Ethiopia is a country located in the northeastern part of Africa – generally known as the horn of Africa. The country shares its borders with Eritrea in the north, Kenya in the south, Sudan and South Sudan in the west, and Djibouti and Somalia in the east. Ethiopia is a land-locked country with a population estimated to be more than 110 million, making it the 2nd most populous country in the continent, only preceded by Nigeria. It is known to be one of the oldest independent nations globally. The current Ethiopia map we see today is a relatively new one. With a history spanning over three thousand years, Ethiopia has been established as various kingdoms and empires throughout history.
These ancient civilizations are not exclusive to Ethiopia. As we’ll see later, they also shared them with neighboring countries like Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea. Parts of these countries also used to be part of Ethiopia. The maps of Ethiopia can serve as a way to learn about the country’s history.
HISTORICAL ETHIOPIA MAP
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt was an ancient kingdom found in the horn of Africa. The kingdom is known for being a trade partner with the Egyptian empire. Although the exact location of the realm is debatable, scholars assume it included parts of northeastern Ethiopia, along with present-day Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, and Eritrea.
D’mt is the most ancient and well-organized kingdom in the region. Much hasn’t survived from the kingdom; however, it is estimated to exist between the 10th and 5th centuries BC. It was located in Eritrea and parts of Northern Ethiopia and preceded the Axumite empire. D’mt can be termed as the first and most ancient civilization of Ethiopia and can be recognized as the first appearance of Ethiopia on a map.
The Axumite Empire
The Axumite Empire is arguably the greatest civilization the region has ever seen. Centered in Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, it spanned across the red sea and parts of southern Yemen. Axum, the kingdom’s capital, is found in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. Succeeding the D’mt civilization, the empire is said to be established around the 1st century BC. Unlike its predecessor, the Axumite kingdom seems to hold a vast territory and includes a large portion of the land we find on the modern-day map of Ethiopia. Various obelisks and remains of structures like buildings can be found in the region, serving as a testament to the civilization’s greatness.
After the fall of the Axumite Kingdom, the Zagwe dynasty was established, ruling over some of the previous Axumite territories. The kingdom’s capital was changed to Lalibella, which is found in the present-day Amhara region of Northern Ethiopia. Established around the 10th century AD, it ruled over the area for more than a century.
The Kingdom of Adal
The kingdom of Adal was a medieval Islamic sultanate located in the horn of Africa. Its capital was Zeila, a port town located in modern-day Somaliland. The kingdom is said to include parts of eastern Ethiopia. Present-day Ethiopian territories like the Somali region and Harar are included. The Adal sultanate is known for its Islamic influence and diplomatic ties with the Ottoman Turkish Empire. At the time, the Ethiopian (and Christian) empire was engaged in a protracted conflict with the Sultanate. Adal, at its peak, was able to annex much of the northern Ethiopian empire.
The Adal Sultanate lost most of its territory by the late 16th century. Much of its parts were taken by the Oromo expansion taking place during the time. The collapse of the Sultanate changed the region’s dynamics for centuries to come.
The Zemene Mesafint (Era of Princes) was the period in Ethiopian history in which the country was divided with no central authority. Between mid-18th and mid-19th centuries, the now Ethiopian territory was divided and ruled by warlords, and conflicts over territories were common. This was until the rise of Emperor Tewodros I in 1855, significantly ending the era of princes.
The Conquests of Emperor Menelik II (Formation of The New Ethiopia Map)
Much of the present-day Ethiopian borders are accredited to the conquests of Emperor Menelik II, who ruled Ethiopia from 1889 to 1913. During these conquests, territories in the south, east, and west were annexed to Menelik’s empire. Kingdoms like Kafa, the kingdom of Jimma, and the Emirate of Harar are among the most popular territories the emperor annexed. The conquest took a long time to accomplish, in which countless battles were fought.
