Ethiopia is one of Africa's most established countries, having largely avoided being colonised by European states. Until 1974, Ethiopia was headed by a well-established monarchy that claimed to be descended from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The last monarch of the Solomonic dynasty Haile Selassie was deposed by a military coup; Ryszard Kapuscinski's The Emperor details life in the court of the Abyssinian monarchy. Periodic famine and drought in Ethiopia have led to civil conflict. Since the overthrow of the Marxist military regime in 1991, however, Ethiopia has become one of the most stable countries in Africa despite ongoing border conflicts with neighbouring Eritrea.
Ethiopia's rich cultural heritage arises from its historical monarchy, avoidance of European colonisation, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone tells of twin brothers growing up in Addis Ababa as revolution loomed. Maaza Mengiste's Beneath the Lion's Gaze also takes place in Ethiopia on the eve of revolution. The works of Amharic poet and writer Hama Tuma criticise contemporary Ethiopian politics through biting satire; some of his works have been banned as a result. Dinaw Megestu's Children of the Revolution tells the story of the Ethiopian diaspora living and adapting to life in America.
The film of Ethiopia Haile Gerima is one of Ethiopia's best known directors, in 2009 his film Teza won the top prize at Burkina Faso's influential film festival FESPACO. It tells of the displacement and estrangement felt by Ethiopians living abroad. Man of the Millennium, a 2008 film by Ethiopian filmmaker Tikher Teferra Kidane, profiled the life of Haile Selassie. Armenian-Ethiopian artist Alexander Skunder Boghossian was a major force of modern African art until his death in 2003.