In Ethiopia, according to Aristmarketing, some of the oldest traces of human beings have been found. Up to four million year old finds of prehuman humans, hominids, have been made in several places. The most famous is the skeleton of “Lucy” which was found in 1974 in the Awash Valley, located in the northeastern region of Afar.
Ethiopia, Africa’s tenth largest country, was the eighth African country I visited. The country is one of the poorest in the world with a population of just over 70 million inhabitants.
Visiting so-called developing countries is often associated with shaky encounters with poverty and the harsh reality in which a large part of the world’s population lives, Ethiopia is no exception. Experiences like these give many thinkers.
What made this trip interesting and fascinating was, among other things, the intense life of the people, the stay in the small mountain village Bora, the high altitude hike in the beautiful Simien mountains (included on the UNESCO World Heritage List) where I got to see the extremely rare Ethiopian wolf , the geladababian and walia ibex (ibex), all three species are endemic. The highest point of the hike was Mount Bwahit 4,430 meters above sea level. Also interesting were the visits to the royal castles in the city of Gondar, the strange rock churches in the holy city of Lalibela (included on the UNESCO World Heritage List), meetings with zebras, Thomson gazelles, bushbuck, rockhoppers, hippos and giant crocodiles in Nechis National Park and Lake Chamo.
Less pleasant features during the trip were the very cold nights during the hike, the transports on the bad roads, that a couple of the hotels were real “rat nests”, the many flea bites and stomach problems I suffered from.
Ethiopia history in brief
In Ethiopia, some of the oldest traces of human beings have been found. In several places, up to four million year old finds of prehuman humans, hominids, have been made. The most famous is the skeleton of “Lucy” which was found in 1974 in the Awash Valley in the northeastern region of Afar. Maybe Ethiopia is the cradle of humanity?
Some important years in the history of Ethiopia ( before Christ)
People practiced a primitive form of agriculture
Semitic-speaking groups immigrated from southern Arabia. Minor state formations arose. Trade was conducted with Greeks, Romans and Arabs. One of the kingdoms was Aksum with centers in Eritrea and Tigray
There was a high culture in the northern part of the country that was engaged in animal husbandry, grain cultivation and ceramics.
Some important years in the history of Ethiopia (after Christ) 300 – 1999
300 – 600
Axum reached its heyday and mastered during this period, much of the current northern Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen
Under King Ezanas reign, about 325-350, extended the kingdom to the Nile
330s King Ezana becomes a Christian and makes Christianity the country’s official religion
During the expansion of Islam, Aksum became isolated, especially from a religious perspective. The only Christian contacts are with the Coptic Church in Egypt. Lalibela becomes the capital
The strange rock churches in Lalibela were built
A new emperor, negusa nagast (king of kings) takes over power. He claims to be descended from the Jewish king Solomon and the queen of Sheba. Power is centralized and a feudal state of society develops
The Amharic and Tigrean ethnic groups formed the ethnic core of the country. Ethiopia reaches its greatest coverage ever after heavy fighting
The Muslims unite in a holy war against the Christian Ethiopians. The leader of the Muslims is Ahmed Gragn
1540 Emperor Lebna Dengal dies after being hunted around the kingdom by the Muslims
The Christian Ethiopians defeat the Muslims with the help of Portuguese aid. Portuguese missionaries arrive. They are trying to get the Ethiopians to accept Rome’s sovereignty. After the victory, pro- and anti-Catholic groups fight for power. The strife results in a hostile attitude towards Christian foreigners
1559 Murder of Emperor Galawdewo
Converts Emperor Susneyos to Catholicism 1632 Emperor Fasil becomes regent and reintroduces the Orthodox religion. Foreigners expelled 1636 Gonder becomes the country’s capital
1730 – 55 Reigns Emperor Iyasu II
1755 – 69 Reigns King Ioas
1779 – 84 Reigns King Takla Giyorgis
1784 – 1855
Reigns a number of princes who have little influence on Ethiopian history. They are called the “shadow regents”
1855 – 69 Reigns Emperor Tewodros II
1889 – 1913
Reigns Emperor Menelik II. He unites the country and Ethiopia gets pretty much the borders the country now has
1896 Melenik II defeats an Italian force at the Battle of Adwa, halting the Italians’ continued expansion into the country.
Melenik also conquered lands in the south inhabited by Oromos, Somalis and other ethnic groups. Ethiopia thus became a multicultural country
1930 Ras Tafari Makonnen was proclaimed emperor. He adopted the name Haile Selassie In
1935 Italy attacked Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, the capital, is taken without a fight by the Italians. Eritrea and Italian Somaliland merge with Ethiopia into Italian East Africa
1940 British troops liberate Ethiopia. Haile Selassie returns to Ethiopia after her exile. The British re-establish the borders Ethiopia had before 1935. The Ethiopians demanded to keep Eritrea
1950 A decision is made at the UN to be an autonomous entity in federation with Ethiopia
1962 Ethiopia annexes Eritrea, the starting point of the Eritrean War of Independence, which lasted until 1991.
1972 – 74 Famine in Ethiopia, about 200,000 people die
Demonstrations, strikes, peasant uprisings and mutiny in the armed forces create instability in the country. In September, Emperor Haile Selassie is imprisoned. The military council that takes over the government declares a socialist state
Emperor Haile Selassie dies in captivity
Industries and agricultural land are nationalized. Students were sent to the countryside to teach people to read and write. The farmers were organized into farmers’ associations and in the cities district associations, so-called kebele, were created.
After long power struggles within the military council, Mengistu Haile Mariam takes power. He launched a campaign called “Red Terror” to crush political opposition to the revolution. Tens of thousands were killed and tortured and hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians fled the country
1984 – 85
The inefficiency of state farms created great famine and many died of starvation
The Tigranian Liberation Front (TLF) and other opponents of the regime form the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
A failed coup attempt in the military weakened the military malt. The war and new severe drought created new famine
Ethiopia lost support from the Soviet Union when the communist regime fell
1990 Mengistu acknowledges that the planned economy has failed
Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe in May. EPRDF troops seized power with US support. Meles Zenawi, EPRDF’s president, became the head of state
Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) is in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, and the conflict with Ethiopia is over
1993 Eritrea declares independence
Parliamentary elections are boycotted by the opposition and the EPRDF wins an overwhelming victory. Meles Zenawi becomes Prime Minister
In accordance with the new constitution that came into force during the year, Ethiopia was transformed into a federation with regions (Member States) divided according to ethnic principles
The parliamentary elections were boycotted by the opposition parties and the EPRDF won one by a large majority. Meles Zenawi became Prime Minister
Eritrea conquers the small town of Badme. Ethiopia declares war on Eritrea
The UN begins peace talks to end the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea