Around 400 BC Semitic immigrants from South Arabia settled in the Horn of Africa. In the 1st century AD In the area of what is now Ethiopia was the Kingdom of Aksum, which was active in trade with India, Arabia and the Mediterranean countries. In 350 Coptic Christianity was designated the state religion. From the 7th century onwards, the empire had to defend itself against the onslaught of Islam, which conquered North Africa and quickly spread to the south. As a result, Aksum was isolated, but was able to assert himself.
The empire of Aksum dissolved in the 10th century, and from around 1270 the dynasty of the Christian Solomonids (who saw themselves as direct descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba) took power in the Empire of Amhara. Amharic was made the official language.
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Fight against colonization
At the end of the 15th century, Ethiopia was discovered by the Portuguese, who were looking for the legendary Christian empire in the middle of the Islamic world. With Portuguese support, the country was able to defend itself against the conquests of the Ottomans (Turks) coming from the Red Sea coast in the mid-16th century. After trying to convert the Ethiopians to Catholic Christianity, the Jesuit missionaries were exposed from the country and the influence of Portugal quickly waned.
From 1700 the Ethiopian Empire gradually fell into smaller principalities before it was reunited under Ras (Prince) Kasa as Emperor Tewodros II (Theodor) to a large empire. Magdala (today’s Mekele) became the new capital.
In the 19th century, Ethiopia, like other African countries, also became a sought-after destination for the European colonial powers. The emperors not only had to defend themselves against the Europeans, but also against the Mahdi warriors’ attempts to expand from neighboring Sudan. According to AbbreviationFinder, the Ethiopian Emperor Menilek II concluded a protection contract with Italy against this threat in 1889. However, when Italian troops tried to occupy the entire country from the province of Eritrea, the war broke out, which ended in 1896 with the defeat of the Italians at Adua. Ethiopia remained independent, but the province of Eritrea became an Italian colony. The entire coastal areas of the empire at that time were lost to Great Britain, France and Italy until the beginning of the 20th century. With France, that had declared the territory of today ‘ s Republic of Djibouti a French colony in 1897, the Ethiopian emperor Menilek II (until 1913) negotiated open access for Ethiopia to the port of Djibouti. The construction of a railway line from Djibouti city to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa also began (completion in 1917).
The 20th century
In 1923 Ethiopia became a member of the League of Nations. In November 1930, the 38-year-old Ras Tafari became Mekonnen under the name Haile Selassie (“Power of the Trinity”) of the 225th Emperor of Ethiopia. Under him the final abolition of slavery and a number of reforms, including in the legal and educational system. The country’s first written constitution was adopted (1931). In 1936 Italian troops occupied the country, and Ethiopia, with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, belonged to the “Italian East Africa” colony for a short time. During the Second World War, British troops liberated the country from the Italian occupiers and the emperor returned from exile in London.In 1948 the country regained its full internal and external autonomy from Great Britain.
In 1952 Eritrea was reconnected to Ethiopia as an autonomous state by a UN decision, which led to several uprisings by the predominantly Islamic population. When Ethiopian troops occupied the autonomous state in 1962, there was a war between the local resistance groups (eg “Eritrean Liberation Front”, ELF) and the government troops, which continued until the 1990s. In addition to the fighting in Eritrea, Ethiopia was also burdened by periods of drought, domestic political crises and border conflicts with neighboring countries and separatist movements in other provinces (Tigre).
In 1963 the Ethiopian capital became the seat of the newly founded OAU (Organization for African Unity), which included 30 independent African states and whose goal was the decolonization of Africa and the elimination of white rule. The Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who had previously tried to found such an organization, was able to mediate successfully in several conflicts between African countries as honorary chairman of the organization (eg Biafra conflict 1967-70).
In 1974 the domestic political unrest escalated into a military coup, the emperor was disempowered after a reign of 44 years. A provisional military government under General Andom or Benti tried to transform Ethiopia into a People’s Republic based on the socialist model. The 1955 constitution was overridden, the monarchy abolished (1975), the churches expropriated and opposition forces persecuted and imprisoned. The Eretrian People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which was supported by Sudan, faced violent opposition from the military regime, particularly in the province of Eritrea. In 1977 Mengistu Haile Mariam became the new Chairman of the Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC). In the same year there was an open war with Somalia over the province of Ogaden,
The pressure of the resistance groups in Eritrea and in the province of Tigre increased more and more towards the end of the 1970s. In addition, one of the greatest starvation disasters occurred in Ethiopia in 1983 up to this point: the long civil war and crop failures due to drought starved about one million people within two years. The situation came to a head for the Mengistu government in the late 1980s when the Ethiopian army suffered heavy defeats against the separatists in the north of the country. This led to the first peace negotiations between the EPLF and the government in Addis Ababa, which were initially unsuccessful. In 1991, troops from the EPLF and the TPLF (People’s Liberation Front Tigre) marched into Addis Ababa and overthrew the communist Mengistu regime. Directed by the ”
In 1993 Eritrea declared independence, which was recognized by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Both countries agreed to cooperate closely in economic, political and cultural areas. For Ethiopia, the promise of access to the ports on the Red Sea was of particular importance, since the country had become a purely inland country due to the secession of Eritrea.
In 1994 the country, the majority of which was still suffering from extreme poverty and hunger, received a new constitution (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia). In the first free elections in 1995, the EPRDF won an absolute majority. Negasso Gidada became the new president, Meles Zenawi became head of the government (prime minister). The provinces of Ethiopia have been granted extensive autonomy. In 2001 Girma Wolde Giorgis was elected new president.
Since 1996 there have been repeated clashes between government troops and supporters of the fundamentalist Islamic Union, which was based in Somalia near the Ethiopian border.
The introduction of its own currency in Eritrea in 1997 created tensions with the neighboring country (as a result, Ethiopia only used the ports in Djibouti). A year later, fighting broke out over the exact course of the border between the two countries. In June 1999, after the OAU brokered, an armistice broke out, which was again broken in February 2000 by both sides. A second agreement ended the war in October 2000, including a 25 km security zone along the controversial border and the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to ensure that the ceasefire was observed. In April 2002, the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia finally recognized the border line newly established by the Permanent Court of Arbitration for the settlement of international conflicts in The Hague as ” The Ethiopian government revoked its approval in 2003 on the grounds that the city of Badne, which was one of the causes of the was, should continue to belong to Ethiopia. Since then there has been a tense and uncertain peace between the two countries. Attacks and skirmishes continue.
In 2007, fighting between government forces and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) escalated to fight for the independence of the southeastern province of Somali. Several hundred government soldiers and independence fighters were killed, while the civilian population suffered massively from the conflict. In 2010 there was a peace agreement between the rebels and the government.
The government has so far failed to stabilize the country politically. In a 2007 report, Amnesty International made serious allegations. The government has been accused of detaining and torturing opposition figures after the 2005 elections. The government rejected the allegations. In addition to the political opposition, there are militant “liberation” movements that were listed as terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian parliament in 2011. Numerous arrests since 2011 and, as a result, court sentences with high prison sentences based on the anti-terrorism law, which also affect opposition politicians and journalists, are of increasing concern.