Over 91 million (2012 estimate)
Most people in the country speak Afro-Asiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches.  English is the most widely spoken foreign language.
Christianity is the majority faith; there is also a substantial Muslim demographic, representing about a third of the population.
  • Despite being the main source of the Nile River, Ethiopia underwent a series of famines in the 1980s.
  • Ethiopia is a multilingual society with around 80 ethnic groups, with the two largest being the Oromo and the Amhara.

Conflict and Crisis History

From 1930 until 1973 the Emperor Haile Selassie ruled Ethiopia. In 1973, the Emperor was overthrown by a group of army officers who established a repressive Marxist military regime. Along with the repression came drought, famine, a secessionist movement in Eritrea, and other conflicts.  Ethiopia and Eritrea are now separate countries, but culturally are similar, and considered the same by some sources.

Major cultural groups living in Ethiopia include the Amhara and in western Ethiopia, the Oromo.  In 1973, Oromo discontent with their position led to the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which began political agitation in the Oromo areas.  The Oromo make up 40 percent of the Ethiopian population. However, the minority Tigray government has persecuted the Oromo people, jailing more than 20,000 suspected OLF members. As a result, many have been forced to flee, leaving behind family, friends and jobs.

Refugee History

  • Severe government oppression and lack of economic opportunities are the leading causes of youth fleeing Ethiopia, according to refugees inside the country.
  • According to a UNHCR report in July 2013, on average over 7,100 Ethiopian refugees have been fleeing towards Yemen each month.