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Ethiopian history

Below you will find a short description of Ethiopia's history.

Ethiopia is a diverse cultural nation with a long and in an African context well-documented history. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa which has never been colonised.

Ethiopia is known to be the "cradle of humanity". Human kind is very likely to have its roots in Ethiopia. Lucy, the best preserved version of the predecessor to man is approximately 3,5 mio. years old, and has been found in the Ethiopian part of the Great Rift Valley.

Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian nations in the world. Christianity dates back to 300 ad, when the then capital of Ethiopia, Aksum, was converted to Christianity. The Ethiopian orthodox church is thus one of the oldest in the world. Christianity is deeply rooted in Ethiopian history, but Islam also has roots in Ethiopia. Around 40% of Ethiopians are Muslim, and the two religions have co-existed peacefully ever since the first disciple of the Prophet Muhammad was granted protection and residence in Ethiopia by the first king in Aksum.

Ethiopia's history has been shaped by influence from both the Middle East and Africa. Early Ethiopian history was influenced by Egypt. There is a myth saying that the Queen of Sheba, who reigned in the Northern City of Ethiopia, Aksum, had a son with King Solomon. The son was later pronounced as King Menelik I. According to the myth, Ethiopia has been ruled by descendants of King Menelik I up until the ousting of Kaiser Haile Selassie following the communist take-over of power in 1974.

Haile Selassie I ruled as emperor from 1930 to 1974. In 1935 Italian troops occupied the country, and it was not until 1941 that Ethiopia with the assistance of British troops were able to liberate Ethiopia again. In 1974, Emperor Haile Selassie was ousted by a communist military council, which in 1977 led to Mengistu Haile Mariam coming to power, where he became the leader of both the military council and the government. During the 1980's, under the rule of Mengistu, Ethiopia experienced some of the worst famines in the history of the country. Mengistu was overthrown in 1991 by guerrilla forces led by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.

In 1991, a coalition of guerrilla groups formed Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front led by Former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The Ethiopian constitution, which was enacted in 1994, defines Ethiopia as an ethnic-based federal system and divides the country into 10 relatively autonomous regions. Ethiopia has had national parliamentary elections in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and latest in May 2015. From 1991 until August 2012 Meles Zenawi was the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. After his death on August 20th, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hailemariam Desalegn was appointed interim Prime Minister, and he was re-elected after the general election in May 2015.

Ethiopia went through a sweep of modernisation during the late 19th and early 20th century. During this time, Emperor Menelik II founded Addis Ababa as the new capital. Ethiopia was one of the original members of the United Nations. Ethiopia today hosts two of the three continental organisations, namely the African Union Commission headquarter and the UNs Economic Commission for Africa. This often leads to Addis Ababa being referred to as the "Capital of Africa".