Every year, thousands of people from other countries come to Canada to begin a new life. They bring many talents and skills and the hope of contributing to their new society. You may be reading this profile because you are a volunteer in an organized HOST program, or simply because your work or daily life has brought you into contact with newly arrived Ethiopians. Whatever your source of interest, this profile will help you understand something about Ethiopia and the people who live there.

Migration is a new experience for Ethiopians. Traditionally they did not move abroad permanently or change their citizenship. The 1974 revolution and the years of chaos that followed sparked migration. Today, dire poverty and underdevelopment in Ethiopia continue to compel many people to leave their country. Currently, there are more than 15,000 Ethiopians in Canada.

Ethiopians coming to Canada will have many of the same questions that you would have if you moved to a new city or country. They will wonder how to find a job, which schools their children should attend, how to find a doctor and what their new community will be like. You can help your new friends settle by answering their questions. You will also find that you have much to learn from them.

Although this cultural profile provides insights into some customs, it does not cover all facets of life. The customs described may not apply in equal measure to all newcomers from Ethiopia.

  Summary Fact Sheet

Official Name Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Capital City Addis Ababa
Type of Government Democratic Republic
Population 60 million
Area 1,251,282 sq. km
Major Ethnic Groups mhara, Tigrinya, Oromo, Afar, Somali, Omo and others
Languages Amharic (official), Tigrinya, Oromo, and others
Religions Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christianity, Islam, Judaism, traditional indigenous beliefs
Unit of Currency Birr
National Flag Three horizontal stripes of green, yellow and red (top to bottom). At the centre is the country's coat of arms: a yellow star on a round, blue background.
Date of Independence Never colonized

  Did you know?
The name Ethiopia come from a Greek word meaning "sunburned faces." The Greeks called all peoples south of Egypt Ethiopians because of their darker skin. Ethiopia's former name is Abyssinia, a word of uncertain origin: some people believe it comes from an Arabic word meaning "mixed" - a reference to the country's many ethnic groups; others contend that the name belonged to an early Ethiopian tribe.