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Info Africa - ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia Ethiopia is an eastern African country, which lies west of Somalia. It borders Kenya, Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia. Ethiopia is a unique African country as it was never colonized. The old Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, apart from the 1936-41 Italian occupation during the Second World War. Emperor Haile Selassie ruled Ethiopia until the military coup1974. Selassie will always be remembered as Ethiopia’s Hero; the man who led the resistance against Italian invasion and helped establish the Organization of African Unity (current called African Union) in 1963, with a headquarters in Addis Ababa. Currently, Ethiopia is quite stable, in terms of its political and economic situation, however problems still exist, as with many developing countries. Ethiopia is located along the Great Rift Valley, which explains the various topography of this country. Northern parts of Ethiopia are steeper, while southern regions are flatter and more suited to agriculture. The Blue Nile River and its source, Lake Tana, are also in Ethiopia, along with other Rift Valley Lakes. Near the Somali border is the city of Harar; a Muslim walled city and the center for the coffee trade. After all, Ethiopia is known as Africa’s leading coffee producers. There are numerous historic sites in Ethiopia, such as the city of Gondar. This city was Ethiopia’s capital from 1632 to 1855 and is home to different ruined castles. Lalibela is a well-known place, which is known for its ancient rock-hewn cave churches. Ethiopia’s capital city is Addis Ababa, located in the central highlands. It is home to many historical attractions, from the St’ George’s Cathedral and the Ethnology Museum to the Menelik Mausoleum. Addis Ababa has one of the largest markets in Africa called Merkato. There are 83 spoken languages in Ethiopia, as well as 200 different dialects. The most popular Ethiopian food is Injera; pancake-like bread made from a unique cereal grain known as Tef, which one eats with different kinds of stews. The people of Ethiopia love their music and enjoy dancing and singing traditional songs. In fact, singing accompanies many agricultural activities, as well as religious festivals and ceremonies, similar to many African countries.

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CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Ethiopia's Flag hree equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and red with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centered on the three bands; Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, and the three main colors of her flag were so often adopted by other African countries upon independence that they became known as the pan-African colors

Nationality: Ethiopian

Capital: Addis Ababa

Population: 74,777,981 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 43.7%
  • 15-64 years: 53.6%
  • 65 years and over: 2.7% (2006 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.31% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and over can read and write
  • 42.7% of the population is literate (male: 50.3%, female: 35.1% ) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%

Languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English

Quick Facts
  • total: 1,127,127 sq km
  • land: 1,119,683 sq km
  • water: 7,444 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: the size of Ontario

Natural resources: small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower.

Environmental Issues: deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water shortages in some areas from water-intensive farming and poor management.


The economy of Ethiopia is based on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, 60% of exports and 80% of total employment. This agriculture sector however often suffers as a result of recurrent droughts and poor cultivation practices. Coffee plays an important role in the Ethiopian economy, with exports of $156 million in 2002 alone. Low coffee prices have pushed many farmers into other products to supplement their income. The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1998 – 2000) along with the frequent droughts has affected the economy, specifically the coffee production. In 2001, Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In December 2005, the IMF agreed to forgive Ethiopia’s debt to this organization. As a result of Ethiopia’s land tenure system, the government owns all land and leases it to tenants on long-term basis. This system hinders the growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs cannot use land as collateral for loans. In late 2002, the drought led to a 2% decline in GDP in 2003. Better weather patterns in late 2003 helped the agricultural sector, leading to GDP growth in 2004 – 2005.

Major industries:

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

Agricultural products:

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

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003 est.)


  • 681 km (Ethiopian segment of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad)
    narrow gauge: 681 km 1.000-m gauge
    note: railway under joint control of Djibouti and Ethiopia (2004)

Road map: 33,856 km (paved: 4,367 km, unpaved: 29,489 km)

Currency: birr (ETB)


Telephone lines in use: 435,000 (2003)

Cellular lines in use: 178,000 (2004)

Television Stations: 1 plus 24 repeaters (2002)

Radio Stations: AM 8, FM 0, shortwave 1 (2001)

Internet users: 87 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 4.4% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 1.5 million (2003 est.)

More Information

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