First of all, test yourself! Can you name the five countries that are the immediate neighbours of Ethiopia? And if you can do that, can you name them in order, starting with the most northerly and progressing in a clockwise direction?

Map of Ethiopia

Well ….. were you right?

The most northerly neighbour of Ethiopia is Eritrea. Eritrea was occupied by the Italians in the nineteenth century and became one of its colonies officially in 1890. After various changes, it became federated with Ethiopia in 1950 but then became an independent state in 1993.

To its south lies the tiny Republic of Djibouti, previously called French Somaliland but becoming independent in 1977.

Somalia is next, a large country bordering most of eastern Ethiopia. Somalia was never formally colonised, although various European nations had interests in the country at various times in history. It was accepted in 1974 as a member of the Arab League and it is also a member of the African Union.

Kenya lies to the south of Ethiopia. Before 1920, it was known as the British East Africa Protectorate and British interest remained important in the country until it became independent in 1963 with Jomo Kenyatta as it’s first president.

Finally, the huge expanse of the Sudan lies firmly to the west of Ethiopia (it is the largest country in Africa). It’s independence was gained in 1956, although many years of civil war disrupted the country right into the 21st century. The Sudan boasts one the oldest continuous major civilisations in the world.