In the horn of Africa, one of the largest on the continent, and consisting of one of the highest mountain peaks as well as the lowest below-sea-level points in Africa. It is a land of natural beauty, contrast and diversity. This diversity is manifested in the peoples, histories, cultures, traditions, natural and manmade heritages Ethiopia possess.
Ethiopia, home of the ancient fourth century Axum civilization, is the oldest independent nation in Africa. This civilization was characterized by great wealth and important international trade relations. In 1855, the era of regional lords was ended and Ethiopia was united by Emperor Tewodros, beginning Ethiopia’s modern history. Under Menelik II, Ethiopia defeated an Italian invasion in 1896 becoming the only African country that defended its sovereignty and thus became an idol for many African and black freedom fighters around the world. Major modernization projects were implemented under Emperor Menelik and were more rapidly expanded by Emperor Haile Selassie, the last emperor of the so-called Solomonic dynasty which ruled Ethiopia uninterrupted since 1277. Emperor Haileselassie was replaced in the year 1974 by the militaristic Derg government. This Socialist regime ruled Ethiopia until it was overthrown by the EPRDF in 1991, which is still in power.
Ethiopia is known for being a mosaic of over 80 ethnic peoples who speak as many languages and profess different religions. Some of the populous ethnicities are the Oromos, the Amhara and the Tigray. A slight majority of Ethiopian people exercise the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, while other major faiths are Islam, Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and some traditional religions. In the 2012 census, the population of Ethiopia was recorded to be about 80 million.
Ethiopia currently has one of the fastest growing economies with a consistently growing GDP well over 5%. The country’s economy is based on agriculture, which also accounts 85% of national employment. Its major outputs are coffee, pulses, ‘Chat’, oilseeds, cereals, potatoes, sugarcane and vegetables which are exported to different countries to earn foreign currency. Local service industries are relatively young but growing at a promising pace. Business areas such as textile and flower farming are highly developing and attracting investors. The five-year Growth and Transformation Plan currently being implemented by the government is expected to significantly lift the country out of poverty and make it a middle-income economy in the world.
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