A General History of Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s history as an organized and independent polity dates back to about 100 BC with a kingdom at Axum in the Northern Regional state (Killil) of Tigray.
But the Axumite kingdom as a state, emerged at about the beginning of the Christian era, i.e.,4th A.D and flourished during the succeeding six or seven centuries. It then underwent prolonged decline from the eighth to the twelfth century A.D. Axum’s period of greatest power lasted from the 4th through the 6th centuries .Its core area lay in the highlands of what’s today southern Eritrea, Tigray, Lasta (in the present-day Wallo), and Angot (also in Wallo); its major centers were at Axum and Adulis. Earlier centers, such as Yeha, also contributed to its growth. At the kingdom's height, its rulers over the Red sea coast from Sawak in present day Sudan, in the North to Berbera in the present-day Somalia and inland as far as the Nile valley in modern Sudan. On the Arabian side of the Red sea, the Axumite rulers at times controlled the Coast and much of the interior of modern Yemen. During the sixth and seventh centuries, the Axumite state lost its possessions in South West Arabia and much of its Red sea coast line and gradually shrank to its core area, with the political center of the state shifting farther and farther Southward.
The rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula had a significant impact on Axum kingdom during the seventh and eighth centuries .By the time of the Prophet Mohammed’s death (A.D.632), the Arabian Peninsula, and thus the entire opposite shore of the Red sea, had come under the influence of the new religion. The steady advance of the faith of Mohammed through the next century resulted in Islamic conquest of all of the former Sassanian Empire and most of the former Byzantine domination.
During the spread of Islam by conquest, the Islamic State's relations with Axum were not hostile at first. According to Islamic tradition, some members of Mohammed’s family and some of his early converts had taken refuge in Axum during the troubled years presiding the Prophet’s rise to power, and Axum was exempted from the Jihad, or Holy war, as a result. The Arabs also considered the Axumite state to be on a par with the Islamic State, the Byzantine Empire, and China of the world’s greatest kingdoms. Commerce between Axum and at least some Ports on the Red sea continued, albeit on an increasingly reduced scale.
When Axum collapsed in the eighth century, power shifted to South. As early as the mid-seventh century, the old capital at Axum had been abandoned; thereafter, it served only as a religious center and as a place of coronation for a succession of kings who traced their lineage to Axum. By then, Axumite cultural, political, and religious influence had been established South of Tigray in Agew districts such as Lasta,Wag, Angot and eventually, Amhara.
This southward expansion continued over the following several centuries. The favored technique for expansion involved the establishment of military colonies, which served as core centers from which Axumite culture, Semitic language, and Christianity spread to the surrounding Agew population. By the tenth century, a post-Axumite Christian kingdom had emerged which controlled the central Northern highlands from modern Eritrea to Shewa and the coast from old Adulis to Zeila in present-day Somalia, territory considerably larger than the Axumites had governed.
During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Shewa region became the scene of renewed Christian expansion, carried out by Semities people-the Amhara.
About 1137 A.D. a new Dynasty came to power in the Christian highlands known as the Zagwe Dynasty and its center was based in the Agew district of Lasta. It developed naturally out of the long cultural and political contact between Cushitic and Semitic-speaking peoples in the Northern highlands. Staunch Christians ,the Zagwe ,devoted themselves to the construction of new churches and monasteries. These were often modeled after Christian religious edifices in the Holy Land, a locale the Zagwe and their subjects held in special esteem. The Zagwe kings were responsible, among other things, for the great churches carved into the rock in and around their capital at Adefa. During the time Adefa became known as Lalibela, the name of the Zagwe king to whose reign the Adefa churches’ construction had been attributed. Despite the Zagwe's championing of Christianity and their artistic achievements notwithstanding, there was discontent among the populace in what is now Eritrea and Tigray and among the Amhara, an increasingly powerful people who inhabited a region called Amhara to the south of the Zagwe center at Adefa. About 1270 A.D., an Amhara noble, Yekuno Amlak, drove out the last Zagwe ruler and proclaimed himself king.
The new dynasty that Yekuno Amlak founded came to be known as the "Solomonic" Dynasty because its scions claimed descent not only from Axum but also from king Solomon of ancient Israel. According to traditions that were eventually molded into a national epic, lineage of Axumite kings originated with the offspring of an alleged union between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Consequently, the notion arose that royal legitimacy derived from descent in a line of Solomonic kings. The Zagwes were denied to have any share in that heritage and viewed as usurpers. Yekuno Amlak’s accession, thus, came to be seen as the legitimate “restoration” of the Solomonic line.
