World Country Ethiopia

About the world country Ethiopia, its location, size, population, and who is in power.



Location: In northeastern Africa, from the Red Sea south to Kenya.

Size: 471,776 sq. mi. (1,221,900 sq. km.). Population: 31,712,000 (there are also 2 million Ethiopian refugees in neighboring Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti).

Who Really Rules: Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam heads the all-powerful Provisional Military Administrative Council, or Dergue. Dergue leaders are Amharic, like the lae Emperor Haile Selassie, and they have successfully eliminated most of their opponents in central and urban Ethiopia. The Dergue claims to be Marxist, and has in fact carried out massive land-reform programs and established peasant and worker organizations. These mass organizations exercise some local authority, but they also act as arms of the Dergue in implementing repressive government policies.

Since 1977, when Mengistu threw out Ethiopia's American sponsors, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and their allies have propped up the Dergue regime with military hardware and "advisers." However, Ethiopia continues to export a large portion of its coffee to the U.S. and other Western countries.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Liberation Fronts in several regions have challenged the Ethiopian central government. In the Ogaden desert region of the southeast, ethnic Somalis backed by the government of Somalia nearly separated the region before the Soviets and Cubans bolstered the Ethiopian military. Somali forces support annexation by Somalia. The rebels in the mountainous northern province of Tigre, who advocate greater autonomy within Ethiopia, control as much as 85% of their province, while the Oromo Liberation Front in the populous, coffee-growing south is just getting started.

The major regional movements are in Eritrea, that band of Ethiopian territory annexed by Emperor Selassie after W.W. II. Home to 3.5 million people--a half million of whom are refugees in neighboring countries--Eritrea's 45,000 sq. mi. provide Ethiopia with its only seacoast, along the Red Sea. The oldest rebel organization is the Eritrean Liberation Front, which has been fighting for about two decades. The ELF has recently taken a more conciliatory stance toward the Dergue, perhaps accepting regional autonomy, and it has engaged in fighting, on and off, against the newer but larger Eritrean People's Liberation Front. The Marxist-oriented EPLF not only has proven itself effective militarily against the Ethiopian army, but also has established a viable political and economic organization within its territories. In addition, it has provided training for several thousand members of the Tigre People's Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Front.

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