Three Million Amara are Missing: An Analysis based on the 1994 and the 2007 Ethiopian Population Censuses By Berhanu Abegaz March 23, 2015

March 25th, 2015 Print Print Email Email

It is not uncommon for national censuses to be politicized in those countries where hyper-polarization along ethnic or sectarian lines makes politicians overly sensitive to the power of numbers. As one of the hallmarks of this phenomenon, the 2007 Ethiopian census count for the Amara inexplicably falls short by a whopping 3 million for 2007 or by 4 million for 2014. To fix ideas, this is equivalent to declaring all Gurage-Silte, or all Sidama, or all Affar plus Wolayta practically non-existent. This research note offers census-based estimates of this gap along with the possible reasons for a large gap that stretches one’s credulity.

Ethiopian Political Demography

Decennial national censuses of population and housing play an important role in providing data on fertility, mortality, migration, and growth for various sectors of the population. These data contribute to a better planning of the economy, the family, and the administrative as well as the electoral systems. Ethiopia has conducted only three national censuses in its long history: in 1984, 1994, and 2007. There have been significant improvements in conforming to international standards, especially in terms of the coverage of enumeration areas and in efficiency of the count.

Much like the 2006 Nigerian census, the 2007 Ethiopian census has unfortunately raised eyebrows with regard to a significant miscount–especially of the Amara ethnic group but also the Gurage-Silte group. All sorts of numbers and motivations have been thrown around in the acrimonious public discussion on the subject. We do know with some certainty that the Amara are one of the two linguistic groups which together account for the majority of the Ethiopian population with the Oromo/Amara ratio being 29%/28% in 1984 and 32%/30% in 1994. This ratio, however, showed a precipitous rise in 2007 to 34%/27% which begs a satisfactory explanation that is yet to be provided by the census authorities.

Demographic changes are generally slow especially in a traditional society which has been experiencing only a moderate improvement in living standards. Since there is little evidence of a large differential fertility, mortality, emigration, or socio-economic development among the various groups in Ethiopian society, the sizeable deviation of the census count in 2007 from a reasonable expectation is rather puzzling.

As we will show below, a careful analysis of the census data shows that at least 3 million and possibly as many as 6 million native Amharic speakers were missing from the 2007 census. These are remarkable numbers which call for a careful ascertainment of their validity and a clear identification of the probable reasons for this outcome.

It should be noted at the outset that the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution enshrined a system of political ethnicity. Ethiopians were for the first time in their long history required to carry ethnic identity (gosssa) cards. The 1994 and 2007 censuses asked citizens to self-identity by ethnicity as well as by one’s mother tongue from lists provided.

Estimating the Size of the Missing Amara

  1. tibbeb
    | #1

    Destroying the amhara is the stated objective of Tplf. It is written in their constitution and they have been carrying out the massacre, eviction and displacement of the amhara population ever since they marched to Menelik’s palace in 1991. it is being carried out as we speak. a relentless attack is being waged on the amhara population using various means. ethnic cleansing and massacre of amhara in Gura farda, wollega , bale, Wolkait, Tsegede in Gondar and North Wollo are continuing. the missing population number is much higher than 3 million.

    Nothing could be far from the truth and tplf can not hide anything in this age of information and communication. all are watching!

  2. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #2

    I am confused trying to figure out the purpose and message of this article. It is a well written one. But the claim that there are 3 million Amharas missing from the ‘projected’ population is somewhat puzzling to me. What is the message? Is the author of this article is trying to tell the audience that 3 million Amharas are missing and could have been victims of some sort? That means there have been a genocide of epic proportion right at the watchful eyes of the entire world as it has never been committed in Africa at such level. You know, this is something being tried to feed on the raw emotions of the gullible!!! What is the real message? As I am a staunchest critique of the current regime back home for its heavy handedness in dealing with non-violent dissent but I would not go that far in claiming that it has eliminated 3 million Amharas. This is no different in content from what these hate groups congregated around a ‘front’ that claims poised to liberation my very proud people of Oromia. They have been telling me and millions other Oromos that million of Oromos were and callously massacred by Amhara ‘neftegnas’ before and ‘Tigrayans’ now. By spewing around such groundless accusations, they are spitting insults to my and millions of Oromos’ intelligence. This article is doing the same thing to the good folks of Amharas. So what is the purpose of this article? What is the news coming out of it?

  3. Ittu Aba Farda
    | #3

    Please read that as ‘That means there has been a genocide’ and ‘that claims poised to liberate’ in my comment above. Thanks.

  4. OZZ
    | #4

    nothing can be hidden in the modern era. if tplf mafia, think that they can get away with it, they are mistaken. we demand that the eviction, massacre and perecution of Ethiopians , whatever ethnic group they belong to,and in particular amharas, should be stopped immediately.death to tigre liberation force.

