National Profiles > Regions > Eastern Africa > Ethiopia
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Region: Eastern Africa
2015 Population1: 99,129,276
Total Area (sq.miles): 426,373
Life Expectancy at Birth2: 65.0
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2016 US $)2: $1,730
Official Religion(s) or Church(es)3: None

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Religious Regulation Index (2014)4:
RAS3 State Regulation of Majority or All Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 55/253

[Further Detail]
Religious Minority Discrimination Index (2014)4:
RAS3 State Discrimination of Minority Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 61/253

[Further Detail]
State Funding of Religions (2014)4:
RAS3 State Funding of Religion, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 161/253

[Further Detail]
Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions (2014)4:
RAS3 Societal Discrimination of Minority Religions, Summary Categories (0=None; 1=Low; 2=Medium; 3=High)

Ranking: 68/253

[Further Detail]


Ethiopia, officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With about 87.9 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world, as well as the second-most populated nation on the African continent. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa. Some of the oldest evidence for modern humans is found in Ethiopia, which is widely considered the region from which Homo sapiens first set out for the Middle East and points beyond. Tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history. During the first centuries of the Common Era the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region. Ethiopia derived prestige for its uniquely successful military resistance during the late 19th-century Scramble for Africa, and subsequently many African nations adopted the colors of Ethiopia's flag following their independence. Ethiopia was the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty as an independent country. It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the UN. In 1974, at the end of Haile Selassie's reign, power fell to a communist military junta known as the Derg, backed by the Soviet Union, until it was defeated by the EPRDF, which has ruled since about the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Ethiopia is a multilingual society with around 80 ethnic groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara. It is the origin of the coffee bean. Ethiopia is a land of natural contrasts; with its vast fertile West, jungles, and numerous rivers, the world's hottest settlement of Dallol in its north, Africa's largest continuous mountain ranges and the largest cave in Africa at Sof Omar. Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. Ethiopia's ancient Ge'ez script, also known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. It shares many similarities with the Armenian alphabet. The Ethiopian calendar, which is seven years and about three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Oromo calendar. A majority of the population is Christian and a third is Muslim; the country is the site of the Hijrah to Abyssinia and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israel, resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s but most of them have since gradually emigrated to Israel. Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77 and the Organisation of African Unity, with Addis Ababa serving as the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the UNECA, African Aviation Training HQ, the African Standby Force and much of global NGOs focused on Africa. Despite being the main source of the Nile, the longest river on earth, Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s, exacerbated by civil wars and adverse geopolitics. The country has begun to recover recently, and it now has the largest economy by GDP in East Africa and Central Africa. According to Global Fire Power, Ethiopia also has the 40th most powerful military in the world.5



1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

2.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank's Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

3.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

4.  The Religion and State (RAS) Project is a university-based project located at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. Its goal is to create a set of measures that systematically gauge the intersection between government and religion. Specifically, it examines government religion policy. Round 3 of the RAS dataset measures the extent of government involvement in religion (GIR) or the lack thereof for 183 states on a yearly basis between 1990 and 2014. This constitutes all countries with populations of 250,000 or more as well as a sampling of smaller states. This dataset, featuring this and other international measures highlighted on the country pages, may be previewed and downloaded here. Used with permission.

5.  Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

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