Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, Kenya to the south, Somalia to the east and Djibouti to the northeast. Its size is 1,100,000 km² with an estimated population of over 85,000,000. It is one of oldest countries in the world and the second most populous in Africa – only second to Nigeria. The population is diverse and has more than 70 different languages. The dominant ethnic group in Ethiopia is the Oromo (40%), followed by the Amhara (30%), and Tigray (6%).
Ethiopia has the most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa and is famous for its rock-hewn churches, structures that tell the long history about Ethiopia. Ethiopian news is dominated by achievements of its world famous distance athletes. Ethiopia’s well-know distance runners include Abebe Bekila, Mamo Woldie, Haile Gebresilassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Deratu Tulu, and Tirunesh Dibaba. It is difficult not to include such athletes when talking about Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is the origin of the coffee bean, and Africa’s largest coffee producer. Coffee is Ethiopia’s number one export and the source of most of it foreign currency. Some 12 million Ethiopians depend on coffee and related industries. Coffee is an integral part of Ethiopian culture and about Ethiopia.
The headquarters of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is in Addis Ababa, often labeled Africa’s “Diplomatic Capital,” as is the headquarters of the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity), of which Ethiopia was the principal founder.
Ethiopia is also known for being one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. For much of the past several decades, the country depended on food aid to feed part of its population. The country faced some significant droughts and famine in the last half century. Latest trends are, however, encouraging. For much of the last decade, the country’s economy has been growing 5-12% a year.
The government of Ethiopia is federal system of government. The current President is Girma Wolde-Giorgis, the ceremonial head of state. The Prime Minister and the head of the government is Meles Zenawi, who belongs to a coalition of parties known as the EPRDF. Under the present government, opposition parties, Ethiopian news organizations and several press watchdog agencies complain of lack of sufficient press freedom. They allege that citizens have little access to media about Ethiopia other than the state-owned networks, and complain that private newspapers are struggling under restrictive press laws.
Ethiopian news print media include state-owned newspapers such as Addis Zemen and Ethiopian Herald, and private newspapers such as the Ethiopian Reporter, Addis Fortune, Daily Mirror, Addis Admas and Ethiopian Capital. Ethiopian news organizations include the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency and the EPRDF-owned Walta Information Center. Internet-based Ethiopian news organizations are many but small and mostly foreign-based. Many of these sites complain of being blocked and inaccessible from within Ethiopia. Poor internet connectivity in Ethiopia may also be one reason for the lack of well-developed Ethiopian news sources on the internet.