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Economy of Ethiopia

The current government has embarked on a cautious program of economic reform, including privatization of state enterprises and rationalization of government regulation. While the process is still ongoing, so far the reforms have attracted only meager foreign investment, and the government remains heavily involved in the economy. The Ethiopian economy is based on agriculture, which contributes 42% to GDP and more than 80% of exports, and employs 80% of the population. The major agricultural export crop is coffee, providing approximately 26% of Ethiopia's foreign exchange earnings, down from 65% a decade ago because of the slump in coffee prices since the mid-1990s and increases in other exports. Other traditional major agricultural exports are leather, hides and skins, pulses, oilseeds, and the traditional "khat," a leafy narcotic that is chewed. Sugar and gold production has also become important in recent years. Ethiopia's agriculture is plagued by periodic drought, soil degradation caused by inappropriate agricultural practices and overgrazing, deforestation, high population density, undeveloped water resources, and poor transport infrastructure, making it difficult and expensive to get goods to market. Yet agriculture is the country's most promising resource. Potential exists for self-sufficiency in grains and for export development in livestock, flowers, grains, oilseeds, sugar, vegetables, and fruits. Gold, marble, limestone, and small amounts of tantalum are mined in Ethiopia. Other resources with potential for commercial development include large potash deposits, natural gas, iron ore, and possibly oil and geothermal energy. Although Ethiopia has good hydroelectric resources, which power most of its manufacturing sector, it is totally dependent on imports for oil. A landlocked country, Ethiopia has relied on the port of Djibouti since the 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea. Ethiopia is connected with the port of Djibouti by road. Of the 49,000 kilometers of all-weather roads in Ethiopia, 15% are asphalt. Mountainous terrain and the lack of good roads and sufficient vehicles make land transportation difficult and expensive. Ethiopian Airlines serves 17 domestic airfields and has 60 international destinations. Dependent on a few vulnerable crops for its foreign exchange earnings and reliant on imported oil, Ethiopia is suffering a severe lack of foreign exchange. The largely subsistence economy is incapable of meeting the budget requirements for drought relief, an ambitious development plan, and indispensable imports such as oil. The gap has largely been covered through foreign assistance inflows.
GDP (FY 2009-2010):
$29.9 billion. Annual growth rate (2009-2010): 10.4%. GDP per capita (2009-2010): $365. Average inflation rate (FY 2009-2010): 2.8%. Natural resources: Potash, salt, gold, copper, platinum, natural gas (unexploited). Agriculture (42% of GDP): Products --coffee, cereals, pulses, oilseeds, khat, meat, hides and skins. Cultivated land--1 7%. Industry (13% of GDP): Types --textiles, processed foods, construction, cement, and hydroelectric power. Services (45% of GDP). Trade (2009-2010): Exports --$2.0 billion. Imports --$8.4 billion; plus remittances--official est. $2 billion. Fiscal year: July 8-July 7.

Geography of Ethiopia

Location: Eastern Africa, west of Somalia Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 38 00 E Map references: Africa Area: total: 1,127,127 sq km land: 1,119,683 sq km water: 7,444 sq km Area-comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas Land boundaries: total: 5,311 km border countries: Djibouti 337 km, Eritrea 912 km, Kenya 830 km, Somalia 1,626 km, Sudan 1,606 km Coastline: 0 km (landlocked) Maritime claims: none (landlocked) Climate: tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation Terrain: high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley Elevation extremes: lowest point: Denakil -125 m highest point: Ras Dashen Terara 4,620 m Natural resources: small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas
Land use:
arable land: 12% permanent crops: 1% permanent pastures: 40% forests and woodland: 25% other: 22% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land:
1,900 sq km (1993 est.) Natural hazards: geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts Environment-current issues: deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification Environment-international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban Geography-note: landlocked-entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993.

Government of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a federal republic under the 1994 constitution. The executive branch includes a president, Council of State, and Council of Ministers. Executive power resides with the prime minister. There is a bicameral parliament; national legislative elections were held in 2010. The judicial branch comprises federal and regional courts. Following the 2010 elections, there were 152 women in the 547-seat parliament, two female judges on the 11-seat Supreme Court, and three women among the 39 state ministers. Political parties include the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), Oromo People's Congress (OPC), Arena Tigay for Democracy and Sovereignty, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), All Ethiopia Unity Party (AEUP), and other small parties. Suffrage is universal at age 18. The EPRDF-led government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has promoted a policy of ethnic federalism, devolving significant powers to regional, ethnically based authorities. Ethiopia has nine semi-autonomous administrative regions and two special city administrations (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa), which have the power to raise their own revenues. Principal Government Officials President--Girma Wolde-Giorgis Prime Minister--Meles Zenawi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs--Hailemariam Desalegn Minister of National Defense--Siraj Fegisa Mayor of Addis Ababa--Kuma Demeska Ambassador to the U.S.--Girma Birru Ethiopia maintains an embassy in the U.S. at 3506 International Drive, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-364-1200) headed by Ambassador Kassahun Ayele. It also maintains a UN mission in New York and consulates in Los Angeles, Seattle (honorary), and Houston (honorary). Type: Federal Republic. Constitution: Ratified 1994. Branches: Executive--president, Council of State, Council of Ministers. Executive power resides with the prime minister. Legislative--bicameral parliament. Judicial--divided into Federal and Regional Courts. Administrative subdivisions: 9 regions and 2 special city administrations: Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Political parties: Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP), the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), and other small parties. Suffrage: Universal starting at age 18. Central government budget (2006 est.): $3.4 billion. Defense: $348 million (5.6% of GDP FY 2003). National holiday: May 28.

