As this podcast was being recorded, Ethiopia is entering its second year of brutal civil war that launched on November 3, 2022, when Ethiopian forces invaded Tigray province. This terrible war is the latest occasion of ethnic violence in the history of Ethiopia. This two-part podcast special episode in our History of Africa podcast series tells the story of Ethiopia’s history as well as the history of Eritrea. The two stores are closely related.

The history of Ethiopia is one of the many fascinating stories of the history of Africa, from ancient times to the present. It is a story full of legends and characters that any history lover will enjoy. Scholars suggest Ethiopia and Liberia are the only nations of Africa never subjected to colonialism. I have mentioned in prior episodes I disagree with that sentiment. The colonialism of Liberia was African Americans and Europeans, freed slaves, but it was colonialism nonetheless. That leaves Ethiopia to stand alone in that boast. How did they escape the plots of the scramble for Africa? The British came at the end of the 19th century, so did the Italians, but they could not hold on. The history of Ethiopia was different!

History of Ethiopia
Old illustration of British headquarters along the way to Senafe, Abyssinia. Created by Blanchard and Cosson-Smeeton, published on L’Illustration, Journal Universel, Paris, 1868

The emperors of Ethiopia claimed to be descended from the Hebrew King Solomon. Legends say they even laid claim to the famous ark of the covenant. The famous emperor of Ethiopia, and the last, was held up as the Messiah by one religious group called the Rastafari in the 20th century.

history of Ethiopia history of Eritrea
The Emperor Haile Selassie was among the most famous Africans of the 20th century and the last emperor of Ethiopia.

The Red Terror under Ethiopia’s communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam resulted in countless deaths. Mengistu still lives in asylum in Zimbabwe at the time this podcast was recorded although a genocide trial found him guilty in 2006.

history of Ethiopia history of Eritrea
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – APRIL 4, 2019: Photos of victims in the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The history of Ethiopia is also the story of ethnic conflict, with Eritrea and others. The wide diversity of ethnic groups within the nation has posed a constant source of friction for the last century.

Ethiopia National Emergency

Ethiopia’s most recent leader, Abiy Ahmed became known as the Nobel Prize Winner who went to war.

Ethiopia National Emergency Abiiy Ahmed
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Part 1 and 2 of this two-part episode are currently available at Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcast episodes. If you have arrived to these episodes late and go no longer find them for free you can access part 1 and part 2 in our archives as a Patreon supporter.

Learn More about the History of Ethiopia and the History of Eritrea


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Find the other episodes of our History of Africa podcast series here.

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JB Shreve is the author of "How the World Ends: Understanding the Growing Chaos." He has been the host of the End of History podcast since 2012. He has degrees in International Relations and Middle East Studies. His other books include the Intelligence Brief Series. Regular posts and updates from JB Shreve are available at