Emergency in mankind’s birthplace

Ethiopia’s prime minister resigned on February 15 in a surprise move and a day later, his government declared a nationwide state of emergency.

Published: 09th March 2018 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2018 03:17 AM   |  A+A-

Ethiopia’s prime minister resigned on February 15 in a surprise move and a day later, his government declared a nationwide state of emergency. A cradle of mankind, modern-day Ethiopia is riven by ethnic tensions, gripped by anti-government rebellions

3.2 million-year-old Lucy

Ethiopia is the oldest independent African state and one of the oldest in the world, dating back more than 2,000 years. It also has a claim on being the birthplace of mankind. Its Awash Valley has yielded some of the earliest hominid remains, including the fossil of a partial skeleton, dubbed Lucy, which has been dated to be around 3.2 million years old

With a population of around 102 million people in 2016, according to the World Bank, Ethiopia is home to more than 80 ethnicities. Around 60 per cent are Christian and more than 30 per cent Muslim

Escaped European colonisation—almost

Except for a brief period under Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, Ethiopia was never subjected to European colonisation —a rarity in Africa. Emperor Haile Selassie dominated between 1916 and 1974, save for a period of exile during the Italian occupation

Famines and Red Terror

After 1974, when he was overthrown in a coup and later executed, Ethiopia underwent a series of military dictatorships, notably under Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam who waged a series of bloody purges dubbed the “Red Terror”. He was ousted in 1991

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a series of devastating famines which caused widespread starvation. Today, Ethiopia has the highest growth rate in Africa, averaging 10.5 per cent between 2005-2006 and 2015-2016, but it remains one of the poorest countries with a per capita income of $660 dollars, according to the World Bank

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