Physical Geography

Along with amazing geography, Ethiopia holds much more interest than most people can believe.  Surprisingly, Ethiopia has had double digit growth in population since 2003 and will continue to expand over the years.  With Ethiopia containing a fair amount of people and the population continuing to rise, Ethiopia’s richness will continue to grow.  A lot of Ethiopia’s beauty is not only contained in its people, but in the physical geography, also.  Ethiopia is less than twice the size of Texas making it not too big and not too small.  Ethiopia has a decent climate and a fair amount of land area making it a livable place.  A downside to their geography is that it is landlocked, which is a con for many people because they are not near water.  With the mountains, rivers, and lakes, Ethiopia holds much more beauty than most people can imagine.


Land Features


Like previously mentioned, Ethiopia is less than twice the size of Texas.  Although it is not a desirably large space, it is big enough for an African country with an area of 1,104,300 square kilometers.  Even though African countries do not need to be a certain size, it is desirable for some people to live in a large space.  Ethiopia contains one of the lowest and driest points on Earth, the Danakil Depression, being at 125 meters, and rises all the way up to 4,533 meters with the Ras Dejen.  Two-thirds of Ethiopia’s land area is highland, with most of the highland plateaus being sprinkled by steep-sided valleys and gorges; he other one-third is lowland. The highlands are referred to as the Ethiopian Plateau in the East African Rift Plateau, where most of Ethiopia is.

Ethiopia contains many beautiful rivers.  With all of the rivers originating in the highlands and many draining into bordering countries, Ethiopia is considered the “Water Tower” of East Africa. The rivers hold interesting facts, such as the Blue Nile, which is Ethiopia’s largest river.  The Blue Nile supplies two-thirds of the Nile River’s flow.  The Blue Nile, the Tekeze, and the Baro make up about half of the country’s water outflow.  Another interesting fact is that the Awash River, located in the northern half of the Great Rift Valley, contains many dams built by the government to generate power and irrigate major commercial plantations. 

North of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, the surface of the plateau contains high mountains and chasms that not only look magnificent, but creates various climate and vegetation.  The plateau consists of mountain ranges like the Chercher and Aranna.  Southwest of the Addis Ababa is where the land of Ethiopia starts becoming a rocky desert and is less populated.  The Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia, which extends from the Jordan Valley all the way to Zambezi River in Mozambique, is considered a big deal.  In the south, the Great Rift Valley becomes a deep trench.  The southern half of the valley contains a chain large lakes, which some contain fresh water and others have salt and minerals.  In the north, the Great Rift Valley becomes a saline plain.  The plain contains the Danakil Depression, which is one of the hottest places on earth.  Many volcanoes and earthquakes also frequent the Danakil Depression area.




Because Ethiopia is located near the equator, it is obvious that the temperature is extremely hot.  However, with varied topography, some would be surprised as to how much the temperatures can vary.  The main climate of Ethiopia is a tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation.  As a result, very diverse rainfall and temperatures occur.  Besides a tropical monsoon with varied topography, Ethiopia also has three environmental zones. The Dega, Weina Dega, and the Kolla make up Ethiopia’s cool, temperate, and hot environmental zones.

The cool zone is made up of the central parts of western and eastern section near the city of Harer.  The temperature varies from near freezing to 16 degrees Celcius with March, April, and May being the warmest months.  Like the beginning of spring in Tennessee, the warmth in the cool zone quickly declines by the afternoon and is completely gone by night.  For the majority of the months, snow falls at the highest elevations.  The temperate zones of Ethiopia are found mostly in the lower areas of the plateau with temperature ranging from 16 degrees Celcius to 30 degress Celcius.

The most obvious zone, the hot zone, occurs near lower elevation such as the Danakil Depression, Eritrean lowland, eastern Ogaden, the valleys of the Blue Nile and Tekeze, and some areas along the Sudanese and Kenyan borders.  When Africa is mentioned, the word that immediately comes to mind is “hot”.  This zone describes exactly what picture of African weather one can imagine with daytime conditions being torrid and having high humidity.  The temperatures vary the most out of all three regions with the average temperature being 27 degrees Celcius.

Various rates of precipitation in Ethiopia are the product of elevation and seasonal changes.  Several regions have rainfall most of the year while others receive it in certain seasons.  In January, high pressure systems that produces monsoons provide little moisture to the country.  Their effect to the coastal region is to provide a Mediterranean-like climate.  Because of this, most of the rainfall in the highlands occur during mid-June to mid-September.  Annual precipitation is the heaviest in the southwest. 





