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Ethiopia (pop. 77,173,000; GDP/cap US$128), Somalia’s neighbor, is one of Africa’s most interesting countries, with an amazing landscape and numerous historic and sacred sites. It is considered the seat of civilization; “Lucy” the mummy – humanity’s oldest known ancestor – lies in Addis Ababa’s National Museum. Remnants of Abyssinia’s dynastic history are scattered throughout the country. And in the Mary of Zion church, the original Arc of the Covenant is believed to be hidden.

Politics has spoiled it all. After the 1974 overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and the murder of many members of the royal family and the government, Ethiopia fell under a socialist military government, the Derg (a provisional administrative council of soldiers).

Following free national and regional elections in 1995, President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi now head the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The government has been effective in moving from a command economy to a market-oriented one, but foreign investment has proved difficult to attract. The economy remains dependent on agriculture, and since the 2002 drought, the majority of the population rely on food aid.

All land in Ethiopia belongs to the government. It can only be leased. The judiciary is ineffective, and property protection is weak. Unresolved border conflicts with Eritrea make land tenure in some areas additionally insecure. The government is not open to privatization of land because it is afraid that privatization may leave millions of poor peasants landless.













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