In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Abyssinia is Number 129 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. It summarizes the history of Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia) from its origins in Biblical times, through early contacts with Europeans in the 18th century, to the reign of Emperor Menelik II (1889−1913) and his victory over Italy in the war of 1895−96. The study notes that one of the principal results of the 1896 treaty of peace with Italy was “the recognition without reserve of the absolute independence of the Ethiopian Empire as a sovereign and independent state.” The book discusses the Ethiopian Church and its relationship to the Coptic Church of Egypt, as well as the Muslim, Jewish, and animist minorities living in the country. The economic section emphasizes the low level of agricultural and industrial productivity and the feudal system of land tenure. Foreign trade was beginning to grow, with the main exports being coffee beans and cattle hides.

Last updated: July 21, 2014