            Because I picture “As Told By Ginger” and “Mean Girls” when I think of Africa, I believe the predators are the most interesting aspect to me.  I imagine wild safari hunts with savage cheetahs and hyenas roaming everywhere.  The main predators in Ethiopia are the spotted hyena, leopard, lion, cheetah, and African hunting dog. Out of five, I believe the most interesting are the hyenas, lions, and cheetahs.

            The spotted hyena, located in thinly populated parts and low altitudes, is the large predator most likely to be seen in Ethiopia.  Not surprisingly, spotted hyenas can be seen in national parks and even roaming the outskirts of towns.  The most common home for spotted hyenas is in Harar; however, others can be very sneaky about the places they roam.  Because hyenas are such fierce creatures and are found in common areas such as towns, they make it on the list of the top predators of Ethiopia.  One can easily imagine hyenas running around Ethiopia preying hard on animals and people.

            Appearing to be very widespread mainly in the savanna, Rift Valley, and border regions of Somali and Kenya are the Abyssinian race of lions.  Although they are widespread, they are very thinly distributed.  This particular race is easy to distinguish due to its below-average size and the male’s black mane.  Lions are mainly heard at night and sometimes seen during the day in parts of Awash, Nechisar, Bale, Omo, and Mago national parks.  An attraction where people are likely to see lions is at Siddist Kilo in Addis Ababa.  However, because they are obviously very dangerous, they are kept in cages.

            As commonly seen on TV, the cheetah is the large feline most associated with open country.  When one watches African safari shows, it is usually the cheetah running in the open area chasing and preying.  Cheetahs are normally found in drier climates than lions.  They can be seen in Awash and Nechisar national parks, but with low frequency.  Cheetahs can survive in small numbers throughout dry plains of the southeast and lower populated parts of Rift Valley.  On occasion, they will travel to the national parks and reserves found in these areas. Out of all the predators, the cheetah seems the most intimidating due to its frequency in open country and its amazingly fast speed. 

            As far as plants goes, in agricultural Abyssinia of Ethiopia there are more varieties of plants than any other country in the world.  Ethiopia is considered one of the seven independent centers of origin of cultivated plants. Large amounts of plant diversity are found in Ethiopia with several varieties of wheat, barley, and grain sorghum.  Ethiopia is home to such plants as Eragrostis abyssinica, which is the most important cereal of Abyssinia, and Guizotia abyssinica, which an original plant of Abyssinia.  Along with the plants, Abyssinia is also the home of the coffee plant and the barley used in brewing.



            The most common natural hazards of Ethiopia are the geologically active Great Rift Valley susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and frequent droughts.  Because Ethiopia is located right on one of the major tectonic plates in the world, the African and Arabian plates, earthquakes have been a normal occurrence in Ethiopia.  Provided by a study done by Pierre Gouin, in the 20th century Ethiopia has had as many as 15,000 tremors that were strong enough to be felt by humans.  The most significant earthquakes of the 20th century were the 1906 Langano, 1961 Kara Kore, the 1983 Wondo Genet, the 1985 Langano, the 1989 Dobi graben, and the 1993 Nazret earthquakes were all felt in Addis Ababa and other major cities. 

            Along with earthquakes, volcanoes are another dangerous hazard in Ethiopia.  The most active volcano located in Ethiopia is the Erta Ale, which is an isolated basaltic shield volcano.  Erta Ale is a 50-kilometer-wide volcano that rises more than 600 meters from below sea level in the Danakil Depression.  The 613-meter-high volcano has an elliptical summit crater housing steep-sided pit craters.  Fresh basaltic lava flows from the fissure and pours into the caldera and overflows its rim.  It is sometimes renowned for two long-term lava lakes that have been active since 1967. 

            A big reoccurring issue in Ethiopia is droughts.  In October of 2009, the Ethiopian government issued an international plea of $175 million in emergency aid for the drought in East Africa.  Because of the long-running drought, over 23 million people across East Africa are left with low water and food supplies.  Because rain is low, people of Ethiopia are deprived of food from agricultural investment. The drought of 2009 is said to be the worst drought in ten years.  The $175 million in aid goes mainly towards food and health and sanitation support for agriculture in livestock. Because of reoccurring droughts, Ethiopia is continuingly being faced with food shortages and high risks for diseases.


