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Africa, Ethiopia

Ethiopia, republic in northeastern Africa, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is bounded on the northeast by Eritrea and Djibouti, on the east and southeast by Somalia, on the southwest by Kenya, and on the west and northwest by Sudan. A high plateau capped with rugged mountains covers much of Ethiopia; lowland deserts surround the plateau region. Agriculture, the country’s chief economic activity, is carried out in the fertile plateau area.

Ethiopia has a diverse population, with more than 70 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups. The 1995 constitution established Ethiopia as a federation and created nine regions for the country’s main ethnic groups.

Known as Abyssinia until the 20th century, Ethiopia is the oldest independent nation in Africa. It was home to the powerful Christian kingdom of Aksum in the first centuries ad and became a Christian empire in the 15th century. After the 1500s Ethiopia divided into a number of small kingdoms, which were reunified by Menelik II in the 1880s. Eritrea, which had been part of Ethiopia since the 1950s, became an independent nation in 1993 after a protracted civil war. Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s capital and largest city.

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