1.1 million square kilometers
77,431 thousand (from a 2005 estimate)
Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Nazret, Harer, Mekele, Jima, Dese, Bahir Dar, and Debre Zeyit (in order of decreasing size, 1994 census).
Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, Other 1%
Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local dialects and English (being the major foreign language taught in schools)
Ethiopia celebrates May 28 as its National Day, the date of the defeat of the military government (Derg) in 1991.
Ethiopia’s flag has 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 three main colors of the flag were so often adopted by other African
countries on independence that they became known as the pan-African colors.
Ethiopia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. The 12 hour clock is sometimes used locally and this can be confusing to
visitors. The first cycle starts with "one" at 7 A.M. and goes on to "12" at 6 P.M. The second cycle starts at 7 P.M. "one" and
goes on to 6 A.M. "12".
An estimated 40 to 45 percent of the population belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
(EOC); however, the EOC claims 50 percent of the country's total population, or more than 31 million adherents,
and 110,450 churches. The EOC is predominant in the northern regions of Tigray and Amhara. Approximately 45 percent
of the population is Sunni Muslim, although many Muslims claim that the actual percentage is higher. Addis Ababa,
the capital, has approximately one million Muslims, according to the Supreme Islamic Council. Islam is most prevalent
in the eastern Somali and Afar regions, as well as in all the major parts of Oromia in the south. Christian evangelical and
Pentecostal groups continue to be the fastest growing faiths and are believed to constitute more than 10 percent of the
population. According to the Evangelical Church Fellowship, there are 11.5 million Protestants, although this figure may
be high. Established Protestant churches such as Mekane Yesus (with 4.2 million members—reporting an increase of
200,000 members each year) and the Kale Hiwot followers (with about 4.6 million members) are strongest in the Southern
Nations, Nationalities, and People's Regional State (SNNPR), western and central Oromia, and in urban areas. In Gambella
in the west, where ethnic clashes broke out in 2003, Mekane Yesus followers represent 60 percent of the population,
according to the President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Mekane Yesus. The Evangelical Church Fellowship
claims 22 denominations under their religious umbrella and that the number of adherents increased by 200,000 during the
period covered by this report. There are reportedly more than 7,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the country. Oriental Rite and
Latin Rite Roman Catholics (Roman Catholics number approximately 500,000), Jews, animists, and other practitioners of
traditional indigenous religions make up most of the remaining population. In Addis Ababa and western Gondar, in the Amhara
region, some claim that their ancestors were forced to convert from Judaism to Ethiopian Orthodoxy (Feles Mora) many centuries
ago. There are very few atheists. Although precise data is not
available, active participation in religious services is generally high throughout the country.
History of Christianity:
Ethiopians date the coming of Christianity to Ethiopia to the fourth century AD, when a Christian philosopher from Tyre named
Meropius was shipwrecked on his way to India. Meropius died but his two wards, Frumentius and Aedesius were washed ashore
and taken to the royal palace. Eventually they became king Ella Amida’s private secretary and royal cupbearer respectively. They
served the king well, and Frumentius became regent for the infant prince Ezana when Ella Amida died. Frumentius and Aedesius
were also permitted to prosyletize the new religion in Aksum (as modern Ethiopia was then known). After some time, Frumentius
and Aedesius returned to the Mediterranean, travelling down the Nile through Egypt to do so. When they reached Egypt, Frumentius
contacted bishop Athanasius of Alexandria and begged him to send missionaries back to Aksum, since the people there had
proved so ready to receive the gospel.
Athanasius agreed that the need was urgent, and immediately appointed Frumentius to the task, which needed someone fluent in
the language and sensitive to the customs of Aksum. He ordained Frumentius the first abuna or bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Frumentius has since come to be known as the Abuna Salama or bishop of peace. His mission was successful and, with the support
of king Ezana, Ethiopia became a Christian nation.
The link between the Ethiopian church and the Patriarch of Alexandria was not broken until the 20th century, since the Coptic Patriarch
of Alexandria has sent Ethiopia each of its suceeding Abunas.
