Courtesy Reuters

Abyssinia and the Powers

THE Abyssinian representatives in Geneva had proclaimed their intention of making a formal speech of protest at the autumn session of the Assembly of the League of Nations against the recent Anglo-Italian agreement which, despite reassuring statements in London, was regarded in many quarters -- particularly in Paris -- as a prelude to the division of Abyssinia into spheres of economic interest between Great Britain and Italy. London and Rome at the last moment induced Abyssinia to adopt a different course.

The Empire of Abyssinia -- or, as it is now officially styled, Ethiopia -- has an area of about 350,000 square miles and a population of something like 10,000,000. Of these only about 3,500,000 belong to the Abyssinian ruling race. The rest are of Galla or other Hamitic stock or, in the conquered equatorial regions, are negroes. Though the Abyssinians proper are one of the oldest of Christian nations, at least half the total population are Mohammedans: indeed, a few years ago, after the death of the late King Menelek, it looked as if the Mohammedans might get the upper hand.

The fact that the country is highly mountainous was Abyssinia's protection during the many centuries in which it was lost to the European world and was threatened from all sides by hostile Mohammedan neighbors. In the nineteenth century, it first came into general view with the English punitive expedition against King Theodore in 1868, who after generations of confusion united the scattered tribes once more into something like a real state but who by his ill treatment of foreigners in the country provoked English intervention. After his overthrow the English retired, but later in the century all the natural seacoast of Abyssinia was taken over from Egypt or otherwise occupied by England, Italy and France; since that time these have been the three states most interested in Abyssinian affairs. In 1889 a treaty was signed between Italy and King Menelek which seemed to put Abyssinia under an Italian protectorate. Menelek, however, denied this, and

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