Ethiopian Tribes

Ethiopian Tribal Member
Ethiopian Tribal Member


There are numerous tribes and ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Just like the people of Africa in general, the people of Ethiopia are a diverse group with over eighty different ethnic groups within its borders. Ethiopia's population has grown from approximately nine million in the 1800's to over eighty two million people today. This is the second largest population in Africa. There are approximately forty six ethnic groups just in the Omo Valley. These include the Benna, Ari, Mursi, Bume, karo, Tsemay, Konso, Hammer, Dassecnech, and Borenna, just to mention a few. On this page we list the main Ethnic Groups and tribes in Ethiopia along with a few interesting facts, written for kids and adults, about each.

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In the late 1800's a period of European imperialism aimed at Africa called "the scramble for Africa" occurred. The only African state to retain its independence during this period was Ethiopia. They maintained their independence by defeating Italy in the First Italo-Ethiopian War (1895 - 1896).

Main Ethnic Groups in Ethiopia

The population percentages of the main ethnic groups in Ethiopia are approximately:

Ethiopian Tribes LIST


The Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. They also have a large population in Somalia and Kenya. It is believed that the Oromo have lived in what is now Ethiopia for over a millennium. Their native language is called Oromo.


The Amhara, who are the second largest tribe in Ethiopia, generally live in the central highlands of the country. They dominate Ethiopia's economy and politics. The vast majority are Christian (Ethiopian Orthodox).


Most Somalis live in Somalia, however over four million reside in Ethiopia. Clan groupings are a very important part of Somali society.


There are over five million Tigraways living in Ethiopia. They mainly reside in the northern highlands of Ethiopia's Tigray province and in Ethiopia's former provinces of Wollo and Begemder (Gonder).


Almost three million Sidama live in Ethiopia which is a little over four percent of the country's population. Their homeland is in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. The majority of the Sidama people are Protestant and most speak a language called Sidaamu-afoo.


The Gurage people make up a little over two and a half percent of Ethiopia's total population. This is approximately one million nine hundred thousand people. They mainly reside in southwest Ethiopia, in a semi-mountainous area about 150 miles southwest of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.


Approximately 1.7 million Wolayta people (2.3 percent of Ethiopia's population) live in southern Ethiopia. Wolayta is also the name given to this people’s former kingdom.