Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1913.djvu/714

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
592
ABYSSINIA

King maintains a permanent army of wottader or mercenaries, all of whom are now armed with rifles instead of the national weapons, shield and lance.

Population.

The population consists of Semitic Abyssinians, Gallas and Somalis, Negroes (in the South-West), and Falashas (of Jewish religion); with a considerable number of non-natives (Indians, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, and a few Europeans). Except Harrar, and perhaps in the north, there are no towns in Abyssinia in our sense of the word—not even Adis Ababa, which consists of villages and suburbs scattered round the Palace. It would be about three miles in diameter. The most important towns, politically and commercially, are: Gondar, capital of Amhara, 3,000; Adua, capital of Tigré, 3,000; Aksum, ancient capital of Ethiopia, and still the seat of an Abuna, 5,000; Antalo, former capital of Tigré, 1,000; Ankober, former capital of Shoa, 2,000; Adis Ababa, present capital of Abyssinia and Shoa, 40,000–50,000; Debra-Tabor (Mount Tabor), Magdala, and Makallé; Gore, Saiyu, Nekempti, Sameré, 3,000–4,000, and Sokoto, 1,500, important trading centres; Mahdera-Mariam (Mary's Rest), 4,000. The population of Harrar is estimated at 50,000, at Deré Dawa there are a considerable number of Europeans. Gambela in Western Abyssinia is a trading station leased to the Sudan Government. It is an important outlet for the trade in the West. A service of steamers are maintained from June to November with Khartoum.

Religion and Instruction.

Since the conversion of the Abyssinians to Christianity in the fourth century they have remained members of the Alexandrian Church. The Abuna, or head bishop, is always a Copt, appointed and consecrated by the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, but his influence is controlled by the Echegheh, a native ecclesiastical dignitary, who presides over the spiritualty, numbering about 100,000 ecclesiastics. Both Copts and Abyssinians are monophysite, rejecting the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon (a.d. 451).

Education has hitherto been restricted to the teaching of the secular and regular clergy, but in October, 1907, the Emperor issued an edict enjoining compulsory education on all male children over the age of 12. This is, however, a dead letter. There is one school in Adis Ababa, directed by a few Coptic teachers, introduced by the Abuna—this is the only Abyssinian school in the country. It has over 100 pupils, but the attendances are most irregular, and the institution unpopular as yet with the ignorant people. Justice is administered by the provincial governors, and shums, or petty chiefs, with the right of appeal to the Emperor.

Agriculture.

The chief industries are pastoral and agricultural. Cattle, sheep, and goats are numerous. The cattle are fine, but there is much loss from cattle plague. The horses of the country are small but hardy; mules are bred everywhere, being used as pack animals; donkeys are also small and serve for baggage animals. The soil belongs theoretically to the Negus; the idea of landed property scarcely exists among the populace, and agriculture is therefore backward. Cotton, the sugar-cane, date-palm, coffee, and vine might thrive well in many districts, but are nowhere extensively cultivated. The production of Harari coffee (long berry Mocha) is on the increase. Besides this, which is cultivated, there grows more especially in southern and western Abyssinia a wild coffee plant, yielding a berry known as Abyssinian coffee, which may have commercial possibilities in the future. At present, owing principally to indifferent presentation, it does not command a good price, except in Khartoum, where it is preferred to Brazilian coffee. Besides