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History of Ethiopia

Ethiopia is credited with being the origin of mankind. Bones discovered in eastern Ethiopia date back 3.2 million years. Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world. Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century B.C. describes ancient Ethiopia in his writings. The Old Testament of the Bible records the Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem. According to legend, Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, founded the Ethiopian Empire. Missionaries from Egypt and Syria introduced Christianity in the fourth century A.D. Following the rise of Islam in the seventh century, Ethiopia was gradually cut off from European Christendom. The Portuguese established contact with Ethiopia in 1493, primarily to strengthen their influence over the Indian Ocean and to convert Ethiopia to Roman Catholicism. There followed a century of conflict between pro- and anti-Catholic factions, resulting in the expulsion of all foreign missionaries in the 1630s. This period of bitter religious conflict contributed to hostility toward foreign Christians and Europeans, which persisted into the 20th century and was a factor in Ethiopia's isolation until the mid-19th century. Under the Emperors Theodore II (1855-68), Johannes IV (1872-89), and Menelik II (1889-1913), the kingdom was consolidated and began to emerge from its medieval isolation. When Menelik II died, his grandson, Lij Iyassu, succeeded to the throne but soon lost support because of his Muslim ties. The Christian nobility deposed him in 1916, and Menelik's daughter, Zewditu, was made empress. Her cousin, Ras Tafari Makonnen (1892-1975), was made regent and successor to the throne. In 1930, after the empress died, the regent, adopting the throne name Haile Selassie, was crowned emperor. His reign was interrupted in 1936 when Italian Fascist forces invaded and occupied Ethiopia. The emperor was forced into exile in England despite his plea to the League of Nations for intervention. Five years later, British and Ethiopian forces defeated the Italians, and the emperor returned to the throne. After a period of civil unrest, which began in February 1974, the aging Haile Selassie I was deposed on September 12, 1974, and a provisional administrative council of soldiers, known as the Derg ("committee") seized power from the emperor and installed a government, which was socialist in name and military in style. The Derg summarily executed 59 members of the royal family and ministers and generals of the emperor's government; Emperor Haile Selassie was strangled in the basement of his palace on August 22, 1975. Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam assumed power as head of state and Derg chairman, after having his two predecessors killed. Mengistu's years in office were marked by a totalitarian-style government and the country's massive militarization, financed by the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, and assisted by Cuba. From 1977 through early 1978 thousands of suspected enemies of the Derg were tortured and/or killed in a purge called the "red terror." Communism was officially adopted during the late 1970s and early 1980s with the promulgation of a Soviet-style constitution, Politburo, and the creation of the Workers' Party of Ethiopia (WPE). In December 1976, an Ethiopian delegation in Moscow signed a military assistance agreement with the Soviet Union. The following April, Ethiopia abrogated its military assistance agreement with the United States and expelled the American military missions. In July 1977, sensing the disarray in Ethiopia, Somalia attacked across the Ogaden Desert in pursuit of its irredentist claims to the ethnic Somali areas of Ethiopia. Ethiopian forces were driven back deep inside their own frontier but, with the assistance of a massive Soviet airlift of arms and Cuban combat forces, they stemmed the attack. The major Somali regular units were forced out of the Ogaden in March 1978. Twenty years later, development in the Somali region of Ethiopia lagged. The Derg's collapse was hastened by droughts and famine, as well as by insurrections, particularly in the northern regions of Tigray and Eritrea. In 1989, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) merged with other ethnically based opposition movements to form the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In May 1991, EPRDF forces advanced on Addis Ababa. Mengistu fled the country for asylum in Zimbabwe, where he still resides. In July 1991, the EPRDF, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and others established the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) which was comprised of an 87-member Council of Representatives and guided by a national charter that functioned as a transitional constitution. In June 1992 the OLF withdrew from the government; in March 1993, members of the Southern Ethiopia Peoples' Democratic Coalition left the government. In May 1991, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), led by Isaias Afwerki, assumed control of Eritrea and established a provisional government. This provisional government independently administered Eritrea until April 23-25, 1993, when Eritreans voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-monitored free and fair referendum. Eritrea was with Ethiopia’s consent declared independent on April 27, and the United States recognized its independence on April 28, 1993. In Ethiopia, President Meles Zenawi and members of the TGE pledged to oversee the formation of a multi-party democracy. The election for a 547-member constituent assembly was held in June 1994, and this assembly adopted the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in December 1994. The elections for Ethiopia's first popularly chosen national parliament and regional legislatures were held in May and June 1995. Most opposition parties chose to boycott these elections, ensuring a landslide victory for the EPRDF. International and non-governmental observers concluded that opposition parties would have been able to participate had they chosen to do so. