History Files


African Kingdoms

East Africa




Ethiopian Empire (Abyssinian Aksumite Empire)

The Aksumite empire in Africa was originally a Semitic Jewish kingdom based at Axum (from around the second century BC), and founded, according to legend, by Menelik, son of King Solomon of Israel and the queen of Sheba. It seems much more likely that it was formed in the second century BC by Jewish settlers escaping from Elephantine in Egypt after their temple was destroyed, although there is evidence of a Semitic-speaking presence from at least as early as 2000 BC. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), a study in 2012 of the DNA of more than two hundred Ethiopians found that their ancestors intermixed with either Egyptian, Israeli, or Syrian populations around 1000 BC, precisely at the time that Sheba was supposedly at its height, lending much-needed weight to the story of King Solomon and Sheba.

The country is also known as Abyssinia, which probably originates from the Egyptian name of Habashat. The name 'Ethiopia' is Greek, meaning 'burnt faces', a collective name for all dark-skinned people south of Egypt, although this is now disputed as the Book of Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle first composed in the fifteenth century, states that the name is derived from ''Ityopp'is', a son (unmentioned in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham who, confusingly, also founded the city of Axum, according to legend. The Greek 'Aethiopia' was a translation of the original Hebrew 'Kush' which is generally used to refer to a kingdom to the north of what is know recognised as being Ethiopia.

There is a strain of historical researcher which, acting possibly on an Ethiopian nationalist basis, rather energetically claims Moses as the earliest known figure in the country's history. Apparently he married Tharbis, daughter of the unnamed king of Ethiopia, and she became pregnant with their child (the sex of the child is not mentioned but the child itself is claimed as the originator of a new dynasty of Ethiopian kings that effectively creates ties between the kingdom and the Israelites more than two hundred years before King Solomon). Support for this idea is claimed in Jewish Antiquities by Flavius Josephus, and this writer certainly does relate a story of Moses leading an Egyptian army against the invading Ethiopians. He captures their capital at a city called Saba (which Josephus places firmly on the banks of the Nile, clearly differentiating it from the better known Saba) and marries Tharbis (probably as a form of cementing a peace treaty in order to preserve the captured city). However, Josephus states that Moses consummates his marriage and then returns to Egypt (seemingly without Tharbis). No mention is made of a child. The story itself is viewed as being dubious, perhaps invented to explain a comment in Numbers 12:1 by Miriam about marriage to a Cushite woman (prior to his marriage to Zipporah). Historically, it seems much more likely that any Egyptian military thrust southwards would have been aimed at the kingdom of Kush. Several other conflicts between the two kingdoms have been recorded to add support to this idea.

The partial list of rulers is largely gleaned from sources and enlarged by various notes. No two lists agree on early rulers, so this list is a compendium: those which are only shown by Munro-Hay in green, while those by Budge are in red.

(Additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), and from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996).)

fl c.960 BC

Menelik I

First Emperor. Legendary son of Israel and Sheba.

c.850 BC

The Philistines sack Jerusalem in Judah, along with Arabs and Ethiopians, who loot King Jehoram's house, and carry off all of his family except for his youngest son, Jehoahaz.

8th century BC

An apparently indigenous proto-Aksumite state kingdom known as D'mt is established in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia. It is only briefly influenced by Saba due to the latter's hegemony of the Red Sea.

Ethiopian highlands
The Ethiopian highlands, a stretch of rugged mountain territory in the modern country's north-eastern region, have a history in terms of human occupation which dates back millions of years

715 - 664 BC

Ethiopian/Nubian groups conquer Egypt and found a ruling dynasty there.

from c.700 BC to c.650 BC

W'rn Hywt

King of D'mt.


King of D'mt.

S'rn Rbh

Son of W'rn Hywt. King of D'mt.

S'rn Lmn

Son. King of D'mt.

593 - 588 BC

Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus sends an army south to fight the king of the Ethiopians (at this stage an undefined area covering all peoples south of Egypt). Some deserters remain and settle in Western Abyssinia, according to Herodotus' 'Land of the Deserters'. There appears to have been a large Jewish contingent among them.

