Ethiopia: From Role Model to Cautionary Tale
Why are Ethiopians protesting their government?
- Ethiopia is believed to be the origin point of the human race and has maintained a high ethnic diversity.
- Ethiopia's government rules a democracy on paper, but restricts free speech, the right to trial and religious freedom.
- The average income in Ethiopia is less than $1,620 a year – ranking it the 15th poorest country on earth.
1. After Nigeria (182 million people), Ethiopia is Africa’s most populous country – and it is the world’s 13th most populous – with 99 million people.
2. Ethiopia’s population is almost 25% larger than Germany’s, which is home to 81 million people.
3. By 2050, Ethiopia’s population is expected to rise to 188 million. Back in 1950, Ethiopia had a population of 18 million — less than a fifth its current population.
4. Ethiopia is believed to be the origin point of the entire human race and has maintained some of the highest ethnic and language diversity among all countries.
5. In early October 2016, in an effort to suppress mounting street protests, Ethiopia’s totalitarian government declared a state of emergency.
6. Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups – Oromo and Amhara, which together account for at least 60% of the population – are primarily responsible for a growing protest movement.
7. Ethnic Tigrayans, accounting for only 6% of the population, dominate the military and the ostensibly multi-ethnic EPRDF political coalition, which after the 2015 elections holds every seat in parliament.
8. During the Cold War, a violent military junta ruled Ethiopia and waged an endless war on the breakaway territory that became neighboring Eritrea. EPRDF’s armed wing overthrew the junta in 1991.
9. The EPRDF rules a democracy on paper, but holds all the power and restricts free speech and press, the right to trial and religious freedom.
10. Opposition to the government is often met with deadly force or torture.
11. Ethiopia’s government also has deployed mass surveillance technology on a staggering scale, especially for one of the world’s Least Developed Countries.
12. Ethiopia was, along with Liberia, one of two countries in sub-Saharan Africa not colonized by European powers in the so-called scramble for Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
13. Ethiopia won a military victory against Italy in 1896 and its subsequent resistance in the 1930s to a second attempted Italian conquest was globally publicized.
14. This made Ethiopia an early role model for many colonies seeking independence.
15. Today, however, the average income in Ethiopia is less than $1,620 a year (in purchasing-power-adjusted terms) – ranking it the 15th poorest country on earth, among those poor countries where data exist.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, United Nations Population Division 2015 Revision, World Bank, Al Jazeera, France 24, World Factbook, U.S. State Department, U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Nature