History of Protestant Churches:
Protestantism was introduced to Ethiopia through the mission societies, which, though present in Ethiopia for much of the 19th century,
did not really make inroads into Ethiopian society until the twentieth, and even then remain a tiny minority. Three main missions shaped
the modern Protestant churches in Ethiopia, the Lutherans, the Sudan Interior Mission and the Mennonite Mission.
The Lutheran missions were the earliest presence in Ethiopia and developed into the Mekane Yesus (the Place of Jesus) Church, formed
in 1959 as a federation of three mission churches. Mekane Yesus is strongest in the south and west of Ethiopia, which are areas which
were opened to missionaries because there was not a strong Orthodox presence, and exert great influence through the Voice of the
Gospel radio program, which, unfortunately was nationalized in 1977, though it now broadcasts from a station in the Seychelles.
The Sudan Interior Mission began its work in the South of Ethiopia in the 1920s. It progressed steadily but unspectacularly, baptising
four converts in 1932 and perhaps a hundred by the time they were driven out of Ethiopia by the invading Italians in 1938. When SIM
returned five years later, they discovered a flourishing church of a hundred congregations and 20,000 members. That number grew to
100,000 by 1960 when revival once again swept the church bringing its membership to 500,000 by 1974. The Kale Heywat (Word of Life)
church, which grew out of the SIM churches has continued to flourish and grow since the restoration of religious freedom in 1991.
The Mennonite mission came to Ethiopia after World War II as a relief agency, but received permission to evangelize soon after. Two
distinct churches grew out of the influence of the Mennonite mission. The Meserete Kristos (Christ is the Foundation) church has
remained an important part of the wordwide Mennonite fellowship, while the Mulu Wengel Church has insisted on maintaining its
independence from western ties.
The Mulu Wengel (Full Gospel) church grew out of the Heavenly Sunshine Bible study, begun by a group of high school students learning
English and a Mennonite doctor, though it was also decisively influenced by the teachings of the Finnish Pentecostal Mission, and has
never had formal connections with any western mission. A large number of Mulu Wengel members joined Meserete Kristos when Mulu
Wengel was outlawed by the government in 1972. Meserete Kristos followed Mulu Wengel’s lead in cultivating the charismatic gifts of
the Holy Spirit. As a result the Meserete Kristos church has become far more charismatic and Pentecostal than most of its sister Mennonite
churches. Orthodox Christians refer to all protestants as "Pentes" or Pentecostals, a testimony to the influence of the Pentecostal
movement on Ethiopian protestantism, despite the official disapproval of the Kale Heywat Church and the Mekane Yesus church. Both
Meserete Kristos and Mulu Wengel churches practice faith healing, exorcism of demons, and glossolalia.
In 1982 Meserete Kristos, then a church of 5,000 members was outlawed, this time by the Marxist government, which came to power in
1974. It suffered intense persecution for nine years. When religious freedom was granted again in 1991 and the believers assembled, Meserete
Kristos discovered that they now numbered 50,000, a tenfold increase during the time of persecution. MKC is now growing at a rate of
approximately 20% per year.
Current Status of Christian Church
A large number of foreign missionary groups operate in the country. Protestant organizations, operating under the umbrella of the 22-member
Evangelical Church Fellowship of Ethiopia, that sponsor or support missionary work include: the Baptist Bible Fellowship; the New Covenant
Baptist Church; the Baptist Evangelical Association; Mekane Yesus Church (associated with the Lutheran Church); Kale Hiwot Church
(associated with SIM--Service in Mission); Hiwot Berhan Church (associated with the Swedish Philadelphia Church); Genet Church (associated
with the Finnish Mission); Lutheran-Presbyterian Church of Ethiopia; Emnet Christos; Muluwongel (Full Gospel) Church; and Messerete Kristos
(associated with the Mennonite Mission).
Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) also have active missionary operations.
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of roughly US$6 billion, a per
capita annual income of about US$100, and chronic trade deficits in the early 2000s. The basis of the economy is rainfed agriculture,
which means that crop production fluctuates widely according to yearly rainfall patterns, leaving the country subject to recurrent and
often catastrophic drought. Droughts have increased in severity since the 1970s in step not only with shortfalls in crop production but
also with burgeoning population growth. Indeed, the increase in population has outstripped the productive capacity of the agricultural
sector, creating a structural food deficit even in times of normal or superior production. Services, including retail trade, public administration,
defense, and transportation, constitute the second largest component of the economy. Manufacturing and mining are a distant third and fourth.