Beginning in the thirteenth century, one of the chief problems confronting the Christian kingdom, then ruled by the Amhara, was the threat of Muslim encirclement. By that time, a variety of people East and South of the highlands had embraced Islam, and some had established powerful sultanates (or Sheikhdoms) .One of these was the Sultanate of Ifat in the North Eastern Shewa foot hills, and another was centered in the Islamic city of Harar farther East. In the lowlands along the Red Sea were two other important Muslim peoples - the Afar and the Somali.
Although the Christian state was unable to impose its rule over the Muslim states to the East, it was strong enough to resist the Muslims incursions throughout the fourteenth and most of the fifteenth century.
By the second decade of the sixteenth century, however, a young soldier in the Adali army, Ahmed Ibin Ibrhim Al Ghazi ,had begun to acquire a strong following by virtue of his military successes and in time became the de facto leader of Adal. Concurrently, he acquired the states of a religious leader. Ahmed, who came to be called Gran (the “left handed“) by his Christian enemies, rallied the ethnically diverse Muslims, including many Afar and Somali, in a Jihad intended to break Christian power.
It was not until 1543 that Emperor Galawdewos (reigned 1540-49), joined by a small number of Portuguese soldiers requested earlier by Lebena Dengel, defeated the Muslim forces and killed Gran. The death of charismatic Gran destroyed the unity of the Muslim forces that had been created by their leader’s successes, skill, and reputation as a warrior and religious figure. Christian armies slowly pushed Muslims back and regained control of the highlands.
With the request of the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia, Portugal gave an assistance for the defeat of the Muslims .The first Portuguese forces responded to a request for aid in 1541, although by that time the Portuguese were concerned primarily with strengthening their hegemony over the Indian Ocean trade routes and with converting the Ethiopians to Roman Catholicism. Nevertheless, joining the forces of the Christian kingdom, the Portuguese succeeded eventually in helping to defeat and kill Gran.
Efforts to induce the Ethiopians to reject their Monophysite beliefs and accept Rome’s supremacy continued for nearly a century and engendered bitterness as Pro-and Anti-Catholic parties maneuvered for control of the state . At last the expulsion of the Jesuits and all Roman Catholic missionaries followed. This religious controversy contributed to the isolation that followed for the next 200 years.
Emperor Fasiladas kept out the disruptive influences of the foreign Christians, dealt with sporadic Muslim incursions, and in general sought to reassert central authority and to reinvigorate the Solomonic monarchy and the Orthodox church .He established his camp at Gonder - a locale that gradually developed into a permanent capital and which became the cultural and political center of Ethiopia during the Gonder period.
After the 16th century of Fasiladas’s time most of Ethiopia’s history was dominated by regional nobility. But through this nobility sentiment, a certain king who was devoted to the unity of the country, rose. Tewodros II’s origin was in the era of the princess, but his ambitions were not those of the regional nobility. After controlling Shewa, he faced constant rebellions in other provinces, despite the fact that he could reign in a relatively peaceful atmosphere from 1861 to 1863. After 1863 internal and external oppositions were enhanced against Emperor Tewodros and Emperor Yohannes succeeded him in 1868.
By the late 18th century; although powerless Emperors and the Ethiopian Orthodox (Coptic) church provided an element of continuity, real power was in the hands of provincial Nobles from the highlands of Tigry, Oromo and Amhara, who fought for control of the throne .In 1880’s Yohannes IV from Tigray region successfully fended off Egyptians, Italians and Dervishes; his successor, Menilik of shoa, reunited and expanded the empire to the East, South and West of Shoa, taking over largely Oromo inhabited areas rich in coffee, gold, ivory and slaves. Menilik‘s successes coincides with the arrival of the European colonial powers. He defeated the Italians at the battle of Adowa in 1896.
