For many people, Ethiopia will always be associated with a deadly drought that killed hundreds of thousands of people between 1983 and 1985.
That horrendous tragedy inspired rock musician Bob Geldof to gather together a large number of famous singers, including Sting and Bono, to record a charity song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The proceeds from the sale of this record went to anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia. Geldof also organized several huge benefit concerts that were held simultaneously around the world. Known as Live Aid, the concerts raised an estimated $245 million dollars for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Since that time, some things have changed for the better in Ethiopia. For instance, this country now has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, according to the World Bank. While other things, such as devastating droughts and poverty, continue to plague this country.
Growing, but Still Behind
According to the World Bank, Ethiopia has a population of approximately 105 million, making it the second most populous country in Africa. Economically, this nation has made some major improvements. For example, its economy grew by 10.5 percent a year between 2005/06 to 2015/16. That is twice the average of the other countries in the region.
Whilst these signs of improvement are definitely encouraging, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest nations in Africa, with a per capita income of just $660. One of the reasons for this is that Ethiopia is heavily dependent on agriculture, which means that its people are at the mercy of Mother Nature for their livelihood and sustenance. Unfortunately, nature has not always been kind to Ethiopia, as evidenced by the tragic 1983 to 1985 drought and famine. More recently, the country experienced another devastating drought, from 2015 to 2016. One farmer told the New York Times, “About 30 of my family’s cows died this year because there is no grass.” The drought eventually left as many as 18 million people in dire need of aid, according to the Telegraph.
Ethiopia is also being affected by another major issue — the country has been politically unstable since about 2016. In fact, Newsweek included it in its 2016 “The World’s Ten Most Unstable Countries.”
Even though Ethiopia’s economy has been growing at an impressive rate, the government is also hoping to add more tourism dollars to its coffers. The country is home to a myriad of attractions, including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites — more than any other African country. At one of these sites, Lalibela, travelers will find 11 ancient Christian churches that were carved out of rock in the 12th Century. At that time, Christians were being prevented by Muslim conquests from making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, so the king of Ethiopia had hoped to create this “New Jerusalem” for them. This country also boasts an amazing range of landscapes, including deserts, mountains and beautiful lakes and is home to some interesting creatures that can only be found in Ethiopia, including Gelada monkeys and Ethiopian wolves Lonely Planet, in fact, named Ethiopia to its Best in Travel 2017: Top 10 Countries. And in 2015, the European Council on Tourism and Trade named Ethiopia as the World’s Best Tourist Destination.
Outside Aid Is Still Needed
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 45 percent of Ethiopia people live below the poverty line. In addition, recent droughts have left more than 10 million people in need of food assistance. Clean water is another area of concern that Ethiopia. Sadly, only one-quarter of Ethiopia’s population has access to clean water.