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Country Overview

Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule throughout history, with the brief exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41.

In 1974, a military junta called the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces known as the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.

A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A border war with Eritrea in the late 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) issued specific coordinates as virtually demarcating the border and pronounced its work finished. Alleging that the EEBC acted beyond its mandate in issuing the coordinates, Ethiopia has not accepted them and has not withdrawn troops from previously contested areas pronounced by the EEBC as belonging to Eritrea.

In August 2012, longtime leader Prime Minister MELES Zenawi died in office and was replaced by his Deputy Prime Minister HAILEMARIAM Desalegn, marking the first peaceful transition of power in decades.

Today, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a growth rate recorded at 2.5% in 2015 and a population exceeding 99.4 million.  According to the World Bank, Ethiopia is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of $590.