Ethiopia Map as a Landlocked Country
During the 19th century, Eritrea was a colony of Italy. The strategic importance of Eritrea was significant because it held most of Ethiopia’s access routes to the red sea. Djibouti, which also used to be part of the Ethiopian empire and granted Ethiopia access to the red sea, was ceded to France in exchange for a railway project that connected Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti. Italy attempted to colonize Ethiopia but was defeated at the Battle of Adwa in 1896. However, Eritrea remained a colony of Italy until the 1950s. Italy launched a second invasion in 1935 and occupied Ethiopia for five years.
After the Italian occupation of Ethiopia came to an end in 1941, Eritrea was re-united with Ethiopia as a confederation. However, in the 1950s, the Ethiopian empire annexed Eritrea as one of its territories. This sparked a struggle for independence that lasted for more than four decades. Eritrea gained its independence in 1991, following the fall of the Derg regime that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. The freedom of Eritrea thus made Ethiopia a landlocked country, effectively losing direct access to the Red Sea.
PRESENT-DAY POLITICAL ETHIOPIA MAP
Present-day Ethiopia is known officially as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE). Its current territory has a total of 1.1 million square kilometers and shares its borders with six neighboring countries; Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. Its capital city is Addis Ababa, which is also its largest city. Ethiopia is a federal state comprised of 11 regional states and two city administrations.
|REGION NAME (In alphabetical orders)||REGIONAL CAPITAL||REGIONAL FLAG|
|ADDIS ABABA||ADDIS ABABA||–|
|DIRE DAWA||DIRE DAWA||–|
|SOUTHWEST ETHIOPIA’S PEOPLE||BONGA|
|SOUTHERN NATIONS, NATIONALITIES, AND PEOPLE||HAWASA|
PHYSICAL ETHIOPIA MAP
NOTABLE GEOGRAPHIES OF ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia’s topography is as diverse as its people. From the Danakil depression, 116 meters below sea level, to mountains more than 4500 meters above sea level, the Ethiopian topography can be described as the land of extremes.
As of right now, there are 1,895 named mountains in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian highlands contain up to 80 percent of Africa’s tallest mountains. Of these mountains, the most prominent is Ras Dashen. Standing at 4,620 meters tall, it’s the tallest mountain in the country. Mount Ankwa (Weynober) comes in second, standing at 4,462 meters, followed by Mount Kidus Yared (4,453 meters), Mount Bwahit (4,437 meters), and Mount Tullu Dimtu (4,377 meters).
Ethiopia, though landlocked, has a large number of freshwater reserves, earning the title “the water tower of Africa.” The Blue Nile is the most prominent traveling for approximately 1,450 kilometers through Ethiopia and Sudan, of the nine major rivers found in the country. Other significant rivers include the Awash River, which flows for 1,200 kilometers, and the Shebelle River, with a flow length of 1,130 kilometers.
Apart from its rivers, Ethiopia is known for its lakes. There are twelve significant lakes in Ethiopia. Of those twelve, Lake Tana is the largest, with a surface area of more than 3000 square kilometers. Lake Ziway takes second place with an area of 440 square kilometers. Other major lakes include Lake Langanoo, Lake Awassa, Lake Abaya and Chamo and Lake Shalla.
MAJOR CITIES AND TOWNS
Ethiopia’s urban population is estimated to be around 24,941,349 as of 2020. This number accounts for less than a quarter of the country’s population. Ethiopia currently has 94 cities that carry 10,000 to more than a million.
Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. Its population is estimated to be more than 3 million, with 527 square kilometers. Mekelle is the second-largest of Ethiopia. With a population of more than half a million, it serves as the capital city of the regional administration of Tigray. Other major towns and cities include Gondar, Adama, Hawassa, Bahirdar, and Dire Dawa.
Historically speaking, Addis Ababa is a very significant city. However, it is not the oldest. Axum, which is found in northern Tigray, is the oldest in Ethiopia. Other historical towns include Gondar, Lalibela, and Harar.