Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian kingdoms
in Africa and one of the few continent areas that was
never colonized. After the civil war in the 1990s, the
EPRDF party alliance completely dominated politics, but
since spring 2018 some democratization has taken place
and a peace process has begun with the arch-enemy
Eritrea. The reforms are led by Prime Minister Abiy
Ahmed, who in 2019 received the Nobel Peace Prize for
his efforts. Ethiopia is a prominent agricultural
country with coffee as the main export commodity.
Brief profiles of Ethiopia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Ethiopia is located on the protrusion of
northeastern Africa called the Horn of Africa. On the
surface, the country is two and a half times the size of
Sweden. Ethiopia is dominated by a highland area and has
no coast since Eritrea became independent in 1993. The
country is in the tropical zone, but the climate varies
with the height above the sea.
Ethiopian or Abyssinian highlands are Africa's
highest contiguous mountain range. Here are high plains
and valley sinks, surrounded by mountain peaks that
reach over 4,000 meters above sea level. The capital,
Addis Ababa, is just over 2,300 meters in height. In the
highlands lies the country's largest lake, Lake Tana.
One of the Nile's two source streams, Abbai or Blue
Nile, flows up by the lake.
Through the Ethiopian highlands, from southwest to
northeast, Africa's large fault crack cuts the Great
Rift Valley, which is between four and six miles wide.
Here, the large Awash basin is formed with the river
Awash, which flows into the salty Abbe Lake at the
border with Djibouti. To the east of the highlands lies
the sparsely populated Afarsenk (or Danakilsenk), a
desert area with active volcanoes. Here you will find
the Kobar sink, which is located just over 100 meters
below sea level.
In the Ethiopian highlands, coniferous forest used to
grow, but over the years it has been devastated in the
search for wood. Nowadays, forests are only left in
hard-to-reach areas. In the lowlands of the southwest,
rainforests are growing. Here also the Ethiopian wild
coffee bush thrives. In the south and southeast there
are steppe and dry water.
Wildlife in Ethiopia is rich and there are a number
of species that do not exist anywhere else, including
Ethiopian wolf (or Abyssinian jackal) and the baboon
gelada. The country has several national parks, of which
Awash, Baleberg, Omo and Simenberg are the most famous.
Ethiopia is usually divided into three climate zones.
Most of the residents live in the middle zone between
1,700 and 2,400 meters above sea level. Here the
temperature is between 16 and 30 degrees.
At altitudes above 2,400 meters it is cool; sometimes
the temperature drops to zero degrees. In the lowlands,
the daytime temperatures are around 27 degrees and
above. In the Danaki desert, some of the highest
temperatures in the earth have been measured. Dallol,
located here, is considered the place on earth that has
the highest average temperature (just over 34 degrees
The rainfall also varies greatly between different
areas. In most of Ethiopia, most of the rainfall falls
from mid-June to September. Almost the entire high
plateau receives at least 1,000 millimeters of rain a
year - in the west it doubles. In the highlands in the
north and in most lowland areas it is considerably
Rainfall can also vary greatly from year to year, and
the warm, low-lying parts of eastern Ethiopia are
extremely vulnerable to drought (see Agriculture and
Recurring long dry periods in the country are known
since the time before our era. Severe drought in
combination with widespread soil degradation has on
several occasions led to famine disasters, including in
the early 1970s, the mid-1980s and the late 1990s.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
1 133 380 km2 (2018)
Swedish +2 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea
Capital with number of residents
Addis Ababa 4,592,000 with suburbs (UN estimate 2019)
Other major cities
Mekele 505,000, Dire Dawa 391,000, Nazret 362,000,
Gondar 347,000 (UN estimate 2019)
Ras Dashan (4620 m asl)
Abbai (Blue Nile)
Addis Ababa 300 mm (aug), 5 mm (dec)
Addis Ababa 18 °C (May), 15 °C (Nov)
Saudi Arabia expels hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians
In one month, almost 140,000 Ethiopians are returned to their home country
from Saudi Arabia, where they worked without a permit. The Saudi authorities
began expelling more than one million foreign workers in November after a
deadline for them to arrange work permits expired. Three Ethiopians are said to
have been killed in clashes with a Saudi police.
Ethiopian police receive criticism from outside
Human Rights Watch criticizes Ethiopian police for systematic torture and
mistreatment of prisoners in the country's largest detention center, Maekelawi.
HRW says that large numbers of opposition politicians, regime-critical
journalists, organizers of protest actions and alleged sympathizers for ethnic
insurgency movements have been held captive in Maekelawi.
Oromos becomes new president
Parliament elects Mulatu Teshome as Ethiopian President. He succeeds Girma
Woldegiorgis, who held the largely ceremonial office for twelve years. The
57-year-old Mulatu, who belongs to the Oromo people group, comes from the post
of ambassador to Turkey.
Further demonstrations against the government
Following the demonstration in Addis Ababa in June, a few thousand people in
the cities of Gondar and Dessie participate in public protests against the
regime. Above all, the demands are that two imprisoned journalists be released.
Like thousands of other people, they have been sentenced in accordance with the
country's sweeping anti-terrorism laws.
New agreement on the Nile
Parliament formally approves a new agreement on the distribution of Nile
waters, which included six of the countries along the river in 2010. The
agreement gives Ethiopia much greater right to manage Nile water within its own
country than in the agreement concluded in 1929 during the colonial era, when
Egypt was allowed to set stops for all upstream projects that could threaten the
water supply on Egyptian soil. Egypt and Sudan have not yet signed the new
agreement, called the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), and the Egyptian
government is protesting in sharp terms that Ethiopian authorities have begun
diverting Blue Nile water for a new power plant project (see Natural Resources
Big demonstrations against the government
Thousands of people take part in a demonstration organized by the opposition
in the capital, Addis Ababa. The protesters demand the release of journalists
and political activists imprisoned under the anti-terrorist law passed in July
2009. They also want the government to do something about the high cost of
living, the extensive youth unemployment and corruption. It is the first public
protest allowed since 2005 when hundreds of protesters were killed in violence
after the election. The protests are organized by the relatively newly formed
opposition party Blue Party, which threatens to organize more demonstrations if
the government does not obey the demands within three months.
The opposition boycott local elections
Local elections are held but boycotted by Medrek and several other opposition
parties. EPRDF wins a new landslide victory and takes all places in Addis Ababa,
Invitation to peace talks is left unanswered
Ethiopia proposes peace talks with Eritrea, to reduce tensions following the
March 2012 invasion, but receives no hearing from Asmara.