*** Ethiopian boys clothes


Ethiopian refugees
Figure 1.-- Ethiopia is a large country in Eastern Africa with an ancient history. Ethiopia is a very traditional country and even after the tumultous late-20th century continues to be so. The combination of drought and a refressivev Masrxist government created waves of refufees in the 1970s and 80s. This unidentified refugee boy was photographed by B. Thumma in the 1980s.

Ethiopia is a large country in Eastern Africa with an ancient history. Ethiopia is a very traditional country and even after the tumultous late-20th century continues to be so. Traditional clothing were almost exclusively worn through the 19th century. The various tribes had their owm destinctive clothing. We do not see Ethiopian boys wearing Western clothing to any substantial extent until after the Ethiopian invasion (1935) and even then it was mostly in the cities. After World War II we gradually see Western clothing becoming more important.Ehiopian boys commonly wear short trousers. There’re many school uniforms in Ethiopia. They appeared only in recent years. They are mainly red, blue and green in colour. The Ethiopian Orthodox church is very strong in Ethiopia. It is one of the oldest Christian countries. There are many different folk costumes in Ethiopia, replecting the many different people that live there.


Modern Ethiopia is the largest country of East Africa, dominating the Horn of Aftria. It is, however, an inland country after separating from Eritrea. Somalia occupies most of the strategic coastal areas of the Horn. Ethiopia consists primarily low-lying desertaor near desert arid areas and a mountaneous highland plateau. The most arid regions are in the north (Danakil Desert) and exterenme east (Ogaden). The well watered highlamds are a vast complex of mountains, plateaus and lakes, They are divided by the spectacular Great Rift Valley that runs south to Tanzania. The Graet Rift Valley is bordered by lowlands and steppes. The Choke and Mandebo mountains ranges run through the central core. The mountains rise to 15,000 feet (Mt. Ras Dashan). Lake Tana inthe Amhara Region of the north-western Highlands is the source of Blue Nile. There are tropical forests in the extreme south. Ethiopia has a tropical climate moderated by the elevations in the highlands. There is a seasonal migration of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which affects the rainfall patterns in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has experienced sevedre famines as a result of severe droughts (1973-74 and 1983-85). [De Waal] The country is still struggling with the recurring droughts. A very severe drought occurred (2015-16), creating food insecurity for millions of Ethiopians. Lives have been saved by humanitarian relief. Climatology as well as deserification and deforestation are involved. Ethiopia at the begining of the 20th century had vast forests covering some 35 percent of the country. By the end of the century, forested areas had been reduced to onky 5 percent of the land area. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (elected 2018) has made reforetation a national priority. The native trees have deep roots which can help combt drought. The bind the soil and help bring water to the surface. This helps helps plants with shallower root systems. The Ethiopians in have set a record in planting 350 million seedings in only 12 hours (July 2019). This is the greatest tree planting in history.


Doing a chronology of Ethiopia is in effect doing a chronology of human kind itself. Ethiopia can be considered the original home of man. It is in Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley that the Leakys in 1974 discovered of Lucy, called Dinkinesh (meaning “you are special”) in Ethiopia.


Ethiopia is sub-Sahara Africa's oldest independent nation. Most other countries in Africa are creations of European colonial era. The first known kingdom developed around Axum (3rd century BC). Axum developeed from the Semitic Sabeam kingdoms in southern Arabia. Here geography was a factor. The Horn of Aftrica shoots out into the Indian Ocean toward Arabia. This provided a natural channel for trade and commuication. Axum came to control the ivory markey in northeast Africa. The earliest written information on Ethiopian history comes from the Bible when it was reported that the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon (1000 BC). Axum gradually encroached on the Meroe kingdom in modern Sudan, eventually conquering it. A Syrian, Frumentius, grew up in Axum and converted the King and Christianity became the state religion. Frumentius became the first Bishop of Ethiopia (330 AD). Ethiopia was the one African country to defeat a European army during the Scramble for Africa--an Italian army. The Italians invaded again in a prelude to World War II.


