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The nomadic peoples seasonally graze livestock, while the seminomadic peoples are subsistence farmers.
The rural highlands economy is based on agriculture and livestock raising. There are eighty-six known indigenous languages in Ethiopia: eighty-two spoken and four extinct.
The bulk of the rain in the highlands falls in the major rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, with an average of forty inches of rain during that season.
A minor rainy season occurs from February to April. In the year 2000, the population was approximately 61 million, with over eighty different ethnic groups.
It is bordered on the north and northeast by Eritrea, on the east by Djibouti and Somalia, on the south by Kenya, and on the west and southwest by Sudan.
The central plateau, known as the highlands, is surrounded on three sides by desert with a significantly lower elevation.
These conceptions of Ethiopia were geographically vague.
In the late nineteenth century, Emperor Menelik II expanded the country's borders to their present configuration.
Variation in altitude results in dramatic climatic variation.
Cushitic-language speakers live in the highlands and lowlands of the south-central region as well as in the north-central area. The Nilo-Saharan super language family accounts for about 2 percent of the population, and these languages are spoken near the Sudanese border.
Amharic has been the dominant and official language for the last 150 years as a result of the political power of the Amhara ethnic group.
The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) defeated the Derge, established democratic rule, and currently governs Ethiopia.
The last twenty-five years of the twentieth century have been a time of revolt and political unrest but represent only a small portion of the time during which Ethiopia has been a politically active entity.