Located in the Horn of Africa, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has a population of 110.9 million that is 44 percent Ethiopian Orthodox, 31 percent Muslim, and 23 percent Protestant. Eighty different ethnic groups, speaking 200 different native dialects, live there. Most of Ethiopia’s population can be found in the highlands of the north and middle geographies of the country, particularly around the capital city of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is often called the “Cradle of Mankind.” Fossils of some of humankind’s earliest ancestors can be found in Ethiopia, as well as nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in Africa.

Ethiopia is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa to never be colonized, although it did experience Italian occupation from 1936–1941. But the country has faced decades of conflict with neighbors, environmental disasters, famine, forced population resettlement due to overworked land, and political instability. As a result, Ethiopia remains in a vulnerable state and has been ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world.

Poverty has resulted in poor health and a weak healthcare system that can’t keep up with the population’s needs. Maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS are all areas of concern. Significant malnutrition results in 50 percent of children having stunted growth by age five. The largest contributors to death include neonatal disorders, diarrheal disease, lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, malaria, meningitis, and measles. Additional significant causes of death include non-communicable diseases, such as congenital defects as well as stroke, ischemic heart disease, and cirrhosis, which have increased substantially in recent years.

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