Ethiopia is located at a stregic point--the Horn of Africa a crossing point between Africa and the Middle East. It is no accident that the Queen of Sheba with Yemeni/Ethiopian origins is mentioned in the Bible. The trading consequences are obvious. This for example is coffee which oruiginated in the highlands of Ethioia made it to Arabia and the world. Many other African products were transported over this route. In ancient times, Ethiopia had a largerly agrucultural economy, but African oproducts like gold, ivory, and hides were important. Ethiopia entered the 20th century with a traditional, stil largely agricultural economy. Land was primarily owned by the royal court's long-established aristocracy. Exports were primarily coffee, grains, hides, and gold. Ethiopia during the 20th century was one of poorest African countries. The poverty was the result of poor yields from the country's agricultural economy--the major economic sector. More than 80 percent of the population was involved in agriculture--high by even African standards. And Ethiopian agriculture was, perhaps the most backward in Africa. Here the country's medieval feudal system impeded any modernization. And because so many Ethiopian farmers lived in abject poverty, they had no ability to buy better tools and improve farming methods. Enviromental issues (droughts, overgrazing, deforestation , and locusts) were also issues, affecting yields. Ethiopia was a rare African country not colonized by Europeans. Not that the Europeans did not try. An Italian Army was defeated (1898). As a result, there were few connections with the modern world. There were few health care and educational facilities. After the Italian occupation and World War II, economic changes began. Tourism, banking, insurance, and transport began to make an economic contribuion. Land reform created many small holders. The Communist Derg dictatorship (1974-91) nationalized all means of production, including land, housing, farms, and industry. A famine resulted. The small land holder subsistence farmers were the backbone of Ethiopian agriculture were unsure what to plant because of Government policy and concern over land rights. Although land remained nationalized, conditions in rural Ethiopia have improved slightly, as the government attempted to promote rural development. Ethiopia was faced with revovring from the ecomomic wreckage left by the Deng--one of many socialist economic disasters. There has been economic reforms and progress since the fall of the Deng. Today Ethiopia is a land-locked country, closed off from the world by Eriteran War (1998-2000). Ethiopia qualified for debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (2001). Ethiopia was one of several countries that benefited from 100 percent debt relief of loans from the IMF, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank (2005). The land ownership issue has remained contentious and has meant that high produvtivity commercial agricultue has not developed. This is a serious issue in a country with a rapidly growing population. Even so, the country has had in the 21st century one of the fastest growth rates in Afriam which ahas began to imprive the pooverty situation. Industry, mostly construction, and services have been growing. Manufacturing is still limited. The Eritrean War was followed by a long hostile period. Ethiopia had tomuse neighboring Djibouti's main port for 2 decades. A permanent peace wasfinally areed (2018). Ethiopia is now set to resume accessing the Eritrean ports of Assab and Massawa for international trade.

Tribal Groups

Ethiopia has more than 80 ethnic groups, a term many Africans prefer to tribes. These tribal groups not only constitute ethnic differencesm but cultural and linguistic differences as well. The most important group is the Oromo who make up about 40 percent of the population. The two other major groups are the Amhara (25 percent) and the Tigre for (12 percent). The three groups constitute about 75 percent of the countru's overall population. There are a number of smaller groups, including the Gurage (3.3 percent), the Ometo (2.7 percent), and the Sidamo (2.4 percent). In addition to these groups are much smaller tribal groups including e the Falasha, Nilotic tribes, the Beja, the Agau, the Shankella, the Somali and the Afar, and many other even smaller groups. The Omo Valley is an especially interesting area of Ethiopia ethnically. Ethiopia's tribal groups are centered in different geographic regions and play a major role in the country's cultural and political life. Amharas and Tigrayans centered in the northern highlands have played a dominant political role. The large Oromo tribe were largely subjugated during the 19th century. About 50 percent of Ethiopia's ethnic groups live there. The Hamer are noted for their body painting. The Konso are noted for their terraced agriculture and rituals. The Mursi are noted for their their clay lip plates and primitive life style. The Hamer are known for their bull-jumping ceremony, which young men must experience in order to qualify for adulthood. The Karo are noted for their body painting and adornment. These groups still maintain ancient traditions such as dance, music and rituals from birth to marriage. The Government attempts to deal with ethniv tensions through a federal system with political boundaries largely along ethnic lines. Federalism gives regional states and thus the tribal groups substantial control over their own affairs. The Oromiya regional government, for example, in 1999 required that all primary schools adopt Oromiffa as the language of instruction. This resulted in protests from smaller non-Oromiffa speakers. There are reports of dismisals of public employees and teachers who are not Oromo, Similar reports exist from other regions where other tribal groups dominate the regional state government. There are continued reports of ethnic clashes in which of deaths and injuries have occurred. There are several points of conflict. One is that between the Oromo Borena community and ethnic-Somali Garre pastoralists in the southeast, often resultungbfrom disputes over livestock--especially grazing and watering rights. There are tensions between the Oromo and Tigrayans. This resulted in clashes at Addis Ababa University when a Tigrayan student presented a paper which allegedly included a derogatory statement about Oromos.


