Country in Africa, Old Earth

Arcologies in Ethiopia
Image from Steve Bowers
The rock-cut arcologies of Greater Girara, built in 241 AT in a revival of the Lalibela style.

A culturally very significant region of Old Earth, located in the Horn of Africa. A major region in the evolution of Homo sapiens, in the development of agriculture and in the history of the Abrahamic religious traditions, in particular Islam and Christianity, and to a lesser extent Judaism and Rastafari.

The area now known as Ethiopia was the location of much of the evolutionary development of the hominin family, and baseline humans specifically, although this process was spread out over much of East and Southern Africa on a broader level. During the Paleolithic period, speakers of languages in the Afro-Asiatic family first came to the region from further north.

Beginning in the 28th century BT, settled agricultural polities emerged, starting with D'mt. Polities of larger areas and populations continued to develop in the following centuries, culminating in Aksum, which became one of the great powers of the ancient world. By 2293 BT, Aksum had officially converted to the young religion of Christianity, making Ethiopia the second-oldest Christian state. Islam also came into contact with Ethiopia during the lifetime of Muhammad, its founder, when several Muslims fleeing Arabia established a community there.

During the medieval period, Ethiopia (as the Empire of Abyssinia) began to engage more with European polities, interacting with them religiously and becoming embroiled in their politics to some extent. Portugal-friendly Abyssynia went to war with Adal, for example, a neighbouring Islamic state sponsored by the Ottomans. The country would later go through a period of isolation, with the royalty increasingly figureheads controlled by the local governors, who would often represent the regions populated by particular ethnic or linguistic groups, such as the Amhara, the Oromo and the Tigriniya. This isolation ended with opening up trade relations with Britain, and recentralising and modernising Ethiopia (fully put into action by Emperor Tewodros II).

The nation state of Ethiopia took on its current borders, roughly, around the turn of the 1st century BT, with annexations of neighbouring territories. Modernisation reforms also went ahead at this time, with new transport systems and electrical distribution being introduced.

A major famine struck Ethiopia in the period 81-77 BT, killing up to a third of the population. The Italian government attempted to conquer and occupy Ethiopia in 73 BT, but was ultimately repulsed.

Emperor Haile Selassie I came into power in Ethiopia in 39 BT, and was a highly popular and successful leader, bringing in greater modernisation reforms, abolishing slavery (which was very widespread in Ethiopia) and successfully garnering international support for Ethiopia during its occupation by Italy, which followed the second Italo-Abyssinian War and lasted from 23-28 BT. Haile Selassie I was proclaimed to be God's Third Manifestation, after Elijah and Jesus, by the new Rastafari movement, founded in Jamaica. The first Rastafarians moved to Ethiopia at around this time, but were in very small numbers. Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia, leaving at the borders it would retain for the duration of the Interplanetary Age, and the nation abolished the monarchy in favour of a one-party communist government in 5 AT, following the government's overthrow by a military force holding Marxist-Leninist ideals. This regime was hugely unpopular, featuring wars with neighbouring Somalia and local militias, human rights abuses, deportations and famines. With the growth of anti-regime militias and the withdrawal of support by other communist states, this regime eventually collapsed in 22 AT, with the country transitioning into a democracy.

Despite troubles with corruption and ongoing famines, the Ethiopian government succeeded in significantly boosting the economy through a series of hydroelectric installations, which by the mid-1st century powered much of the Horn of Africa. This brought huge revenue into Ethiopia and provided jobs and training for the population. An economic boom followed, with prosperity rising, allowing for much more extensive infrastructure and more secure food supplies.

This rising prosperity was threatened during the late 1st and early 2nd centuries due to the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on the environment, which threatened to plunge the country back into famine. However, the Ethiopian government instead put huge levels of investment into vertical farming, over the course of only a few years moving the majority of its food production into huge urban 'farmscrapers', utilising hydroponics and aeroponics extensively, and also employing a great deal of Ethiopian workers. For many years Ethiopia was the world leader in technologies in this area, aiding in similar developments in many other countries, especially in the Sahara. This led to an intensification of urbanisation in the country, as the majority of the rural populace shifted into living in the vicinity of the farmscrapers. This was the death knell for many of the surviving smaller languages of Ethiopia, leaving only Amharic, Tigray, Somali and English as spoken languages. It is worth noting that the Somali-speaking east was heavily involved with other Somali-speaking areas, in Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti, and was only nominally involved in the Ethiopian nation from the late 2nd Century onwards.

