Capital: Addis Ababa
Leader: President Woldegiorgis Girma
Population: 74.2 million
Language: Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, English
Religion: Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%
Economy: GNI per capita: USD $110
Main Exports: Coffee, hides, oilseeds, beeswax, sugarcane
Monetary Unit: Ethiopian Birr
Net primary school enrolment: 31%
Net primary school enrolment of girls: 16%
Health: Life Expectancy: 46 years (men), 49 years (women)
Infant mortality rate: 110/1000 live births
HIV Prevalence: 4.4%
Income Distribution: 50% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Culture: Ethiopia’s main ethnic groups are: Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4% and Gurage 2%.
Environment: The main environmental problems are deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion and desertification.
Politics: Ethiopia is a federal republic with ethnically-based regions. On May 15 2005, around 35 political parties contested Ethiopia’s first democratic elections. The pre-election period saw public debates between the ruling party and the opposition, and voter participation was high. However, charges of voting irregularities led to protests which resulted in mass arrests and an estimated 36 deaths. The National Election Board investigated electoral complaints, and the final results showed a victory for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front under President Meles. The opposition won 175 of 547 seats in Parliament and gained control of Addis Ababa’s city administration.
Current Political Climate: Ethiopia has been in conflict with neighbouring Eritrea over the demarcation of their common border since 1997. In 2000, a peace agreement committed both sides to abide by the ruling of an independent commission on the border’s location. Ethiopia’s failure to hand over the town of Badme to Eritrea has kept tensions high. In December 2005, the Eritrean government ordered UN peacekeepers to leave the area, in anticipation of renewed conflict. Meanwhile, student demonstrations and opposition protests continue to be repressed by the government.
Position of Women: Women traditionally have few land or property rights and few opportunities for employment beyond agricultural labor. The government has introduced quotas for women candidates in parliamentary elections, guaranteeing women up to 30% of seats in the legislature. Domestic and sexual violence against women are common. Child marriages and girls living on the street are also urgent problems which make girls increasingly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
Children in Ethiopia: The displacement of families due to drought and conflict has disrupted schooling opportunities for children. Children are extremely vulnerable to malnutrition, especially those living in displacement camps. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country has reduced family and community infrastructure, placing children at risk of exploitation. 13% of Ethiopian children are orphans, 800,000 of which have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. 200,000 children are themselves living with HIV/AIDS.
Freedom: The press is dominated by state-owned media outlets. Religious freedom is respected, but academic freedom is restricted. In recent years, student protests have resulted in numerous deaths, injuries and arrests.
A unique feature of Ethiopian art can be found in churches and other religious buildings. This religious artistic style has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Typically, figures are drawn in two dimensions, with direct, simplistic and colourful features. Almond-shaped eyes are a common characteristic of the figures in these paintings. Church paintings in Ethiopia portray biblical and local religious stories as an avenue to inform community members of their traditions and their heritage.