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Ethiopia Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Ethiopia Map



Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (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 border war with Eritrea in the late 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) issued specific coordinates as virtually demarcating the border and pronounced its work finished. Alleging that the EEBC acted beyond its mandate in issuing the coordinates, Ethiopia did not accept them and maintained troops in previously contested areas pronounced by the EEBC as belonging to Eritrea. This intransigence resulted in years of heightened tension between the two countries. In August 2012, longtime leader Prime Minister MELES Zenawi died in office and was replaced by his Deputy Prime Minister HAILEMARIAM Desalegn, marking the first peaceful transition of power in decades. Following a wave of popular dissent and anti-government protest that began in 2015, HAILEMARIAM resigned in February 2018 and ABIY Ahmed Ali took office in April 2018 as Ethiopia's first ethnic Oromo prime minister. In June 2018, ABIY announced Ethiopia would accept the border ruling of 2000, prompting rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea that was marked with a peace agreement in July 2018 and a reopening of the border in September 2018. In November 2019, Ethiopia's nearly 30-year ethnic-based ruling coalition - the EPRDF - merged into a single unity party called the Prosperity Party, however, one of the four constituent parties (the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front or TPLF) refused to join.



Eastern Africa, west of Somalia

Geographic coordinates

8 00 N, 38 00 E

Map references



total: 1,104,300 sq km

land:1,096,570 sq km

water:7,730 sq km

note: area numbers are approximate since a large portion of the Ethiopia-Somalia border is undefined

country comparison to the world: 28

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Land boundaries

total: 5,925 km

border countries (6):Djibouti 342 km, Eritrea 1033 km, Kenya 867 km, Somalia 1640 km, South Sudan 1299 km, Sudan 744 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation


high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley


highest point: Ras Dejen 4,550 m

lowest point:Danakil Depression -125 m

mean elevation:1,330 m

Natural resources

small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 36.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 15.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20% (2018 est.)

forest:12.2% (2018 est.)

other:51.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

2,900 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

122 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

highest density is found in the highlands of the north and middle areas of the country, particularly around the centrally located capital city of Addis Ababa; the far east and southeast are sparsely populated as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions; frequent droughts

volcanism: volcanic activity in the Great Rift Valley; Erta Ale (613 m), which has caused frequent lava flows in recent years, is the country's most active volcano; Dabbahu became active in 2005, forcing evacuations; other historically active volcanoes include Alayta, Dalaffilla, Dallol, Dama Ali, Fentale, Kone, Manda Hararo, and Manda-Inakir

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified:Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban

Geography - note

note 1: landlocked - entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993; Ethiopia is, therefore, the most populous landlocked country in the world; the Blue Nile, the chief headstream of the Nile by water volume, rises in T'ana Hayk (Lake Tana) in northwest Ethiopia

note 2: three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and castor bean

People and Society


110,871,031 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 12


noun: Ethiopian(s)


Ethnic groups

Oromo 34.9%, Amhara (Amara) 27.9%, Tigray (Tigrinya) 7.3%, Sidama 4.1%, Welaita 3%, Gurage 2.8%, Somali (Somalie) 2.7%, Hadiya 2.2%, Afar (Affar) 0.6%, other 12.6% (2016 est.)


Oromo (official working language in the State of Oromiya) 33.8%, Amharic (official national language) 29.3%, Somali (official working language of the State of Sumale) 6.2%, Tigrigna (Tigrinya) (official working language of the State of Tigray) 5.9%, Sidamo 4%, Wolaytta 2.2%, Gurage 2%, Afar (official working language of the State of Afar) 1.7%, Hadiyya 1.7%, Gamo 1.5%, Gedeo 1.3%, Opuuo 1.2%, Kafa 1.1%, other 8.1%, English (major foreign language taught in schools), Arabic (2007 est.)

major-language sample(s):
የአለም እውነታ መጽሐፍ፣ ለመሠረታዊ መረጃ እጅግ አስፈላጊ የሆነ ምንጭ። (Amharic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.


