coalition Forum for Democratic Dialogue (Medrek) received only one seat. Another mandate went to an independent candidate. The EPRDF was accused of electoral fraud and of governing authoritarianism and suppressing the opposition. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, the opposition and independent candidates lost their last two seats; the ruling parties received 100% of the seats. The next elections were due to take place in 2020, but were postponed to June 5, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic .

The highest legal authority is the Supreme Federal Court in the capital Addis Ababa, and the Constitutional Council also monitors compliance with the Federal Constitution.

Domestic conflicts

There are repeated armed conflicts over land use rights and legal disputes between the numerous ethnic groups of Ethiopia. The violent resolution of conflicts is favored by the widespread use of firearms across the country, which has its origins in the civil war. The conflicts between the Afar and the Somali , especially the Issa , should be emphasized here , which have contributed significantly to the reduction of the Afar's resistance to drought disasters. In the west of the country, in the Gambela and Benishangul-Gumuz regions, there are conflicts between various indigenous ethnic groups and highland Ethiopians who were settled there mainly in the 1980s.

In 2007, an uprising in the Ogaden in the Somali region intensified the conflicts between the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Ethiopian army. The Ethiopian government has been accused of temporarily "blocking" trade and humanitarian aid for the region. According to a report by Human Rights Watch , the Ethiopian army killed, mistreated and raped civilians, destroyed villages and subjected the entire population in the rebel areas to collective punishment. The Ethiopian government rejected these allegations as ONLF propaganda.

Territorial division

de-facto Kenia (mit Südsudan umstritten) Kenia Somalia Eritrea Dschibuti Jemen Südsudan Sudan Uganda Addis Abeba Harar (Region) Dire Dawa Gambela Region der südlichen Nationen, Nationalitäten und Völker Region der südlichen Nationen, Nationalitäten und Völker Sidama Afar (Region) Tigray (Region) Benishangul-Gumuz Somali (Region) Amhara Oromia
Map of the regions

In 1991 the historical provinces were dissolved and Ethiopia was re- divided into regions or states according to ethnic criteria (ethnic federalism). The province of Eritrea left the confederation peacefully in 1993 after a war of independence until 1991. Since 1998 there have been nine independent regions and two independent cities ( Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa ), and a tenth region was added in 2020. Seven of the regions each have a single ethnic group as their titular nation ( Tigray , Amhara , Oromia , Sidama , Somali , Afar and Harar ), the remaining three are ethnically mixed and therefore assigned to several indigenous ethnic groups ( Benishangul-Gumuz , Gambela and the region of the southern nations , Nationalities and peoples ).


According to an estimate by the Central Statistics Agency for 2016, the largest cities are: Addis Ababa with a population of 3,352,000, Gonder with a population of 341,991, Mek'ele with a population of 340,859, Adama (previously: Nazret) with a population of 338,940, Awassa with a population of 318,618, Bahir Dar with a population of 297,794 and Dire Dawa 285,000 inhabitants. The cities of Mek'hele, Awassa and Gonder doubled their population between 2005 and 2016, while Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and Adama grew significantly less strongly.


The Abyssinian Imperial Army had a long history, going back to the legendary founding of the state in 980 BC. The new communist regime ( Derg ) eliminated the old armed forces after the revolution in 1974/1975 and founded a completely new army with financial and military help from the Soviet Union . These armed forces of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia were replaced by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces after the victory of the Revolutionary Democratic Front of the Ethiopian Peoples in 1991 . In 2005 they were 162,500 strong, making them one of the largest armies in Africa . According to US figures, there should have been around 180,000 soldiers in 2012.

In 2018, the army comprised 135,000 active soldiers and more than 461 main battle tanks. The Air Force has largely intact and relatively new equipment from Ukrainian and Russian production, for example Sukhoi Su-27 fighter-bombers . Since the independence of Eritrea (1993), the country no longer has a navy .

Foreign policy

States with diplomatic missions in Ethiopia (blue)

Relations with neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa and with international donor countries, especially the USA and EU member states, have priority in Ethiopian foreign policy. China and India are playing an increasingly important role. The country is also looking for good relations with the Arab states as well as Turkey, Russia and Japan.

Ethiopia has assigned a total of around 7600 soldiers to the UN missions UNAMID (United Nations Assistance Mission in Darfur), UNISFA (United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei) and UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan), making it the fourth largest UN troop provider and the largest UN troop contributor of Africa. If you add the 4,400 soldiers deployed to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), Ethiopia is by far the world's largest provider of peacekeeping troops.

