Recent History

After a series of events characterized by short reigns, Ras Tafari Mekonen, later Emperor Haile Sellassie I, emerged as the leader of Ethiopia. Haile Sellassie centralized the state and expanded Ethiopia’s civil society as a counterweight to ethnic forces. He fostered unity through the development of a national army, a pan Ethiopian economy and modern infrastructure and communications. The Emperor was also instrumental in garnering foreign aid while he was in exile in Britain during the late 1930’s when Italy invaded and occupied Ethiopia during 1931 – 1936. Ethiopia’s determination not to be colonized, coupled with the pressures of World War II on Italy, forced Italy out of Ethiopia once more. Haile Sellassie continued to reinvigorate the state. However, the economic benefits were not reaching the peasantry and the working classes, and they eventually rebelled and overthrew Haile Sellassie in 1974. And that ended the history of the Ethiopian Monarchy, and this gave way to the government of President Mengistu Haile Mariam (1974 – 1991).

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