Ethiopia is a very traditional country and even after the tumultous late-20th century continues to be so. Traditional clothing were almost exclusively worn through the 19th century. The various tribes had their owm destinctive clothing. We do not see Ethiopian boys wearing Western clothing to any substantial extent until after the Ethiopian invasion (1935) and even then it was mostly in the cities. After World War II we gradually see Western clothing becoming more important. but again this trend was most pronounced in the major cities. Traditional clothing is still worn in rural areas. Here a factor is the hot tropical climate. Younger children often wear very little. , We now in the 21st century see Western clothing in the countryside as well, although traditional clothing has by no means disappeared. While it is common for Ethiopian boys to wear short trousers, men today never do seeing short pants as children's wear. A factor in the spread of Western clothing has been school. The children mostly wear Western styles to school, both nuniforms and their own garments. And is more children attend school, Western clothing thus becomes more common.


Formal education began in Ethiopia before anywhere else in Sub-Saharan Africa. Christianity wa the state religion and the Christian Chutch controlled education (4th century AD). As in Europe, during the medieval era, only a small fraction of the population received any education. After the fall of Rome (5th century AD), Ethiopia was still in contact with Christian Europe. This change with the Aran outburst. Arab armies conquered Egypt and North Africa (7th century AD). Ehiopia thus spent centuries without any contact with Wesern Christendom and thus not exposed to major movements like the Renaissance, Reformation, and Englightenment that transformed education in Europe. Ehiopia became wrapped in a medieval time warp, much as the Muslim world. Education remained in the hands of the Church and schooling was seen as the preserve of Ethiopia's ruling urban Amharic minority. This did not begin to change until the Italian invasion (1935). The Italins began setting up European styles public schools, but only in the cities After World War II, the restored Ethiopian Government expanded the initial small Italian effort (1950s). This ended the hold on education of the Amharic minority and education became available to all children. The structure the Ethiopian educational system despite a revolutionary Communist regime has remained largely unchanged from that established when the modern Ethiopian school system was founds in the 1950s. Formal education in Ethiopia consists of six years of primary school, two years of junior elementary, and four years of senior secondary. Most children begin school at age 5 years. Ethiopia continues to be a poor country, and the school system is not adequately financed. This is a problem throughout Africa, The average class size is an incredible 65 students. Virtually no school supplies are available to the children. Most children lack pencils, books, and paper. Schools outside the cities and larger towns often lack water or useable toilets. Corporal punishment is common and widely accepted in Ethiopian schools. As in the rest of Africa, Etiopian schildren generally wear European-style clothing or uniforms. There are many school uniforms in Ethiopia. They appeared only in the 1990s. When the Communists and Haile Selassie reigned, there were no school uniforms. The school uniforms are mainly red, blue and greenr. There are also red-white and black-white uniforms. A HBC reader also reports yellow shirts and blue trousers. Boys wear a shirt, jacket and trousers in different colors. Girls mainly wear a dress and sweater in different colors. One exception to the European style uniforms is the Omo Valley where tribal children commobly wear traditional garments.


Religion has played a major role in Ethiopia and continues to do so today. The Ethiopian Orthodox church is very strong in Ethiopia. It is one of the oldest Christian countries. The Coptic Church is also active. Christianity was introduced in Ethiopia during the 1st century, and expanded all over the country in the 4th century. Ethiopian Christianity in the 6th century it became monophysitistic. Ethiopis remained Christian in a region that became strongly Islamicized. There were, however, large numbers of converts to Islam. Islamic and Catholic Jesuites tries to conquer Islam in the 17th century but failed. There are a few Catholics and a growing number of Protestants as well as Muslims in Ethiopia today. There are significant regional patterns in religion.

Folk Costumes

There are many different folk costumes in Ethiopia, replecting the many different people of Ethiopia. There are a large numbers of different tribes. We have created a few pages on these tribes.

Youth Organizations

Erthiopian Boys Scouts prepared in 1935 to help fight Italian invaders. Ethiopia was one of the first countries attacked in the aggressions conducted by Italy and Germany leading to World War II.


De Waal, Alexander. Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopi. De Waal makes the point that it was not the drought that resulted in mass starvation, but the country's authoritarian ledership.


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Crerated: March 17, 2003
Last updated: 3:17 AM 10/23/2020