Membership in organizations

Ethiopia is a member of various international organizations and groups. Among the most important are the memberships in the United Nations (founding member 1945) and its sub- and special organizations, whereby the ECA (UN Economic Commission for Africa) has its seat in Addis Ababa , the African Union (until 2002 Organization of African Unity, whose The country was a founding member in 1963; based in Addis Ababa) and in the World Bank Group and the IMF . Also in regional organizations such as IGAD ( Intergovernmental Authority on Development ), COMESA (Common Market of South and East African States) and the Cotonou Agreement (partnership agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries). The country has observer status in the WTO .

Border conflicts

Ethiopia is involved in two bilateral conflicts with neighboring countries. On the one hand, there are disagreements with Eritrea over the border in the northwest of the Tigray province, which led to the Eritrea-Ethiopia war in 1998 . On the other hand, there were repeated conflicts with Somalia, as Somali nationalists want to incorporate the Somali region ( Ogaden ) in eastern Ethiopia into a greater Somalia . The Union of Islamic Courts , which gained control over large parts of Somalia in mid-2006, also pursued this goal. On December 24, 2006, Ethiopia officially declared war on the Union on the grounds that Ethiopia feared the capture of its east and the Islamist appropriation of its own Muslim population. Since then, Ethiopian troops have been stationed in Somalia and, together with the Somali interim government, pushed back the Union of Islamic Courts. Indications that Eritrea was supplying weapons to opponents of the Somali transitional government and that an Eritrean-Ethiopian “proxy war” would be waged in Somalia were denied by the Eritrean side.

At the beginning of July 2018, after a meeting with Eritrean President
Isayas Afewerki in Asmara , Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that after decades of hostility, the resumption of diplomatic relations had been agreed. It is planned to reopen embassies and borders, to re-establish flight connections and to make ports accessible. The new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, who was elected at the beginning of April 2018 and is a member of both the EPRDF and the OPDO , had already sought a peace solution with the neighboring country at the beginning of his term of office. At the beginning of June 2018, he announced that he would "fully" implement the resolution of an international arbitration commission supported by the United Nations on the border between the two countries in 2002 and withdraw from the disputed areas.

Human rights

According to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in June 2008, the Ethiopian army targeted executions, torture and rape in Ogaden as part of a large-scale counter-insurgency campaign.

According to Amnesty International, the anti-terrorism laws enacted in 2009 severely restrict the rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression and human rights groups in the country. The acts of terrorism , which are vaguely defined in the legal text , also include property damage and disruption of public order. The sentence is up to 15 years in prison and the death penalty is also possible.

At the beginning of 2014, the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto published research results that the satellite television ESAT, operated by the Ethiopian diaspora, was attacked in late 2013 by remote control spy software that the Milan-based company HT Srl, better known as HackingTeam , sent to an Ethiopian government organization have sold.

In 2014 Amnesty International reported on the targeted detention and torture of Oromo. Between 2011 and 2014, over 5,000 demonstrating students, opposition members or simply people who emphasize their identity as Oromo were arrested. In April and May 2014 there were demonstrations against the "Addis Ababa Framework for Integrated Development", which provides for the urban area to be expanded into the surrounding areas of the Oromia region. According to the government, this should benefit the Oromia region and the more distant regions. The Oromo, on the other hand, see their interests threatened and fear extensive evictions.

Amnesty International writes in the International Report 2014/2015 that peaceful demonstrators, journalists and members of the political opposition are being arbitrarily arrested. Amnesty also draws attention to the Zone 9 bloggers and journalists arrested in April 2014 . According to a report by the organization Reporters Without Borders, four journalists were in custody at the end of 2017. According to the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders , the press in Ethiopia is "in a difficult position". In the 2017 press freedom ranking, Ethiopia was ranked 150th out of 180 countries, but had climbed 40 ranks to 110th by 2019.

The traditional marriage of underage girls and the mutilation of female genitals are officially prohibited, but continue to be practiced, especially outside of larger cities. Homosexuality is illegal. The sentence is between one and ten years. Stigmatization, taboos, marginalization and discrimination against sexual minorities are widespread. People who openly show their homosexuality are detained and subjected to severe corporal punishment and torture while in detention. In December 2008, several church leaders called for the prohibition of homosexuality to be included in the constitution. Church leaders of the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant Churches passed a resolution in Addis Ababa to outlaw homosexuality, which has been described as the "highest form of immorality". Violence and assaults against homosexuals are not punished; the violence often emanates from the state. Human rights defenders receive anonymous threats and are threatened by the police if they try to file a complaint.

