Italian Ethiopia

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Map of Italian East Africa after Italy's annexation of Ethiopia, as part of the Italian Empire. Italian Ethiopia was made of Harrar, Galla-Sidamo, Amhara and Scioa Governorates

Ethiopia was never colonized by a European power, but was occupied by Italy in 1936, during which time Emperor Haile Selassie continued to reign as monarch in exile. Italian Ethiopia was proclaimed in 1936 following the second Italo-Ethiopian War, with Victor Emmanuel III proclaiming himself Emperor of Ethiopia, the occupation lasted until the end of 1941 when Ethiopia was liberated from Italian control by a combination of Ethiopian, British, Commonwealth, Free French, and Free Belgian forces.


Italian emperor of Ethiopia Coat of Arms

[citation needed]Since May 1936 Italian Ethiopia was part of the newly created Africa Orientale Italiana (AOI), or Italian East Africa, and administratively was made of four governorates: Governorate of Amara, Governorate of Harrar, Governorate of Galla-Sidamo and Governorate of Shewa. Each Governorate was under the authority of an Italian governor, answerable to the Italian viceroy, who represented the Emperor Victor Emmanuel[citation needed]

The territory around the capital was renamed in 1939 Governorate of Scioa: originally it was called "Governorato di Addis Abeba", but in 1939 the name was changed to show the region of Scioa around the area of Addis Abeba, this was done because areas of the nearby governorates of Harrar, Gallo-Sidamo and Amhara were included in it.[citation needed] Italian Ethiopia had an area of 305,000 square miles and a population of 9,450,000 inhabitants, resulting in a density of 31 per square mile[1][citation needed]

Governorate Italian name Capital Total population Italians[2] Car Tag Coat of Arms
Amhara Governorate Amara Gondar 2,000,000 11,103 AM Coat of arms of Amhara governorate-2.svg
Harrar Governorate Harar Harrar 1,600,000 10,035 HA Coat of arms of harar governorate.svg
Galla-Sidamo Governorate Galla e Sidama Jimma/Gimma 4,000,000 11,823 GS Coat of arms of Galla-Sidamo governorate.svg
Shewa Governorate Scioa Addis Abeba 1,850,000 40,698 SC Coat of arms of Scioa governorate.svg

[citation needed]Some territories of the defeated Kingdom of Etiopia were added to Italian Eritrea and Italian Somalia inside AOI, because mainly populated by Eritrean and Somalian populations (but even as a reward to their colonial soldiers who fought in the Italian Army against the Negus troops).[citation needed]

The currency used was the Italian East African lira: the Lira AOI was a special banknote (of 50 lire and 100 lire) circulating in AOI between 1938 [3] and 1941:[citation needed]

Frontal Image Back Image Amount Color Frontal Description Back Description
ItalianEastAfricaP1b-50Lire-1939 f-donated.jpg ItalianEastAfricaP1b-50Lire-1939 b-donated.jpg 50 Lire Green LIRE CINQVANTA - BANCA D'ITALIA 50 LIRE - Lupa romana
ItalianEastAfricaP2b-100Lire-1939-donatedms f.jpg ItalianEastAfricaP2b-100Lire-1939-donatedms b.jpg 100 Lire Green/gray LIRE CENTO - BANCA D'ITALIA - Dea Roma LIRE CENTO - BANCA D'ITALIA - Aquila

[citation needed]On 5 May 1936 the capital Addis Ababa was captured by the Italians: on 22 May three new stamps showing the King of Italy were issued. Four further values inscribed "ETIOPIA" were issued on 5 December 1936, after that date, the stamps were issued with the name "Africa Orientale Italiana" on it.[4][citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Royal Institute of International Affairs (24 August 1940). "Italian Possessions in Africa: II. Italian East Africa". Bulletin of International News. 17 (17): 1065–1074. 
  2. ^ Istat Statistiche 2010
  3. ^ Bank of Italy
  4. ^ Postage stamps of Italian Ethiopia


  • Archivio Storico Diplomatico (1975), Inventario dell'Archivio Storico del Ministero Africa Italiana (in Italian), 1: Eritrea, Etiopia, Somalia (1857-1939), Rome: Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
  • Bandini, Franco. Gli italiani in Africa, storia delle guerre coloniali 1882-1943. Longanesi. Milano, 1971.
  • Beltrami, Vanni. Italia d'oltremare. Storie dei territori italiani dalla conquista alla caduta. Edizioni Nuova Cultura. Roma, 2013 ISBN 978-88-6134-702-1 [1]
  • Dickson, Keith. World War II. Wiley Publishing. New York, 2001
  • Jowett, Philip. The Italian Army 1940–45: Africa 1940–43. Osprey Publishing. London, 2001
  • Sbiacchi, Alberto. Hailé Selassié and the Italians, 1941-43. African Studies Review, vol.XXII, n.1, April 1979.