521 BC

Darius kills the usurper Gaumata (Smerdis) and seizes control of the Persian empire. He takes great pains to legitimise his rule by installing an inscription at Pasargadae to record his 'descent' from the legendary founder of the Persian dynasty. He also extends the satrapy of Egypt to include Cyrene, 'Put' (probably Punt, which is usually equated with Nubia), and Kush (also Nubia, but sometimes equated with Ethiopia, suggesting Nubia's southern regions which were centred around MeroŽ). Persian control is unlikely to extend to MeroŽ in anything other than as a vassal state, and is even less likely to reach as far as the early Ethiopian kingdom (D'mt).

5th century BC

The kingdom of D'mt falls. The plateau comes to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms. Few inscriptions exist from this kingdom, and very little archaeological work has taken place there. As a result, it is not known whether D`mt ended as a civilisation before Aksum's early stages, or whether it evolved into the Aksumite state, or was one of the smaller states united by Aksum.

c.400 BC

Jewish refugees from Egypt appear to settle in the area of Western Abyssinia.

3rd-2nd cent BC

Axum is founded as the capital of a Jewish kingdom.

Kingdom of Axum
c.3rd Century BC - c.AD 980

In the fourth century AD the country was converted to Christianity at the same time as the new religion was accepted into the Roman empire, although a Jewish population, the Falashas, remained, and was still very powerful, with its own kings, until it was broken by the Aksumites.

AD ?

Ezanas I

AD 50

The kingdom of Axum expands, reuniting the area and expanding southwards. Until the end of the sixth century, Axum is considered to be one of the most powerful and prosperous kingdoms in the known world, ranking on equal terms with Rome or Persia.



Possibly the 'Za Haqala' from the king list


Gadarat (GDRT)

Inscriptions mention his son Beyga.

c.230 - c.240

Azaba / Adhebahs ('DBH)

Inscriptions mention his son Girma.

fl c.240s

Beyga / Baygat (BYGT)

fl c.240s

Girma / Garmat (GRMT)




Datawnas (DTWNS)

Inscriptions mention his son Zaqarnas (ZQRNS).

c.270 - c.300


fl 290

Ella Amida (I, II or III?)

early 4th cent.



Could be another form of Esana.

early 4th cent.


c.320 - c.330



Frumentius is stranded on the coast and is taken to the court, where, upon the death of the emperor, he is appointed regent by the new king's mother.

c.333 - c.356

Ezanas II / Esana / Ezna / Aezanes

Son. First Christian convert.

c.333 - ?




Frumentius converts the emperor to Christianity and is created first Coptic Bishop of Ethiopia. This act leads to centuries of conflict between the Christian and Jewish communities in Ethiopia as each vies for overall control of the empire. Even so, Christianity in Ethiopia is still only skin deep, being deeply influenced by the Judaism which appears to have been established in the country over a thousand years previously. Between 331-1959 all Ethiopian archbishops are supplied by the Coptic Patriarchate in Alexandria.

c.328 - c.370


Brother of Ezanas.


According to traditional theory, the kingdom of Kush at MeroŽ is destroyed during an invasion by Ezana of the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. To contradict this, the Ethiopian account seems to describe the quelling of a rebellion in lands they already control. It also refers only to the Nuba, and makes no mention of the rulers of MeroŽ. The differing accounts would seem to be the result of propaganda issued by both sides (very similar messages are frequently issued in modern political statements), with one denying the other's existence in order to legitimise its conquest. As no details of Kushite rulers are known after this date, their survival after this event is unlikely.


Mehadeyis (MHDYS)


Ella Abreha

Ella Asfeha

Ella Shahel

late 4th century




Possibly the 'Huina' from the Book of the Himyarites.


Nezool / Nezana

474 - 475


474 - 475


475 - 486

Ella Amida (IV?) / Alla Amidas

486 - 489

Jacob I

486 - 489


489 - 504

Armah I

504 - 505



Ousas / Ousanas

Possibly Tazena, father of Kaleb. Also Zitana?