Education and health


With the help of international donors, the Ethiopian government has taken important steps in recent years to alleviate the educational deficit in the country. In Ethiopia, the mean school attendance increased from 1.5 years in 2000 to 2.6 years in 2015. 84.1 percent of girls and 87.7 percent of boys attend primary school (government figures 2013), but only around 53 percent of pupils finish it. For several years, the government has endeavored to involve the regions more closely in higher education. The establishment of 15 universities (by GIZ International Services) are an expression of these efforts. The strategic plan of the Ethiopian government, which is binding for the now 30 universities, provides for a ratio of 70:30 between students in the natural sciences, medicine and mechanical engineering and those in economics and the humanities. This means a massive increase in the number of students, which will have a negative impact on the quality of education, as neither the academic staff nor qualified students (due to the insufficient quality of education in schools) could grow with it. The shortage of young lecturers is currently being bridged with around 1200 Indian professors. These challenges will accompany Ethiopia for the foreseeable future, because the new five-year plan from July 2015 provides for the establishment of 11 more universities.

In Ethiopia, around 65 percent of adults were illiterate between 2000 and 2007 . This proportion was higher for women than for men. The compulsory education is not consistently enforced. In 2016, 51 percent of Ethiopians were illiterate (59 percent of women and 43 percent of men). The illiteracy rate for people aged between 15 and 24 was 31 percent. Ethiopia has achieved success in the fight against illiteracy in recent years.

In April 2021 it was announced that 5 million schoolchildren and students and 750,000 teachers would be provided with a digital identity via the Cardano network.


The HIV infection rate in 2006 was around 6.6 percent of the adult population. Around three million people are infected with this in Ethiopia. The infection rate in urban areas is 13.7 percent, significantly higher than in rural areas, at 3.7 percent. The 15- to 24-year-olds are most affected. According to UNICEF, around 800,000 children had been orphaned or fully orphaned by the disease by 2006. The high AIDS rates can be explained, among other things, by the fact that sexuality in Ethiopia is still a taboo subject that is not discussed in the family.

More than half a million children have been orphaned by AIDS. According to UNICEF, at least 300,000 children live on the streets of the cities in Ethiopia. There, girls in particular are at risk of assault and rape. The risk of drug abuse and AIDS is high.

Between 2010 and 2015, the life expectancy of women was 65.5 years and that of men 61.9 years, making it one of the higher in Africa. The infant mortality per 1,000 births was 51 and the maternal mortality per 100,000 births was 353. Only six percent of the births could be cared for. Life expectancy has increased significantly in recent years, while maternal and child mortality has decreased.

Development of life expectancy
Period Life expectancy Period Life expectancy
1950-1955 34.1 1985-1990 46.2
1955-1960 36.7 1990-1995 48.1
1960-1965 40.1 1995-2000 50.7
1965-1970 42.1 2000-2005 53.6
1970-1975 43.5 2005-2010 59.1
1975-1980 44.3 2010-2015 63.7
1980-1985 43.5

Source: UN



A significant part of the population lives below the absolute poverty line (according to current World Bank data from January 2015, 30.7 percent lived on less than USD 1.25 per day in 2011, compared with 39.0 percent in 2005).

Ethiopia's foreign trade essentially consists of the export of coffee . Germany is the largest importer of Ethiopian coffee. Ethiopia, as one of the African countries, was canceled a large part of its debts by the Group of Eight Meeting in 2005. In terms of foreign trade, the country remains vulnerable as a result of high current and trade deficits, a strong dependency on food imports and low foreign exchange reserves. Ethiopian imports totaled $ 14.7 billion in 2016; exports were only $ 2.4 billion. Ethiopia thus suffers from a structural trade deficit, which amounted to 12.3 billion US dollars in 2016. China is Ethiopia's most important trade and economic partner and funds a number of infrastructure projects in the country.

The gross domestic product per capita in 2016 was 795 US dollars, adjusted for purchasing power at 1,946 PPP- $. Between 2004 and 2015, Ethiopia achieved very high annual growth rates of between eight and twelve percent of its gross domestic product . This enabled progress to be made in the fight against poverty and in the expansion of infrastructure. According to the World Bank , 56 percent of the population lived on less than $ 1.25 in 2000, whereas in 2011 only 31 percent had an income below this threshold.