  5. aha!
    | #5

    Berhanu Abegaz, your major argumentative position is the three million people missing from the Amara ethnic group, and also ? from Gurage-Silte ethnic group. The analysis you are talking about is not investigative reporting but a cause effect analysis as to why the Amhara population is reduced by three million, the size of the population close to Tigrai ethnic group and continue to make comparison between Oromo/Amahara population without trying to point out that different coefficients are used to predict the size of the populations from a sample count, I presume. Why they used different coefficients for each ethnic group may have rendered an enormous task of determining the coefficients from birth rate minus death rate being variable from one ethnic group to the other ethnic group, perhaps reflecting harsh conditions political and/or economic. Or the coefficient is arbitrarily set low to deny benefit/distribution associated with the size of the population as well as to placate the Oromo ethnic group as the majority ethnic group. as points of hypotheses to look into.

  6. Wollega
    | #6

    9 millions Oromos missing since The Showa Amhara King took power to the End era of Hailesselassie. Who is responsible ?

  7. Danchillala
    | #7

    There is big discrepancies between actual total population of Amharas and the number of accounted population by three million. This is indicative of that the fact and the truth, 3 million Amharas have been systematically or deliberately exterminated or mansard, or genocides have been committed on them by the fascist tplf terrorists. Make no mistake, justice will be sought by all Ethiopians to make the criminals stand trial in a timely basis.

  8. aha!
    | #8

    Wollega @6, the author stipulates the ratio of Oromo/Amara from the 1984 estimate, which is closer to HIM’s era, indicating there no data before then may be used to calculate the total Oromo population from the then ~53 million total population is 15,370,000. 9 million people missing from the total population of then 53 million is more than half of the total Oromo population, where in fact there is no separate census during the Italian occupation and now during the TPLF/eprdf regime, predicted from different coefficient for each ethnic group, perhaps for allocation of financial resources to the major ethnic homelands, I suspect. The coefficient used for Amhara ethnic group is the lowest, the underlying causes behind that may have explanations with the Buero of Statitistics via investigative reporter.

  9. US-backed TPLF
    | #9

    @ Wollega,
    are you tigre or real oromo ?
    real oromos should be the last to complain about being genocided because of their terrible record against the native Ethiopian tribes of southern, eastern, western and central Ethiopia from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Wolega itself is the land of the damot and gafat peoples. Lets not forget also the tens of millions “QiyiT”.

  10. aha!
    | #10

    You have added another dimension to the ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism, built into the constitution; where in your concluding remark noted that ” … the 1994 Ethiopian constitution (the constitution of the TPLF/eprdf regime) enshrined a system of political ethnicity”, where “Ethiopians are required to carry ethnic identity (gossa) cards”. This perhaps explains the reasons for the identity cad the determination and application of different coefficients of the various ethnic groups and serves the purpose of taking survey by ethnic populations, a form of segregation by ethnic groups for election as well as brainwashing of the individual to focus ones ethnicity than ones Ethiopiawinet. This further elaborates the contrast between Ethiopian Nationalism for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item refers to individual freedom, liberty and equality before the law to super cede ethnic and secessionist rights for true democracy to take a foot hold in Ethiopia, with individual rights as the center piece of the constitution in place of census by ethnicity, ethnic federalism and secessionism and/or Consociationalism as a redress of ethnic federalism and secessionism of Ethiopia as a multi-national state, instead of Ethiopia as 80 ethnic groups, whose needs for resource and human development may be addressed in terms of ecological but not ethnic zones/homelands of ill defined boundaries serving as a prelude to ethnic secessionism, future boundary conflicts and ethnic cleansing.

  11. Anonymous
    | #11


    This article is severely clipped. Please upload the full article in pdf format so that readers can see the argument and the evidence in its entirety. Thanks.

  12. ተሰማ
    | #12

    የኢትዮጵያ ብዛት ከ 75–80 አማራ ነው::ይህን ለማረጋገጥ ብዙ ምርምር አያስፈልገውም::

  13. uffattii
    | #13

    criminals in the FASCIST TPLF TERRORIST ORGANIZATION have secretly been conducting genocide on Amharas both in clandestine and openly since several years through different methods by using different kinds of tools. The three million Amharas that have been accounted missing is latest discovery, but what Ethiopians get shocked is what is soon going to be revealed the crimes of Fascist TPLF committed against Amharas nearly close to the three millions perished unnoticed.

  14. chachu
    | #14

    The situation on the ground is this there is no confusion the Tiger liberation front is responsible for the killing of Amharic speaking people in Ethiopia.

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