The Present and Past Geography of Ethiopia and Madagascar

2134 words (9 pages) Essay in Geography

08/02/20 Geography Reference this

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Africa is known for the highest number of countries plagued by high levels of poverty, weak economy structure and lack of development. Madagascar and Ethiopia are two of the least popular covered subject ins most geographical or historical textbooks, so I launched numerous internet and encyclopedia searches in hopes of learning more about these sections of Africa. In my research I have found coverage on: Ethiopia and Madagascar’s geographic location, history population data, economical issues, cuisine, popular religious practices, and native languages spoken throughout the area. Throughout the research paper I will touch on each topic, in hopes of giving the reader more insight and knowledge on both countries. To start I will give a brief background of Ethiopia and Madagascar followed by an in-depth look into each country’s important facts.

Madagascar and Ethiopia are two countries that operate at a low poverty level. It is beneficial that both countries possess historical landmarks that continue to attract tourists from all around the world. One historical landmark in Ethiopia is the Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion in Axum which is also where the Ark of the Covenant resides. The top of the cathedral is done shaped and includes a bell tower. The historical value of this building is that Moses’ Ten Commandments are kept in this covenant. Originally the church was only accessible to men, the only woman allowed was St. Mary. Emperors of Ethiopia came to the cathedral to be crowned which would be followed by a special service. It is important in Ethiopian culture to preserve and maintain landmarks that were present in ancient times amongst their ancestors so it is apparent that the culture have a great amount of respect ancestors and history. Madagascar contains the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga which is a sacred royal site where many traditions were upheld. The monument is made up of royal trees, stone gateways and walls made of solid rosewood.  It is considered to be one of the most significant representations of the Merina culture and also one of the best preserved monuments that symbolize pre-colonial Madagascar. At one point in time royals spent a lot of time there for burials, sacrificing, and worshipping. It upholds their cultural values that emphasizes great belief in a creator God and great respect for ancestors.

Ethiopia            Madagascar

Total Population   108,386,391     25,683,610

Total Fertility Rate (TFR)   4.91   3.95

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)   48.3   40.1

GDP per capita    $2,200          $1,600 (CIA, 2018)

Based on the statistics presented above Ethiopia seems to have a higher level of development than Madagascar. A higher GDP per capita usually represents a higher value of

goods and services created within a country in certain time period. This shows Ethiopia to have a thriving economy which is beneficial to a country with a high level of poverty. Although the country shows great economic promise, a large number of Ethiopia’s citizens are migrating to the United States. According to Shinn, the younger generation of educated Ethiopians might well be called the “exit generation” because of its tendency to seek greater opportunities elsewhere, especially in North America, Europe, Australia and even wealthier African countries and the Gulf States. (Shinn, 2003). Migrants from Ethiopia tend to possess a lot of skills that are more profitable in other countries so financial increase is a major driving force for their departure. Ethiopia also receives a great number of immigrants from neighboring African countries that have been displaced due to conflict and economic deprivation. An issue that is a result of immigration is scarcity of resources due to the population of Ethiopia rapidly increasing. Tashitaa Tufaa is an Ethiopian immigrant who resides in Minneapolis and owns a successful multi-million dollar bus company that transports more than 15,000 kids to schools, field trips and other educational events. He was recognized by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association in Minneapolis as Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. Marcus Samuelsson is a famous chef whom is also an Ethiopian immigrant and now resides in New York City. He was guest chef for President Obama’s first state dinner in 2009 and President Obama also attended a charity event at Samuelsson’s restaurant which raised over $1 million. Madagascar natives seem to migrate more towards France, Canada, the United States, Belgium and Italy. Madagascar has experienced a number of major weather events and is highly impacted by climate which I believe plays a role in the low number of immigrants into Madagascar yet contributing to a high number of emigrants exiting the country. These weather events have an impact on available resources which is a factor in Madagascar being one of the poorest countries in Africa. Other factors such as lack of employment opportunities and scarce resources also contribute to Madagascar’s low immigration/high emigration rate. The high emigration rate out of Madagascar results in a low population rate which means less citizens available to effectively contribute to the economy by producing a good or a service. Claude Simon was a famous French novelist who was born in Madagascar but immigrated to France with his parents becoming infamous for his literary works. He received the Medicis Prize for Histoire in 1967 and was made a honorary doctor by the University of East Anglia in 1973. French rapper Rohff is a Madagascar native witch chart topping hip hop singles. His albums have gone platinum and gold on numerous occasions making him a top celebrity in the French music scene.

 The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and takes up 35% of the population. The 2nd largest ethnic group in Ethiopia belongs to the Amhara, which accounts for 27% of the country’s population (Sawe, 2016). Both groups have their own language, the Oromo’s speak the Oromo language. The Oromo language is categorized as a Cushitic language

and it is the third most widely spoken language in Africa. The Amhara’s speak Amharic; which is known to be related to Arabic and Hebrew. The Amhara language has been cited as the official language of Ethiopia. The core area of Christianity is in the highlands of northern Ethiopia, but its influence is felt in the entire country. More than two-fifths of Ethiopians follow the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. An additional one-fifth adhere to other Christian faiths, the vast majority of which are Protestant.(Mehretu & Marcus, 2018) Two of the largest ethnic groups of Madagascar are The Merina people and the Betsimisaraka people. Both ethnic groups speak Malagasy, the national language, which is written in the Latin alphabet. In Madagascar, almost half of the population is Christian, with more than one-fourth of the population adherent to Protestantism and about one-fifth to Roman Catholicism. (Britannica) Madagascar citizens are very fond of Christian festivals which are a great part of their cultural foundation.

