- −10% Land attrition
- −0.05 Monthly autonomy change
- +1 Yearly prestige
- +50% Chance of new heir
- +20% Fort defense
- +1 Diplomatic reputation
- +1 Missionary
- −10% Core-creation cost
- +10% Infantry combat ability
- +1 Yearly legitimacy
Ethiopia is a medium-sized country in eastern Africa, just north of the Horn of Africa. In 1444, it shares a border with its vassals, Damot and Hadiya, and with Alodia, Beja, Medri Bahri, Adal, and Kaffa. Starting with an Empire-rank government and control of a Coptic holy site, Ethiopia has the potential to be not just a contender for African superiority but to challenge for control of the Arabian peninsula and beyond.
- Main article: Ethiopian events
Three religious denominations exist inside Ethiopia at the start of the game: Coptic (the current state religion), Sunni and Judaism. Of the three, only Judaism lacks any unique mechanic or benefits beyond its base religious values. While a Jewish Ethiopia may offer an appealing challenge for experienced players, a Coptic or Sunni Ethiopia provides the best opportunity for success.
As a Coptic nation, Ethiopia can make early use of the unique holy sites mechanic thanks to the site in Aksum. The ability to give a boost to military (through manpower recovery (+10%) or discipline (+2.5%)), religion (through missionary strength (+1.5%)), or other aspects of the nation (through increased yearly legitimacy (+0.5) or reduced core creation cost (-10%) which is arguably one of the strongest points of the Coptic faith) based on the chosen holy site bonus allows Coptic Ethiopia to proliferate at a rapid pace, either through absorbing lesser countries or converting held provinces. Should nearby Makuria convert the holy site in Qasr Ibrim from Sunni to Coptic, Ethiopia (as well as all other Coptic nations) will unlock a second Coptic bonus, further increasing Ethiopia's potential power. The conquest of Alexandria from the Mamluks (which will be a short-term goal after domination over the horn of Africa is achieved, as to not let the Ottomans seize control over the area, which will make the conquest of the holy site much more difficult) will unlock another Coptic blessing at your disposal.
As a Sunni nation, Ethiopia is less starved for decent allies in the early game. Muslim nations in the Arabia and Persia regions such as Yemen, Hejaz, Persia and Qara Qoyunlu -- to say nothing of the mighty Ottomans -- will find becoming friendly with another Sunni nation far more appealing than a Coptic one. As the game progresses, Sunni Ethiopia's expansion will be much smoother than its Coptic counterpart as it will not need to convert Sunni provinces taken through conquest.
Starting as Coptic in a Sunni-dominated area of the world, religious differences can make finding good allies for Ethiopia difficult. Even if Ethiopia converts, there are still Fetishist nations in Africa that will reject alliances unless the player has grown to a formidable size.
Regardless of state religion, Alodia and Makuria are prime targets for early alliances. Their positioning and size means they can provide decent military support while not blocking Ethiopian expansion to the north, east or south. There's even enough space to hand one or both nations a province or two from Beja or the Mamluks to keep the alliance strong.
When seeking larger allies later in the game, the safest strategy is to look for matching religious interests. If Coptic, Christian nations that rival expansionist-leaning powers like Portugal, Spain, France and England can make for key assets during territorial wars. If Sunni, the Ottomans, Persia and Morocco are excellent candidates, with Morocco having the added perk of also being eager to take Iberian territory from Portugal and/or Spain.
Starting as an Empire, Ethiopia should try to unify the horn of Africa as its first objective. Its cultural union makes converting the land much easier, have low unrest, and give boost to tax income. Furthermore, the Gulf of Aden trade node is better than the Ethiopia trade node, so moving the capital/trade capital to there can also increase income.
To the north
Making noise near the Ottoman Empire -- one of EU4's most dominating presences -- is a risky gambit at the best of times. To lessen the chance of fatal overextension, being on the Ottomans' good side either through an alliance or other arrangement is crucial. Should the Ottoman threat be temporarily pacified, the Mamluks and all connected African territory beyond are ripe for the plundering -- especially if the Ottomans have decided to take a piece out of the Mamluks for themselves.
To the east
The Arabian peninsula provides an alternate way into the Mashriq region that doesn't involve setting delicate plans in motion to deal with the Mamluks and Ottomans. Depending on who has allied with whom, taking territory off of Yemen and/or Oman can be done in a methodical fashion to avoid a hefty aggressive expansion penalty. (Note that the island province of Socotra is, in fact, Yemeni and may accidentally be overlooked by a hasty player.) From there, eastern expansion into Persia or northern expansion to secure all of Arabia awaits, assuming the Ottomans haven't already sealed off Arabia from Mashriq and are greedily eyeing expansion of their own.
To the south
If colonists are not available, the Horn of Africa is the only way to expand Ethiopia south towards the Cape of Good Hope. This requires going through a handful of stubborn, low development nations, many of whom will not be so keen to see foreign infidels gobbling up territory in their vicinity. The amount of coastal land available on this route makes island-hopping a far easier prospect later on, not to mention providing a deterrent of sorts against European colonization. Be warned: even a rapid expansion may not be quick enough to prevent a European power from taking the Cape and all the trade node fortunes that come with it.
To the west
The path least traveled -- the Sahel region -- requires colonists in order to add the desolate Saharan territory to Ethiopia. Should this be accomplished, there is no more direct way to Mali, Timbuktu and other African powers, many of whom will be more than a little unfriendly upon your arrival to their borders. If pan-African domination is the player's goal, securing this desert route to the western coast is a difficult but necessary step.
To the sea
An unorthodox method for Ethiopian expansion is overseas colonization. Initially, the closest feasible options are Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius -- assuming the islands are free of European influence by the time Ethiopia is within colonial range. If at least one island can be added to the empire, the stage is set for Indonesian colonization. First, in order to get within the necessary colonial range, an occupied island will need to be conquered. Using Ethiopia's new holdings as staging points (Socotra also fits nicely for this operation), either the Maldives or Ceylon will need to be captured. Of the two, the Maldives are less problematic as they are completely disconnected from the Indian mainland and less prone to retaliation. Once cored, Ethiopia should be able to make colonial landfall somewhere on the Indonesian archipelago. Once settled, expansion opportunities abound with the Philippines, Australia, the Pacific islands and potentially even the Americas ripe for colonization.
Ethiopia has a specific achievement, Prester John, which requires control of a vast stretch of territory stretching from the mouth of the Nile to the Black Sea while remaining Coptic. As this means Ethiopia will eventually need to take land from the Ottomans, careful military planning will be needed to avoid disaster.