In 2015, Ethiopia had the highest economic growth in the world at 10.2 percent . In 2019, economic growth was 8.97 percent.

The unemployment rate is given as 17.5% in 2012. Most jobs are informal and underemployment is widespread. In 2013, 72.7% of the total workforce worked in agriculture, 19.9% ​​in the service sector and 7.4% in industry. The total number of employees is estimated at 52.8 million for 2017, 47.3% of them women. Trade unions are allowed, but the state union, the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, dominates working life in the country.


The share of agriculture in the gross domestic product fell from 52 percent (status: 2001) to 38 percent in 2016 in favor of a rapidly growing service sector. Due to the ecological diversity, there are different agricultural use systems in Ethiopia.

  • Nomadism : It exists in all deserts and semi-deserts in the lower elevations. Most of the time, the families drive their herds of cattle back and forth between different pastures due to the season. Nomadism in which long distances are covered over years is rare. The pastures are now becoming scarcer. This is due to the increasing population, but also to the expansion of commercial farms such as in the Danakil plain . There the Afar lost their best grazing areas along the Awash in the 1950s and 1960s . These farms were nationalized in 1975 and partially enlarged. Many Afar now work on these farms or farm themselves.
  • Semi-nomadism or transhumance : This land use was previously widespread among many Oromo peoples . Fields are worked with a hand hoe in order to grow grain. Today this form of land use still occurs in some parts of Bale. In the last 100 years, more and more people migrated from the north to the south after Menelik II had conquered the south. The plow became more and more popular because it made more intensive land use possible.
  • Slash and burn : This type of land use occurs in the border areas with Sudan . The bush is cleared and / or burned. Large trees usually stay where they are. The soil is then plowed or tilled with a hoe. The land is used for three to five years. If the natural fertility of the soil is exhausted, a rest period of 15 to 25 years follows, during which the soil is again overgrown by natural vegetation. The increasing scarcity of land forces the population to cultivate their fields at ever shorter intervals. Long-term use is no longer guaranteed without the necessary measures to protect resources . In many areas a similar process is taking place today as it was decades and centuries ago in northern Ethiopia, which has led to a tremendous destruction of the ecology.
  • Agriculture : In the northern highlands, humans began to settle in agriculture 7000 to 8000 years ago. The soil is worked with the plow , which is mostly pulled by oxen . The seeds are sown widely and worked in with the plow. Plants that reproduce generatively are typical . These include grains , legumes, and oilseeds . The most important crops are teff (mainly used for human consumption in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti), sorghum , maize , wheat , barley , finger millet , rapeseed and sesame . The soil fertility is maintained by crop rotation with legumes and fallow land for several years . In fields near the farm, animal manure is used .

Key figures

All values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year GNI
(purchasing power parity)
GNI per capita
(purchasing power parity)
GDP growth per year
1990 020.2 billion 0.420 02.7%
1995 023.8 billion 0.420 06.1%
2000 032.4 billion 0.490 06.1%
2005 049.9 billion 0.650 11.8%
2010 091.9 billion 1,050 12.6%
2011 104.5 billion 1,160 11.2%
2012 115.6 billion 1,250 08.6%
2013 129.9 billion 1,370 10.6%
2014 145.7 billion 1,500 10.3%
2015 162.7 billion 1,630 10.4%
2016 177.0 billion 1,730 07.6%
2017 198.1 billion 1,890 10.2%

Energy industry

Ethiopia is on the big leap forward in terms of the development of the country (with a rapidly growing population). This includes building an infrastructure as quickly as possible and also expanding the energy industry as one of the most important prerequisites for rapid economic growth .

Power generation

Due to the favorable external conditions for energy generation in many places , Ethiopia has the option of largely doing without the fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas that are abundant in the country . Instead, the focus is on renewable energies : hydropower , wind power , solar energy and geothermal energy . The external conditions in Ethiopia are favorable to make the country a major exporter of clean and inexpensive renewable energy. The long-term goal is the construction of hydro and wind power plants with a capacity of more than 20,000 MW each in addition to the existing stock.

