Ethiopia Defense and Security

By | December 17, 2021

With its 138,000 troops, the Ethiopian army is one of the largest in the entire continent. National security is at risk in several areas of the country where anti-government forces are active. Particularly critical are the Somali region, where the Ogaden National Liberation Front (Onlf) armed movement operates, and Oromo, the territory of action of the Oromo Liberation Front (Olf). Ethiopian troops were sent to support the transitional federal government in Somalia, sparking violent reaction from Islamist groups operating in the region. A contingent of about 6400 Ethiopian soldiers is engaged in a peacekeeping mission in the regions of Abyei, a disputed and therefore demilitarized territory between Sudan and South Sudan, and in Darfur. For Ethiopia defense and foreign policy, please check

Ethnic federalism

The Federal Constitution of 1995 included in the new state the different nationalities on an ethnic basis, also redefining the contents of the same citizenship in the light of the principle of self-determination. The birth of the Democratic Federal Republic of Ethiopia has therefore encouraged the strengthening of ethnic identities at the level of the various provinces, drawn according to borders that partly reflect those of Italian East Africa (Aoi). This territorial arrangement pays for an evident simplification and reduction of the social and cultural complexity of the country. The Oromo, today the largest nationality, are only partially grouped in the ethnic region of Oromia, while the same name given to the Region of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) refers to an evidently greater complexity. The Amhara, who are not really an ethnic group, but constitute the dominant cultural elite in the history of the country, have been forced to identify with a territory and to define themselves in ethnic terms. They have thus lost much of their power within the new federal republic in favor of the peripheral populations, at least according to the ancient borders of the Ethiopian Empire.


Internal state of East Africa. The estimated population, according to UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), amounts to 96,506,031 residents (2014), a sharp increase compared to the official censuses of 2007 (73,918,505 residents) and 1994 (53,477,265 residents). The exponential growth is motivated by a very high fertility rate, equal to 5.23 children per woman. The average age is very low (17.6 years) given that 90% of the population is between 0 and 54 years and a good 44.2% is no more than 14 years old. The increase in investments in health care (from 3% in 2005 to 5.1% in 2013) has made it possible to reduce infant mortality, so much so that life expectancy has increased from 49 years in 2006 to 63.6 in 2013. A lot the percentage of Ethiopians living in the city is low, about 17%. Addis Ababa is by far the most populated city (3,194,999 residents). Access to water is clearly differentiated, based on the geographical context: in the city, availability is practically universal, while in the countryside 60% of the population has considerable difficulty in using them. Access to basic care, on the other hand, is difficult throughout the territory, with as many as 76.4% of Ethiopians poorly or not at all covered. The HIV virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which affects about 758,600 Ethiopians and places the country among the top 15 in the world for the number of infected. Undernourishment affects 29.2% of children up to the age of five, while illiteracy is widespread, with just 39% of the population able to read and write.

Economic conditions

Ethiopian GDP more than doubled between 2006 and 2014, but per capita disposable income however, it remains very low, 543 dollars. Most of the workforce is employed in the primary sector and is mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture. The government effort in the first decade of the 21st century. it was aimed at an industrial development of agriculture, including by leasing vast properties to foreign companies. The result was positive in terms of production, which increased by 50% for the main cereals destined for internal feeding, such as wheat, sorghum, corn and millet, and by about 20% for cattle breeding. Coffee production is stable, which represents the main export item and places Ethiopia among the top ten producers in the world, even if not in the first places. Mineral resources are still under-exploited. The main exports are almost all referred to the primary sector and make up a trade balance with a negative balance, moreover calmed by remittances from emigrants. 26% of economic transactions take place with China, which is Ethiopia’s largest trading partner. The preferential relationship developed with China is one of the strongest signs of Chinese penetration in Africa. The Chinese are providing the technology and financing the construction of a large dam on the Blue Nile, which has created tensions with Egypt over the expected decrease in the river’s flow. Once the works are completed, the dam will allow powering the most powerful hydroelectric power plant on the continent, with a capacity of 6000 megawatts.

Ethiopian army