Madagascar cuisine derives from French cooking techniques. Rice is a major staple amongst Malagasy cuisine and is usually a part of every meal. A popular dish is called romazava which is a stew made with leafy greens and also usually includes rice as an ingredient. They like to commonly use coconut milk and tomato sauces as an additive in their main courses. The people of Madagascar enjoy playing football (soccer), rugby and engaging in physical activities such as boxing. Malagasy music is influenced by three common areas of contemporary, popular and traditional music. The type of music can vary per region with some regions being more traditional than others whereas some tend to gravitate towards more current sounds. Ethiopian cuisine usually consists of multiple vegetables and spicy meats which is usually served in the form of a stew along with flat bread. This stew is called wat and its ingredients are onion, split peas, carrots, potatoes and meats such as beef, lamb, chicken or fish. A popular Ethiopian sport is track and field and is known for its long list of famous runners. Many runners of Ethiopian origin have competed in the Olympics and other world competitions winning numerous titles.  Ethiopian music differs from that of Madagascar utilizing instruments such as chordophones, aerophones, idiophones and membranophones. They stick to more traditional music although they play popular music as well but even Ethiopian musicians stick to traditional tones. Both Ethiopia and Madagascar are victims of gender inequality with women’s rights and economic powers being limited. This affects their level of education, ability to make decisions and potential income which causes them to rely on the male sex for survival majority of the time. In order to fight this Ethiopia has created programs such as Leave No Women Behind which focuses on empowering Ethiopian women. Madagascar has set in place The Federation for Women and Children which brings awareness to gender violence and women’s rights.

Two environmental issues that currently exist in Ethiopia are deforestation and water scarcity. Deforestation in this area is highly contributed to soil erosion and land degradation which resulted in a decline in crucial forest resources that a lot of people rely on. Growth in population has caused an increase in demand for resources such as lumber and fuelwood which has impacted forest conditions. Soil degradation is thus the most environmental problem facing Ethiopia. The loss of soil and the deterioration in fertility, moisture storage capacity, and the structure of the remaining soils all reduce the country’s agricultural productivity. (Bishaw, 2001) Both erosion of soil and land degradation are very important issues that must be rectified because if not they can result in further degradation, decline in food sources and income loss. Deforestation is a major issue in Madagascar also along with poaching. Both issues have caused wildlife there to become extinct, an increase in global warming and air pollution. Deforestation in Madagascar will cause their economy to disappear and animals become extinct which will negatively impact people’s livelihood. Poachers are contributing to the deforestation by killing the animals that live in forests and cutting down trees for exportation to other countries. In order

to begin resolving these environmental issues the United States has begun offering foreign assistance and international development via an agency called the USAID. Their goal is to work with the entire country of Africa including Ethiopia and Madagascar with boosting their agricultural productivity and granting them freedom from poverty. The United States has become one of the largest food and financial donors to aid both countries in supporting a healthy environment that is beneficial to economic development. The struggles both country are enduring come as no surprise considering these are common issues in countries with a high level of poverty. Madagascar doesn’t possess a true governing power so there aren’t any laws to protect the environment or banning poachers.

It is well-founded that Ethiopia is richly endowed with natural resources compared to other African countries such as Madagascar. The country embodies a wide range of religious, ethnic and cultural diversity. Also in comparison to other African countries, Ethiopia reflects a stronger and more profitable economy in relation to GDP data and its determination to conquer long-term development plans. Madagascar has reigned as one of the poorest countries despite its rich culture and this is highly due to deforestation as relayed within the research paper. Foreign investors are reluctant to transport their goods or services to such an undeveloped country. Until economic an environmental issues listed throughout the paper are rectified Madagascar will continue to operate at a lower economic level than Ethiopia.

Works Cited

  • Shinn, David H. “Ethiopia: The ‘Exit Generation’ and Future Leaders.” International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2003, pp. 21–32. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27828818.
  • http://Siteresources.World bank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1199807908806/Madagascar.pdf
  • “The World Factbook.” Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, 1 Feb. 2018, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html.
  • Sawe, Benjamin Elisha. “Ethnic Groups Of Ethiopia.” World Atlas, Worldatlas, 10 Oct. 2016, www.worldatlas.com/articles/ethnic-groups-of-ethiopia.html.
  • Bishaw, Badege. “Deforestation and Land Degradation in the Ethiopian Highlands: A Strategy for Physical Recovery.” Northeast African Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, 2001, pp. 7–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41931353.
  • Mehretu, Assefa, and Harold G. Marcus. “Ethiopia.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Ethiopia/Religion. Darlene Daniels The Geography of Ethiopia and Madagascar 8
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