Two events mark the recent socio-political developments in Ethiopia. First, the downfall of the monarchy was brought about by the 1974 revolution. With the deposition of the then monarch Haile Sellasie, a new regime was established under the leadership of a military junta called the DERG. Various social reforms were effected that contributed to bring the country out of the underdevelopment and stagnation that was maintained for centuries by the Feudal system allied to the royal family. The member of the DERG that came to the fore soon after the revolution was the unscrupulous and dictatorial MenghestuHailemariam.
The second event took place on May 28, 1991, when the EPLF (Eritrean Popular Liberation Front) captured Asmara, capital of Eritrea and when the Tigrean Fighters entered Addis Ababa shortly after Menghestu had fled the country. These events brought to an end the rule of the DERG.
After Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia on May 24, 1993, Ethiopia, a year after, on December 8, 1994 got its new Constitution. The country became a federation of nine regional states and two special administrative zones of Addis Ababa and Harar.
The new Ethiopian regime - an ethnocracy ruled by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) - re-appraised the different peoples, nations and nationalities of the country. It promoted their languages and cultures and allowed them some degree of autonomy. Democracy, private press, human rights, privatization ... are now present in everyday lexicon. The new political order brought about new problems: people were not prepared to lead the new civil and administrative structures at regional and local levels. So bad administration and corruption, abuse of power and break of communication among the different regional states became common in Ethiopia. Justice and peace, cooperation and solidarity to foster common good are pressing challenges. Besides, politically the situation has become evermore complex with the new ideas, programs and forces that can easily become the source of instability.
Ethiopia has liberalized its economy through privatization of some sectors. A wave of progress swept over the country: the private sector is very active rebuilding the country and introducing new industries. All land is legally considered State property. Farming is the main activity of the people yet many areas fail to produce a sufficient harvest: food assistance from abroad is still required. Coffee is still the main hard currency earner. Poverty creates migration to towns where there is lack of housing and jobs and salaries are very low and far from meeting the needs for subsistence.
The new economic order is widening the gap between rich and poor and provoking asymmetries in the development of the regions. On the other hand, Muslims have strengthened their hold in the economy. The country is still counted among the poorest in the world.
Ethiopia has around 93,877,025 citizens. Experts in demographic growth foresee that this figure will double by the year 2015. More than half of the population is under the age of 18.Schooling and health care have improved and life expectancy extended.
The federalization of Ethiopia revalued the diversity of peoples and their languages are used in school. This new attitude brought about important changes in pride and self-esteem, together with some degree of tribalism, bigotry and ethnic wars.
Social problems are as deep as always and may well increase, especially unemployment among the youth, uneasiness among the students and the devastating effects of scourges like AIDS.