Ethiopia is a playable civilization.
Ethiopia is believed by many historians to be the birthplace of the human race. Lucy, a 3.2 million year old human skeleton, was discovered in Ethiopia's Afar Depression. However, beyond Lucy, there is little evidence to suggest (one way or another) that Ethiopia was settled until roughly the eighth century BC, when it is theorized that Jewish settlers fleeing Egypt, Sudan, and southern Arabia settled there.
The first recorded government in Ethiopia was the Kingdom of Axum in the first century AD. Information on this kingdom is scarce; its founder remains unknown. But under Axum rule, Ethiopia became the first Christian nation in Africa. In roughly 330 AD, Frumentius, a Greek from Tyre, was consecrated the first bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius. Frumentius spread Christianity in Ethiopia through the construction of churches on land given to him by the Axum emperor. Although Christianity did not become a widespread religion in the region until much later, Frumentius can be considered the originator of Christianity in Ethiopia.
Although Ethiopia had traditionally been the target for Muslim raids in the region, it was not until 1528 that a full scale invasion was successful. Under the leadership of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, Muslim forces swept through Ethiopia, routing the emperor's forces and sending him into hiding. Unable to re-secure his homeland with Ethiopian forces alone, Emperor Lebna Dengel Dawit II petitioned the Portuguese to assist defeating the invaders. In 1541 the Portuguese deployed an army of 400 musketeers to assist the emperor, and while these forces were defeated at the Battle of Wofla, the Muslims were ultimately forced to retreat when their leader was killed the following year at the Battle of Wayna Daga.
Ethiopia had been wracked by a series of internal conflicts throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century. While not splintering the nation, these conflicts eroded the empire's central power until the feuding families were ultimately defeated by Tewodros II, who ruled Ethiopia between 1855 and 1868. Despite a prestigious military career, Tewodros II committed an egregious political faux pas when, in 1867, he imprisoned several British nationals after Queen Victoria of the England failed to answer a letter he had sent to her. The British swiftly sent an army to rescue the British citizens, and upon the Ethiopian army's defeat, Tewdros II committed suicide.
Soon after, in 1870, the Italians, who had bought the Ethiopian costal city of Eritrea from a local Sultan, claimed that the Treaty of Wuchale (1889), an agreement between Italy and Ethiopia on the official boundaries between Ethiopia and Eritera, granted them sovereignty over all of Ethiopia, though in reality it only specified a very small portion of Northern Ethiopia near Eritrea. The Italians sent an army to conquer Ethiopia, but were repelled by Emperor Menelek II at the Battle of Adowa. After their defeat, the Italians signed the Treaty of Addis Ababa (1896) which recognized Ethiopia as an independent state. As it turned out, the Italians would be back.
In 1936 the Italians once again invaded and occupied Ethiopia, this time under the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini, forcing the emperor to flee to England. The Italians were eventually defeated in 1941 by combined British and Ethiopian forces.
Perhaps the most influential Ethiopian Emperor of the modern era was Haile Selassie I. Ruling from 1930 until his death in 1974 (with the exception of the brief Italian occupation), Selassie made great strides in modernizing his nation. New tax programs were implemented and the constitution was revised under his rule.
In 1972, an enormous drought hit Ethiopia resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 citizens. Local rulers conspired to keep this information from Emperor Selassie, and when the information was finally revealed, the government's credibility with the common citizenry was seriously undermined. Combined with a major economic recession, the chaos within the government due to the drought provided the opportunity for officers within the Ethiopian military to stage a coup and take over the government. Haile Selassie I died on August 27th, 1975 when it is believed that he was suffocated in his sleep while imprisoned by the military government.
In 2005 Ethiopia underwent its second multiparty election. Despite claims of corrupted vote counting, much of the international community saw this election as a positive step for Ethiopia's future.