Ethiopia

ethiopia red

I INTRODUCTION

Ethiopia, republic in northeastern Africa, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. A rugged country of tall mountains and arid deserts, Ethiopia has a diverse population, with more than 80 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups.

Known as Abyssinia until the 20th century, Ethiopia is the oldest independent nation in Africa. It was home to the powerful Christian kingdom of Aksum that flourished from around the first century ad. After the 1500s Ethiopia divided into a number of small kingdoms, which were reunified by Menelik II in the 1880s. Eritrea, which had been part of Ethiopia since the 1950s, broke away to become an independent nation in 1993.

Ethiopia is bounded on the northeast by Eritrea and Djibouti, on the east and southeast by Somalia, on the southwest by Kenya, and on the west and northwest by Sudan. The country is divided into nine regions, one for each of its main ethnic groups. Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s capital and largest city.

II LAND AND RESOURCES

Ethiopia covers an area of 1,133,380 sq km (437,600 sq mi). The heart of the country is a high tableland, known as the Ethiopian Plateau, that covers more than half the total area of the country. The plateau is split diagonally in a northeastern to southwestern direction by the Great Rift Valley. Although the average elevation of the plateau is about 1,680 m (about 5,500 ft), it is cut by many rivers and deep valleys, some of which are 600 m (2,000 ft) below the level of the plateau. The area is capped by mountains, the highest of which is Ras Dashen (4,620 m/15,157 ft). These heights and indentations occur in northern Ethiopia, in the region surrounding Lake T’ana (the lake in which the Blue Nile rises). The northeastern edges of the plateau are marked by steep escarpments, which drop some 1,200 m (about 4,000 ft) or more to the Denakil Desert. Along the western fringe the plateau descends less abruptly to the desert of Sudan. Along the southern and southwestern limits, the plateau lowers toward Lake Turkana (formerly called Lake Rudolf).

A Climate

The climate of Ethiopia varies mainly according to elevation. The tropical zone below approximately 1,800 m (approximately 6,000 ft) has an average annual temperature of about 27°C (about 80°F) and receives less than about 500 mm (about 20 in) of rain annually. The subtropical zone, which includes most of the highland plateau and is between about 1,800 and 2,400 m (about 6,000 and 8,000 ft) in elevation, has an average temperature of about 22°C (about 72°F) with an annual rainfall ranging from about 500 to 1,500 mm (about 20 to 60 in). Above approximately 2,400 m (approximately 8,000 ft) is a temperate zone with an average temperature of about 16°C (about 61°F) and an annual rainfall between about 1,300 and 1,800 mm (about 50 and 70 in). The principal rainy season occurs between mid-June and September, followed by a dry season that may be interrupted in February or March by a short rainy season.

B Natural Resources

The resources of Ethiopia are primarily agricultural. The plateau area is fertile and largely undeveloped. The wide range of soils, climate, and elevations permits the production of a diversified range of agricultural commodities. A variety of mineral deposits exist; iron, copper, petroleum, salt, potash, gold, and platinum are the principal ones that have been commercially exploited.

C Plants and Animals

The great variations in elevation are directly reflected in the kind of vegetation found in Ethiopia. The lower areas of the tropical zone have sparse vegetation consisting of desert shrubs, thornbushes, and coarse savanna grasses. In the valleys and ravines almost every form of African vegetation grows profusely. The temperate zone is largely covered with grassland. Afro-alpine vegetation is found on the highest slopes.

The larger species of African wildlife are native to most parts of the country. These include the giraffe, leopard, hippopotamus, lion, elephant, antelope, and rhinoceros. The caracal, jackal, hyena, and various species of monkey are common. Birds of prey include the eagle, hawk, and vulture. Heron, parrot, and such game birds as the snipe, partridge, teal, pigeon, and bustard are found in abundance.

D Soils and Environmental Issues

The highland of Ethiopia is made up of folded and fractured crystalline rocks capped by sedimentary limestone and sandstone and by thick layers of volcanic lava. Soil erosion is a major problem in Ethiopia. Deforestation, overgrazing, and poor land management accelerated the rate of erosion. Many farmers in Ethiopia’s highlands cultivate sloped or hilly land, causing topsoil to wash away during the torrential rains of the rainy season. The rains also leach the highland soils of much fertility, particularly those soils overlying crystalline rocks. The volcanic soils of the highland are less readily leached and therefore are more fertile. The presence of mosquitoes carrying malaria has kept many farmers from developing parts of Ethiopia’s potentially productive lowlands. Deforestation and desertification are worsened by the widespread use of traditional fuels, such as firewood, which represent 96 percent of total energy consumption (1997).

