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Saturday, January 10, 2009


Ethiopia is the only country in Africa never to have been fully colonised (with the exception of a five-year occupation by Mussolini's Italy). The 20th-century history of Ethiopia is dominated by the figure of Haile Selassie, who became emperor in 1930 and ruled until the military coup of 1974. The country was occupied by the Italians between 1936 and 1941.In 1977, a further coup brought Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu to power. Agricultural backwardness was the country’s most urgent problem; all attempts at land reform were resisted. The government itself was perhaps too preoccupied with fighting secessionist movements in Tigray and Eritrea, and with occasional border clashes with Somalia (one of which escalated into full-scale war during 1977). This, along with severe drought, economic mismanagement and the mutual mistrust between the government and Western aid agencies contributed to the widespread and heavily-publicised 1983 famine. The civil war continued until May 1991, when President Mengistu fled the country for Zimbabwe