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Ethiopian Independence Essay

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During the age of imperialism, a group of western counties succeeded in conquering much of the globe. In 1884 those countries turned their sites on Africa during the Berlin conference, and by the end of the nineteenth century Africa was dominated almost entirely by the colonial powers. There was, however, one country that was able to resist the land hungry powers, and remain independent, and that was Ethiopia. During 1896, they were able to successfully fend off an Italian attack at the battle of Adowa, making them only one of two African nations able to resist colonial rule. That freedom lasted until 1936, when they were briefly subject to Italian rule through World War II.

The battle of Adowa began in 1896, after Italy was awarded Eritrea and Ethiopia at the Berlin conference. Italy had already successfully colonized Eritrea, and were preparing to do the same to Ethiopia. An Italian offensive was organized under the lead of the governor of Eritrea, General Oreste Baratieri (“Battle of Adwa”). The initiative was doomed from the start.

The first of the obstacles to Italy's success was that they underestimated Ethiopia. General Baratieri believed the Ethiopians were savages who were undisciplined, and no match for his modern army (Blake). Unbeknownst to him, the emperor of Ethiopia, King Menelik II had been amassing a formidable army. Not only that, but he had been purchasing weapons with profits on the sale of natural resources. By the time of the battle, Menelik had built up an army of 196,000 men, more than half of which wielded modern weapons (Blake). Against that, Baratieri only brought 20,000 men (“Battle of Adwa”). Another mistake was that the general assumed he would be able to lure the Ethiopians into ...


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...geography, and Italy's misjudgment of their intelligence, they were able to remain free through 1936. And when they were attacked again by Italy, geography made the victory hard to achieve and maintain. Finally, thanks to Italy's actions, their occupation of Ethiopia was short lived, lasting less only five years. Today, Ethiopia enjoys an independence that began in 1941.



Works Cited

"Battle of Adwa." EthiopianHistory.Com. Web. 05 May 2011. .
Blake, Greg. "First Italo-Abyssinian War: Battle of Adowa." History Net. 12 June 2006. Web. 05 May 2011. .
"Second Italo-Abyssinian War." Web. 05 May 2011. .
Williamson, Mitch. "The Italo-Ethiopian War: 1935–1936 and 1936–1939." War and Game. 03 Nov. 2010. Web. 05 May 2011. .


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