Facts & Figures
Addis Ababa, which in the local language Amharic means ‘New Flower’, is due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the whole continent, not only to be seen as diplomatic capital of Africa, but also as groovy city that takes pride in its multifaceted assets. As capital of Ethiopia, it has a population of around 6 million people with an annual growth rate of approximately 3.8%.
Addis Ababa has a very international character: the African Union , the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and numerous other continental and international organizations are based here. The city is populated by people from different regions of Ethiopia – the country has as many as 80 nationalities speaking the same number of languages and belonging to a wide variety of religious communities. It is also home to Addis Ababa University and a few different colleges.
In the Mercato district, which claims to be the largest open market in Africa, one cannot only go on never ending shopping tours but also visit the impressive Grand Anwar Mosque, the biggest mosque in Ethiopia which was built during the Italian occupation in the 1940s. A few meters to the southwest of the Anwar Mosque is the Raguel Church built after the liberation by Empress Menen. The proximity of the mosque and the church has symbolized the long peaceful relations between Christianity and Islam in Ethiopia.
The flag of Ethiopia consists of three equal horizontal stripes – the top stripe is green and represents the land and hope. The middle is yellow and symbolizes religion, peace, natural wealth and love. The bottom stripe is red and stands for power, faith and blood. The colors were also interpreted to have a connection to the Holy Trinity, and the three main provinces of Ethiopia. The emblem intends to represent both the diversity and unity of the country. Blue represents peace, the star stands for diversity and unity, and the sun’s rays symbolize prosperity. This flag was adopted on February 6th, 1996 which makes it one of the world’s youngest flags. The Ethiopian colors date back to the 1890s, when forces loyal to Emperor Menelik are believed to have flown pennants of green, yellow and red as they fought against Italian forces. The first Ethiopian flag using these same colors was adopted in 1897. Regarding the fact that Ethiopia is the only independent African state, it is credited with establishing the green, yellow and red colors that symbolize Africans’ independence and unity. For that reason sometimes black is added to these colors to represent African people in general. Many other African states have adopted the colors for their own flag as well.
A vast majority of Ethiopians is dependent on the agricultural sector which is the biggest economic sector in the country. Small scale subsistence farming is dominant since not many formal markets exist. Coffee, the biggest agricultural product, became Ethiopia’s No. 1 export commodity. Ethiopia claims to be the origin in coffee and the quality of its beans is due to the fact that pure Arabica coffee is harvested from mostly wild forests instead of plantations. Another very important agricultural product is Tef, a type of grain that can only be found in Ethiopia. Tef is used to make Injera, the staple food of every Ethiopian. Although, Ethiopia is one of the countries with the highest numbers of live stock, its quality is not the best since animals cannot depend on additional feeding. Also, especially among so called stock breeder people, cows and camels are often held more for the social prestige than for economic reasons. Nevertheless, Ethiopia exports leather and even live stock mainly to the Middle East. Since Ethiopia is a big landlocked country with divers physiographic transport of goods is always difficult and expensive. The industrial sector consists mainly of food, metal, textile, and cement industries. So far, not many natural resources are being excavated. There are a lot of salt resources in the Danakil Depression and also potassium carbonate has been found in that region. The harsh climate however makes it not easy to work there. Other resources include gold, marble, virgin stone, and natural gasoline has been found in the Ogaden area.
Ethiopia is a Federal Democratic Republic and composed of nine National Regional States: Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Gambella, Harari and two administrative states (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa).
The political history of Ethiopia is quite unique. In August 1995, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was established replacing the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, which was established in 1991 after the overthrow of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam’s 17-years-long Marxist dictatorship. Prior to the Mengistu government, Ethiopia was ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie I, who played a major role in creating the countries legal system.
Ethiopia, with more than 80 ethnic groups, has currently a parliamentary federal government; but the structure and division of powers is quite straight. The FDRE comprises the Federal Government and the member states, which have the legislative, executive and judicial power. The House of People’s Representatives is the highest authority of the Federal Government. It is responsible to the people and has to promote unity between Ethiopia’s different nationalities.
The Prime Minister has together with the Council of Ministers the highest executive power. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was first elected in 1995, when the citizens of Ethiopia exercised the right to vote for a national government for the first time, pursuant to a revised Constitution ratified in December 1994. He suddenly passed away in August 2012 which came to a shock for most of the people. A state funeral has been held the first one in over a century. Haile Dessalegn, the former deputy PM of Meles took over the lead of the country until the next elections in 2015.
Ethiopia occupies most of the Horn of Africa and its geography is more than divers. The country covers approximately 1,221,900 square kilometers and shares frontiers with Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. The northern and southern highland regions are divided by the Great Rift Valley lowlands, which run through the middle of the country from southwest to northeast. The southern end of the valley is home to several large lakes. The northern highlands are further divided by the Blue Nile River, which is fed from Lake Tana, the largest body of water in Ethiopia. Further in the North you can find the fantastic Simien Mountains, while large arid and semi-arid areas lie along the Somali border. The Danakil Depression, home to the Erta Ale volcano, is on the northeast end of the Great Rift Valley and has the highest average annual temperature on Earth. The coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993. The diversity of the terrain is fundamental to regional variations in climate, natural vegetation, soil composition, and settlement patterns.
Although Ethiopia is located in the tropical climatic region of Africa, its varied topography leads to several different climate classifications throughout the country. The three primary climatic zones are categorized as hot, temperate and cool. In the cool zone, which is restricted to areas above 2,400 meters, frost and snow are possible. It consists of the central parts of the western and eastern sections of the north western plateau and a small area around Harar. The temperate zone is comprised of large swaths of the highland regions, where elevations fall between 1,500 and 2,400 meters. These lower areas of the plateau show a daily temperature range from 16°C to 30°C.
Lowland regions with elevations less than this have temperatures more common to tropical Africa. The Danakil and Ogaden region are even hotter than the calculated average for this altitude. The daily temperatures vary more widely in these regions than in the other two. Although the hot zone’s average annual daytime temperature is about 27°C, midyear readings in the arid and semiarid areas along the border to Eritrea, often soar even up to 50°C. All areas, except the drier aforementioned regions in the lowlands, are subject to the monsoon season, which usually occurs from mid-June to mid-September. Addis Ababa and other eastern locales actually receive a second smaller monsoon season in April or May.