Ethiopians in the United Kingdom

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Ethiopians in the United Kingdom
Total population
Ethiopian-born residents
15,494 (2011 Census)
Regions with significant populations
English, Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Gurage, Sidamo, others
Christianity and Islam (including Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant), Judaism
Traditional beliefs

Ethiopians in the United Kingdom are an ethnic group that consist of Ethiopian immigrants to the United Kingdom as well as their descendants. Overall, it is one of the smaller subgroups of immigrants to the UK from Africa.[1]


Injera is an Ethiopian dish that has become increasingly popular in the UK through the Ethiopian British community

The first wave of Ethiopian immigrants to the UK occurred in 1974, when many were forced from their homes when Haile Selassie's government was overthrown by the military junta, Derg. Many of these were political refugees who left behind high paid and respectable jobs. The second, larger wave of Ethiopians to the UK was in 1991, when Ethiopians of all walks of life claimed asylum in the UK. Another civil war in the country, and continuous political unrest even today means that more and more Ethiopians are leaving their homeland to seek better lives abroad.[2]

Many Ethiopians found cultural adjustment, particularly in the capital, very difficult. It is even claimed[by whom?] that many new immigrants believed that seeing a British policeman was something to be frightened of. It was certainly a hard time for them, especially considering that their claim for asylum may not be accepted and they had no other family or links in the UK. Over time, many Ethiopian Community Centres were formed which helped the population to develop and rebuild their lives. Prior to the civil wars, Ethiopians were free to come to the UK to study, many of whom stayed and are undoubtedly amongst the thousands who now form an ageing population. The Ethiopian community in the UK is now an extremely well integrated group that consists of many generations.[2]


The 2001 Census recorded 6,561 Ethiopian-born people residing in the UK.[1] According to the 2011 UK Census, there were 15,058 Ethiopian-born residents in England, 151 in Wales,[3] 258 in Scotland,[4] and 27 in Northern Ireland.[5] Of this total of 15,494 Ethiopian-born residents, 10,517 lived in Greater London.[3]

Contemporary issues

Many Ethiopians who have immigrated to the UK and their descendants express concern about the existing troubles in Ethiopia, including the political and civil unrest as well as the country's famine problem. A significant number of Ethiopians in the UK contribute and donate a lot of time and money to helping troubled people in their homeland.[6] Two Ethiopian born immigrants to the UK were convicted in connection with the alleged attempted London bombings on 21 July 2005.[7]

Community and culture

There are now many Ethiopian churches set up across London, including St Mary's Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Battersea Park. There is also an increasing number of Ethiopian restaurants in the UK, where such Ethiopian cuisine as injera is served.[2]

Notable individuals

There are several British people of Ethiopian origin that have seen notable success in all field of life. Actor Peter Ustinov who is of mixed Russian, German and Ethiopian ancestry has won two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe Award.[8] Victor Duleep Singh, Frederick Duleep Singh and Sophia Duleep Singh were all children of Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who were of Ethiopian descent[citation needed] and lived in the UK. Prince Alemayehu, the son of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, lived in the UK for the majority of his life under the guardianship of the British explorer Tristram Speedy. The poet and Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Lemn Sissay, is also of Ethiopian ancestry.[9]

Further reading

  • Habesha Union [ሐበሻ] . “What Do You Mean by Habesha? — A Look at the Habesha Identity (P.s./t: It’s Very Vague, Confusing, & Misunderstood) | @habesha_union.” Academia, 1 Oct. 2018.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 11 May 2005. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Ethiopian London". BBC. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  3. ^ a b "2011 Census: Country of birth (expanded), regions in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Country of birth (detailed)" (PDF). National Records of Scotland. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Country of Birth - Full Detail: QS206NI". Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  6. ^ Concern from Ethiopian Britons about their native Ethiopia
  7. ^ 21 July 2005 convicted bombers
  8. ^ Peter Ustinov ethnic origins
  9. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (2 May 2017). "'I was dehumanised': Lemn Sissay on hearing his harrowing abuse report live on stage". Retrieved 12 February 2018.

External links

  • Ethiopian Community UK
  • Ethiopian London
  • Ethiopian Embassy, London
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