The ancient empire of Ethiopia has its legendary origin in the meeting of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The empire developed at Askum in the north in the centuries before and after the birth of Christ as a result of Semitic immigration from South Arabia. Ethiopia’s subsequent history is one of sporadic expansion southwards and eastwards, checked from the 16th to early 19th centuries by devastating wars with Muslims and Gallas. Modern Ethiopia dates from the reign of the Emperor Theodore (1855–68). Menelik II (1889–1913) defeated the Italians in 1896 and thereby safeguarded the empire’s independence in the scramble for Africa.
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