Ethiopia, a republic in northeastern Africa, shares boundaries with five other countries. Most of the country is a high plateau capped by mountains. Lowland deserts surround the plateau. Ethiopia's population is diverse, with more than 70 ethnic groups. Eighty percent of the people support themselves through subsistence farming in the central plateau region. Major religions include Christianity, Islam, and animism. Amharic is the country's official language.

Known as Abyssinia until recently, Ethiopia was ruled by a powerful kingdom in the first centuries A.D. In the fifteenth century, a Coptic Christian empire and a monarchy were established. After the 1500s, Ethiopia became a number of small kingdoms, which were reunified in the 1880s. Emperor Haile Selassie took Ethiopia's throne in 1931. Since he was dethroned in 1974, the country has experienced political instability and several forms of government. In 1995 the country became the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

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