However, the planning is in stark contrast to reality. In the period of five years from 2009/10 to 2014/15, the installed capacity from hydropower alone should be increased fivefold from approx. 2000 to 10,000 MW. In contrast, the total installed capacity (including hydropower) in 2015 was 2267 MW, the planned expansion of hydropower was only achieved by 3.9%. The reason was a tight financial framework that prevented and delayed projects. Since the start of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with a planned 6450 MW in 2011, the financing framework has again narrowed significantly. The GERD project, a national prestige project, has to be paid for by the Ethiopian government alone because of international differences and in 2015 devoured around 15 percent of the GNP or 60 percent of the state budget. In 2016, the largest completed power plant in Ethiopia, Gilgel Gibe III with 1870 MW installed capacity , eased the situation .


In contrast, electrification is only progressing gradually within Ethiopia. While less than 25 percent of the population was connected to the power grid in 2010, it should be 75 percent by 2015, a target that was missed by around 15 percentage points. By 2020 it should be 90 percent. The delayed construction program for power plants and the increasing electrification of the country are leading to electricity shortages in the economy. In the drought year 2015/16 in particular, there were repeated power outages because the reservoirs were partially dry and the number of consumers had increased sharply. Here, the Gilge Gibel III hydropower plant, which was partially commissioned prematurely, with its water and electricity reserves prevented a partial collapse of the Ethiopian economy.

A structural expansion of the electricity infrastructure will remain necessary. Increasing electrification and economic growth mean that the demand for electricity is increasing by 30% annually. After the commissioning of Gilgel Gibe III in 2016, there was initially enough electricity available. However, this immediately resulted in a deficit in the number of substations and transmission lines, which were insufficiently available and quickly overloaded and provoke numerous and long-lasting power failures over days. To remedy this, you need to: an extensive provision of new public substations is planned, which should be completed by 2018. Private substations are also being built by companies (such as steelworks) in order to bypass energy rationing and to be able to use the energy provided.

Energy exports

Despite the relative bottleneck in energy generation, Ethiopia exports electricity in order to refinance the power plants and, above all, to secure the rapidly growing East Africa energy market as fully as possible due to the very cheap electricity . The country has been exporting electricity to Djibouti since June 2011 and to Sudan and Kenya since 2012  - at close to cost price. Ethiopia is strategically aiming for a comprehensive supply of all of East Africa (Kenya, Uganda , Tanzania , Rwanda , South Sudan and other countries); the low prices should be adjusted as soon as a comprehensive supply is available. A milestone was recorded here in 2016 when Ethiopia and Kenya began jointly building a 500 kV high-voltage direct current transmission line over 1045 km, which is to be commissioned at the end of 2018. This line is intended to supply the whole of East Africa with up to 2000 MWe of transmitted power. In the medium to long term, an energy corridor to Europe is to be created.


Traveling has a long tradition in Ethiopia, so there are (mostly modest) accommodations everywhere, the standard of which is often far removed from European standards. In northern Ethiopia, on the “Historic Route”, which is very popular with tourists, there is a hotel in the state hotel chain in every city that meets western standards. All major cities are served by Ethiopian Airlines . Sights include Bahir Dar on Lake Tana , (Blue) Nile Falls, Gondar / Gonder (Palace of Emperor Fasilides ), Simien National Park , Axum (cathedral, stele fields), Lalibela (rock-hewn churches), Awash National Park (Awash waterfall) , Langano Lake, Dire Dawa . Also worth seeing, 500 km east of Addis Ababa, is the small city of Harar, declared a World Heritage Site (90 mosques, Arthur Rimbaud's home ).

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 11.85 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 10.07 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 2.4 percent of GDP . The national debt in 2015 was $ 39.73 billion, or 54.8 percent of GDP.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:


The Alfred Ilg family in front of a locomotive made by SLM , Winterthur, in Dire Dawa around 1902–1906

Domestic shipping in Ethiopia only takes place on the great lakes (especially on Lake Tana ). The country's rivers are not navigable (with the exception of the Baro during the rainy season).

Import and export traffic

Ethiopia is a landlocked country with no access to the sea, so it has no ports of its own. 87 percent of Ethiopia's import and export traffic and 97 percent of imports go through the port of Djibouti in Djibouti City . Port Sudan is also used to a lesser extent in Sudan , mainly for the export of coffee . In 2016, an agreement was reached on the use of the port of Berbera in Somaliland . After massive investments in infrastructure, Berbera is supposed to take over up to 30 percent of foreign trade.

Due to the importance of Djibouti for imports and exports, Ethiopia attaches importance to the development of good connections (rail, road) to Djibouti.