Ethiopian Orthodox 43.8%, Muslim 31.3%, Protestant 22.8%, Catholic 0.7%, traditional 0.6%, other 0.8% (2016 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

conventional short form:Ethiopia

local long form:Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik

local short form:Ityop'iya

former:Abyssinia, Italian East Africa


etymology:the country name derives from the Greek word "Aethiopia," which in classical times referred to lands south of Egypt in the Upper Nile region

Government type

federal parliamentary republic


name: Addis Ababa

geographic coordinates:9 02 N, 38 42 E

time difference:UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name in Amharic means "new flower" and was bestowed on the city in 1889, three years after its founding

Administrative divisions

10 ethnically based regional states (kililoch, singular - kilil) and 2 self-governing administrations* (astedaderoch, singular - astedader); Adis Abeba* (Addis Ababa), Afar, Amara (Amhara), Binshangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa*, Gambela Hizboch (Gambela Peoples), Hareri Hizb (Harari People), Oromiya (Oromia), Sidama, Sumale (Somali), Tigray, Ye Debub Biheroch Bihereseboch na Hizboch (Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples)


oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world - at least 2,000 years (may be traced to the Aksumite Kingdom, which coalesced in the first century B.C.)

National holiday

Derg Downfall Day (defeat of MENGISTU regime), 28 May (1991)


history: several previous; latest drafted June 1994, adopted 8 December 1994, entered into force 21 August 1995

amendments:proposals submitted for discussion require two-thirds majority approval in either house of Parliament or majority approval of one-third of the State Councils; passage of amendments other than constitutional articles on fundamental rights and freedoms and the initiation and amendment of the constitution requires two-thirds majority vote in a joint session of Parliament and majority vote by two thirds of the State Councils; passage of amendments affecting rights and freedoms and amendment procedures requires two-thirds majority vote in each house of Parliament and majority vote by all the State Councils

Legal system

civil law system

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only:at least one parent must be a citizen of Ethiopia

dual citizenship recognized:no

residency requirement for naturalization:4 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President SAHLE-WORK Zewde (since 25 October 2018)

head of government:Prime Minister ABIY Ahmed (since 2 April 2018); Deputy Prime Minister DEMEKE Mekonnen Hassen (since 29 November 2012)

cabinet:Council of Ministers selected by the prime minister and approved by the House of People's Representatives

elections/appointments:president indirectly elected by both chambers of Parliament for a 6-year term (eligible for a second term); snap election held on 25 October 2018 due to resignation of President MULATA Teshome (next election postponed by Prime Minister ABIY due to the COVID-19 pandemic); prime minister designated by the majority party following legislative elections

election results:SAHLE-WORK Zewde elected president; Parliament vote - 659 (unanimous)

note: SAHLE-WORK Zewde is the first female elected head of state in Ethiopia; she is currently the only female president in Africa. Former President Dr. Mulatu TESHOME resigned on 25 October 2018, one year ahead of finishing his six-year term.

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
House of Federation or Yefedereshein Mikir Bete (153 seats; members indirectly elected by state assemblies to serve 5-year terms)
House of People's Representatives or Yehizb Tewokayoch Mekir Bete (547 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote; 22 seats reserved for minorities; all members serve 5-year terms)

elections:House of Federation - last held 24 May 2015 (next originally scheduled on 29 August 2020 but postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
House of People's Representatives - last held on 24 May 2015 (next election to be held June 2021)

election results:House of Federation - percent of vote by coalition/party - NA; seats by coalition/party - NA; composition - men 104, women 49, percent of women 32%
House of Representatives - percent of vote by coalition/party - NA; seats by coalition/party - EPRDF 501, SPDP 24, BGPDUP 9, ANDP 8, GPUDM 3, APDO 1, HNL 1; composition - men 335, women 212, percent of women  38.8%; note - total Parliament percent of women 37.3%

note: House of Federation is responsible for interpreting the constitution and federal-regional issues and the House of People's Representatives is responsible for passing legislation

Judicial branch

highest courts: Federal Supreme Court (consists of 11 judges); note - the House of Federation has jurisdiction for all constitutional issues

judge selection and term of office:president and vice president of Federal Supreme Court recommended by the prime minister and appointed by the House of People's Representatives; other Supreme Court judges nominated by the Federal Judicial Administrative Council (a 10-member body chaired by the president of the Federal Supreme Court) and appointed by the House of People's Representatives; judges serve until retirement at age 60

subordinate courts:federal high courts and federal courts of first instance; state court systems (mirror structure of federal system); sharia courts and customary and traditional courts