Human-Environment Interaction

            Ethiopia is not only diverse when it comes to geography, but also when it comes to the people and their lifestyles.  The quote “It is not where you are, it is who you are with” would be a prime saying when it comes to people and their environment.  It is not necessarily about the land, but the people that make up the land and how they work together to make it a livable, interesting environment.  Although human-environment interaction is about how one affects the other, the geography can also influence how people interact with their environment.

            Because Ethiopia is regarded as the oldest settlement in the world, one can tell that the land must be ancient and have many hidden treasures.  For example, Ethiopia is the location for the earliest “human” evidence, Lucy.  The adult Australopithecine fossil was found in the Awash Valley around 3.2 million years ago.  With the fluctuation in elevation, the various plateaus, mountain ranges, and rivers and lakes, several fossils could be hidden deep and no one would know.  Ethiopia now contains over 73 million people, which is a surprise considering it is less than twice the size of Texas.  Due to Ethiopia’s large population, a problem arises.  It is determined that the large percentages of young people will increase the population exponentially.  Because of ancient origins, Ethiopia has a wide variety of governments and cultures from imperial dynasties to communism to democracy. 

            An important thing to look over when it comes to human-environment interaction is demographics.  For example, the birth rate is 43.66 births/1,000 population.  Along with the major population increase and the rate of births, Ethiopia could face a problem since it is not that big of a land.  Because the death rate (11.55 deaths/1,000 population), infant mortality rate (80.8 deaths/1,000 live births), and the life expectancy rate (55.41 years at birth) are shocking numbers, it is easy to tell that because Ethiopia is not as developed as other countries and faces many hazards, living life may not be easy there.  Compared to other countries in the world, Ethiopia ranks number 11 as to deaths of HIV/AIDS.  Along with HIV/AIDS, other infectious diseases include bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, malaria, rabies, meningococcal meningitis, and schistosomiasis.  With such a high risk of catching diseases, the environment of Ethiopia is not such a safe place to live in. 

            Although Ethiopia is relatively small, there are over eighty ethnic groups, with ten having a population of over one million people.  The largest ethnic groups would be the Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, and Somali.  The largest ethnic group, the Oromo, makes up 34.5% of the population.  They speak Oromo, are authors of the Gadaa system, and they set the stage for all of Ethiopian history leading to the imperial dynasties of Oromo nobility that lasted until 1974.  The second largest ethnic group is the Amhara with nearly 20 million people.  They are generally viewed as rural people, working in fields in the highlands.  Ninety percent make their living in agriculture and are forced to work in a sharecropping system.  However, only 45% of rural households consume the World Health Organization’s minimum standard of food per day.

            Because humans affect their environments in so many ways, it would be impossible to list them all.  Humans interact with their environment through language, religion, traditions, social functions, hobbies, and so much more.  Everything humans do affect their environment and vice versa.  Since Ethiopia is such a broad country with many broad people and cultures, it is an interesting place to discover, even if only doing it online.





Briggs, Philip. "Ethiopia Plants & Animals." Geckgo. Bradt Travel Guides, 2007. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <>.


Childress, Sarah. "Ethiopia Requests $175 Million in Aid As Drought Crisis Looms." The Wall Street Journal (2009): A3. The Wall Street Journal. Dowe Jones & Company, Inc., 23 Oct. 2009. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <>.


"CIA- The World Factbook- Ethiopia." CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency, 22 Feb. 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. <>.


"Erta Ale." CVO Website- Africa Volcanoes and Volcanics. Lyn Topinka, 10 Feb. 2003. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <>.


"Ethiopia- Geography." Country Studies. Country Studies Program. Web. 28 Feb. 2010. <>.


"Investing in Ethiopia." Embassy of Ethiopia - Washington, D.C. Embassy of Ethiopia, 2008. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. <>.


Kinde, Samuel. "Earthquake Risks." Earthquake Hazards in Ethiopia's Major Cities. MediaETHIOPIA, Mar. 2002. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <>.


Melander, Christopher. "Ethiopia's People and Culture." Ethiopia (Worldapedia). Oct. 2009. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <>.


Molla, Aberra. "Ethiopian Plant Names." ABSHA/ECS, 1985. Web. 01 Mar. 2010. <>.