Road traffic

The transport infrastructure is underdeveloped. However, all major cities are already (as of 2018) accessible on good asphalt roads. In 2003, Ethiopia had a total of 33,856 kilometers of roads, which by May 2016 had more than tripled to 113,213 kilometers due to a massive road construction program. In contrast, the proportion of asphalt roads in the total length of all roads was around one eighth in both years and thus remained largely constant. Every year around 11 percent of new roads are added (as of 2011).

Road traffic is considered unsafe. In 2013 there were a total of 25.3 road deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants in Ethiopia. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. In total, more than 23,800 people were killed in traffic. The road death rate is much higher when compared to the country's low motorization rate. In 2017 there were 8 vehicles for every 1,000 inhabitants in the country (in Germany there were over 500 vehicles).

Due to centuries of subsistence farming and isolation, the country is less geared towards foreign trade and only to a limited extent towards domestic trade and therefore had only a few roads for transport . For economic development, there is therefore a very high need for new construction and expansion in road construction , especially for all-weather roads, which will not be covered for a long time, even with the high annual new construction efforts. In the two rainy seasons , many transport routes become impassable and people are often cut off from the markets and medical facilities for weeks.

The route between Addis Ababa via Adama to the seaport of Djibouti is particularly important for foreign trade, although the section between Addis Ababa and Adama, which is also important for inner-Ethiopian traffic, is heavily frequented. Since August 2016, Ethiopia has had its first fully commissioned 85 km long motorway with three lanes in each direction from the cities of Addis Ababa via Modjo to Adama. There are six connection points between the two end points . A continuation over 202 km from Modjo along the East African rift valley south to Awassa is under construction (status: 2018).

Rail transport

There is a single, a total of 756 km long (656 km of which in Ethiopia) standard-gauge and fully electrified railway line , which runs from Sebeta directly west of Addis Ababa via Awash to Dewele on the border with Djibouti and from there to the container port of Djibouti City on the Gulf of Tadjoura . This railway line, officially opened at the end of 2016, serves as an economic lifeline in Ethiopia, which itself has no access to the sea. The 115 km stretch between Sebeta and Adama is two-lane, otherwise single-lane. In 2015, the foundation stone was laid for a second single-track railway line from northern Ethiopia over 268 km from Mek'ele to Weldiya , which will later be extended to Djibouti City. As of 2018, a 391 km long single-track connecting line between the two railway lines between Awash and Weldiya is also under construction.


The telecommunications network in Ethiopia is now well developed. There are public telephones in all regional centers and often internet cafes, cafes and telephone shops. The prices for telecommunications, especially for calls abroad, are very high and are around 15 birr / minute for a call to Germany. Internet connections are often very slow, so that they can hardly be used or only with a great deal of patience. A cellular network already exists in some parts of the country. So far there are roaming agreements with the operator E-Plus and Telekom. An Ethiopian SIM card costs around 60 Birr (as of August 2011) and can also be purchased by foreigners in telecommunications shops, hotels or directly from Ethiopian Telecom . The area code for Ethiopian mobile phone numbers consists of the digits 091, followed by another number for the region. In 2016, 11.6 percent of the population used the Internet.

air traffic

Out of a total of 58 airports in Ethiopia, only 15 are regularly served by domestic flights. Only two are international airports, Dire Dawa Airport with a single international destination (Djibouti) and Bole International Airport in the capital Addis Ababa with 85 international destinations in scheduled flights. The airport in Addis Ababa, which operates beyond its capacity limits (6–7 million PAX ), is to be expanded to a capacity of 22 million PAX by 2018/19.


The rock church Bet Gyiorgis in Lalibela

Due to its Christian traditions and historical isolation, it is culturally distinctly different from other countries in sub-Saharan Africa . This is expressed in the architecture and art of the country, including the Ethiopian cuisine .

Ethiopia has a society with an old, tradition-conscious culture. In the current phase of intensive reforms, questions of cultural policy are increasing. The striving for independence of ethnic groups, who are given greater leeway within the framework of regionalization policy, also have an impact in the field of education. The central state withdraws to a framework competence in cultural matters. It is up to the regions to decide whether the lessons are generally held in Amharic or a regional language, as in the past.


Religious Ethiopian painting

The painting, which is atypical for sub- Saharan Africa, and the production of fine handicrafts (such as the jewelry worn by the Ethiopian women) have their roots in the old North African-Near Eastern cultural area. They have held up to this day, embedded in the country's unbroken Christian tradition.

Typical media of Ethiopian painting used to be book illuminations , panel paintings , procession paintings and wall paintings . There are three different epochs: the early period (14th to the beginning of the 16th century), a second period (culminating in the 17th century) and the third period (from the end of the 17th century).

