Ethiopia country overview

The people of Ethiopia

Geography, People, Culture, and Economic Profile

Ethiopia information index

Demography of Ethiopia

Settlement patterns

The majority of Ethiopians reside in rural communities, as only around 20% of the population is urbanized. To minimize travel distances, homes are typically scattered near farm plots. These dwellings come in circular or rectangular styles and are built using locally available materials. Thatched roofs are common, although more rural households are now opting for corrugated steel tops.

Ethiopia’s modern urban centers include the national capital, Addis Ababa, as well as regional centers like Dire Dawa (in the east), Jima (south), Nekemte (west), Dese (north-central), Gonder (northwest), and Mekele (north). Addis Ababa, established by Menilek II in 1886, put an end to the practice of “roving capitals” by earlier monarchs. Following World War II, Addis Ababa received the majority of investments in industry, social services, and infrastructure, making it an attractive destination for young people seeking opportunities. Despite efforts to decentralize development, Addis Ababa remains a popular choice for migrants due to perceived opportunities and its relative peace and security.

Demographic trends

The population growth rate in Ethiopia is significantly higher than the global average and ranks among the highest in Africa. Both the birth and death rates in the country are also considerably higher than the global rates. The average life expectancy in Ethiopia is around 50 years, which is similar to the African continent’s average but lower than the global average. Despite the population’s general age being slightly older compared to the last decades of the 20th century, Ethiopia still has a relatively young population, with over two-fifths of the population being under the age of 15.

Ethiopia serves as a host for refugees from several neighboring countries. The majority of these refugees are from Somalia, but there are also significant numbers from Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan. Most of these individuals have fled their countries due to conflicts or famine. Conversely, there is also some movement of Ethiopian refugees, with many claiming political persecution and seeking refuge primarily in Kenya or the United States. Additionally, since the late 20th century, a considerable number of young educated Ethiopians have chosen to migrate to the United States or European countries in search of better opportunities.

Internal migration in Ethiopia has occurred due to various reasons, including conflicts and government land-resettlement initiatives. For instance, during the war with Eritrea from 1998 to 2000, over 300,000 Ethiopians in the Eritrean-Ethiopian border region were internally displaced. Furthermore, after periods of drought and famine in the early 2000s, approximately 300,000 people were relocated from drought-prone areas to the western parts of the country. The conflict between the federal government and the Tigray regional forces, which began in 2020, resulted in the displacement of over two million Tigrayans.

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