Contributed by: Michelle Payne, University of Tennessee


            Ethiopia is often regarded as the oldest settlement in the world and has a rich history supporting such claims.  To begin discussing the history of the people in Ethiopia, one would have to make speculations of prehistory since the earliest of “human” evidence exists with the discovery of Lucy.  The adult Australopithecine fossil found in the Awash Valley, is believed to be about 3.2 million years old (“Mother of Man”).  The oldest-known hominid skeleton, Ardi, thought to predate Lucy by over a million years, was also found in region, suggesting that Ethiopia may be the origin of the human race (Ansari).

            Today, Ethiopia has over 73 million people, with a wide variety of languages, ethnicities, and religions.  Considering its ancient origins, Ethiopia has a history of eclectic governments and cultures ranging from imperial dynasties to communism to democracy.  Now, within the framework of a new constitution adopted in 1994, Ethiopia is focused on uniting its diverse people into a mosaic fabric of cultures living together in harmony.

            One obstacle facing the nation of Ethiopia is the population pyramid that illustrates the booming population of Ethiopia and how the large percentages of young people will increase the population exponentially.  Meanwhile, according to Peter Greste of the British Broadcasting Cooperation, Ethiopia is addicted to foreign aid and shows few signs of positioning itself to gain its own stability.


            The 2007 population census of Ethiopia states that there are over eighty ethnic groups currently living in Ethiopia, with ten of which having total populations of over one million people.  The largest ethnic groups are the Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, and Somali.  While language and religion are closely tied to Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups, it would be nearly impossible to discuss one without relating the others.

            The Oromo, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia making 34.5% of the total population, are native to the region.  The Cushtic-speaking ethnicity has been living in Ethiopia for thousands of years, predating recorded history and even has its own language, the Oromo.  They are also the authors of the Gadaa system, a class system presumably developed thousands of years ago.  This culture of duty and social class sets the stage for all of Ethiopian history leading to the imperial dynasties of Oromo nobility that lasted in Ethiopia until 1974 when the Marxist “Derg” established a one-party communist state supported by the Soviet Union.

            The second largest ethnic group in Ethiopia is the Amhara from the central highlands of Ethiopia with nearly 20 million people.  This ethnicity group has progressively been extended to all Amharic-speaking people and most Amharas would simply refer to themselves as “Ethiopian”.   Amharic is traditionally seen as the language of the court in Ethiopia, so arguments are made that the Amharas are the noble class; however, others argue that the many people often referred to as Amhara are of other ethnic groups and simply speak Amharic because of its usefulness. 

            The Amharas are generally viewed as a rural people, working the fields of the Ethiopian highlands.  Ninety percent of the Amhara people make their living in agriculture and are often forced to work in a sharecropping system where the farmers are often exploited to feed those living in the more urban regions of the country.  Overall, food is scarce and only 45% of rural households consume the World Health Organization’s minimum standard of food per day. 


            Ethiopia has just as many languages as it does ethnic groups, estimated around 84 languages according to Ethnologue.  Though the languages are abundant, many of the languages are considered to be on the endangered list because they have fewer than 10,000 people speaking them.  Most of the languages are tribal, belonging to the Semetic, Cushtic, Omotic, or Nilo-Saharan families.  The most popular languages are the Amharic, spoken in the central highlands of Ethiopia, and the Oromo, spoken in the southern half of Ethiopia.  And while the capital, Addis Ababa, is a city representing a diversity of ethnic groups, it has a large diversity in its languages as well.  Although there is no official language to the country, Amharic is the working language of the government, making it the de facto language of the country.

While under communist rule of the “Derg”, the educational system was not allowed to be taught in the native languages.  Therefore, secondary schools and universities predominately speak English, making it the most common foreign language in the country.  However, with the new democratic Ethiopia, an effort has been made to preserve the diverse languages and granted ethic groups the right to establish schools in their native languages.


            Ethiopia is predominately comprised of two main religions, Christianity and Islam, both of which have had a presence in Ethiopia since their conception.  Christianity, which makes up 62.8% of the population, arrived in Ethiopia in the first century of the current era but did not become the state religion until early in the fourth century when two young Christians from Tyre, Frumentius and Aedesius, found their way in the royal court. 