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador FISTUM Arega Gebrekidan (since 9 April 2019)

chancery:3506 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone:[1] (202) 364-1200

FAX:[1] (202) 587-0195

consulate(s) general:Los Angeles, Seattle

consulate(s):Houston, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Geeta PASI (since 1 March 2021)

embassy:Entoto Street, P.O. Box 1014, Addis Ababa

mailing address:2030 Addis Ababa Place, Washington DC  20521-2030

telephone:[251] 111-30-60-00

FAX:[251] 111-24-24-01

email address and website:AddisACS@state.gov

Flag description

three 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; green represents hope and the fertility of the land, yellow symbolizes justice and harmony, while red stands for sacrifice and heroism in the defense of the land; the blue of the disk symbolizes peace and the pentagram represents the unity and equality of the nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia

note: Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, and the three main colors of her flag (adopted ca. 1895) were so often appropriated by other African countries upon independence that they became known as the Pan-African colors; the emblem in the center of the current flag was added in 1996

National symbol(s)

Abyssinian lion (traditional), yellow pentagram with five rays of light on a blue field (promoted by current government); national colors: green, yellow, red

National anthem

name: "Whedefit Gesgeshi Woud Enat Ethiopia" (March Forward, Dear Mother Ethiopia)

lyrics/music:DEREJE Melaku Mengesha/SOLOMON Lulu

note: adopted 1992


Economic overview

Ethiopia - the second most populous country in Africa - is a one-party state with a planned economy. For more than a decade before 2016, GDP grew at a rate between 8% and 11% annually – one of the fastest growing states among the 188 IMF member countries. This growth was driven by government investment in infrastructure, as well as sustained progress in the agricultural and service sectors. More than 70% of Ethiopia’s population is still employed in the agricultural sector, but services have surpassed agriculture as the principal source of GDP.

Ethiopia has the lowest level of income-inequality in Africa and one of the lowest in the world, with a Gini coefficient comparable to that of the Scandinavian countries. Yet despite progress toward eliminating extreme poverty, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, due both to rapid population growth and a low starting base. Changes in rainfall associated with world-wide weather patterns resulted in the worst drought in 30 years in 2015-16, creating food insecurity for millions of Ethiopians.

The state is heavily engaged in the economy. Ongoing infrastructure projects include power production and distribution, roads, rails, airports and industrial parks. Key sectors are state-owned, including telecommunications, banking and insurance, and power distribution. Under Ethiopia's constitution, the state owns all land and provides long-term leases to tenants. Title rights in urban areas, particularly Addis Ababa, are poorly regulated, and subject to corruption.

Ethiopia’s foreign exchange earnings are led by the services sector - primarily the state-run Ethiopian Airlines - followed by exports of several commodities. While coffee remains the largest foreign exchange earner, Ethiopia is diversifying exports, and commodities such as gold, sesame, khat, livestock and horticulture products are becoming increasingly important. Manufacturing represented less than 8% of total exports in 2016, but manufacturing exports should increase in future years due to a growing international presence.

The banking, insurance, telecommunications, and micro-credit industries are restricted to domestic investors, but Ethiopia has attracted roughly $8.5 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI), mostly from China, Turkey, India and the EU; US FDI is $567 million. Investment has been primarily in infrastructure, construction, agriculture/horticulture, agricultural processing, textiles, leather and leather products.

To support industrialization in sectors where Ethiopia has a comparative advantage, such as textiles and garments, leather goods, and processed agricultural products, Ethiopia plans to increase installed power generation capacity by 8,320 MW, up from a capacity of 2,000 MW, by building three more major dams and expanding to other sources of renewable energy. In 2017, the government devalued the birr by 15% to increase exports and alleviate a chronic foreign currency shortage in the country.


