Ethiopia flag 10 x 15 cm
Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, Kenya to the south, Somalia to the east and Djibouti to the northeast. Its size is 1,100,000 km² with an estimated population of over 78,000,000. Its capital is Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world and Africa's second-most populous nation. Ethiopia has yielded some of humanity's oldest traces, making the area a primary factor in the origin and developmental history of humanity, with recent studies claiming the vicinity of present-day Addis Ababa as the point from which human beings migrated around the world. Ethiopian dynastic history traditionally began with the reign of Emperor Menelik I in 1000 BC. The roots of the Ethiopian state are similarly deep, dating with unbroken continuity to at least the Aksumite Empire (which officially used the name "Ethiopia" in the 4th century) and its predecessor state, D`mt (with early 1st millennium BC roots). After a period of decentralized power in the 18th and early 19th centuries known as the Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Judges/Princes"), the country was reunited in 1855 by Kassa Hailu, who became Emperor Tewodros II, beginning Ethiopia's modern history. Ethiopia's borders underwent significant territorial expansion to its modern borders for the rest of the century due to several migrations and commercial integration as well as conquests, especially by Emperor Menelik II and Ras Gobena, culminating in its victory over the Italians at the Battle of Adwa in 1896 with the military leadership of Ras Makonnen, and ensuring its sovereignty and freedom from colonization. It was brutally occupied by Benito Mussolini's Italy from 1936 to 1941, ending with its liberation by British Commonwealth and Ethiopian patriot forces..
The country is famous for its 1984 devastating famine as well as for its famous Olympic distance athletes, rock-hewn churches and as the origin of the Coffee bean. Having converted during the fourth century AD, it is also the second-oldest country to have become officially Christian, after Armenia. Ethiopia also has a considerable Muslim minority since the earliest days of Islam - being the site of the first Hijra in Islam history, the earliest 9th century Sultanates, the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash and home to the fourth holiest Muslim city of Harar - but the country has been secular since 1974. Historically a relatively isolated mountain country, Ethiopia by the mid 20th century became a crossroads of global international cooperation under the leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie I. It became a member of the League of Nations in 1923, signed the Declaration by United Nations in 1942, and was one of the fifty-one original members of the United Nations (UN). The headquarters of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is in Addis Ababa, as is the headquarters of the African Union (formerly the Organisation of African Unity), of which Ethiopia was the principal founder. There are about forty-five Ethiopian embassies and consulates around the world.
The Flag of Ethiopia was adopted on February 6, 1996. The three traditional colors- green, yellow, and red- date back to the Emperor Menelik (1889-1913) and were first used in a flag in 1895. The current flag and emblem were adopted after the defeat of the Marxist Mengistu regime, in power from 1974-1991. The emblem is intended to represent both the diversity and unity of the country. Blue represents peace, the star represents diversity and unity, and the sun's rays symbolize prosperity. The green recalls the land and hope for the future, yellow for peace and love, and red symbolic of strength.
The colours of African unity - red, green, yellow - are seen here on one of the oldest African flags. These colours were used for the national flag of Ethiopia in 1897, a year after Ethiopia decisively defended itself from colonial Italy at the Battle of Adwa. The flag's tri-colour scheme has existed since the early 19th c. and was previously the official banner of the Ethiopian Empire's Solomonic dynasty. The colors green, yellow, and red have carried special importance since at least the early 17th century. The royal flag often featured the emblem of a Lion of Judah, a crowned lion carrying a cross centred in the banner's yellow mid-section. The flag is understood to be a link between the Ethiopian church, the peoples, and the nation were united in the one flag. The processional cross carried by the lion was the former "flag" or symbol of Ethiopia, and has been in use since at least the early 17th century, as well. Whilst red is currently featured at the bottom of the horizontal tricolour this was reversed in the mid 19th century and the emblem was added in 1996. What the colours symbolise varies depending on point of view, but generally: red represents power or African blood spilled in defence of the land; yellow for peace and harmony between Ethiopia's various ethnic and religious groups; green is said to symbolize hope, or the land and its fertility. Other African nations, upon their independence from their colonial rulers so often adopted these three colours that they are known as the Pan-African colours.
Prior to 1996, and to some extent even today, the 'plain' flag was commonly seen across the nation and the world. Previously, especially during the Derg regime, a number of different emblems were experimented with; however, the basic colour schematic has remained constant. Even the oppressive Derg did not dare to tamper with the colours' layout, but simply removed and changed the imperial emblem after Haile Selassie's overthrow. An alternative coat of arms featuring a five pointed star and rays over a cogwheel surrounded by a wreath of leaves is now the featured emblem.
The star, which is a pentagram, is yellow on a blue disc, which overlaps the green and red stripes. The star testifies to Ethiopia's bright future and possibly echoes the connection with the House of King Solomon, while the yellow rays which it emits are equidistant and are said to represent the equality of all Ethiopians regardless of race, creed, or gender.