As Richard Pankhurst relays the story, the young boys’ ship had found its way to the west coast of Africa, where their companions were killed and they were taken captive by the royal court where they were given jobs serving the king.  When the king died, they were released from service, but begged by the queen to stay and help run the country until the infant prince was mature enough to take over his kingdom.  The boys stayed and helped establish the structure for Christianity to infiltrate the Aksum kingdom (Pankhurst, 34-5). As the fourth century author Rufinus writes:

When the young heir to the throne came of age Aedesius returned to Tyre, while Frumentius traveled to Alexandria, then the major centre of eastern Christianity.  There he informed the great Patriarch Athanasius of the work he had accomplished for Christianity, and begged the latter to appoint a bishop.  Athanasius, after some though, replied, ‘What other man can we find than you, who has already carried out such works?’ He accordingly appointed Frumentius the country’s first Christian bishop. (478-80)

This was the turning point for religion in Ethiopia.  Today, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church accounts for 43.5% of the nation’s population with only 19.3% participating in other Christian denominations (2007 Census, 17).

            The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is unique within the Christian religion and traces many of its traditions back to Judaism.  They put more of an emphasis on the Old Testament of their canon that their Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic relatives and tend to follow many Jewish customs including dietary laws.  The Ethiopian Orthodox canon contains 81 books compared to the Protestant canon which only includes 66 books.  Among the added volumes are Enoch, Jubilees, and three books of the Meqabyan.

            One of the significant claims of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is that they possess the original Ark of the Covenant concealed at the church, Our Lady Mary of Zion.  According to Old Testament belief, the Ark of the Covenant contained the presence of God, and only the high priest is allowed to enter its presence one time a year on the Day of Atonement.  While the Ark wields much power, if anyone unworthy encounters it, they will surely be cursed by God and die.  Therefore, there is no evidence to support the claim that the Ethiopian Church actually has the Ark, considering only one priest has seen it.

            Islam is the second most popular religion in the country with nearly 34% of its citizens claiming to be Muslim.  Its roots in Ethiopia trace back to the seventh century when a faction of Muhammad’s disciples fled to Ethiopia to escape persecution in Mecca in 615 C.E.  In addition to Christianity and Islam, there are several African religions indigenous to Ethiopia present today.  Among the minority is the Rastafari movement, whose followers believe that Ethiopia is Zion and Emperor Haile Selassie I is Jesus.


            One of the most noticeable traditions of the Ethiopian people is their customary clothing.  The diverse people of Ethiopia cumulatively create a beautiful mosaic of colors and costumes which relate to their varied traditions.  The Christians of the Ethiopian highlands wear white cotton pants and a shamma, whereas the Muslims in the lowlands wear a colorful array of wraps and dresses.  The Oromo people often wear leather garments with beads reflecting their wealth and status.  On special ceremonial day, the Oromo horsemen even adorn themselves in lions’ manes, baboon skins, and hippo-hide spears and shields (Ethiopia and Its People).

            Among the women, jewelry is common with precious metals and colorful beads.  The jewelry is often worn during times of celebration for life’s stages birth, marriage, and death.  Accompanying the costumes, women garnish themselves with elaborate headdresses which have varying ornaments depending on the specific tradition.

            Recently, Ethiopia has held the attention of sports fans around the world with their astonishing athletes in both long distance running and in soccer.  Among Ethiopia’s impressive portfolio of long distance runners is the legendary Abebe Bikila who was the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal.  He did so at the 1960 Olympics in Rome… running barefoot. When asked why he had run barefoot he replied, “I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism." (Fassberg)


            Much of traditional Ethiopian art is in direct relation to Christianity.  Paintings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church depict biblical scenes with major characters having wide eyes, showing their enlightened states.  Similarly, the Islamic population pushed the textile and mosaic arts, while they are not permitted to make any depiction of the human form.

            Perhaps the most evident impression that religion has made on the arts is the longstanding tradition of architecture within Ethiopia.  In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, there are several churches within the city of Lalibela famous for their monolithic construction.  These twelve churches are believed to be miraculous in order to carve a church from one solid piece of stone.  In addition to these rock hewn churches are basilicas that expand throughout the country dating back to the sixth century, carefully decorated with wall and ceiling frescoes.

            Similarly, Ethiopia’s rich heritage has affected its traditions in music and dancing.  During traditional celebrations such as a wedding, one can start to experience what it is like to travel back in time into ancient celebrations.  Customary instruments include a one string violin, lyre, and flute.  Rhythmic drums start a tribal beat that begins to pulse through the air filling the celebration with impulsive dancing, chants, and singing.