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,095,946

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:1.04 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 73

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 38,147,361

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:36.2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: 

telecom market challenged by political factionalism and reorganization of ruling party; despite some gains in access, Ethiopia remains one of the least-connected countries in the world; state-owned telecom held a monopoly over services until 2019 when government approved legislation and opened the market to competition and foreign investment; new expansion of LTE services; government reduced tariffs leading to increases in data and voice traffic; government launched mobile app as part of e-government initiative to build smart city; Huawei provides infrastructure to government operator and built data center in Addis Ababa; government disrupted service during political crises; importer of broadcasting equipment from China (2020)


domestic:fixed-line subscriptions at 1 per 100 while mobile-cellular stands at 36 per 100; the number of mobile telephones is increasing steadily (2019)

international:country code - 251; open-wire to Sudan and Djibouti; microwave radio relay to Kenya and Djibouti; 2 domestic satellites provide the national trunk service; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Pacific Ocean) (2016)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

6 public TV stations broadcasting nationally and 10 public radio broadcasters; 7 private radio stations and 19 community radio stations (2017)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 19,118,470

percent of population:18.62% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 580,120

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:1 (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers:75

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers:11,501,244 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers:2,089,280,000 mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix



total: 57 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 82

Airports - with paved runways

total: 17 (2017)

over 3,047 m:3 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m:8 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m:4 (2017)

under 914 m:2 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 40 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m:3 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m:9 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:20 (2013)

under 914 m:8 (2013)


total: 659 km (Ethiopian segment of the 756 km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad) (2017)

standard gauge:659 km 1.435-m gauge (2017)

note: electric railway with redundant power supplies; under joint control of Djibouti and Ethiopia and managed by a Chinese contractor

country comparison to the world: 105


total: 120,171 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 40

Merchant marine

total: 11

by type:general cargo 9, oil tanker 2 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 154

Ports and terminals

Ethiopia is landlocked and uses the ports of Djibouti in Djibouti and Berbera in Somalia

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF): Ground Forces, Ethiopian Air Force (Ye Ityopya Ayer Hayl, ETAF) (2020)

note(s): in January 2020 the Ethiopian Government announced it had re-established a navy, which was disbanded in 1996; in March 2019 Ethiopia signed a defense cooperation agreement with France which stipulated that France would support the establishment of an Ethiopian navy, which will reportedly be based out of Djibouti

in 2018, Ethiopia established a Republican Guard for protecting senior officials; the Republican Guard is a military unit accountable to the Prime Minister

Military expenditures

0.7% of GDP (2019 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 140,000 active duty troops, including about 3,000 Air Force personnel (no personnel numbers available for the newly-established Navy) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the ENDF's inventory is comprised mostly of Soviet-era equipment from the 1970s; since 2010, Russia and Ukraine are the leading suppliers of largely second-hand weapons and equipment to the ENDF, followed by China and Hungary; Ethiopia has a modest industrial defense base centered on small arms and production of armored vehicles (2020)

Military deployments

estimated 10,000 Somalia (4,500 for AMISOM); 800 Sudan (UNAMID); 3,200 Sudan (UNISFA); 2,100 South Sudan (UNMISS) (Jan 2021)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no compulsory military service, but the military can conduct callups when necessary and compliance is compulsory (2019)


Terrorist group(s)

al-Shabaab; IRGC/Qods Force

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by the 2002 Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but neither party responded to the revised line detailed in the November 2006 EEBC Demarcation Statement; the undemarcated former British administrative line has little meaning as a political separation to rival clans within Ethiopia's Ogaden and southern Somalia's Oromo region; Ethiopian forces invaded southern Somalia and routed Islamist courts from Mogadishu in January 2007; "Somaliland" secessionists provide port facilities in Berbera and trade ties to landlocked Ethiopia; civil unrest in eastern Sudan has hampered efforts to demarcate the porous boundary with Ethiopia; Ethiopia's construction of a large dam (the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) on the Blue Nile since 2011 has become a focal point of relations with Egypt and Sudan; as of 2020, four years of three-way talks between the three capitals over operating the dam and filling its reservoir had made little progress; Ethiopia began filling the dam in July 2020

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 374,680 (South Sudan), 212,236 (Somalia), 172,768 (Eritrea), 45,648 (Sudan) (2021)

IDPs:1,990,168 (includes conflict- and climate-induced IDPs, excluding unverified estimates from the Amhara region; border war with Eritrea from 1998-2000; ethnic clashes; and ongoing fighting between the Ethiopian military and separatist rebel groups in the Somali and Oromia regions; natural disasters; intercommunal violence; most IDPs live in Sumale state) (2021)

Illicit drugs

transit hub for heroin originating in Southwest and Southeast Asia and destined for Europe, as well as cocaine destined for markets in southern Africa; cultivates qat (khat) for local use and regional export, principally to Djibouti and Somalia (legal in all three countries); the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money laundering center

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