This study replaces Ethiopia: A Country Study, which was completed in 1980--six years after a group of military officers overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie I and eventually established a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship. By 1990 this regime, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, was on the verge of collapse, largely because of its inability to defeat two insurgencies in the northern part of the country.
This edition of Ethiopia: A Country Study examines the revolutionary government's record until a few months before its demise. Subsequent events are discussed in the Introduction. Like its predecessor, this study investigates the historical, social, economic, political, and national security forces that helped determine the nature of Ethiopian society. Sources of information used in the study's preparation included scholarly books, journals, and monographs; official reports of governments and international organizations; numerous periodicals; the authors' previous research and observations; and interviews with individuals who have special competence in Ethiopian and African affairs.
The available materials on Ethiopia frequently presented problems because of the different transliterations of placenames and personal names used by scholars and other writers. No standardized and universally accepted system has been developed for the transliteration of Amharic (the most widely used language in the country), and even the Ethiopian government's official publications vary in their English spellings of proper names. Insofar as possible, the authors have attempted to reduce the confusion with regard to placenames by adhering to the system adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN), except that diacritical markings are eliminated in this study. With regard to personal names, the authors have attempted to use the most common English spellings. The authors also have followed the Amharic tradition of referring only to the first element of a name when using it in a second reference. Thus, Mengistu Haile Mariam becomes Mengistu after the first use.
The reader should exercise caution with regard to dates cited in relation to Ethiopia. Dates used in this book generally are according to the standard, Gregorian (Western) calendar. But life in Ethiopia is actually governed by the Ethiopian calendar, which consists of twelve months of thirty days each and one month of five days (six in leap years) running from September 11 to September 10 according to the Gregorian calendar. The sequence of years in the Ethiopian calendar also differs from the Gregorian calendar, running seven years behind the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of an Ethiopian year and eight years behind at its end.
The reader will note the frequent use in this book of double years, such as 1989/90 or 1990/91, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. These dates do not mean that a two-year period is covered. Rather, they reflect the conversion of Ethiopian calendar years to the Gregorian system. When 1990/91 is used, for example, the date refers to September 11, 1990, to September 10, 1991, or the equivalent of the Ethiopian calendar year of 1983. Some economic data are based on the Ethiopian fiscal year, which runs from July 8 to the following July 7 in the Gregorian calendar, but eight years behind the Gregorian year. Hence, Ethiopian fiscal year 1990/91 (also seen as EFY 1990/91) corresponds to July 11, 1990, to July 10, 1991, or the equivalent of Ethiopian fiscal year 1983. Concerning economic data in general, it must be noted that there has been a dearth of new statistics since 1988, reflecting the state of affairs within the Ethiopian government since then.
Finally, readers will note that the body of the text reflects information available as of July 1991. Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated: The Bibliography lists published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader.
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