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Republic in northeastern Africa, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a diverse population, with more than 70 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups. Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world and the second-most populous nation in Africa. It has yielded some of the oldest traces of humanity, making it important in human evolution. Ethiopia is the only African country that escaped European colonialism and the Scramble for Africa, although, there was a five-year military occupation by fascist Italy from 1936 to 1941. Having converted during the fourth century AD, it is also the second-oldest country to become officially Christian, after Armenia, although it has been secular since 1974.