Ethiopia’s government began organizing conservation efforts in rural areas during the 1970s, encouraging farmers to combat erosion by building terraces and planting tree seedlings. The government also closed some hilly areas to agricultural development. About 17 percent (2007) of Ethiopia’s land is officially protected, although the country’s system of national parks and reserves suffers from poaching and illegal logging.

III POPULATION

Most Ethiopian people live on rural farm communities. About 84 percent (2005) of the Ethiopian population is rural and occupations in agriculture support 78 percent of all Ethiopians. The population is concentrated heavily in the central plateau region, where agricultural resources are most developed. The ethnic composition is extremely diverse, as a result of racial and linguistic integration that began in ancient times.

A Population Characteristics

The population of Ethiopia (2008 estimate) is 78,254,090, yielding an overall density of 70 persons per sq km (181 per sq mi). The Amhara, who founded the original nation, and the related Tigreans, both of which are highland peoples of partly Semitic origin, constitute about 32 percent of the total population. They occupy the northwestern Ethiopian highlands and the area north of Addis Ababa. The Oromo, a pastoral and agricultural people who live mainly in central and southwestern Ethiopia, constitute about 40 percent of the population. The Shankella, a people in the western part of the country from the border of Eritrea to Lake Turkana, constitute about 6 percent of the population. The Somali, who live in the east and southeast, notably in the Ogadēn region, are about equal in number to the Shangalla. The Denakil inhabit the semidesert plains east of the highlands. The nonindigenous population includes Yemenis, Indians, Armenians, and Greeks.

B Political Divisions

Ethiopia is divided into nine regions composed of specific ethnic groups. The regions, which have a significant degree of autonomy, are Tigray; Afar; Amhara; Oromia; Somalia; Benshangul-Gumaz; Gambela; Harar; and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, which comprises about 41 ethnic groups.

C Principal Cities

Addis Ababa is the largest city in Ethiopia; other major cities include Dirē Dawa, Gonder, Awassa,Bahardar,Mekele and Adama(Nazrēt). In 2005 only 16 percent of the population was classified as urban.

D Religion

The Ethiopian Orthodox Union Church (see Abyssinian Church), an autonomous Christian sect headed by a patriarch and closely related to the Coptic church of Egypt, was the state church of Ethiopia until Ethiopian church have got the Autonomous

 

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Lalibela  Rock Hewen Church Of Ethiopia

A priest stands in the doorway of one of 11 churches carved into the volcanic rock of Lalibela, Ethiopia. The magnificent edifices, carved in the 12th and 13th centuries, are connected by a maze of narrow underground passageways. Lalibela is a popular destination for Christian Ethiopian pilgrims.

The most significant area of Ethiopian culture is in the field of literature, represented predominantly by translations from ancient Greek, Arabic, and other languages into the ancient Ge’ez and modern Amharic. Most of the works are theological or mythological in nature. Secular literature is largely confined to history.

Ecclesiastical architecture is relatively rich because of the early advent of Christianity in the country. Such structures and their frescoes usually show both Byzantine and Coptic influences. Most notable are the 11 churches at Lalībela, in north central Ethiopia. The magnificent edifices were carved from solid rock in the 12th and 13th centuries, and are connected by a maze of narrow underground passageways. Ethiopia’s skillful and imaginative silversmithing is also notable.

 

 

About half of the people of Ethiopia are Christians. Christianity is predominant in the north, while the southern regions have Muslim majorities. The south also contains considerable numbers of animists. An Ethiopian Jewish sect known as Beta Israel existed in the country until the entire community was airlifted to Israel during Ethiopia’s civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s.

E Language

Of the 80 or more languages spoken in Ethiopia, most belong to the Semitic and Cushitic branches of the Afro-Asiatic family (see African Languages). The language of the Ethiopian church liturgy, Ge’ez, gave rise to the Semitic cluster of languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, and Tigre. Amharic, the country’s official language, is spoken by more than half of the population. English and Arabic are also spoken by many people.

F Education

A major program to increase literacy in Ethiopia was started in 1979, but by 2005 only 45 percent of the population could read and write. Although free education exists from primary school through the college level, primary school facilities are able to enroll only 66 percent of the children of school age.

