Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1913.djvu/713

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.




The ancient Empire of Abyssinia, or 'Ethiopia,' includes the Kingdoms of Tigré, with Lasta, in the north-east; Amhara, with Gojam, in the west and centre; Shoa in the south; besides territories and dependencies as far as Kaffa in the south and Harar in the south-east, with considerable portions of the Galla and Somali Lands. The whole area is 432,432 sq. miles, with an estimated population of 8 millions. For treaties relating to the boundaries of Abyssinia see Statesman's Year Book for 1907, p. 667. An agreement was reached in December, 1907, for the delimitation of the frontier towards British East Africa. The frontier follows the Dawa up to Ursulli, whence it runs mainly westwards, passing the south end of Lake Stephanie, and after crossing the north-eastern branch of Lake Rudolf, runs mainly northwards and terminates at 6° N. 35° E. This frontier, however, is not yet finally delimitated and accepted by the Abyssinians.

Under an Agreement signed December 13, 1906, on behalf of Great Britain, France, and Italy, the three Powers undertake to respect and endeavour to preserve the integrity of Abyssinia; to act so that industrial concessions granted in the interest of one of them may not injure the others; to abstain from intervention in Abyssinian internal affairs; to concert together for the safe-guarding of their respective interests in territories bordering on Abyssinia; and they make agreements concerning railway construction in Abyssinia and equal treatment in trade and transit for their nationals. Another convention of the same date provides for the prohibition or regulation of the importation of arms and ammunition into Abyssinia.

After the overthrow of Theodore, King of Amhara, by the British in 1868, the suzerain power passed to Prince Kassai of Tigré, who assumed the old title of Negus Negust ('King of Kings'), and was crowned in 1872 as Johannes II., Emperor of Ethiopia. After the death of this potentate in 1889, Menelik II., King of Shoa (born 1842), G.C.B., G.C.M.G., became the supreme ruler of Abyssinia. Menelik has no direct heir, but he has proclaimed as his successor Lij Yasu (or Lidj Eyassu), G.C.V.O., son of Menelik's daughter, Waizaro Shoa Rögga and Ras Mikael, now (1913) about 16 years old. Lij Yasu, owing to the illness of the Emperor Menelik (since 1909) fulfils the functions generally performed by his grandfather. The political institutions are essentially of a feudal character, analogous to those of mediæval Europe. There is a vague State Council consisting of the most important rases, under whom, for administrative purposes, are governors of districts and provinces and chiefs of villages. A Council of Ministers has been constituted by the Emperor, Ministers being appointed for Justice, Finance, Commerce, War, Foreign Affairs, Posts and Telegraphs, Interior, and a sort of Lord Privy Seal. The most important Minister is the Minister of War. The Council met for the first time in July, 1908, and was employed chiefly in defining the duties and powers of the various departments. The legal system is said to be based on the Justinian Code. The regular army, consisting of contingents from the various provinces, numbers about 150,000 men, and is supplemented by irregulars and a territorial army. Theoretically, but not in fact, every man in the regular army is mounted. The forces are stationed in garrisons over the country. At Adis Ababa are 7 batteries of artillery and mitrailleuses taken at the battle of Adua.

Besides the chiefs and their retainers summoned in time of war, the