In 2nd and 3rd Century Ethiopia, the Orthodox Christianity which had long held sway over much of the population was eroded to some degree by the continued expansion of the Rastafari movement within the country, particularly across the south, as well as by the rapid rise in irreligious atheism in many cities, boosted by immigrants and refugees from the strongly-atheistic Arab polities to the northeast. Universalism also grew explosively in Ethiopia shortly following its founding, eroding both Christianity and Islam, and often being identified by adherents with the aboriginal monotheistic faith of the Waaq, which existed in the country before Christianity's arrival. The Ethiopian Rites were established in 282 AT. Living Christianity did not gain a huge following in Ethiopia, partly due to the strong mystical trend within Ethiopian Orthodoxy at the time, which co-operated with the Lifeists in their stance on bringing direct experience of God to the laity to affirm faith and support spiritual progression.

The African Transhumanism and Scientific Pantheism popular across much of the continent in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries also made great headway in Ethiopia, especially in Addis Abbaba and other great Ethiopian metropolises, resulting in a rapid growth of the cyborg, vec and ai populations. The country's baseline majority also plummeted drastically during this time, with minor genemods becoming commonplace. There was a split for some time between the 'Transhumanist' and 'Naturalist' points of view among many Rastafarian denominations. A growing phenomenon from this time onwards was that of pilgrimages by sophonts of a number of religious and ideological groups to the sites of fossils of the first Homo sapiens and various early hominins, as well as out to the plains and savannah which most closely resembled baseline humanity's natural habitat.

With increasing settlement of the asteroid belt, Mars and the outer solar system, Ethiopians became very involved. Many Transhumanist groups carrying out settlements included many Ethiopians of various clades, and they were also found in other less ideological colonies and habs. Amharic was for centuries an official language in several settlements of southern Ganymede and in some of the Tritonian orbital habs, as well as in certain interstellar colonies. The rapid 'arcologisation' of the already-dense Ethiopian cities contributed to a push off-world of the population. While it continued to be a technologically-sophisticated nation, it ceased to be as central and prominent during the Solsys Golden Age as the centres shifted to the floating cities, to the South Asian states and to many off-Earth societies.

By the time of the onset of the Technocalypse, Ethiopia was especially badly-hit due to the extremely high proportion of the population living in arcologies, which were vulnerable to technological breakdown. However, some did manage to shut themselves off, and GAIA was able to gain control of some rapidly and recruit some of their systems to aid in defence. With the onset of the Great Expulsion the region became very badly wartorn. The more peaceful factions rapidly headed off-world, often on Arkships, but at the same time violent religious and anti-Expulsion groups converged on the area from across the globe, making it one of the most intense locations in the Last War, rivalling Mecca, Vrindaban and Brasilia, and exceeded only by Jerusalem. Of course, GAIA eventualy won out and all sophonts aside from predecessors to the Children of GAIA (primarily human baselines, as well as a handful of African elephant provolves and rianths based on East African species) were expelled.

Ethiopia today has been restored to its Pleistocene condition, with a huge variety of fauna, including elephants, mammoths, rhinoceroses and a wide variety of hominins. Some sites of ancient fossils in the Rift Valley are open to pilgrims, some of them only sporadically, and every few decades GAIA allows visitors access onto the savannah, to observe humanity's natural habitat and original homeland.

Beyond Old Earth, Ethiopian cultures, languages and ideologies have diffused far and wide, usually mixed in with others'. A number of the early Transhumanist outer system habs and interstellar missions were almost entirely African, and some of these prominently featured Ethiopian contingents. It is no surprise that almost all of the Kuiper habs grouped under the Rastafari Building Zion Habs (as well as the cultures derived from them, in Solsys and beyond) were dominated by Ethiopian culture, and that Ethiopian customs and philosophical tendencies were strongly featured in some societies where Orthodox Christianity, Lifeism or Universalism were dominant. Of course, a great many Ethiopians simply mingled with the general populace, especially during the waves of migrants from the Expulsion, and so became only one set of strands among many as new societies condensed out during and after the Sundering. This included the New Antioch hab, which was settled before the Sundering by Ethiopians, as (together with Tamils, Koreans and Brazilians) and ultimately became the birthplace of the Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Church.

A few prominent early interstellar colonies dominated by Ethiopians include Judi, Addis, Tewahedo and Wadafit.

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Development Notes
Text by Kirran Lochhead Strang
Initially published on 19 November 2015.