Ethiopia [Country Flag of Ethiopia]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Ethiopia]



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Historical perspective: On 28 May 1991 the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) toppled the authoritarian government of MENGISTU Haile-Mariam and took control in Addis Ababa; a new constitution was promulgated in December 1994 and national and regional popular elections were held in May and June 1995.


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Location: Eastern Africa, west of Somalia

Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 38 00 E

Map references: Africa

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 27 April 1993


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Population: 58,390,351 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 46% (male 13,468,783; female 13,398,500)
15-64 years: 51% (male 15,095,357; female 14,812,537)
65 years and over: 3% (male 734,471; female 880,703) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.21% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 44.69 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 21.25 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)
note: repatriation of Ethiopians who fled to Sudan, Kenya, and Somalia for refuge from war and famine in earlier years, is expected to continue slowly in 1998; small numbers of Sudanese and Somali refugees, who fled to Ethiopia from the fighting in their own countries, began returning to their homes in 1998

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 125.65 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 40.85 years
male: 39.76 years
female: 41.97 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.88 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Ethiopian(s)
adjective: Ethiopian

Ethnic groups: Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigrean 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%

Religions: Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%

Languages: Amharic (official), Tigrinya, Orominga, Guaraginga, Somali, Arabic, English (major foreign language taught in schools)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 35.5%
male: 45.5%
female: 25.3% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
conventional short form: Ethiopia
local long form: YeItyop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
local short form: YeItyop'iya
abbreviation: FDRE

Data code: ET

Government type: federal republic

National capital: Addis Ababa

Administrative divisions: 9 ethnically-based administrative regions (astedader akababiwach, singular - astedader akababi) and 1 federal capital*: Addis Ababa*; Afar; Amhara; Benishangul/Gumaz; Gambela; Harar; Oromia; Somali; Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples; Tigray

Independence: oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world - at least 2,000 years

National holiday: National Day, 28 May (1991) (defeat of Mengistu regime)

Constitution: promulgated December 1994

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President NEGASSO Gidada (since 22 August 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister MELES Zenawi (since August 1995)
cabinet: Council of Ministers as provided in the December 1994 constitution; ministers are selected by the prime minister and approved by the Council of People's Representatives
elections: president elected by the Council of People's Representatives for a six-year term; election last held June 1995 (next to be held NA 2001); prime minister designated by the party in power following legislative elections
election results: NEGASSO Gidada elected president; percent of vote by the Council of People's Representatives—NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament consists of the Council of the Federation or upper chamber (117 seats; members are chosen by state assemblies to serve five-year terms) and the Council of People's Representatives or lower chamber (548 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote from single-member districts to serve five-year terms); note—the upper chamber represents the ethnic interests of the regional governments
elections: regional and national popular elections were held in May and June 1995 (next to be held NA 2000) and the Federal Parliamentary Assembly assumed legislative power on 21 August 1995
election results: percent of vote—NA; seats—NA; note—EPRDF won nearly all seats

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are elected by the national legislature

Political parties and leaders: Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front or EPRDF [MELES Zenawi]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Oromo Liberation Front or OLF; All Amhara People's Organization; Southern Ethiopia People's Democratic Coalition; numerous small, ethnic-based groups have formed since MENGISTU'S defeat, including several Islamic militant groups

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador BERHANE Gebre-Christos
chancery: 2134 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 234-2281, 2282
FAX: [1] (202) 328-7950

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador David H. SHINN
embassy: Entoto Street, Addis Ababa
mailing address: P. O. Box 1014, Addis Ababa
telephone: [251] (1) 550666
FAX: [251] (1) 552191

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; Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, and the colors of her flag were so often adopted by other African countries upon independence that they became known as the pan-African colors


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Economy—overview: Ethiopia remains one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Its economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for more than half of GDP, 90% of exports, and 80% of total employment; coffee generates 60% of export earnings. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent periods of drought, poor cultivation practices, and deterioration of internal security conditions. The manufacturing sector is heavily dependent on inputs from the agricultural sector. Over 90% of large-scale industry, but less than 10% of agriculture, is state-run. The government is considering selling off a portion of state-owned plants and is implementing reform measures that are gradually liberalizing the economy. A major medium-term problem is the improvement of roads, water supply, and other parts of an infrastructure badly neglected during years of civil strife.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$29 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$530 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 55%
industry: 12%
services: 33% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 0% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: NA
by occupation: agriculture and animal husbandry 80%, government and services 12%, industry and construction 8% (1985)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $1 billion
expenditures: $1.48 billion, including capital expenditures of $415 million (FY96/97)

Industries: food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metals processing, cement

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 464,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 1.143 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 20 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: cereals, pulses, coffee, oilseed, sugarcane, potatoes, other vegetables; hides, cattle, sheep, goats

total value: $418 million (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: coffee, leather products, gold (1995)
partners: Germany 32%, Japan 14%, Djibouti 7%, Saudi Arabia 8%, Italy 8% (1994)

total value: $1.23 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: food and live animals, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, machinery, motor vehicles and aircraft (1994)
partners: Saudi Arabia 15%, Italy 11%, US 12.3%, Germany 8% (1994)

Debt—external: $5.2 billion (1995)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $367 million (FY95/96)

Currency: 1 birr (Br) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: birr (Br) per US$1 (end of period)—6.9530 (February 1998), 6.8080 (September 1997), 6.4260 (1996), 6.3200 (1995), 5.9500 (1994), 5.0000 (fixed rate 1992-93)
note: since May 1993, the birr market rate has been determined in an interbank market supported by weekly wholesale auction; prior to that date, the official rate was pegged to US$1 = 5.000 birr

Fiscal year: 8 July—7 July


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Telephones: 100,000 (1983 est.)

Telephone system: open wire and microwave radio relay system adequate for government use
domestic: open wire and microwave radio relay
international: open wire to Sudan and Djibouti; microwave radio relay to Kenya and Djibouti; satellite earth stations—3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 0, shortwave 0

Radios: 9.9 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1

Televisions: 100,000 (1993 est.)


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total: 681 km (Ethiopian segment of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad)
narrow gauge: 681 km 1.000-m gauge
note: in April 1998, Djibouti and Ethiopia announced plans to revitalize the century-old railroad that links their capitals

total: 28,500 km
paved: 4,275 km
unpaved: 24,225 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: none; Ethiopia is landlocked but by agreement with Eritrea may use the ports of Assab and Massawa

Merchant marine:
total: 13 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 73,775 GRT/98,279 DWT
ships by type: cargo 8, oil tanker 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 3 (1997 est.)

Airports: 86 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 10
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 76
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 36
under 914 m: 20 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Ground Forces, Air Force, Police
note: following the secession of Eritrea, Ethiopia's naval facilities remained in Eritrea's possession; current reorganization plans do not include a navy

Military manpower—military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 13,240,029 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 6,900,452 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 630,087 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $126 million (budget for FY97/98)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: most of the southern half of the boundary with Somalia is a Provisional Administrative Line; territorial dispute with Somalia over the Ogaden

Illicit drugs: transit hub for heroin originating in Southwest and Southeast Asia and destined for Europe and North America as well as cocaine destined for markets in southern Africa; cultivates qat (chat) for local use and regional export