505 - 514

Jacob II

514 - 542

Caleb / Kaleb / Ella Asbeha

His son is traditionally Gabra Masqal. (Or c.500 - 534.)

523 - 525

Under pressure from Byzantium, the Ethiopians install a Christian king in Saba/Yemen.

Caleb also wages war against the Falashas in a continuation of the long conflict between the empire's Jewish and Christian populations. The Falashas are eventually vanquished to an extent, but from their northern strongholds, ruled by their own line of Jewish kings, they continue to strike against the Christian south over the subsequent 400 years.

542 - c.550

Beta Israel (House of Israel)

This is also the Falashas' own name for their people.

c.550 - 564

Gabra Masqal

Son of Kaleb.



Ancient Nubia, which stretches south as far as the Ethiopian uplands, is once more brought into the orbit of the Mediterranean world by the arrival of Christian missionaries. The kingdom of Dongola is converted to Christianity, as is Alodia which is strongly influenced by Axum at this time. However, after the work of the missionaries is concluded, the region sinks back into obscurity, and only re-emerges in the seventh century.


Joel / Ioel


Possibly a son of Kaleb.

Gersem I

Ella Gabaz

622 - 632

As the forces of the Prophet Muhammed creates the Islamic empire, Ethiopia is encircled and begins nearly a thousand years of increasing isolation. Decline sets in and records become extremely sparse.


Ella Sahem

Armah II


Hataz I

Possibly the same as Iathlia.


Za Ya'abiyo

Armah III



Hataz II

Gersem II

Hataz III

from c.600

Kwastantinos / Constantine

Wasan Sagad


Fere Shanay / Fere Shernay

'Adre'az / 'Adre'azar

'Akla Wedem

Germa Safar

Zergaz / Gergaz

Degna Mikael

Bahr Ikela





'Oda Gosh / 'Oda Sasa


Reigned half a day and was strangled to death.



Wedem 'Asfare


Degna Djan / Ged'a Djan

'Anbasa Wedem


to c.900

Dil Na'od

Brother. Last king of Axum.


In a conclusion to the long religious conflict in the empire, Gudit, the head of a large tribal confederation known as the Agaw - which includes the Jewish Falashas - leads an uprising which snatches the Axumite throne, razes much of Axum itself, and destroys much of the ruling Solomonic dynasty, replacing it with the Zagwe dynasty.

As the state is sent into a minor Dark Age, one royal prince escapes to hide in the south, in the distant province of Shoa, where his descendants continue to live until the thirteenth century.

Old Cathedral of St Mary of Zion
The Old Cathedral of St Mary of Zion was consecrated in the fourth century by Ezanas and Shizana, and fortunately it survived the fall of the kingdom of Axum around AD 980

Zagwe Dynasty
c.AD 1030 - 1270

The Solomonic Dynasty was replaced by a Falasha dynasty which was established following Queen Gudit's uprising and largely un-chronicled reign. Although it is by no means certain that Gudit left any direct successor, it is accepted that within fifty years of her death Ethiopia was generally governed by the Jewish Zagwe Dynasty. This line converted to Christianity well before the birth of Lallebella in circa 1140.

c.980 - c.1020


Falasha queen.


Mara Takla Haymanot

First Zagwe monarch of the Agaw confederation.


Jan Seyum

Germa Seyum

1117 - 1133

Marari / Mairari

Not widely recognised.

1133 - ?

Yemrehana Krestos

Kedus Harbe

al.1160 - 1185

Harbay / Harbai

Half brother of Lallebella. Not widely recognised.

1185 - 1211

Gebral Maskal Lalibela / Lallebella

Exiled. Knights Templers helped regain his throne.

1211 - 1212?

Imrahana Laab


1212 - 1270

Naakuto Laab / Na'akueto La'ab


1260 - 1268

Yitbarek / Yetbarak



Naakuto Laab is persuaded to abdicate the throne in favour of a monarch claiming Solomonic descent.

Solomonic Dynasty
AD 1270 - 1974

The Christian Solomonic Dynasty was restored as a monarch claiming descent from the single royal prince to escape Gudit's uprising was crowned.