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was installed in August 1995. In May 1998, Eritrean forces attacked part of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border region, seizing some Ethiopian-controlled territory. The strike spurred a two-year war between the neighboring states that cost over 100,000 lives. Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities on June 18, 2000 and a peace agreement, known as the Algiers Agreement, on December 12, 2000. The agreements called for an end to the hostilities, a 25-kilometer-wide Temporary Security Zone along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping force to monitor compliance, and the establishment of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) to act as a neutral body to assess colonial treaties and applicable international law in order to render final and binding border delimitation and demarcation determinations. The United Nations Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) was established in September 2000. The EEBC presented its border delimitation decision on April 13, 2002. To date, neither Ethiopia nor Eritrea has taken the steps necessary to demarcate the border. Opposition candidates won 12 seats in national parliamentary elections in 2000. The next national elections were held in May 2005. Ethiopia held the most free and fair national campaign period in the country’s history prior to May 15, 2005 elections. Unfortunately, electoral irregularities and tense campaign rhetoric resulted in a protracted election complaints review process. Public protests turned violent in June 2005. The National Electoral Board released final results in September 2005, with the opposition taking over 170 of the 547 parliamentary seats and 137 of the 138 seats for the Addis Ababa municipal council. Opposition parties called for a boycott of parliament and civil disobedience to protest the election results. In early November 2005, Ethiopian security forces responded to public protests by arresting scores of opposition leaders, as well as journalists and human rights advocates, and detaining tens of thousands of civilians in rural detention camps for up to three months. In December 2005, the government charged 131 opposition, media, and civil society leaders with capital offenses including "outrages against the constitution." Key opposition leaders and almost all of the 131 were pardoned and released from prison in the summer of 2007. As of March 2008, approximately 150 of the elected opposition members of parliament had taken their seats. Ruling and opposition parties have engaged in little dialogue since the opposition leaders were freed. Government harassment made it very difficult for opposition candidates to compete in local elections in April 2008. As a result, the ruling party won more than 99% of the local seats throughout Ethiopia. In June 2008, former CUD vice-chairman Birtukan Mideksa was elected the party chairman of the new Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party at its inaugural session in Addis Ababa. In October 2008 the Ethiopian Government initiated a crackdown on Oromo politicians, arresting over 100 of them and accusing some of being members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). At the end of December 2008, after detaining Birtukan several times briefly during the month, the government re-arrested her, saying that she had violated the conditions of her pardon (she was one of the prominent opposition leaders pardoned by the government in the summer of 2007). Her original sentence of life imprisonment was reinstated. In April 2009 the Ethiopian Government arrested 40 individuals, mostly Amhara military or ex-military members, whom they claimed were secretly members of a new opposition party, Ginbot 7, which had adopted a platform sanctioning any means, including violence, to confront the Government of Ethiopia. This party was founded in May 2008 in the United States by Berhanu Nega, one of the opposition leaders in the 2005 elections. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in May 2010. As of June 2009, however, leading opposition politicians voiced skepticism that the Ethiopian Government would permit free and fair elections. Prime Minister Meles announced in December 2008 that the 3,000-4,000 Ethiopian forces in Somalia would be withdrawn by the end of the year. He stated that the Ethiopian army had accomplished its mission of routing the Islamic extremists. Troops would remain near the Somali border, where they would be prepared to immediately intervene again should the extremists regroup and again threaten Ethiopia. By the end of January 2009, the Ethiopian army had fully withdrawn from Somalia.

People of Ethiopia

Ethiopia's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigreans make up more than two-thirds of the population, but there are more than 77 different ethnic groups with their own distinct languages within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members. In general, most of the Christians live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions tend to inhabit lowland regions. English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is taught in all secondary schools. Amharic is the official language and was the language of primary school instruction but has been replaced in many areas by local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya. Nationality: Noun and adjective --Ethiopian(s). Population (est.): 82 million. Annual population growth rate (est.): 2.6%. Ethnic groups (est.): Oromo 34.5%, Amhara 26.9%, Tigre 6.1%, Somali 6.2%, Sidama 4%, Gurage 2.5%, Wolaita 2.3%, Afar 1.7%, other nationalities 3%. Religions (est.): Ethiopian Orthodox Christian 43.5%, Muslim 33.9%, Protestant 18.6%, remainder indigenous beliefs. Languages: Amharic (official), Tigrinya, Arabic, Guaragigna, Oromifa, English, Somali. Education: Years compulsory --none. Attendance (elementary)--87.9%. Literacy --43%. Health: Infant mortality rate --77/1,000 live births. Work force: Agriculture --80%. Industry and commerce --20%.
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