Addis Ababa University (founded in 1950) has branches in Addis Ababa, Āwasa, and Bahir Dar. Other important universities include ‘Alemaya University (1952) in Dirē Dawa and Bahir Dar University (2001) in Bahir Dar. Colleges and universities enrolled 147,954 students in 2002–2003. But at this time the number of Univeresities is about nine I.e Arbaminich uiveresity , Mekele University , Gondor ,Semera University ,Medawolabo University ,Wolayita University ,Wolikite   University and Wachamo University

G Culture

The most significant area of Ethiopian culture is in the field of literature, represented predominantly by translations from ancient Greek, Arabic, and other languages into the ancient Ge’ez and modern Amharic. Most of the works are theological or mythological in nature. Secular literature is largely confined to history.

Ecclesiastical architecture is relatively rich because of the early advent of Christianity in the country. Such structures and their frescoes usually show both Byzantine and Coptic influences. Most notable are the 11 churches at Lalībela, in north central Ethiopia. The magnificent edifices were carved from solid rock in the 12th and 13th centuries, and are connected by a maze of narrow underground passageways. Ethiopia’s skillful and imaginative silver smith is also notable.

VI HISTORY

The kingdom known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Ethiopia was in fact centered in what is now Sudan. Its capitals were Napata and, later, Meroë. The tradition that the biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem in ancient Israel is supported by the 1st century ad Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a queen of Egypt and Ethiopia. The ancient Aksum (Axum) Kingdom, ancestor of modern Ethiopia, was founded by Semitic-speaking immigrants from southern Arabia who landed in about 1000 bc on the northeastern African coast. They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The chief historical and archaeological records of the Aksum Kingdom date from 150 bc to ad 600. The conversion of the country to Christianity took place during the reign of King Ezana in the 4th century ad. According to traditional accounts, Frumentius, a Syrian who was named bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, played a major role in the conversion. The foundation was then laid for the dependence of the Ethiopian Church upon the Egyptian Coptic Church, which the Ethiopian Church followed by accepting the Monophysite belief that Jesus Christ was solely divine, not both human and divine. This was the basis for the schism in Christianity that took place at the Council of Chalcedon in ad 451.

In the early 6th century King Kaleb of Aksum intervened in south Arabia, claiming to avenge the persecution of local Christians, probably by their Jewish rulers. Nevertheless, Jewish influence seems to have penetrated Ethiopia at about this time; it left an important mark on Ethiopia’s religious customs, and some Aksumites were converted to the Jewish faith. The remnant of these converts, the Beta Israel, also known as Falashas, of northern Ethiopia, immigrated to Israel in the late 20th century. Although the Aksumite ruler Armah gave asylum to the first disciples of the Prophet Muhammad when they were persecuted in Arabia in the 7th century, the rise of Islam led to the isolation of the Aksumite empire. However, many of the country’s rulers sought to forge ties with Western Christendom.

Ethiopian tradition holds that the imperial family is descended from the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The succession is said to have been broken for a couple of centuries or so during the Zagwe usurpation, which ended in the 13th century when a king of Shewa claiming true descent succeeded in restoring the Solomonian line. There followed a period of religious and cultural revival in which royal chronicles were written and considerable ecclesiastical literature was developed, the most notable work being the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings), which contains an account of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Jerusalem.

In the latter part of the 15th century a handful of Portuguese and other Europeans found their way into Ethiopia, seeking the legendary Christian kingdom in the East whose monarch was known as Prester John. Portugal hoped to find in this kingdom a possible ally against Islam and the rising power of the Ottomans. Following the devastating Muslim attacks upon Ethiopia that had their beginning in 1527 and were led by the great Ahmad Grañ of Hārer, also known as Harar, the emperor appealed to Portugal for aid. Christopher da Gama, the son of Vasco da Gama, landed at Massawa in 1541 with 400 men but was killed with most of his soldiers in a battle with the enemy. Subsequently a new army equipped with firearms—previously a monopoly of Grañ—was built up with the cooperation of the remaining Portuguese, and in 1543 Grañ’s forces were routed and their leader killed.

 

Other Important holydays

 

New Years Day
(Julian Calendar) 1January

Genna
Ethiopian Christmas: birth of Christ) 7 January

Timkat
Ethiopian Epiphany: baptism of Christ) 19 January

Adwa Day
(commemorates the victory by Menelik II over Italy in 1896) 2 March

Patriots’ Day
(celebrates end of Italian occupation in 1941) 6 April

International Labour Day
1 May

Ethiopian Good Friday
May (variable)

Fasika
(Ethiopian Easter Sunday) May (variable)

Idd al Fitr
(end of month of fasting for Ramadan) May (variable)

Idd al Adha
August (variable)

Buhe
21 August

Enkutatash
(Ethiopian New Year) 11 September

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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