1270 - 1285

Yekuno Amlak or Tasfa Iyasus

Claimed Solomonic descent.

1285 - 1294

Yagba Zion / Solomon I

1294 - 1297

Bahr Asgad

1294 - 1297

Senfa Asgad

1297 - 1299

Qedma Asgad

1297 - 1299

Jin Asgad

1297 - 1299

Saba Asgad

1299 - 1314

Wedem Ara'ad

1314 - 1344

Amda Siyon / Seyoi I

1344 - 1372

Newaya Krestos

1372 - 1382

Newaya Maryam

1382 - 1411

Dawit / David I

1411 - 1414

Tewodros / Theodore I

1414 - 1429

Yeshaq I / Isaac

1429 - 1430

Andreyas / Andrew

1430 - 1433

Takla Maryam


Sarwe Iyasus

1433 - 1434

Amda Iyasus

1434 - 1468

Zara Yakob / Constantine I

1468 - 1478

Baeda Mariam I

1478 - 1494

Eksender / Constantine II


Amda Seyon II

1494 - 1508


1508 - 1540

Lebna Dengel / Dawit II / David II

Died exhausted by years of conflict and defeat.


The Portuguese, represented by members of the Order of Christ (direct successors of the Knights Templar in Portugal), finally manage to establish an embassy in the country, although the emperor suspects their motives.

1528 - 1541

The Muslim Galla people from the emirate of Harar in the eastern part of the Horn of Africa invade and conquer large areas of Ethiopia while allied to the Ottoman empire. Under the command of Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim el Ghazi (nicknamed Gragn, the 'left-handed'), the wild Somali troops, backed up by Arab mercenaries and Trukish matchlockmen, rampage through the Christian highlands, killing thousands and burning and looting as they go. They are defeated, with the help of a contingent of 450 Portuguese musketeers, at the Battle of Lake Tana.

1540 - 1559

Gelawedos / Claudius


1560 - 1564


1564 - 1597

Sarsa Dengel

1564 - 1580

Sarsa Dengel wages a seventeen year crusade against the Falasha Jewish population, slowly destroying their powerful strongholds in the Simien mountains. The Falasha king, Radai, is taken prisoner and accepts death over conversion to Christianity. The Falashas begin to diminish from this point, from an estimated population of 500,000 in the early 1600s to one of 28,000 in 1984.

1597 - 1603

Yaqob / Jacob

1603 - 1604

Za Dengel

1604 - 1607

Yaqob / Jacob


1607 - 1632

Susneyos I / Sissinios


Although he is deposed by his brother, Sultan Abd al-Qadir of Sinnar is a friend of (soon-to-be?) Emperor Susneyos I. At some point after this date, the deposed sultan is appointed governor of Chilga (also known as Ayikel), an important trading town near the Ethiopian border with Sinnar.


Susynos launches a pogrom against the Falashas which sees twenty years of butchery.

1618 - 1619

Relations with Ethiopia have been deteriorating since the reign of Sultan Badi I of Sinnar as the Funj press southwards up the Blue Nile to annexe the gold-producing land of Fazughli. In this period major Ethiopian invasions designed to reclaim the valuable territory and kick out the Funj are repulsed.

1632 - 1667

Fasilidas / Basilides

Described as 'the greatest king' of Ethiopia.


Despite the help the Portuguese gave in saving the empire, the Ethiopian monarchs still do not trust their motives and Fasilidas expels them, offering Turks at Massawa a bounty on any Portuguese heads they can capture.

1667 - 1682

Yohannes I / John I

1682 - 1706

Iyasu I the Great / Joshua / Jesus I


Yeshaq Iyasu


1706 - 1708

Tekle Haimanot I


Amda Seyon


1708 - 1711

Tewoflos / Theophilus

1709 - 1710

Nebahne Yohannes


1711 - 1716

Yostos / Justus

1716 - 1721

Dawit / David III

1721 - 1730


1730 - 1755

Iyasu / Joshua / Jesus II

1736 - 1737




Another Ethiopian invasion of the Funj sultanate of Sinnar takes place, part of the continuing problems between the two states.

