Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing countries in Africa.
Ethiopia has a rich and unique cultural heritage – it is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and Africa’s oldest independent country. Aside from a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-1941, Ethiopia has never been colonized and served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period. Ethiopia was a founding member of the United Nations and is the African base for many international organizations.
Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a growth rate among the top 10 in the world. Ethiopia is also one of the world’s poorest countries – its per capita income of $550 is substantially lower than the regional average. Over the last decade, however, Ethiopia has made significant progress in both economic and human development. The country is currently ranked as one of the fastest growing economies and third fastest mover of human development in the world. Since 2000, Ethiopia’s economy averaged 10% growth annually and growth remains high due to aggressive saving and investment coupled with government-led infrastructure expansion and commercial agricultural development.
- Independence established after defeating invading Italian armed forces.
- Facist-ruled Italy invades and occupies Ethiopia for the five years until resistance fighters drive them out and restore the rule of exiled Emperor Selassie.
- The Derg, a Marxist military regime, overthrow Haile Selassie, sending the country into a period of civil unrest and human rights abuses worsened by wide-scale drought and famine.
- The Derg are overthrown and Ethiopia is established as a Federal Democratic Republic.
- Ethiopia adopts a constitution that leads to the first multiparty election the following year.
- Border dispute with Eritrea leads to the Ethiopian-Eritrean War, ending with a peace treaty in December 2000.
- Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies, and Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn takes over in a peaceful transfer of power.
- Ethiopia achieved the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for child mortality and water.
Demographic + Economic Overview
Ethiopians are ethnically diverse with more than 80 languages spoken throughout the country. All Ethiopian languages are officially recognized under the constitution, though Oromo is the most widely spoken indigenous language, and Amharic is the country’s “working language.” English is the most widely spoken foreign language, and all post-primary education is conducted in English. At 49%, the literacy rate in Ethiopia is one of the lowest in the world.
- Income Level Classification:
- Lower Middle
- Higher Middle
Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing, non-oil economies in Africa. Its economy has experienced strong, broad-based growth over the last decade, averaging GDP growth of 10.8% per year. Additionally, Ethiopia has one of the lowest levels of income-inequality in Africa, ranking on par with Scandinavian countries. Continued growth will be driven by private sector development and improving trade logistics and Ethiopia is projected to become a middle-income country by 2025.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and that plus other agricultural crops are critical components of the country’s economy, making up over 40% of the country’s GDP and 85% of the workforce. The government has placed an increased emphasis on developing the country’s manufacturing sector, with a clear focus on export diversification, and the industry and services sectors are expected to show considerable expansion over the next five to 10 years.