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Ethiopia. Anthropology 597.01 Mike Larsson. Ethiopia: Basic facts. Diversity in Ethiopia. Over 100 “distinguishable ethnolinguistic entities” Approx. 70 different languages spoken Official language: Amharic Omoro 40%, Amhara 30%, Tigray 12-15%

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Ethiopia

Anthropology 597.01

Mike Larsson


Ethiopia: Basic facts


Diversity in Ethiopia

  • Over 100 “distinguishable ethnolinguistic entities”

  • Approx. 70 different languages spoken

    • Official language: Amharic

  • Omoro 40%, Amhara 30%, Tigray 12-15%

  • Other groups include Somali, Gurage, Awi, Afar, Welamo, Sidama, Beja…

    (Ofcansky 1993)


Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia

Small scale:

  • Lingering resentment by minorities at forced incorporation into Ethiopian empire between 1889 and 1913

  • Under-representation in new “macro-ethnic” regions implemented in 1994

    • 9 regions, 100+ groups(Fellner 2000)


Unifying Factors

  • Protracted contact between various groups has led to a common cultural heritage

    • technology, medical knowledge, markets, clothing, arts, ceremonies and everyday life

  • Century of enforced unification and nation-building which is becoming more and more dedicated to equal democratic participation.

  • Religion:

    • 45% Ethiopian Orthodox Christians

    • 45% Sunnitic Muslims

    • “tradition of cohabitation and tolerance” in Ethiopia, serve to join people of different ethnic groups and social classes

      (Fullner 2000:15)


Ethiopian Orthodox Religion


Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia

Large scale: Eritrean war for independence 1961-1991

  • 1869 Italian company purchases part of the port of Aseb

  • 1882 Italian government takes over entire port and declares it its protectorate

  • 1890’s Italy has spread control to cover approximately the same area as modern-day Eritrea, advance halted

    • Italian occupation of Ethiopia 1936 to 1941

  • Post-WWII Italian occupation of Eritrea and Ethiopia ends, Allies in charge of handling Eritrea

  • 1950 UN resolves that Eritrea will be federated with Ethiopia despite 44% of Eritrean population’s preference for unconditional union with Ethiopia

  • 1960 Eritrea fully annexed after vote in Eritrean parliament

  • 1961-1991 pro-independence Eritreans wage war

  • 1991 Eritrean war for independence ends

  • 1993 Eritrea granted independence


Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia

  • But was it an ethnic conflict?

    • Eritrean majority group the Tigrinya, related to the Ethiopian Tigrayans across the border

    • Liberation leaders argued old ethnic identities superceded by a “new and more inclusive Eritrean identity”(Negash & Tronvoll)

  • The dividing lines were political, not ethnically based


The end


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