One of the most important modern Ethiopian painters is Afewerk Tekle (Afawarq Takle, 1932–2012), who designed large-format oil paintings, sculptures and practical art up to postage stamps. Along with Gebre Kristos Desta (1932–1981), Ale Felege Selam (* 1929) and Alexander Boghosian (Skunder Boghosian, 1937–2003), he is one of the leading painters who brought modern art concepts to Ethiopia.



Krar player

The pentatonic traditional music is very different from the music of the rest of Africa. It is played by singer-poets called Azmari , who travel through the country with songs in ballad form, spreading old stories and taking a stand on current issues. They usually accompany their praising and abusive songs in tej bets (restaurants where Tej honey wine is served) on the lyre krar , the single-stringed bowed spit lute masinko or occasionally play the flute waschint .

The venerable great lyre beganna is only played on solemn religious occasions. The singing tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which also includes instrumental music and dance, is called zema ("sound, song, melody"). Its introduction is attributed to the holy Yared who worked in the 6th century . Sacred musical instruments that were previously used in courtly ceremonies are the trumpet malakat , the flute embilta and the barrel drum kebero . The formerly ceremonial kettle drum negarit has practically disappeared.

Modern Ethiopian music

In addition to traditional forms of music, vital popular music developed from the 1950s, especially in the big cities, which combined western and local styles. In addition to traditional forms of music, the military music of the military orchestras that have been increasingly popular since the 1920s served as the basis. The best known and most successful were those of the army, the police and the imperial bodyguard. There were also soloists such as the saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya , who transferred traditional singing styles to his saxophone playing and was often compared to free jazz saxophonists such as Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler .

These combinations developed further in the 1960s, when western styles such as rhythm and blues and soul were integrated by musicians like Bizunesh Bekele or by Mulatu Astatke jazz and Latin American music . Tilahun Gesesse , who is still considered the "voice of Ethiopia" and was accompanied by the orchestra of the Imperial Bodyguard in the 1960s, is also of outstanding importance .

In the 1970s, developed orchestras such as the Wallias band analogies to early radio a James Brown . With the fall of the emperor and the beginning of the military dictatorship, the majority of the established artists fled; through this bloodletting and the restrictive conditions of the dictatorship, Ethiopian popular music lost its high level. Well-known artists of this time were Ethio Stars , Roha Band and the singer Neway Debebe . Aster Aweke achieved great success abroad . She made her first recordings in Addis Ababa in the mid-1970s and then emigrated to the USA. Today she is Ethiopia's most internationally known musician.

Other important artists of the so-called "Golden Years of Ethiopian Music" are Mahmoud Ahmed , Alemayehu Eshete , Hirut Bekele , Ali Birra , Ayalew Mesfin , Kiros Alemayehu and Muluken Mellesse .

Since 1994, the French label Buda Musique has released around twenty CDs of classical Ethiopian popular music, especially as part of its series Éthiopiques , and has thus introduced numerous artists in the West.


The oldest game boards (6th-8th centuries AD) of the game Mancala were found in the northwest of Ethiopia, in Matara and Yeha . Richard Pankhurst described a total of 103 variants of this game in Ethiopia in 1971 . One is for example Lamlameta and is played by the Konso . Ethiopia has also produced its own variant of chess , Senterej . This game has been played for at least five hundred years. The biggest difference to the well-known chess is the opening called Werera , in which the players move as quickly or as slowly as they want without waiting for the opponent.


Ethiopia has a long tradition of excellent long-distance runners. 20 athletes from Ethiopia won 53 Olympic medals (22 gold, 10 silver, 21 bronze; as of 2016). The best long-distance runners in the world come from just a few ethnic groups in Ethiopia and Kenya . Success is attributed to many factors: genetic selection (in the millennia-old tradition as shepherds and hunters in the savannah in the highlands), high maximum oxygen uptake , walking and running in the highlands (from home to distant school), high hemoglobin levels through life in the highlands, optimal running economy through barefoot running from an early age, diet with a lot of protein and carbohydrates and little fat, striving for sporting success as an opportunity to earn a living. Due to the European influence (also from Eastern Europe) and the European managers who organize the sport (e.g. Jos Hermens ), the training in Ethiopia is based on the most modern principles of training theory. Soccer and volleyball are among the most popular sports. The Ethiopian national soccer team was only able to achieve presentable successes in the 1960s (winning the African Championship in 1962 in their own country) and was long considered one of the weakest teams in the African soccer association . It was not until 2005 that there was an upturn when the national team won the CECAFA Cup (the East and Central African Championship). This upswing continued in the following years, which is evident, among other things, from qualifying for the Africa championship for the first time since 1982 .