Ethiopia is heavily dependent on international donor largesse, particularly in times of drought.
Currency and Exchange Rate
Ethiopia’s currency is the birr, which is divided into 100 cents. In October 1992, the government initiated a long, gradual devaluation of the birr,
allowing its value to decline from the old rate of 2.07 birr per US$1 to an average of 8.78 birr per US$1 in 2003.
As of late March 2005, the exchange rate was 8.65 birr per US$1.
Health and Welfare
In terms of health and welfare, Ethiopia ranks among Africa’s—and the world’s—poorest nations. Following the completion of the first Health
Sector Development Programme (HSDP-I) in 2002 and the second (HSDP-II) in 2005, the recently formulated HSDP-III is aimed at achieving
the health-related MDGs. The strategy adopted is to improve health delivery, especially in rural communities, with particular attention to malaria,
tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS as well as infant and maternal care and reproductive health services. Per capita daily government expenditure on
health increased from about $1.4 in 2001/02 to about $2.2 in 2004/05. Some important progress has been achieved as a result of these efforts.
In 2004/05, overall health coverage was estimated at 64 per cent, a significant increase from the 45 per cent and 57 per cent coverage observed
in 1997 and 2002 respectively. The per capita utilization rate increased from 27 per cent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2004/05. Immunization of
children has increased from 27 to 60 per cent, pre-natal coverage from 29 to 41 per cent and the use of contraceptives from 13 to 23 per cent
among married women 15-49 years of age. Tuberculosis prevention and control coverage among married women rose from 20 per cent in
2001/02 to 76 percent in 2004/05.
Provision of adequate health services in relation to communicable diseases faces a number of obstacles: a) poor retention and deployment of
inefficient medical staff; b) weak co-ordination and communication; c) a shortage of medical supplies; d) a greater share of the health budget
spent for tertiary curative services; and e) a lack of a common implementation procedure among donors and the government.
Education and Literacy
The Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP) aims to achieve universal primary education by 2015 with a strategy based on decentralized
management, cost-sharing mechanisms at the secondary and tertiary levels, and private-sector involvement. In 2003/04, the overall primary school
enrolment rate was 68.4 per cent, while that of girls was 59.1 per cent. Encouraging signs are the participation rates of girls in both secondary
(47.5 per cent) and higher education (23 per cent). Although the overall literacy rate of the population remains a dismal 36 per cent (national sources),
Ethiopia is on track to reach the education related MDGs by 2015. Continued progress will depend on whether the country can
address major obstacles such as the shortage of qualified teachers and the high student/teacher ratio.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a serious threat to Ethiopia’s social and economic development. The pandemic after an initial slow strat is now escalating at
an alarming rate. The first evidence of HIV infection in the country was found in the mid 1980’s. The 2005 EDHS (Ethiopia Demographic and Health
Survey) included a series of questions that addressed respondents’ knowledge about AIDS and their awareness of modes of
transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS, and of behaviours that can prevent the spread of HIV.
According to AIDS in Ethiopia 5th Edition, the following major facts show the general situation of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia:
- Adult Prevalence rate is reported to be 4.4 %.
- The Number of children orphaned by AIDS has reached 1.2 million by the year 2001.
- The Number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is 1.5 million with 96,000 children.
- Urban HIV Prevalence is 12.6%
- Rural Prevalence rate is 2.6%
The impact of HIV/AIDS on economic development of Ethiopia can be seen in a number of ways. AIDS is an expensive disease that will require a
considerable amount of resources from the health system. The cost of hospital care for an AIDS patient ranged from 425 to 3140 Birr during the
course of illness Kello 1994. The other impact on the household is a death of a parent or any other adult in the family would lower the level of
income. The estimated HIV infection in rural areas of 2.6% is likely to grow substantially in the future which could affect the production of cash
crops as well as food crops.