1755 - 1769

Iyoas / Joas


Yohannes II / John II

1769 - 1770

Tekle Haimanot II


Susenyos II

1770 - 1777

Tekle Haimanot II


1777 - 1779

Salomon / Solomon III

1779 - 1784

Tekle Giorgis I

1784 - 1788

Iyesu / Joshua / Jesus III

1787 - 1788


In opposition to Iyesu.

1787 - 1788

Ba'eda Maryam I

In opposition to Iyesu.

1788 - 1789

Tekle Haymanot

In opposition to Iyesu.

1788 - 1789

Tekle Giorgis I


1789 - 1794

Hezqeyas / Hezekiah

1794 - 1795

Tekle Giorgis I



Ba'eda Maryam II

1795 - 1796

Tekle Giorgis I


1796 - 1797

Solomon III

1797 - 1799

Tekle Giorgis I



Solomon III


1799 - 1800

Demetros / Demetrius


Tekle Giorgis I


1800 - 1801

Demetros / Demetrius


1801 - 1818

Egwala Seyon

1818 - 1821

Iyoas / Joas II

1821 - 1826



Ba'eda Maryam III

1826 - 1830



1830 - 1832

Iyasu / Joshua / Jesus IV


Gabra Krestos


Sahla Dengel


Gabra Krestos


1832 - 1840

Sahla Dengel



Egwale Anbesa


1840 - 1841

Yohannes / John III

1841 - 1855

Sahla Dengel


1855 - 1868

Tewodros / Theodore II / Ras Kassa

Committed suicide.


The king takes European diplomats hostage. A British Expedition defeats him and Tewodros commits suicide to avoid capture.

1868 - 1872

Tekle Giorgis II / Wagshum Gobeze

1872 - 1874

Egypt under Isma'il Pasha conquers South Sudan between 1872-1874. The eventual intent is to fully unite Egypt and Sudan as one single state under Egyptian rule. However, a further annexation of 1875 leads to a state of (largely inactive) war with Ethiopia.

1872 - 1889

Yohannes / John IV / Kassa Mercha

Tigrayan chieftan. Killed in battle.

1875 - 1876

The Egyptians are defeated, being driven out of Eritrea at the Battle of Gundet in 1875, and the Battle of Gura in 1876. After this actual hostilities generally cease, but a long period of mutual animosity follows. Yohannes is killed fighting Sudanese Mahdist forces in 1889.

1887 - 1889

A 60,000-strong Mahdi army under the ansars enters Ethiopia. It gets as far as Gondar, the former imperial capital of the Begemder province. The city is sacked, and at the start of 1888 the Sudanese occupiers set fire to almost all of its churches, devastating the whole city. In 1889, Yohannes marches on Metemma in Sudan, but is killed in battle. Ethiopia withdraws.

1889 - 1913

Menilek / Menelik II / Sahle Maryam

Former king of Shoa (southern province).


Menelik moves the capital from Axum to Addis Ababa, and signs a bilateral friendship treaty with Italy at Wuchale which Italy interprets as giving it a protectorate over Ethiopia.


The Italian forces adopt the ancient Greek name for the Red Sea - Erythra Thalassa - to describe the territory they hold. In time the name becomes Anglicised as Eritrea.


Italian forces push back a Sudanese attack on Akordat in Eritrea. The Sudanese are forced out of Ethiopia entirely by the defeat.


The Italians are soundly defeated at the Battle of Adowa. They retain control over Eritrea, to the north.

1913 - 1916

Iyasu / Joshua V / Lij Kifle Yaqub

Regent 1909-1913 (d.1935). Deposed.

1916 - 1930

Empress Zawditu / Askala Maryam

1930 - 1936

Haile Sellassie / Ras Tafari Makonnen

Regent Ras Tafari 1916-1930.

1936 - 1941

Italian occupation follows a short military campaign in which mustard gas is used. Victor Emmanuel III of Italy is styled 'Emperor of Ethiopia'.

