With a population of about 53.5 million (1994 census, updated June 1998), Ethiopia represents a melting pot of ancient cultures with Middle Eastern and African cultures evident in the religious, ethnic and language composition of its Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic and Nilotic peoples. The Ethiopian peoples comprise about eighty nationalities of which the Amhara and the Oromo constitute the majority, with about 60 percent of the total population.
Approximately 85 percent of the population live in the rural areas. The annual population growth rate is about 3.09 percent, and the economically active segment, between ages 14 and 60, is about 50 percent of the total population.
Ethiopia is a Federal Democratic Republic composed of 9 National Regional States (NRS) – Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Gambella and Harari – and two administrative councils – Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. The NRS and the Administrative councils are further divided into 62 zones and 523 woredas.