Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa (104 million in 2017). It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world (based on a 2010-2014 average), albeit from a low base. Linguistically, the country is a mosaic of about 100 languages that can be classified into four groups–Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilotic. Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini's Italy from 1935-1940, it was never colonised.
Ethiopia is home to the African Union and plays an influential role in mediating African conflicts. Ethiopia was a founding member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); and is a member of the Intergovernmental Development Authority (IGAD) which has developed a strong focus on early warning systems for conflict and disaster in the region.
Trade between Australia and Ethiopia is small but Ethiopia is endowed with mineral resources and is keen on bilateral investment and sharing expertise.
The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, visited Ethiopia in January 2017 to observe the African Union Summit and to meet Ethiopian counterparts. She also visited Australian-funded aid projects including the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and Retrak (a rehabilitation centre for street kids) and announced $1 million for a gender empowerment project run by the African Union Commission.
Ethiopia is consistently one of the largest recipients of official development assistance. Ethiopia is currently responding to a major drought linked to El Nino weather conditions. Australia provides training delivered through scholarships and study tours to Ethiopia, with a focus on extractives and agriculture. The Hamlin Fistula Hospital and the Fred Hollows Foundation, both set up by Australians, have had long relationships with Ethiopia, delivering much needed medical services.
2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Australia and Ethiopia. Australia moved into a new chancery in Addis Ababa in July 2014, having opened a mission in 2010. Ethiopia has been represented by an ambassador in Canberra since December 2013.
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