Works Consulted

Ansari, Azadeh. "Oldest human skeleton offers new clues to evolution -" International - Breaking, World, Business, Sports, Entertainment and Video News. Cable News Network, 7 Oct. 2009. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

Crawley, Mike. "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Ethiopia." (Apr. 2003). International Development Research Centre. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

"Ethiopia and Its People." Ethiopian Culture. Selamta. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

Fassberg, Teddy. "Inconvenient Truths." The Jerusalem Post. 10 July 2008. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Central Statistical Agency. Population Census Commission. Summary and Statistical Report of the 2007 Population and Housing Census. United Nations Population Fund, Dec. 2008. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

Greste, Peter. "BBC NEWS | Africa | Ethiopia's food aid addiction." BBC NEWS | News Front Page. British Broadcasting Corporation, 2 Feb. 2006. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

Luther, Ernest W. Ethiopia Today. Standford: Stanford UP, 1958. Print.

"Mother of Man - 3.2 million years ago." The Evolution of Man. British Broadcasting Corporation, 01 Sept. 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2009. <>.

Pankhurst, Richard. The Ethiopians. Malden: Blackwell, 1998. Print.

Rufinus. Historia Ecclesiastica. Ed. J. P. Migne. Paris, 1849. Print.
Contributed by Christopher Melander, University of Tennessee

Population Geography

Ethiopia is located in what is known as the Horn of Africa, in the northeastern section of the continent. It is a landlocked country that is slightly smaller than twice the size of Texas stretching approximately one million square kilometers ( The people of Ethiopia belong to several different ethnic and religious groups, with as many as twelve different languages being spoken there. The official languages of Ethiopia are Amharic, Arabic, and English while many of the other languages can be considered official languages as well depending on what region you are in.

Demographic Measures

The country of Ethiopia is ranked number fourteen among the rest of the world in population with as many as 93,877,025 people in 1 million square kilometers. This makes the population density of Ethiopia approximately 93 people per square kilometer. Over the recent years, Ethiopia has been experiencing a rapid population growth. According to an online article written by IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis group, in 2005 it was predicted that the 74 million population would double in the next 25 years ( With PCDGP of $1,200 and only 4.7 percent of the GDP being spent on education, it is a safe assumption to say the large population growth could be due in part to the low education of the Ethiopian people. The birth rate in this country staggers over the world average birth rate with 38.7 births per 1000 people, with a fertility rate of 5.31 children per woman of child bearing years. Although HIV/AIDS seem to be an issue in this country, the numbers were not reported and it is unclear if the how much that impacts the 8.87 deaths per 1000 people. It could however be good reasoning to why the life expectancy in Ethiopia is only 60 years. The DR of Ethiopia may fall into the ranks of the world average, but there is troubling signs with an infant mortality rate of 52.28 deaths of children younger than a year old per 1000 births.

Population Concerns

Some of the concerns that I have for Ethiopia would be the high infant mortality rate and the amount of money being spent on education. With predictions of Ethiopia’s population to keep increasing, there is a major concern for food and proper food distribution. Sahlu Haile, head of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Ethiopia was quoted saying “the agricultural sector, the mainstay of the economy, was unable to meet the growing population demands (”. It is my concern that with the food struggle, more mothers will become malnourished, unable to provide the necessities for their infants, leading to even higher IMR. There are also concerns for education because the less education that a woman has, the higher chances she has of having more children that the family may not be able to provide for. If education became more of a priority for Ethiopia, there may start to be stabilization in the population growth, allowing the country to better provide food for their citizens.

The Future

What the future holds for Ethiopia is uncertain. The DTM shows a rapid growth in population in Ethiopia. I fear that if the population does not slow down it will only end in higher DR and IMR. Poverty will continue to be an issue for the majority of the country, unable to provide the proper amounts of food needed to help sustain the population. Even with outside funds, if the Government does not start providing education and distributing food properly the country will never be able to grow and thrive as a self providing economy.


"ETHIOPIA: Rapid Population Growth Undermining Development." Irin Humanitarian News and Analysis, 21 June 2005. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

 “The World Fact Book.” N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.


