Ethiopia occupies most of the Horn of Africa. The country covers approximately 1,221,900 square kilometers and shares frontiers with Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti. Its Red Sea coastline is about 960 kilometers long. The major physiographic features are a massive highland complex of mountains and plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley and surrounded by lowlands along the periphery. The diversity of the terrain is fundamental to regional variations in climate, natural vegetation, soil composition, and settlement patterns.
Boundaries: International and Administrative
Except for the Red Sea coastline, only limited stretches of the country's borders are defined by natural features. Most of Ethiopia's borders have been delimited by treaty. The Ethiopia-Somalia boundary has long been an exception, however. One of its sectors has never been definitively demarcated, thanks to disputed interpretations of 1897 and 1908 treaties signed by Britain, Italy, and Ethiopia. This sector was delimited by a provisional "Administrative Line" that was defined by a 1950 Anglo-Ethiopian agreement, when the United Nations (UN) established Somalia as a trust territory. After it became independent in 1960, Somalia refused to recognize any of the border treaties signed between Ethiopia and the former colonial powers. The Somali government also demanded a revision of the boundary that would ensure self-determination for Somali living in the Ogaden. Consequently, the frontier became the scene of recurrent violence and open warfare between Ethiopia and Somalia.
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