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Ethiopia 2015


Simien Mountains huts and young herder

The highland people of Ethiopia's Simien Mountains live, work, and play in one of Africa's most dramatic environments. The landscape features sheer cliffs, forested gorges, and ancient mountains that rise 14,000 feet into the clouds. One of the few places in Africa where snow falls on a regular basis, the Simien Mountains are home to three of Ethiopia's largest mammals: the walia ibex, the gelada baboon, and the rare Ethiopian wolf. Christian and Muslim communities live together peacefully in this predominantly agrarian society, and are known for sharing resources during public holidays, weddings, and funeral ceremonies. Like most boys his age, this shepherd boy will spend many days alone with his sheep, as the flock grazes on the mountainside.
– Photos © 2012 Amber Davis Collins, PCV Honduras, 2002 - 2004.
Photo composite by Lisa Kummer.

Eastern Africa

Area 1,104,300 km2 (27th)

Arable 13%

Population 93,877,025 (850/km2)

Gov’t Federal Republic

Capital Addis Ababa (3M)

GCP/capita $1,200

Military 0.9% of GDP (140th of 195)

In poverty 29%

Life expectancy 60 yrs


Literacy 39%

Languages Arabic, English, Oromo, Amharic, Somali, Tigrinya, Sidamo, Wolaytta, Guragigna, Afar, Hadiyya, Gamo, other

Religions Ethiopian Orthodox 44%, Muslim 34%, Protestant 19%, traditional 3%, other

Agriculture pulses, coffee, oilseeds, cereals, cotton, sugarcane, potatoes, cut flowers, hides, cattle, sheep, goats, fish, khat

Industry food/beverage/metals processing, textiles, leather, chemicals, cement

PCVs 1962–1977, 1995–1999, 2007–present

Peace Ranking 146th

Adult Books

Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone
By Abraham Verghese, 2010

Paperback: 667 pages
Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st edition (January 26, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0375714368

Book Description
Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles - and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

Kids' Books

E is for EthiopiaE is for Ethiopia
By Ashenafi Gudeta, 2010

Format: Hardcover, 32 pp.
ISBN: 978-1845078256
Age Range: 6–9 years, Nonfiction
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2011


Director: Zeresenay Mehari, 2014
Languages: Amharic with English subtitles
99 minutes — Ethiopia

SYNOPSIS: Three hours outside of Addis Ababa, a bright 14-year-old girl is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. The brave Hirut grabs a rifle and tries to escape, but ends up shooting her would-be husband. In her village, the practice of abduction into marriage is common and one of Ethiopia's oldest traditions.

Meaza Ashenafi, an empowered and tenacious young lawyer, arrives from the city to represent Hirut and argue that she acted in self-defense. Meaza boldly embarks on a collision course between enforcing civil authority and abiding by customary law, risking the continuing work of her women's legal-aid practice to save Hirut's life.

Written by Sundance Film Festival


Documentary: Sincerely, Ethiopia
Director: Nathan Araya, 2013
Languages: English, subtitles

DESCRIPTION: Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and the continent’s second-most-populous nation. It is often depicted as a poverty-stricken, famine-saturated land crumbling from conflict. But to Ethiopian natives, the country is viewed in a more honest and uplifting light, one that exposes the people’s strong sense of pride and the land’s transcendent beauty often reflected in its rich culture.

Its breathtaking landscape is home to over 93 million people, many of whom face harsh realities, yet carry on with a sense of strength and courage.

While the challenges Ethiopia has faced (and still tackles) are well documented, the ability of its people to overcome hardships has often been overlooked – until now.

Filmmaker Nathan Araya has stepped in to fill that void with the documentary Sincerely, Ethiopia. Araya, a 28-year-old Ethiopian-American, set out to tackle the negative perceptions of his homeland by placing his film’s focus on a more positive portrayal of Ethiopian life and culture.

Araya banded together a group of friends who spent four years researching, fundraising, traveling, and documenting to create a film that tells Ethiopia’s fascinating story the way they thought best. The group focused on inspiring narratives of Ethiopians who have dedicated their lives to addressing the country’s ongoing challenges.

Viewers will meet Eden Gelan, the co-founder of the Beza Community Development Association (BCDA) – an organization that provides aid to those with HIV through medical support and counseling. They will be introduced to Yohannes Gebregeorgis, a public advocate for educational and literacy development among Ethiopia’s youth. Gebregeorgis is the founder of Ethiopia Reads and has been honored as a CNN Hero.

The documentary also tells the story of Biruktawit Tagesse, who works with vulnerable adolescent boys in Ethiopia to help them develop a strong sense of self-esteem and positive, creative imaginations.

Then there is Addisu’s tale as part of the Adugna Community Dance Theatre – which is regarded as the only modern, contemporary dance company in the nation. Addisu works at the theatre to welcome and train some of Ethiopia’s most extraordinary dancers. He teaches them to use their body motions and art to express their powerful take on a number of social injustices.

Viewers are left with a renewed sense of Ethiopia and the multi-talented people that compose its cultural fabric.

Synopsis abridged from Lilly Workneh:

For a review see:


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Focus Word

Focus Word for 2015 - "Water"

Oromo: bishaan (bee-shaan)
Amhara: wuha (woo-ha)
Somali: biyo (bee-yo)
Tigray: mai (my)


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