About Ethiopia

The Horn of Africa includes Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti. All of Partner’s current projects are in Ethiopia.

It is one of the poorest countries on the planet with an average per capita income each year of just over USD$115.00, and this continues to fall as the population grows faster than the economy.

Although the recurring western image of Ethiopia is of a country of famine and drought, it is in fact a beautiful mountainous country with many lakes and rivers. The Blue Nile springs out of the West Gojam area of Ethiopia and from there it flows through the Sudan and into Egypt. Ethiopia is often considered the “cradle of humanity” and it was there that Lucy was discovered in 1974 and determined to be the oldest known hominid in the world – dated at least 3.2 million years old. The country was Christianized in the 3rd century, well before much of Western Europe and, it is thought by some historians, to harbour the Ark of the Covenant, which according to Ethiopian folklore, was entrusted to Ethiopian monks during the crusades. Today, Muslims and Christians live side by side throughout the country without difficulty.

Ethiopia’s capital is Addis Ababa, a city of about 3 million people – a colourful and vibrant city with a wonderful climate located at approximately 7,500 feet above sea level. Prior to the founding of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitals moved regularly – usually after the local forests had been stripped of firewood.

Ethiopia is virtually alone among African countries in never having been colonized. Ethiopia was invaded by the Italians in 1896 but the Italian army was resoundingly defeated that year at Adwa in northern Ethiopia. Later there was a brief occupation of the country by the Italians at the commencement of World War II. Other than for that brief period Ethiopia has always been run by Ethiopians. The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic but Orominya is the language of the largest tribe (the Oromo). The language of education at the high school level is English and in most urban centres are many people who speak the language.

The problems which Ethiopia faces are staggering. Much of the land is mountainous and there is not enough arable farm land to meet the needs of the country. On top of that Ethiopia is regularly plagued by droughts – particularly in the more arid north and in the Rift Valley which bisects mainland Ethiopia. The country is almost devoid of natural resources with the majority of the population relying on subsistence farming. Ethiopia’s problems have been compounded recently by a lengthy war with Somalia which until 1991 formed part of Ethiopia.

Interesting Facts & Links

Source: The Economist (World & Figures, 2003); CIA The World Factbook

Population 71 million 30.8 million 283.2 million
GDP (USD) 6.4 billion 687.9 billion 9,837 billion
GDP per capita $660 $27,170 $34,100
Median Age 17.3 36.9 35.5
Life Expectancy 43.3 79.0 77.5
Death Rate 19.4 7.54 8.4
Infant Mortality 106.1 5.4 6.69

*** A female in Ethiopia will give birth to an average of 5.1 children in her lifetime, while in Canada this average is 1.6 children (2007 estimates).

Travel Guide through the fantastic Ethiopian nature and historic places through the whole country!

► Watch Ethiopia Travel Video