Ethiopia ethnic groups

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic country with over 80 different ethnic groups. Oromo and Amhara are the country’s two largest ethnic groups.

The most prominent four groups are Oromo, Amhara, Somali, and Tigray.

However, the country also has several smaller tribes contributing to its vibrant cultural tapestry.

1. Oromo

The largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromo people comprise around 34% of the population.

They are known for their strong sense of community and egalitarian social structure.

The Oromo are traditionally pastoralists and farmers, and their language, Afaan Oromo, is the most widely spoken native language in the country.

2. Amhara

The Amhara people are the second largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, comprising about 27% of the population.

Their language, Amharic, is the country’s official language and is spoken by a large majority of Ethiopians.

The Amhara people are known for their rich history, which includes a tradition of mighty empires and influential kings.

3. Somali

The Somali people, who comprise about 6% of the Ethiopian population, are predominantly Muslim and share a common language, culture, and heritage with their neighbors in Somalia.

They are known for their nomadic lifestyle, strong clan-based social structures, and intricate and colorful textiles.

4. Tigray

The Tigray people make up around 6% of the Ethiopian population and are primarily found in the country’s northern region.

They have their unique language, Tigrinya, and are known for their ancient historical sites, such as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the ancient city of Axum.

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is an African country with a long standing history of Christian faith, civilisation and sovereignty.

It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, Somalia to the east and southeast, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west, and Sudan to the northwest.

Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city.

  • Official languages: Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Tigrigna, Afar
  • Currency: Ethiopian Birr
  • Dialing code: +251

As of 2023, the country is home to around 116.5 million inhabitants, making it the 13th most populous country in the world, 2nd most populous in Africa after Nigeria, and the most populated landlocked country on Earth.

Ethiopia covers land area of 1,112,000 square kilometres (472,000 sq. miles).

Christianity is the most widely professed faith in the country, with significant minorities of the adherents of Islam and a small percentage to traditional faiths.

Ethiopia is administratively divided into four levels: regions, zones, woredas (districts) and kebele (wards).

The first level administrative division in Ethiopia is a region, also called kilil, or alternatively regional state.

The 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia established the regions based on ethno-linguistic territories.

The country comprises 11 regions and two city administrations under these regions, many zones, woredas and neighbourhood administration: kebeles.

Previously, this level was called a province, and though many of the old province and new region names are the same, the entities are not identical and the words region and province are not interchangeable. As of 2022, there were eleven regions.

The regions and their capitals in Ethiopia are as follows:

Addis Ababa (City)Addis Ababa
Afar RegionSemera
Amhara RegionBahir Dar
Benishangul-Gumuz RegionAsosa
Dire Dawa (City)Dire Dawa
Gambela RegionGambela
Harari RegionHarar
Oromia RegionAddis Ababa
Sidama RegionHawassa
Somali RegionJijiga
South West Ethiopia Peoples’ RegionBonga
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ RegionHawassa
Tigray RegionMek’ele

Regions are subdivided into zones. The number of zones varies, but most regions have around six to twelve zones.

The largest region Oromia has over 20 zones, and the two smallest regions have none.

There are some cities which are set up as “special zones”, such as Bahir Dar Special Zone in the Amhara Region.

The earlier equivalent to a zone was called an awrajja, and many zones today are named the same as their earlier awrajja, but the terms zone and awrajja are not interchangeable.

Zones are divided into woredas (districts). In Ethiopia, the woredas comprise three main organs: a council, an executive and a judicial.

The Woreda Council is the highest government organ of the district which is made up of directly elected representatives from each kebele in the woredas.

The representative of the people in each kebele is accountable to their electorate.

Woredas are divided into kebele, municipalities. Each kebele comprises around 20 smaller villages.

Kebele is the smallest administrative division. This is sometimes also called tabia or tabiya.

They are at the neighbourhood level and are the primary contact for most citizens living in Ethiopia.

Their administrative unit consists of an elected council, a cabinet (executive committee), a social court and the development and security staff.

Kebeles are accountable to their woreda councils and are typically responsible for providing basic education, primary health care, agriculture, water, and rural roads.