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The first Italo- Ethiopian war also called the first italo abyssinian war was fought between Italy and Ethiopia from 1894 - 1896, after the scramble and partition of Africa in the Berlin Conference of 1884/1885, Ethiopia remained independent and the Italian saw it as an opportunity to acquire more possession in the Horn of Africa by conquering Ethiopia. Italy had focused on the Red Sea areas around East Africa and have troops in the port city of Massawa in Eritrea which was then part of the Ethiopian Empire. Italo-Ethiopian War - Italian embarrassing defeat in Africa

The Italian government failed to evaluate closely the situation of Ethiopia due to the crisis they had with who would succeed the throne as the next emperor which caused disunity among Ethiopian noblemen.
On March 25, 1889, the Shewa ruler Menelik II having acquired Tigray and Amhara declared himself the Emperor of Ethiopia with little support of Italian government so on May 2, he signed a treaty( Treaty of Wuchale) as part of their influence in his ascension which gave the Italian the administrative control of Eritrea and some portion of Red Sea Coast in return for Italian recognition of his rule. 

The treaty was bilingual in the sense that it was written in both Italian and Amharic(a language of Ethiopia), the Italian version of the treaty established Ethiopia as an Italian protectorate while the Amharic version stated that Emperor Menelik II can conduct foreign affairs through Italy if he wants to do so. 
Emperor Menelik II fought for a diplomatic solution but he was unable to achieve it so on February 12, 1893, he terminated the Wuchale treaty before that Menelik took the opportunity to make friendly relations with Russia and France(Djoubioti) while he sought for peaceful solutions. 

The Italian never expected the war to as long as it did,  they expected an overwhelming victory over the Ethiopian army thinking that they were small, poorly armed and disunity among noblemen after the tussle for the throne but they were wrong,  the entire tribes saw the Italian as their common enemy and they forgot their differences and forged together to fight off the colonialist. 
Emperor Menelik II assembled an army of 196,000 to partake in the conflict while the Italian was only able to gather 25,000 men including Eritrean fighters, it even got worse when the Italian found out at the battlefield that the Ethiopian armies were armed with modern rifle, rode on horseback and had rapid-fire mountain guns. Italo-Ethiopian War - Italian embarrassing defeat in Africa
Emperor Menelik II

After much defeat from the Ethiopian forces,  the Italian army retreated to Mekele and the army lay siege on the city for 45 days, the Ethiopian forces later occupied Adwa which was one of the important battles among many. The lost of Adwa by the Italian brought the war to a stalemate until early 1896. The Italians tried again to change the cost of the war with an offensive against the Ethiopian army but words got to the Emperor on time to strike first before the Italian were even prepared to attack. 

The casualties at the Battle of Adwa was so high on both side but it was an Ethiopian victory which gave the Emperor a higher bargaining chance, which he utilized by demanding the abolition of the Treaty of Wuchale and full recognition of Ethiopia as a Sovereign Independent Country by Italy and other European colonialists. 

Ethiopia became the only African country that fought off colonialists from their soil to avoid colonization and one of the two countries in Africa that weren't colonized. 

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