Swiss scholars were interested in Ethiopia since the time of Renaissance. In the 19th Century then, missionaries and travellers started discovering the country and established relations on a people-to-people base. The most prominent Swiss citizen was Alfred Ilg, an engineer from Frauenfeld who served Emperor Menelik II from 1889 to 1907 as advisor. He had a considerable influence on Ethiopia’s foreign policy and greatly contributed to her modernisation.
With the conclusion of a Treaty on Friendship and Commerce on 24 May 1933 they were formalised for the first time. After the Italian-Ethiopian War and World War II they intensified steadily: Diplomatic relations were established on 2 May 1952. In 1955, Switzerland opened a diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa which was upgraded to an Embassy on 4 June 1962.