Ethiopia's history can be traced back some 400,000 years ago, as the general area is widely considered to be the grounds from which early Homo sapiens emerged.
Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy held onto its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of the Italian occupation from 1936 through 1941, during World War II.
One of its earliest kingdoms, the kingdom of D'mt, was established during the 8th century BC, and after its collapse in the 4th century BC the Aksumite Empire, Zagwe dynasty and Solomonic dynasty all subsequently controlled the region.
The Solomonic dynasty came into power during the 10th century AD, and ruled for many centuries with few interruptions.
In 1974, a military junta known as the Derg, deposed of Emperor Haile Selassie (who had reigned since 1930) and established a socialist state.
Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, a wide-scale drought and massive refugee problems, the regime was ultimately toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995.
A border war with Eritrea late in the 1990's ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. Final demarcation of the boundary is currently on hold due to Ethiopian objections to an international commission's finding requiring it to surrender territory considered sensitive to Ethiopia.
An Islamic organization, known as the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), thought to have ties with al-Qaeda, began to rapidly spread through Somalia in 2006, and in defense Ethiopia sent logistical support against the organization.
Active fighting erupted between Ethiopian forces and the ICU, with the Islamist movement backing down in the aftermath.
Most recently, the worst drought in East African history plagued the region in 2011, as the rainy season failed to occur two years in a row.
As the second-most populous country of Africa, Ethiopia is a multilingual and multi-ethnic society, and its capital is considered to be the "political capital of Africa."
The government is currently working towards developing tourism for Ethiopia through a number of initiatives. National parks and historic sites are some of the main sources of attraction for visitors, and ecotourism is beginning to gain popularity as well.