Just The Facts

Ethiopia: From Role Model to Cautionary Tale

Why are Ethiopians protesting their government?

Credit: John Iglar - www.flickr.com


  • 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

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Responses to “Ethiopia: From Role Model to Cautionary Tale”

Archived Comments.

  1. On October 17, 2016 at 8:28 am Hagos Kalu responded with... #

    There are many unfounded and misleading points in this article – which makes the writer either an intentionally biased one or someone who lacks real info about the country. To site an example to show this, the point mentioned under part (5) above is enough – which it a totally false. It’s clear that protesters are ruining many public and private properties – which is enough driving force to declare state of emergency. In the case of this country though, the problem has gone to the extent of disturbing the daily lives of the public – Many have been killed by groups of gangs and many have been robed their properties. Since this is not hidden from many giant medias of the world, the writer seems he is biased on purpose.

  2. On October 17, 2016 at 10:05 am Eyob Solomon responded with... #

    And of course, “Hagos” is a reliable and objective source. One thing is clear that “Hagos” will argue against such reports on the current Ethio case

  3. On October 17, 2016 at 10:12 am Hagos Kalu responded with... #

    My friend, I am not someone who just vomits things emotionally. I am telling the writer to report things as they are. Are you telling me now that there is no public property burnt in Oromia region during the recent unrest?

  4. On October 17, 2016 at 12:49 pm Eyob Solomon responded with... #

    public property No there weren’t burned. targeted property’s yes and just started and more to come as well. Nothing you mentioned though rushed into the declaration of the state of emergency!

  5. On October 17, 2016 at 4:19 pm ተስፋዬ responded with... #

    The state of emergency was declared primarily to buy time for ethnic Tplf millionaires and politicians to transfer their wealth.

  6. On October 19, 2016 at 11:14 am Remi responded with... #

    Can someone please educate me? I am informed
    that the Ethiopian Constitution has a clause
    that allows any part thereof to secede? Is that true?

  7. On October 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm Netsanet Le-hagere responded with... #

    It is true and article 39 state the following
    Article 39
    Rights of Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples
    1. Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to
    self-determination, including the right to secession

  8. On October 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm Remi responded with... #

    Thank you very much, Netsanet, for this useful piece of
    information. Then, and by this I presume that you are either Ethiopian, or know
    about the country very well: why do you think – in the face of their dissatisfaction
    with the polity – the Oromos and Amharas are not seeking secession?

    I am Nigerian and reading about the Ethiopian situation, it
    seemed all too familiar – a minority, lording it over the majority. This has
    been a source of tension in the Nigerian polity since independence in 1960. A
    section once attempted a unilateral secession but was unsuccessful and it led
    to a civil war. Ever since, there has been calls for secession, from all of the
    (3) large ethnic nationalities, the only difference been that our constitution
    does not, and has never, included a secessionist clause. As I write, there are at least two declared
    secessionist tendencies, and a latent one. While I am not opposed to any part
    of Nigeria seceding, it just occurred to me that if we had a secessionist
    clause inserted into our own constitution, a la Ethiopia, the secessionist
    agitations may probably stop.