Ethiopia is located in east-central Africa and has a spatial size of about 1.1 million square kilometers. This country of 75 million is sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest state where the oldest known human ancestors have been discovered by archeologists. Greek and Roman historians and the Bible’s Old Testament mention ancient Ethiopia in their writings.
Though one of the oldest states and known histories in the world, Ethiopia was colonized by a European power only by 1936. Modern history starts with the taking of Ethiopia from Emperor Halile Selassie in 1935 by Italian forces, led by fascist Benito Mussolini who invaded and occupied Ethiopia. By May 9, 1936, after many deadly battles, Ethiopia was formally annexed, a conquest later acknowledged and recognized by the League of Nations. Italy officially had colonial claims of Ethiopian land and its people.
Under the Italians, infrastructure was created and cultures altered. By the spring of 1941 however, in the midst of World War II, the British and Allied troops defeated the Italians and Emperor Selassie regained his position of power. While a time of modernization and advancement followed, it was not enough and by 1974, the faltering economy and isolating political reforms, as well as inflation, corruption, famine, food insecurity, and general discontent, helped laid the groundwork for the Ethiopian revolution.
The revolution removed Emperor Selassie from power and replaced him with a supposedly socialist government known as the Dreg, who freely and aggressively used the military to enforce their rule. However, this socialist government did not last long as their brutality, drought, and famine contributed to the government’s collapse. Violence and the overthrowing of the government continued with Communism taking over in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The Communist reign saw hundreds of thousands of deaths and was later acknowledged as a genocide. In the 1990’s, Ethiopia transitioned to a bicameral legislature, a multi-party democracy and a judicial system. Elections for President and Parliament were administered.
After the ratification of the constitution in 1994, today, Ethiopia has a federal republic type of government with many different branches of government. Through Ethiopia’s turbulent and violent history, the country has suffered tremendously. However, from natural disasters that lead to agricultural insufficiency, to violent governmental overthrows and foreign invaders that lead to genocide, to a population that is a little less than half below poverty, Ethiopia has managed to survive.
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