Ethiopia Economy

Ethiopia Economy and Population


Ethiopia’s economy is based on agriculture which absorbs 45% of the gross domestic product, 90% of exports and 80% of the labor force. The main product is coffee almost entirely destined for export, on which 25% of the population live directly or indirectly. This high volume, coupled with the variability of international coffee prices, makes the export balance is drying processes very vulnerable, aggravated in the 80s of the twentieth century, they converted large tracts of farmland into arid or semi-arid, partly due to climatic conditions, partly due to the felling of trees for firewood. The displacement of population and refugees due to the multiple wars with Eritrea, facilitated the settlement of large numbers of the population in areas with little agricultural and livestock resources, which caused famines and persistent degradation of the soil that has not been recovered. At present, and after the signing of the final peace with Eritrea, the number of people dependent on internal or external aid for survival has decreased from 4.5 million people in 1999, to 2.7 million people in 2003. When it comes to mining, Ethiopia has reserves of gold and tantalum, as well as marble, potash, iron ore, and natural gas. The farms of the latter have suffered various convulsions and ups and downs on the occasion of the multiple war conflicts up to 2002.

The high level of dependence on the energy sector (oil) and the high military expenditures, keep the economy still weak, which shows great changes depending on the area of the country in question. The tense relationship with Eritrea prevents the use of the Eritrean ports of Assab and Massawa, leaving that of Djibouti for the exit to the sea of ​​Ethiopian products. An economic plan is currently being developed based on increasing the use of hydroelectric energy, the exploitation of natural gas, the recovery of agricultural areas and the diversification of economic activities, within an economy that is still highly centralized and dependent on the public sector. and foreign aid. The countries to which they give export products are: Germany, Japan, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia. The countries that supply products to Ethiopia are: Saudi Arabia, the United States, Italy and Russia. Export products are: coffee, leather, legumes and oil, and imported products are: animals, oil and machinery. In the period 2003 – 2005 The Ethiopian economy has grown by more than 10%, although growth has been very uneven across regions. The perimeter of the capital has grown by 13% in a row in the two years, the southern and western states have grown on average by 8%, although the eastern states have grown less intensively and the northern regions have suffered a debacle of economic activity, due to geopolitical tensions with Sudan and Eritrea. The improvement in the export balance stands out, driven mainly by the increase in exports to Egypt. Foreign aid represents more than 90% of the government budget, only 2% of the country’s population has access to cell phones.


As of 2008, as a country located in Africa according to INDEXDOTCOM, Ethiopia has an estimated population of 83,500,000. Life expectancy is 52.92 years. The average number of children per woman is 6.2, one of the highest rates in the world, which is expected to cause serious economic and environmental problems in the future. It is estimated that 1.25% of the population is infected with the HIV virus. The urban population reaches only 17% of the total.

Population Evolution (1500 – 2007)

Year Population Observations
1500 about 2,000,000 Dear
1800 between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 Dear
1890 between 7,000,000 and 11,000,000 Dear
1910 12,000,000 Dear
1920 14,500,000 Dear
1930 16,000,000 Dear
1935 16,900,000 Dear
1936 15,300,000 Estimada (Italian invasion)
1945 18,600,000 Dear
1950 16,300,000 Dear
1960 24,200,000 Dear
1970 24,600,000 estimated (famine due to drought)
1980 38,800,000 Dear
1984 39,868,501 Census (famine due to drought)
1994 53,477,265 Census
2007 73,918,505 Census

Ethiopian ethnic groups

The main ethnic groups in Ethiopia are: • Oromo • Amhara • Tigray • Sidama • Shankella • Somalis • Afar • Gurage • Argoba

There are also different minority tribes, such as: • Surma tribe • Mursi tribe • Hamer tribe


42.7% of the population is literate, corresponding to 50.1% of men and 35% of women. This expresses a reduction in literacy, in relation to the 1980s. During the imperial period, literacy reached only 10% of the population, the vast majority men. Thanks to social policies, this percentage rose to 65% in 1985.


According to the 1994 national census, Coptic-Ethiopian Christians represent 61.6% of the country’s population, Muslims 32.8%, traditional beliefs 5.6% and there are 0.003% Jews. A part of Ethiopia believes in Rastafarianism and Haile Selassie I. Christianity in Africa is often seen as a European import that came with colonialism, but this is not the case in Ethiopia. The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the first nations to officially adopt Christianity, when Saint Frumentius of Tire converted King Ezana during the 4th century. Many believe that the Gospel had entered Ethiopia even earlier, with the royal officer described as baptized by Philip the Evangelist in the Bible in Acts 8: 26-40. Today, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is by far the dominant one, although a number of Protestant churches have recently gained ground. The name “Ethiopia” (in Hebrew Kush) is mentioned in the Bible several times, and it is somehow considered a holy place. Islam in Ethiopia has existed since almost the foundation of the religion; in 615, when a group of Muslims escaped on Muhammad’s advice from persecution in Mecca and traveled to Ethiopia, which was ruled by, according to Muhammad’s estimates, a pious Christian king. Furthermore, Islamic tradition states that Bilal ibn Ribah, one of Muhammad’s most prominent companions, was from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Economy