Menilik (who died in 1913) presided over the first stages of Ethiopian’s modernization Haile Selassie (Emperor during1930-74) ;turned Ethiopia into a centralized autocracy. The process was interrupted by the Italian invasion and conquest of 1935-41. But after Ethiopia’s liberation Emperor Haile Selassie continued a largely successful policy of centralization, playing off the United Kingdom, which came close to occupying Ethiopia after 1941 (it only withdrew from the Ogaden in 1948 and reserved Haud area in 1954), against the USA. In 1952, after protracted discussion, Eritrea, a UN-mandated territory after the war, was federated with Ethiopia. Haile Silassie immediately begun dismantling its institutions, including the press ,trade unions, political parties and the elected parliament ,an anathema to his own highly centralized structure of control. In 1962 Eritrea became a province of Ethiopia, igniting the Eritrean struggle for independence. The struggle originally led by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), suported mainly by Muslim pastoralists from low land areas, by the early 1970’s was joined by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which was more representative of the Tigrian highland agriculturists.
Emperor Haile Sellasie supplied the trappings of a more modern state, including, in 1955, a constitution with an elected, though powerless, parliament. He made no real effort to change land policy, or adjust the hierarchies of administrative power. During his reign Ethiopia remained essentially feudal, with small Amhara-dominated modern sectors in the bureaucracy and in industry. This provided the impetus for opposition among non-Amhara nationalities, in Tigrai region in 1943, among Oromos and Somalies in Bale in 1963-70 , and after 1961 in Eritrea. Emperor Haile Sellasie himself preferred to concentrate on international affairs. During his era Addis Ababa became the head quarters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. His main ally was the USA. Ethiopia, the main recipient of US aid in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, provided the USA with a major communications base at Kagnew, in Eritrea.
Long term weaknesses of the regime included a growing agrarian crisis, inequitable distribution of land, and lack of development. More immediately, the costs of the revolt in Eritrea after 1961, drought and famine in Wallo in 1972-74 (in which 200,000 people died), and, by 1973, Haile Sellasie ‘s own near senility and his failure to designate an heir, fuelled the grievances of the military, students and workers. A series of army mutinies, started in January 1974, accompanied paralleled civilian strikes.Attempts at reform by a new Prime Minister made little progress, and from June a coordinating committee of the armed forces begun to arrest leading officials. Haile Sellasie was deposed in September, and was murdered the following year. His remains were finally reburied in Trinity Cathedral in November 2001, with the presence of many of the exiled royal family.The monarchy was formally abolished in March 1975.
Under the influence of left-wing politicians, the Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC), which replaced the Imperial regime, begun to see itself as the vanguard of Ethiopian revolution. In December 1974, Ethiopia was declared a Socialist state, and a program of revolutionary reforms called Ethiopia Tikdem ('Ethiopia First’) was initiated.
In April 1976, the Derg set forth its goals in greater detail in the program for the National Democratic Revolution (PNDR). As announced by the leaders, these objectives included progress toward Socialism under the leadership of workers, peasants, the petite bourgeoisie, and all anti-feudal and anti-imperialist forces. The Derg’s ultimate aim was the creation of a one party system.
Soon after taking power, the Derg promoted Ye- Itiopia Hibrtesebeawinet (Ethiopian Socialism). The concept was embodied in slogans such as “self-reliance,” “the dignity of labor” and “the supremacy of the common good.” These slogans were devised to combat the wide spread disdain of mutual labor and a deeply rooted concern with status.
Although the government took a radical approach to land reform, it exercised some caution with respect to the industrial and commercial sectors .In January and February 1975, the Derg nationalized all Banks and Insurance firms and seized control of practically every important company in the country.
In February 1977, Mengistu declared himself as Derg’s chairman and set about consolidating his power. However, several internal and external challenges prevented Mengistu from doing this. Various insurgent groups posed the most serious threat to the Derg. In February 1977, a terrorist attack known as the White Terror had been initiated against Derg members and their supporters. This violence provoked a government's counteraction-the Red Terror. During the Red Terror, which lasted until late 1978, government security forces systematically hunted down and killed suspected members and supporters of opposition groups. Mengistu and the Derg eventually won the struggle.
Despite strengthening its power, Derg couldn’t stand the activities of insurgencies which appeared in various parts of the country ,the most important of which were in Eritrea and Tigray. The Derg decided to impose a military settlement on the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). Attempts to invade rebel-held Eritrea failed repeatedly, and the insurgent groups controlled most of the country. Despite large commitments of arms and training from Communist countries, the Derg failed to suppress the opposition.