Contributed by: Callie Faught, Missouri Western State University

Economic Geography

Ethiopia, is mainly a poor agrarian economy. 45 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product is tied up in agriculture while 85 percent of the citizens are employed in the agricultural industry. This ends up causing a drastic poverty rate in the country, 38.7 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, mainly due to this disparity between revenue and jobs. More jobs that don’t bring in enough revenue is the game plan of their agrarian economy. The problem with the agriculture based society is the weather in Ethiopia doesn’t work well with agriculture; there are often droughts that strike the country that kill off many of the plants. Also the people of the country aren’t trained to properly farm in the environment which causes inefficient farming techniques. The reason that it is so prevalent in this country because it is cheap to start up on and they can grow the food to feed themselves and their families and theoretically be able to sustain their family and still have enough to sell and make a profit.

            The reason that there is so much farming taking place in the country and not a whole lot of industry is because the state owns all the land in Ethiopia. This creates a problem for business entrepreneurs because they cannot offer up land as collateral for a business loan.




They mainly import manufactured products because they do not have even close to large enough industrial sector in their country. They mainly import machinery, petroleum and petroleum products. Although there is some oil in the country it is not enough to sustain them and they don’t have the resources to bring it out of the ground so for now it sits in reserve. They import about 33,590 barrels per day (2005 count).

The machinery they import is not the machine tools that we have been talking about a lot this semester. They import machines that a single person can utilize. They import: vehicles, aircraft, and agricultural machinery and equipment- emphasizing the giant agricultural economy.

They also import smaller amounts of products such as: food, live animals which they raise and then resell, chemicals mostly for farming purposes such as fertilizer, cereals, and transport and industrial capital goods.




            The main export of Ethiopia is coffee beans. They exported 350 million US dollars worth of coffee in 2006. Coffee makes up 53 percent of the country’s entire exports but only makes up a total of 2.2 percent of the worlds coffee. Unfortunately a downturn in coffee prices worldwide has caused Ethiopia’s economy to deteriorate even further and has forced many farmers to turn to additionally farming qat to supplement their income. This ability to diversify shows their ability to adapt to different plants that they are farming, but it also shows that they aren’t experienced with the plants they are growing and also their desperate nature where they will grow anything to make a buck.

            Their total exports in 2010 were 1.729 billion US dollars which was less than they imported (if you extrapolate the data from the 2006 statistic). This highlights that the country continues to fall further and further into world debt.

            The leather hides and skins that they exported was 9.9 percent of the country’s total export revenue and other agricultural products such as vegetables, oilseeds, and cotton made up and additional 10 percent of the country’s export revenue. The prevalence of these unfinished products as exports again shows that the country doesn’t have a strong industrial sector. The fact that they must export unfinished products and then re-import their finished counterparts shows that the country does not have the industry necessary to sustain a healthy economy especially since they import more than they export.


Trading Partners


Their main trading partners are China and Germany, with 10.9 and 9.75 percent of their exports going to those countries respectively. These two countries make sense with their large manufacturing and raw product processing areas of their economies. Other major countries that Ethiopia exports to are the US, Saudi Arabia, and the Netherlands.

The main countries that Ethiopia imports from are China and Saudi Arabia, with 14.75 and 8.4 percent of total imports coming from these countries respectively. The problem with having these two countries as your major importing partners is that they are also your main exporting partners. This means that Ethiopia exports their raw products to these countries, the finish the products and turn around and resell them back to Ethiopia for more than what they paid for them. This just causes Ethiopia to continue to dig deeper into economic debt.

Ethiopia has been under consideration for joining the World Trade Organization, but they have been under this status since 2003 when they first submitted their application. They are however a part of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). This organization has basically failed. The purpose was to increase trading amongst nations in Africa in an effort to try and make Africa as a continent more self sufficient. This organization however has not helped in this cause because it has not stimulated trade whatsoever amongst the countries.





"CIA - The World Factbook." Welcome to the CIA Web Site — Central Intelligence Agency. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. <>.


"Ethiopia International Trade, Information about International Trade in Ethiopia." Encyclopedia of the Nations - Information about Countries of the World, United Nations, and World Leaders. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. <>.


"Foreign Trade - Ethiopia - Import, Export." Encyclopedia of the Nations - Information about Countries of the World, United Nations, and World Leaders. Web. 05 Mar. 2011. <>.



Contributed by: Dylan Gouldthorpe, University of Tennessee