The Ethiopian highlands have been inhabited since ancient times. During archaeological excavations in Ethiopia, the remains of Australopithecus aged 2.5-2.1 million years were found.
In the 6th-5th centuries BC. e. the inhabitants of South Arabia began to move to Northeast Africa, and by the end of the 2nd century AD. The kingdom of Aksum was founded in what is now Ethiopia. The first king of Aksum was Menelik I, who, according to legend, was the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The kingdom traded in ivory, incense and gold. Its seaport Adulis became the most important trading center on the way from Egypt to India, as well as to the coast of East Africa. From the 4th century Christianity began to penetrate here. In Ethiopia, 329 is considered the founding year of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Finally, Christianity, as the dominant religion of the Aksumite kingdom, was established by the 6th century.
In the 7th century, with the strengthening of the power of the Arab Caliphate and as a result of its conquests in the Middle East, Egypt and North Africa, the kingdom of Aksum began to weaken, and Islam began to penetrate the Ethiopian highlands. In the first half of the 11th century, the Aksumite kingdom collapsed and many principalities arose on its territory – Muslim, Christian, Jewish and pagan. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Ethiopia.
In the 12th century, the Christian principalities united into the kingdom of Lasta, and in the 14th century, under King Amde-Tsyyon, it also included Judaic, pagan and Muslim states of the Ethiopian highlands. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the empire strengthened ties with Egypt, Yemen, Armenia, and also established contacts with Western Europe. One of the main problems of the state was the constant wars on religious grounds. They led to the fact that in the middle of the 18th century the power of the emperor fell into decay. After the weakening of the role of the emperor, the country was engulfed in internecine wars. In 1855, the feudal lord Kas, after victories in internecine wars, proclaimed himself emperor under the name Tewodros II. In 1867, an incident occurred with the arrest of several Britons and a British military detachment was immediately sent to the borders of the state. During the advance of the British, Emperor Tewodros committed suicide, and the British, having defeated the main cities, left the empire. After the death of Tewodros, the imperial throne was taken by an ally of the British, Johannes IV.
With the opening of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea coast began to attract Europeans. Italy showed particular interest in these lands, which in 1869 acquired the port of Assab, and in 1885 captured Massawa. In 1885-86, Italy began the occupation of the northern regions of Ethiopia. The fighting between the Ethiopians and the Italians went on with varying degrees of success. In addition, in parallel, Emperor Yohannis unleashed a war with Sudan, from whose territory Shiites constantly attacked Ethiopia. In 1888, Emperor Yohannis offered Sudan peace, but Caliph Abdullah of Sudan put forward one condition – Yohannis accepting Islam, which, of course, the emperor did not accept. In March 1889, Johannes was mortally wounded in one of the battles.
After the death of Yohannis, Shoa Menelik became the emperor of Ethiopia, who for several years enjoyed the support of Italy. The new emperor managed to recreate a fragmented state. On May 2, 1889, Menelik concluded the Uchchal Treaty with Italy, according to which the Italians received the right to occupy the city of Asmara. However, it later turned out that the Italian text of the treaty claimed that Italy had the right to control Ethiopia’s foreign policy. Using its text of the treaty, Italy declared that it had the right to establish its own protectorate over Ethiopia. All European powers, except Russia and France, recognized the claims of Italy and in 1894 hostilities between Ethiopia and Italy resumed. The point in the military conflict was set on March 1, 1896. On this day, a decisive battle took place near the city of Adua, culminating in the complete defeat of the Italian troops. On October 26, 1896, the parties signed a peace treaty in Addis Ababa, which annulled the Uchchal agreement and recognized the independence of Ethiopia.
On December 13, 1906, an agreement was concluded between France, Great Britain and Italy, according to which these powers pledged to respect the sovereignty of Ethiopia, but in the event of a split, they assumed the obligation to observe their special interests in this country. After the death of Menelik in 1913, his 17-year-old grandson Lij Iyasu became emperor. Ethiopia did not formally participate in the First World War, however, Emperor Iyasu actively pursued a course of rapprochement with Germany, counting on her as an ally in the fight against the British, French and Italians, who had concluded an agreement among themselves on the division of Ethiopia into spheres of their interests. This could not but cause discontent among the Entente countries. In September 1916, with their support, Emperor Iyasu was overthrown, and the daughter of Menelik, Zouditu, was proclaimed Empress of Ethiopia,
In 1930, after the death of Empress Zouditu, Teferi ascended the throne under the name of Emperor Haile Selassie I. In 1931, the first constitution in the history of Ethiopia was proclaimed, according to which absolute power was assigned to the emperor. In October 1935, once defeated Italy, now led by the fascist dictator Mussolini, once again unleashed a war of conquest against Ethiopia. On March 31, 1936, the main forces of the Ethiopian army were defeated and on May 5, Italian troops occupied Addis Ababa. On June 1, 1936, Italy announced the inclusion of Ethiopia in the colony of Italian East Africa (along with Eritrea and Somalia). The Italian occupation of the country continued until 1941, when the British Army retook Ethiopia and Eritrea. After the war, Emperor Haile Selassie continued to rule as an absolute monarch.
In 1945, Ethiopia became a founding member of the United Nations and immediately claimed its rights to the former Italian colonies of Somalia and Eritrea. In 1952, by decision of the UN, Eritrea as an autonomous unit entered, together with Ethiopia, into a federation under the control of the Ethiopian crown. In 1962, in order to establish full control over the ports of Eritrea, the Ethiopian government abolished the autonomous status of Eritrea. In response, Muslim Eritreans organized the Eritrean Liberation Front, which began the struggle first for autonomy, and then for the country’s independence. The struggle for Eritrean independence and the large-scale famine of the early 1970s led to massive popular demonstrations and protests. The mood of the people was exploited by a military group with Marxist political views, who committed a military coup on September 12, 1974 and overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. By mid-autumn, they almost completely subjugated all administrative structures and proclaimed a course towards building a socialist society. In March 1975, the country was proclaimed a republic. The temporary military administrative council, which was called “Derg”, introduced the most severe censorship and abolished civil rights, and those who disagreed were simply shot. So, in 1977, by order of the leadership of the Derg, the head of state, General Teferi Banti, was also shot. In his place came the military leader Mengistu Haile Mariam. Ethiopia received comprehensive assistance from the countries of Eastern Europe and the USSR.
In 1977, taking advantage of the unstable political situation in Ethiopia, the army of the Republic of Somalia captured a number of large settlements in the Ogaden region, which was located in the east of Ethiopia and where Somalis have lived since ancient times. These events are known as the War for the Ogaden. With the support of Cuba, the USSR and South Yemen, Ethiopia recaptured these territories, but so far part of the borders with Somalia are a temporary administrative line, and not an officially recognized border.
In the early 1990s, aid provided by the Soviet Union to the Mengistu regime was reduced, and the activity of people’s liberation movements that disagreed with the regime intensified. Ultimately, this led to the fall of the military regime, in May 1991 Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe and an interim government was established in the country, headed by the leader of the rebel movement, Meles Zenawi. According to the new constitution, the name of the country sounded like the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, a federal government was created, and the territory of the state was divided into nine autonomous states. In 1993, Zenawi supported Eritrea’s desire to secede from Ethiopia. On May 24, 1993, Eritrea was officially declared an independent state. After the secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia, the border between the two states became the subject of constant disputes. From 1988 to 2000, fierce battles took place in the border zone. The conflict was resolved by international arbitration, which marked the location of the border, but both countries consider this issue not fully resolved.
Today Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Due to constant droughts and crop failures, most of the population is starving.