1941 - 1974

Haile Sellassie / Ras Tafari Makonnen

Restored. Overthrown. Died in suspicious circumstances in 1975.

1974 - 1991

The imperial line of descent is broken as a dictatorship is established in Ethiopia. This is the so-called Derg era.

Modern Ethiopia & Eritrea
AD 1977 - Present Day

Having suffered from a drawn-out period of post-colonial strife during the twentieth century, Ethiopia today is not quite the country it once was. It has a history that goes further back in time than almost any other in Africa, and a population that is the second largest on the continent, but it lost its northern region of Eritrea in 1993 following years of internecine warfare. Denuded of a Red Sea coastline, the landlocked Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia retains its capital at the ancient city of Addis Ababa. It is neighboured by the aforementioned Eritrea to the north and, beyond that, Sudan and South Sudan to the west and north-west, Yemen across the Red Sea, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, and Kenya to the south.

According to legend, ancient Ethiopia was founded by Menelik, son of Solomon of Israel and the rarely-named queen of Sheba. The subsequent Aksumite empire, based at Axum (Aksum) from around the second century BC, appears to have been a Semitic Jewish kingdom that was formed at Axum by Jewish settlers who were escaping from Elephantine in Egypt after their temple was destroyed. There is evidence of a Semitic-speaking presence around Axum from at least as early as 2000 BC, so they seem to have been settling amongst a related people, earlier colonists perhaps. Modern DNA evidence seems to support a mixed Egyptian-Syrian-Canaanite heritage.

Throughout much of history Ethiopia has also been known as Abyssinia, which probably originates from the Egyptian name of Habashat. 'Ethiopia' itself is Greek, meaning 'burnt faces', a collective name for all dark-skinned people south of Egypt. This is somewhat disputed, as the Book of Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle that was first composed in the fifteenth century, states that the name is derived from ''Ityopp'is', a son (unmentioned in the Old Testament) of Cush, son of Ham who, confusingly, also founded the city of Axum, according to legend. Given the book's lateness in terms of publication, its authority must be considered dubious.

Falling foul of colonial influence in Africa in the nineteenth century, Ethiopia's kings were weakened by invasions by Egypt, Sudan, and Italy. In 1974 they were overthrown by one of their own, and a dictatorship was formed. Retaining their claim to governance over Ethiopia, the Solomonic emperors in exile were originally designated as such by the Marxist Derg regime (in the case of Amha Selassie), but they were not and are not officially recognised by the current government of Ethiopia. Successive claimants to the imperial throne are shown below with a shaded background.

Eritrea, known officially as the 'State of Eritrea' since independence in 1993, occupies much of the territory of the ancient kingdom of Axum, although not its northern extremes in Sudan or its southern extremes in what is now northern Ethiopia. Its name is based upon the ancient Greek name for the Red Sea - Erythra Thalassa. This was first adopted by the Italians in 1890 to designate territory that was then under their control, following their conquest of several former petty Islamic sultanates. The two states - Ethiopia and Eritrea - experienced rocky relations from the very start. A UN border commission set up under a peace agreement ruled in 2000 that the town of Badme, the flashpoint for the conflict, was part of Eritrea, but Ethiopia refused to accept this and so normal relations were never resumed. Peace finally came in 2018 when a new Ethiopian government swept away much of the resistance towards an agreement with its new northern neighbour.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The World Factbook, CIA, from the International Organisation for Standardisation, from Aksum: An African Civilisation of Late Antiquity, Stuart Munro-Hay (1991), and from External Links: Ethiopian Famine (The Guardian), and Imperial Ethiopia, and Ethiopia and Eritrea end decades-long 'state of war' (The Week).)


A military coup overthrows Emperor Haile Sellassie, replacing his authority with the Marxist-Leninist 'Derg', a military junta that is led by Mengistu Haile Mariam. A one party communist state is established, named the 'People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia' despite being anything but democratic.

1974 - 1997

Amha Selassie / Asfa Wossen

Son of Haile, born 1916. Proclaimed in exile in April 1989.

