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July 2015

Eritrea and Ethiopia

Eritrea and Ethiopia

President Barack Obama visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. While at the National Palace, he viewed "Lucy," the 3.2 million year old fossilized bones of a human. The President will also attend meetings and other State functions, while in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world. Located in the eastern edge of the Horn of Africa; it is slightly less than twice the size of Texas. With an estimated population of 99 million people, over 40% of which are under the age of 15. The capital city of Addis Ababa (pop. 3 million) is at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet on a plateau surrounded by mountains and hills.

Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation from 1936-41. In 1974, a military junta, 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, 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. 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.

Some of the natural resources of Ethiopia include: gold, platinum, copper, potash, and natural gas. The general terrain of Ethiopia consists of a high plateau with central mountain range divided by the Great Rift Valley. The climate of the country is tropical with a wide variation of temperature due to elevation differences. Because of the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia is susceptible to volcanic activity. Erta Ale (elev. 613 km) has recently been active with lava flows. There at least nine other active volcanoes in Ethiopia. Three major crops are believed to have originated in Ethiopia: coffee, grain sorghum, and the castor bean.

White House; CIA World Factbook; The Columbia Gazetteer, 7/2015; 7/2015; 7/2015