Friday, December 26, 2008
Ethiopia is in Eastern Africa and lies west of Somalia. Sudan is to its North and Kenya to its South.
Djibouti 349 km, Eritrea 912 km, Kenya 861 km, Somalia 1,600 km, and the Sudan 1,606 km.
Size is 1,127,127 sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US. The terrain consists of a high plateau with a central mountain range divided by the Great Rift Valley. Ethiopia is a landlocked country. The climate can be described as tropical monsoon but it varies greatly depending on the topography. Ethiopia'slowest point is at the Denakil Depression -125 m; its highest point is Ras Dejen standing at 4,620 m. Ethiopia's entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993. The Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile by water volume, rises in T'ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia. Three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and the castor bean.
Just over 73 million people live in Ethiopia. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 5.3 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 42%.
Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, and Arabic. Other local languages include English which is the major foreign language taught in schools.
Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, and other 1%
Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, and other 3%-8%.
Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II. In 1974 a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile Selaisse (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A constitution was adopted in 1994 and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A two and a half year border war with Eritrea ended with a peace treaty on 12 December 2000. Final demarcation of the boundary is currently on hold due to Ethiopian objections to an international commission's finding requiring it to surrender sensitive territory.
Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for half of GDP, 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy with exports of some $156 million in 2002, but historically low prices have seen many farmers switching to qat to supplement income. The war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and recurrent drought have buffeted the economy, in particular coffee production. In November 2001, Ethiopia qualified for debt relief from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Under Ethiopia's land tenure system, the government owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans. Drought struck again late in 2002, leading to a 2% decline in GDP in 2003. Normal weather patterns late in 2003 helped agricultural and GDP growth recover in 2004.
Source: CIA World Factbook