1977 - 1991

Mengistu Haile Mariam


1977 - 1978

Mengistu Haile Mariam achieves control of the Derg in February 1977. He soon begins a violent campaign of repression against his opponents, called the 'Red Terror'. This is his response to the 'White Terror' of competing civilian groups who also want control of the country. Mengistu has many of them arrested and executed, and may be responsible for the deaths of several thousand other Ethiopians at this time (a precise figure is contested).

Mengistu and Castro
Mengistu Haile Mariam is pictured here whilst receiving Fidel Castro of Cuba on state visit to Ethiopia during a period of the twentieth century in which weak, dictatorial communist states sought comfort in perceived mutual support

Somalia launches an offensive into Ethiopia in July 1977 over the disputed Ogaden region. Known either as the Ogaden War or the Ethio-Somali War, little is achieved in the conflict other than the USSR and the USA switching their support of either faction as part of their own greater game of political chess. A truce is declared early in 1978 after the Somali retreat back across the border.

1983 - 1985

Widespread famine hits areas of East Africa, with Ethiopia being especially hard hit. The worst famine to hit the country in a century leaves over 400,000 dead, but much of this can be traced back to Mengistu's human rights abuses, an inflexible system that cannot cope with the disaster, and two decades of civil war. The situation catches the attention of the West, with pop culture figures such as Bob Geldoff and Midge Ure organising relief in the form of 'Live Aid' and governments organising airdrops of food supplies.

1989 - 1990

Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen is proclaimed 'Emperor of Ethiopia' in exile, having settled in London, by members of the exiled Ethiopian community. He adopts the throne name Amha Selassie I. His wife also begins to refer to herself as empress. In 1990 the royal family move to McLean, Virginia, USA, so that they can be close to the large Ethiopian immigrant population in and around Washington, DC.


The Derg falls and Mengistu flees to Zimbabwe. The EPRDF assumes power in Ethiopia, forming a federal democratic republic, and the exiled monarchy establish the Moa Anbessa - a movement that is designed to promote the restoration of the monarchy in Ethiopia. During Mengistu's absence he is sentenced to life imprisonment (in 2007).

Modern Addis Ababa
Following the fall of Derg, Ethiopia quickly began to modernise, with Addis Ababa now a mix of the ancient and the very modern, especially in terms of public transport


Ethiopia's northern region of Eritrea achieves independence following a UN-backed referendum. Ethiopia is now a landlocked state, and one which exists uneasily with its new northern neighbour. The new 'State of Eritrea' encompasses several former petty sultanates that had been incorporated into Italian Eritrea in 1947. Many in the region had never fully accepted subsequent incorporation into Ethiopia, and had fought for this independence. Now they achieve international recognition. However, the EPLF soon seize control and establish a one-party state that bans all political activity and offers no elections. A brutal conflict is triggered against Ethiopia in which 80,000 people are believed to be killed over the next seven years.

1997 - Present

Zera Yacob Amha Selassie

Son of Asfa Wossen. Born 1953. Not recognised in Ethiopia.


Persecution of the Falasha has steadily increased, so the state of Israel begins covert airlifts of Falasha populations, taking them back to their homeland. Despite attempts by the Ethiopian government to put a halt to this, the airlift is completed by 1999 with all of the Falashas being removed to Israel.


A UN border commission set up under a new peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea rules that the town of Badme, the flashpoint for the conflict, is part of Eritrea, but Ethiopia refuses to accept this and so normal relations are never resumed. The countries remain in a state of 'no war, no peace'. They take rival sides in Somalia's long conflict, with Eritrea being accused of backing Islamist groups while Ethiopia, a US ally, supports the internationally-recognised government.


Ethiopia's new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, makes the trip to meet his Eritrean counterpart, President Isaias Afwerki, on Sunday 8 July 2018. It is the first time that the heads of state of these two countries have met for nearly two decades. Under a peace accord which is signed by the two leaders, both countries agree to open embassies, develop ports, and resume flights and telephone connections, concrete signs of a stunning rapprochement that has swept away two decades of hostility in a matter of weeks.

Prince Wossen Seged Makonnen

Grandson of Haile Sellassie. Heir, & duke of Harar.