Ethiopia profile - Timeline

Published

A chronology of key events:

2nd century AD - Kingdom of Axum becomes a regional trading power.

4th century - Christianity becomes state religion.

1530-31 - Muslim leader Ahmad Gran conquers much of Ethiopia.

1818-68 - Lij Kasa conquers Amhara, Gojjam, Tigray and Shoa.

1855 - Kasa becomes Emperor Tewodros II.

1868 - Tewodros defeated by a British expeditionary force and commits suicide to avoid capture.

1872 - Tigrayan chieftain becomes Yohannes IV.

1889 - Yohannes IV killed fighting Muslim forces and is succeeded by the king of Shoa, who becomes Emperor Menelik II.

1889 - Menelik signs a friendship treaty with Italy, which Italy interprets as a protectorate. Ethiopia rejects this interpretation.

1889 - Addis Ababa becomes Ethiopia's capital.

Italy invades

1895 - Italy invades Ethiopia, but its forces are defeated the following year at Adwa. Italy recognises Ethiopia's independence but retains control over Eritrea.

1913 - Menelik dies and is succeeded by his grandson, Lij Iyasu.

1916 - Lij Iyasu deposed and is succeeded by Menelik's daughter, Zawditu, who rules through a regent, Ras Tafari Makonnen.

1930 - Zawditu dies and is succeeded by Ras Tafari Makonnen, who becomes Emperor Haile Selassie I.

1935 - Italy invades Ethiopia. Haile Selassie flees the following year.

Haile Selassie's reign

1941 - British and Commonwealth troops aided by the Ethiopian resistance defeat the Italians, and restore Haile Selassie.

1952 - United Nations federates Eritrea with Ethiopia.

1962 - Haile Selassie annexes Eritrea, which becomes an Ethiopian province.

1963 - First conference of the Organisation of African Unity held in Addis Ababa.

End of empire

1973-74 - An estimated 200,000 people die in Wallo province as a result of famine.

1974 - Haile Selassie overthrown in military coup, and dies in custody the following year

1977 - Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam emerges as leader of the Derg pro-Soviet military regime.

1977-79 - Thousands of government opponents die in "Red Terror" orchestrated by Col Mengistu; collectivisation of agriculture begins; Tigrayan People's Liberation Front launches war for regional autonomy.

1977 - Somalia invades Ethiopia's Ogaden region, and are defeated the following year with massive help from the Soviet Union and Cuba.

1984-85 - Worst famine in a decade strikes; Western food aid sent; thousands forcibly resettled from Eritrea and Tigre.

1987 - Col Mengistu elected president under a new constitution.

After Mengistu

image source, Getty Images
image captionEthiopians celebrate the end of an era on a toppled statue of the Russian revolutionary, Lenin

1991 - Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front captures Addis Ababa, forcing President Mengistu to flee the country.

1993 - Eritrea becomes independent following referendum.

1994 - New constitution divides Ethiopia into ethnically-based regions.

1995 - Meles Zenawi assumes post of prime minister.

War with Eritrea

1999-2000 - Ethiopian-Eritrean border war, which is eventually resolved in 2018.

image source, Getty Images
image captionBorder clashes with Eritrea turned into a full-scale war

2004 March - Start of resettlement programme to move more than two million people away from parched, over-worked highlands.

2005 April - First section of Axum obelisk, looted by Italy in 1937, is returned to Ethiopia from Rome.

2006 November - Ethiopian troops enter Somalia to oust al-Shabab Islamists controlling large parts of the country.

2006 December - Exiled former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is convicted, in absentia, of genocide at the end of a 12-year trial. He is later sentenced to death.

2012 August - Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies. Succeeded by Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in September.

2016 October - Government declares state of emergency following months of violent anti-government protests.

2018 February - As anti-government protests continue, Prime Minister Desalegn resigns.

Abiy reforms

2018 April - Abiy Ahmed, an ethnic Oromo, wins over his challengers to become leader of the ruling EPRDF and therefore prime minister. He launches a comprehensive programme of political reform at home and diplomatic bridge-building abroad.

2018 May-June - Government releases thousands of political prisoners, and lifts state of emergency.

2018 July - Ethiopia and Eritrea declare their war is over as Ethiopia agrees to evacuate disputed territory.

2018 October - The government signs a peace deal with the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front, ending a 34-year armed rebellion.

Parliament elects Sahle-Work Zewde as Ethiopia's first woman president, and first female head of state since Empress Zawditu (1928-1930).

2019 June - Army chief Seare Mekonnen and Amhara State Governor Ambachew Mekonnen killed while putting down coup attempt against the federal government.

2020 November - Tensions with Tigray region after a state election deemed unconstitutional escalate as the federal government sends in troops.

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