Ethiopia–Italy relations

ISBN (identifier) Ethiopia Italy
Ethiopian-Italian relations
Map indicating locations of Ethiopia and Italy



Ethiopia–Italy relations refers to the current and historical relationship between Ethiopia and Italy.


Modern Italian colonial ambitions into Ethiopia began in the 1880s.[1] This was eventually followed by the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1887–1889, in which Italy occupied the Ethiopian territory in present-day Eritrea, founding the colony of Italian Eritrea. Years later, the disputed Treaty of Wuchale led to the First Italo-Ethiopian War between 1894 and 1896, where the Ethiopians (supported by Russia and France) successfully fought off European expansion. Following World War I and the rise of Italian Fascism, the Abyssinia Crisis began, and eventually culminated in the 1935–1936 Second Italo-Ethiopian War.[2] It was a brutal conflict: the Ethiopians used prohibited Dum-dum bullets and began mutilating captured soldiers (often with castration) since the first weeks of war, while the Italians used chemical warfare.[3] Ethiopia lost its independence and became Italian Ethiopia, part of Italian East Africa.[4]

Italy eventually lost its colonies in the region. Following years of local resistance and the intervention of British troops during the East African Campaign of World War II, scattered Italian forces continued to fight in a guerrilla war, until the final surrender in 1943.[5] Ethiopia regained its independence from Italy in 1947.[6]

After independence, many Italian settlers remained for decades after receiving full pardon by Emperor Selassie. However, due to the Ethiopian Civil War in 1974, nearly 22,000 Italo-Ethiopians left the country.[7]

Ethiopia has the largest concentration of Italian schools and cultural institutes in Africa (such as the Scuola Statale Italiana of Addis Abeba), which foster and promote Italian and Ethiopian culture and are free to the public.[8] The Italian firm Salini Costruttori was chosen by the Ethiopian government to design and build the Millennium or Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river, which when completed will be the largest dam and hydroelectric plant in Africa.[9] As the Italian engineers had helped to build the first railway from Addis to Djibouti in the past, the Ethiopian government has contracted them again to expand the railroad network along with India and China.[10]

For the last 20 years, Italy has continued to be among the top 5 trading partners with Ethiopia and a major investor in the Ethiopian economy.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Tekeste Negash (January 1997). Eritrea and Ethiopia: The Federal Experience. Nordic Africa Institute. p. 13. ISBN 978-91-7106-406-6.
  2. ^ Melvin E. Page; Penny M. Sonnenburg (2003). Colonialism: an international, social, cultural, and political encyclopedia. A-M. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 291. ISBN 978-1-57607-335-3.
  3. ^ David H. Shinn; Thomas P. Ofcansky (11 April 2013). Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia. Scarecrow Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-8108-7457-2.
  4. ^ Patrizia Palumbo (17 November 2003). A Place in the Sun: Africa in Italian Colonial Culture from Post-Unification to the Present. University of California Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-520-93626-3.
  5. ^ Cernuschi, Enrico. La resistenza sconosciuta in Africa Orientale. pag. 74 (in Italian)
  6. ^ David T. Zabecki (1 May 2015). World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 1478. ISBN 978-1-135-81249-2.
  7. ^ Photos and articles of Italoethiopians who took refuge in Italy Archived 2017-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Italian Cultural Institute of Addis Ababa
  9. ^ Grand Renaissance Dam Project in Ethiopia
  10. ^ Global Construction View - "Ethiopia Steams Ahead"
  11. ^ MIT Country Profile - Ethiopia: Trading Partners