Derg was able to intimidate and create disarray within the civilian opposition by detaining many leaders of labor, teacher and student groups because of their agitation against the military rule. The Derg’s hand against the opposition was strengthened resulting to an escalated struggle for freedom and democracy. As a result of these enhanced struggles, the regime was overthrown after 17 years of dictatorial rule, by the coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front ( EPRDF )on May 1991.
Federal Democratic Republic Of Ethiopia (FDRE)
Flag and Emblem
The Ethiopian flag comprises three colors. .In the center there is a national coat of arms .The three colors are set horizontally in equal dimension with Green at the top, Yellow in the middle , and Red at the bottom .
- The national coat of arms is a blue circle with depiction ;
Straight and equal lines of yellow come from all direction and join each other .
A star formed by the straight and equal lines.
Yellow rays radiating from the joints of the straight & equal
The national coat of arms on the flag reflects the desire of the nations , nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia ,as well as of its religious communities to live together in unity and equality.
Location and Boundary
Ethiopia is strategically located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by the Sudan on the west, Somalia and Djibouti on the East, Eritrea on the North and Kenya on the South. Its proximity to the Middle East and Europe, together with its easy access to the major ports of the region, enhances its international trade.
Ethiopia covers an area of 1.14 million square Kilometers (944,000 square miles)
Population (As of 2004 CSA)
Total: 71 million
Rular population: 84.87%
Urban population: 15.13%
Although Ethiopia lies within 15 degrees North of the Equator, owing to the moderating influence of high altitude, the country enjoys moderate temperature and pleasant climate, with average temperature rarely exceeding 20oc (68oF). The sparsely populated lowlands typically have sub–tropical and tropical climates. At approximately 850mm (34inches), the average annual rainfall for the whole country is considered to be moderate by global standards. In most of the high lands, rainfall occurs in two distinct seasons: the “small rains” during February and March and the “big rains” from June to September.
Entry Point by Air
Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa; upgraded airports include those at Dire Dawa ,Bahar Dar ,Gondar ,Lalibela , Axum, Arba Minch ,and Makale.
Entry Point by Rail
Dewele on the Dijibouti border. Arrivals undergo full customs and immigration checks. The rail way, with day and night trains, runs from Addis Ababa to Dijibouti via Nazaret ,Awash Station ,and Dire Dawa.
Entry Point by Road
Moyale (from Kenya), Humera And Metema (from Sudan), and Dewele (from Dijibouti) and Humera,Rama and Bure (from Eritera). All have full customs and immigration checks.
Telephone, telex, fax, internet and air mail services connect Addis Ababa to all parts of the world. Services are available at the General Post Office and its many branches ,as well as in the main hotels. International direct dialing is available from all major centers in the country.
The local currency is the Ethiopian birr, made up of 100 cents. Notes are issued in denominations of 1,5,10,50, and 100 birr. There are five different coins: 1,5,10,25, and 50 cents.
There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency imported into Ethiopia, but it must be declared on arrival, using a currency declaration form. Foreign currency may be changed only at authorized banks and hotels .The currency declaration form will be required by Customs on departure. Visitors may change back any excess birr into foreign currency at the air port before departure; but you must ,in addition to the currency declaration form ,bring with you all receipts for exchange transactions.
Drivers require a valid International Driving License, which can be obtained by exchanging your local license at the Transport and Communications office on Haile Gebre Sillasie Road in Addis Ababa. Visitors can recover their original driving licenses a day or so prior to departure. Those with their own vehicles will require a permit from the Ministry of Transport and Communication. Driving is on the right hand side.
Ethiopia uses 220 Volts and 50Hz. It is best to bring your own round, two-prong adapter and transformer if necessary.
All visitors (including infants) are required to posses a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. Vaccination against cholera is also required for any person who has visited or been in transit through a cholera-infected area within six days prior to arrival to Ethiopia. Malaria is endemic through out the country. Visitors should begin taking a recommended chloroquine-based prophylactic two weeks before their arrival and continue taking them for six weeks after their departure. In addition, medication for chloroquine –resistant malaria is a wise precaution.
Medical facilities are limited and of generally poor standard. Existing facilities are sorely over taxed. Tourists and non-citizen residents should go to private hospitals and clinics. Contact your Embassy for referral to recommended doctor. Air rescue services are available, and you might want to make arrangements with one before your trip.
