In 1924, Ethiopia was, by any standard, a backward country. Its economy was based on a traditional agriculture that yielded grain, coffee, and pulses, and hides and skins were important export items. There were virtually no roads then, and trade was drawn to Addis Abeba to take advantage of the railway to the sea. Hidden in a forest of eucalyptus, Ethiopia's capital had a population ofas many as one hundred thousand, who were all served by two modern hotels, two cinemas, two hospitals, and numerous drinking houses. There were approximately twenty-five hundred Europeans, mostly Greeks and Armenians, and possibly a thousand Asians, the last especially important since their capital and connections in East Africa and Aden were quickly making Addis Abeba an important participant in a growing regional commodities market. By its general nature, therefore, the Ethiopian capital was becoming a primate city, attracting an innovative and relatively cosmopolitan population.

Source: A History of Ethiopia
Copyright 1994 Harold G. Marcus