Surface and borders. – In May 1991, with the fall of Mangestù (see story), a provisional government was established in Eritrea, already an integral part of Ethiopia, in charge of calling, within two years, a self-determination referendum.
Population. – The civil war, which hit the country hard between the end of the Eighties and the beginning of the current decade, has profoundly altered the demographic picture of Ethiopia. The situation prior to the war events is reported below, in the absence of recent reliable data. In May 1984, for the first time, a census survey reached almost 85% of the residents, making it possible to estimate the total amount at 42,100,000, which became 47,305,000 according to a 1988 estimate. Individuals under 20 years of age they would be about half of the population, which maintains an annual growth rate close to 2.9% (but in urban areas the demographic expansion is at least 7%). The residents of the capital, Addis Abeb’a, doubled in 15 years, exceeding 1,495,000 in 1985. The Eritrean city of Asmara has also taken on considerable dimensions, with about 280,000 residents, while other 7 centers now rank between 60,000 and 80,000 residents. The average density reached 38 residents per km2 ; however, significant differences remain between the population of areas above 1800 m, which welcome more than 70% of individuals, and that of the lowlands, still largely repulsive: thus, in the central region of Scioa there are over 120 residents. per km 2, against 9 attributable to Bale, in the South-West.
Economic conditions. – Since 1979 there have been various annual development programs based on investments in transport, public services and agriculture. The latter still represents the dominant sector, with 42% of GDP and about 80% of the employed; it also provides the largest export revenue, mainly through coffee sales. The cultivated area remains less than 1/6 of the total, while almost half of the land is used for grazing, which hardly feeds 29 million cattle and 42 million sheep and goats, a large and unprofitable livestock patrimony. For Ethiopia 2019, please check philosophynearby.com.
There are extensive agricultural enhancement programs in some areas and the strengthening of agricultural structures, especially through the new state farms (now extended to 300,000 ha) and cooperative organizations (which should bring about half of the farmers in 10 years). Agricultural development projects have attracted international cooperation (Italy is involved in the Tana Beles region); however, they are unable to compensate for the loss of useful land due to soil degradation and desertification caused by excessive grazing and deforestation and by the recurrent droughts that have hit the Sahelian belt. Despite the fact that in some favorable years the cereal harvest has exceeded 50 million q, only the commodities flowed through aid from the abroad helped to contain the loss of life caused by famines (300,000 deaths in 1985 alone). To forward the aid, the landings of Massawa and Assab had to be improved, the railway from Massawa to Djibouti and the road network (increased to 16,000 km suitable for all seasons).
The efforts made in industrialization, with the great contribution of the socialist countries, have not achieved effective results due to a lack of raw materials, infrastructures and technical capabilities. Most of the factories are now in the hands of the state and remain concentrated around Addis Ababa and Asmara. The textile (with half of the employees) and food industries are dominant, while some cement factories, fertilizer and tool factories, agricultural machinery assemblies and tanneries (with an initial export of semi-finished leathers) are set up. The external debt amounted, in 1989, to more than 3 billion dollars, while estimates by the World Bank attributed to the country a per capita income of about 120 dollars.