Addis Ababa, the largest city that is the seat of the federal government of Ethiopia, lies in the central plateau at an altitude of 2400 meters. Its average temperature is 160c .
Addis Ababa was founded in 1887. It is a host to the African Unity (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Several other international organizations have their head quarters and branch offices in the Capital. Addis Ababa is also the center of commerce and industry.
Ethiopia’s other important centers of trade and industries are; Awassa, Dire Dawa, Gonder, Dessie, Nazareth, Jimma, Harrar, Bahir Dar, Mekele, Debre Markos and Nekemte. All these towns are connected to Addis Ababa by asphalt and gravel roads and most of them have good infrastructure facilities, such as first class hotels and airports.
Calendar and time
Ethiopia uses the Julian calendar which divides the year in 12 months of 30 days each, with the remaining five (or six days in a leap year) constituting the short 13th month of "pagume". In Greek pagume means “Additional“. The Ethiopian New Year commences on the 10th or 11th of September every year.
Ethiopia is in the GMT +3time zone. Business hours vary according to the nature of the business. Normally government office and most other office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 P.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:30Am to 11:30Am and 1:30pm to 5:30pm.
Banks are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. Working hours on Friday are 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3: 00 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 to 11a.m.
Socio Economic Context
Features of the Ethiopian Economy : An overview
Ethiopia is a country, which is richly endowed with huge manpower, arable land and natural resources. However, much of its potential is not yet exploited. To start with, out of the sixty percent of its landmass which is known to have the potential for agricultural development, only 15 percent is said to have been developed. Although its contribution to the national economy is very limited, the country's livestock wealth is the 2nd largest in Africa. The mineral resources' potential is also high, much of it yet to be exploited. A few of them are gold, platinum, marble, tantalite, copper, potash, soda-ash, zinc, nickel, iron, and natural gas.
The Ethiopian economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for about 50 percent of the GDP. An estimated 85% of the population gains its livelihood directly or indirectly from agricultural production. Coffee exports accounts for more than 65 percent of foreign exchange earnings, while processed and semi-processed hides and skins are the second important foreign exchange earners.
The level of development of the manufacturing sector in Ethiopia is at its infancy; and the country's industrial base is very low. The share of intermediate and capital goods industry is very insignificant. The industrial sector is heavily dependent on imports of semi-processed goods, raw materials, spare -parts and fuel. In addition to imported inputs, the factories depend upon backward and subsistence agriculture for their raw material demand.
It is only fourteen years since Ethiopia began moving from a state run economy to the market economy. The country is in the process of taking various reform measures.
The industries include food processing and beverages, automotive industries which include production of components and parts, textile and textile products and garments, leather and leather products, fertilizers (mini-Plant) and chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals are some among others.
With regard to the foreign direct investment (FDI) alone indicates that from 1992 - 2005, a total of 11,760 foreign and domestic investment projects with aggregate capital of 129 billion Birr have been issued with investment licenses of these more than 4 thousand projects are under operation and implementation.
Besides, the foreign currency inflow has helped to facilitate transfer of technology and skills, earn & save foreign exchange and create backward and forward linkage effects in the economy.
The "service" sector which consists of Trade, Transport and Communications, Banking, Insurance and Real State, Public Administration and Defense, Education, Health and Domestic and other personal services has increased.
Policies, Strategies and Programs Introduced by the Government.
The New Economic Policy
Based on the new economic policy, the government formulated a long-term economic development strategy-Agriculture -Led -Industrialization (ADLI) which is geared towards the transformation of the backward economic structure. It is a two-pronged strategy, incorporating on one side the external sector (export -led part) and on the other the internal sector which shows the forward and the backward -linkages between agriculture and industry. In the connection, (1) agriculture will supply commodities for exports, domestic food supply and industrial output; and (2) expand market for domestic manufactures. The mining sector is expected to give an impetus to the development of the export sector.
The country's development strategy is supported by an economic reform programme developed in cooperation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and on a series of structural adjustment programmes since 1992.
Major gains have been made from the reform programme, particularly as a result of liberalization, low inflation, fiscal discipline and low government borrowing, infrastructure improvement and the growth of the private sector.
The government has initiated a privatization programe since 1995/96. Since this period of time, 85% of 909 factories have been privatized. However the number of manufacturing industries at the verge of the EPRDF led government was 283 operating only 20% of their manufacturing capacity compared with 70% currently.