Traditional sports

Typical Ethiopian sports are genna , a form of hockey that is traditionally played around the time of the Ethiopian Christmas - on January 7th.

Also Gugs , an equestrian game, is a well known traditional sport in Ethiopia.

Well-known athletes


Ethiopia has its own calendar, the Ethiopian calendar . It is similar to the Coptic Calendar , but is 276 years ahead of it. Ethiopia is the land of 13 months ("13 months of sunshine"), twelve months of 30 days each and one month with five or six days (leap year adjustment). The calendar is almost eight years behind the Gregorian calendar . The Ethiopian New Year always begins on September 11th. Since Ethiopia is internationally linked in banking, air travel and communication, both calendars are used side by side. All over the country calendars are available that list both currently valid dates at the same time, for example August 7, 2005 corresponds to December 1, 1997 EC (Ethiopian Calendar). Ethiopia also calculates the respective time of day differently: the day begins at 6 am (European calculation), so in Ethiopia in the morning at 7 am "the first hour of the day" is over (1 am in Ethiopian counting), so midday is Ethiopian at 6 am Counting method, 12 o'clock according to the Ethiopian counting method is 6 p.m. according to European calculations (due to the time difference, however, only 3 p.m. CET ).

Amharic Oromo Coptic Beginning Duration
Mäskäräm Fulbaana Does September 11th or 12th 30 days
Ṭəqəmt Onkoloolessa Babah October 11th or 12th 30 days
Həhdar Sadassa Hatur November 10th or 11th 30 days
Tahsas Tired Kiyahk December 10th or 11th 30 days
Ṭər Amajjii Tubah January 9th or 10th 30 days
Yakatite Guraandhala Amshir February 8th or 9th 30 days
Mägabit Bitootessa Baramhat March 10th 30 days
Miyazəya Ebla Baramundah 9th April 30 days
Gnbot Caamsaa Bashans May 9 30 days
Sane Waxabajjii Ba'unah 8th June 30 days
Hamle Adoolessa Abib 8th of July 30 days
Sewing nose Hagayya Misra August 7th 30 days
Pagumes Qammee Nasi September 6th 5 or 61 days

¹ before leap year in the Gregorian calendar
² in the leap year in the Gregorian calendar

public holidays

The holidays in Ethiopia are the New Year (September 11), the Christian Orthodox holidays at Easter and Christmas, and the Islamic holidays at the end of Ramadan and the Feast of Sacrifice.

date German name Native name Remarks
January 7th Orthodox Christmas holiday Genna
Islamic Festival of Sacrifice 'Īd ul-Adha movable holiday according to the Islamic calendar
January 19th Appearance of the Lord Timkat
2nd March Day of the Battle of Adua Ye'adowa B'al
Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed Mawlid an-Nabi movable holiday according to the Islamic calendar
Orthodox Good Friday Siqlet (crucifixion) moving holiday
Orthodox Easter Fasika moving holiday
Easter Monday (public holiday) moving holiday
1st of May Labor Day
5th of May Patriot Day Arbegnoch Qen
28th of May National holiday End of the Derg regime
18th of August Boo
September 11 Ethiopian New Year Festival Inqut'at'ash
September 27th Finding the Cross Meskel Commemoration of the Christianization of Ethiopia
End of ramadan 'Īd al-Fitr movable holiday according to the Islamic calendar


  • Ethiopia, Empire between Yesterday and Tomorrow A film by Manfred Purzer and Makonnen Desta, FRG 1956
  • Departure to new shores by Jörg Teuscher and others; Television of the GDR 1980
  • Adwa: An African Victory A film by Haile Gerima, 1999, in English
  • Alfred Ilg - The White Abyssinian A film by Christoph Kühn, Switzerland 2003
  • Kezkaza Wolafen A film by Tewodros Teshome, 2003, in Amharic with English subtitles
  • Teza-Morgentau A film by Haile Gerima, Ethiopia, USA / Germany / France 2008, 138 min, English subtitles


Web links

Wiktionary: Ethiopia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Ethiopia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Ethiopia  - geographical and historical maps
 Wikinews: Ethiopia  - in the news
Wikivoyage: Ethiopia  Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 8 °  N , 39 °  E