On the eve of the First World War French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa administratively represented two areas ruled by governors-general. During the war the colonial possessions of France were extended. Togo and Cameroun, wrested from Germany, were divided between Britain and France. The division was sanctioned by the League of Nations, which in 1922 gave Britain and France mandates for administering Togo and the Cameroons.

  • West and Equatorial Africa under French Rule   ( 18 Articles )

    After 1922 most of the territory of Eastern Togo and East Cameroun were joined to the colonial empire of the Third Republic. After that, the French possessions included eight colonies in West Africa (Mauritania, Senegal, French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Dahomey, the French Sudan, Niger and Upper Volta), four colonies in Equatorial Africa (Gabon, the Middle Congo, Ubangi-Shari and Chad) and two mandated territories (Togo and Cameroun).

  • The Post-Independence Period   ( 2 Articles )

    By far most of the French possessions gained independence by non-military means. This came as a result of the exceptionally favourable international situation: the decisive influence exerted by socialism on world development and the sweeping movement against imperialism and colonialism, against aggression and war which spread throughout the world.

  • The Ivory Coast   ( 4 Articles )

    Following the proclamation of independence in August 1960, the Ivory Coast adopted a new constitution which instituted a presidential regime in the country. Felix Houphouet-Boigny, leader and founder of the Ivory Coast Democratic Party, became the republic's president and head of government. The Democratic Party was organised in 1946 on the basis of the African Planters' Union, and the big planters played the leading part in it. For 20 years it was the only party in the country.

  • Upper Volta (Burkina Faso)   ( 4 Articles )

    Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) gained independence on August 5, 1960. In November, a new constitution was adopted instituting a presidential regime in the country. Maurice Yameogo, General Secretary of the Volta Democratic Union (the local section of the African Democratic Assembly - RDA) became the country's first president.

  • Gabon   ( 3 Articles )

    Gabon is a country with very rich natural resources. She has one of the world's largest deposits of manganese ore and also reserves of oil, iron ore, non-ferrous metals and gold. Almost 90% of her territory is covered with dense tropical forests abounding in commercially valuable timber.

  • Guinea   ( 6 Articles )

    Guinea has embarked on the road of independent development in extremely hard conditions, being the first country in French Tropical Africa to get rid of colonial status. After the referendum of September 28, 1958, when the people of Guinea voted for independence, the French Government at once recalled all technical specialists. French companies withdrew from Guinea much capital and simultaneously the young state was refused any new credits. When they left the country, the French carried away the technical documentation of factories and offices. The difficulties facing the young state were especially great because the French Government actually instituted control over exports to the former colony, depriving it of many European-made goods.

  • Dahomey   ( 7 Articles )

    The ethnic composition of the population of Dahomey (from 1975 The People's Republic of Benin) was extremely diverse. Three rival regions have historically arisen in the country's territory: the north, where Baribas, Sombas and other peoples live; the district of Abomey, capital of the Fon state (Fons are the country's main nationality); and the Porto Novo district inhabited by Yorubas. The ethnic differences between regions were supplemented by economic differences between the extremely backward northern districts and the south which is somewhat ahead in its development. Subsistence or semi-subsistence peasant farming prevailed on most of the territory, and this facilitated the preservation of regionalism. The rural community and the patriarchal family remained the basic cells of the social structure. The disintegration of the rural community had advanced only in the south, where the oil palm was cultivated (these districts provide three-fourths of Dahomey's agricultural production for the market). Here communal landownership is giving way to private. Some members of the feudal-patriarchal nobility owned plantations running into hundreds of hectares. The leasing of land has spread, seasonal work has developed and a rather numerous group of agricultural workers has emerged.

  • Cameroon   ( 5 Articles )

    East Cameroon, a UN trust territory which had been under French administration, was proclaimed the Republic of Cameroon on January 1, 1960. West Cameroon, a trust territory under Britain, was administratively part of the British colony of Nigeria. After the proclamation of Nigeria's independence (October 1960), a plebiscite was held in the Northern and Southern parts of West Cameroon in February 1961 to decide their future, in accordance with a UN decision. In the Northern Cameroons, the population voted to remain in Nigeria and this territory became part of Nigeria's Northern Region in June 1961. In the Southern Cameroons, the people voted for reunification with the Republic of Cameroon, and the Federal Republic of Cameroon was formed on October 1, 1961. The two parts of the federation are respectively named East Cameroon (former Republic of Cameroon) and West Cameroon (former Southern Cameroons). According to the federal constitution adopted in October 1961, both territories are member states of the federation. Each of them enjoys autonomy and has its own government and Legislative Assembly. In West Cameroon, some powers of a legislative nature have been retained by the House of Chiefs. The competence of the federation includes: foreign affairs, national defence, internal and external security, regulation of the economy, including foreign trade, currency, taxation, federal budget, higher education, transport, communications, etc. Representatives of East Cameroon, which has a much bigger territory and population and is economically more developed than West Cameroon, predominate in the country's federal agencies.

  • The Congo (Brazzaville)   ( 5 Articles )

    Independence of the former French Congo was proclaimed on August 15, 1960. The newly-free country faced tremendous odds. In 1958, per capita output amounted only to 31,300 African francs. In most of the country the patriarchal-feudal order, intertwined both with emergent capitalist relations and tribal survivals, was preserved. Communal ownership of the land predominated. The national bourgeoisie arose only in secondary sectors of the economy. In 1960, there were no more than 30,000 workers in the country. Under the pressure of the national-liberation movement, the Congo was proclaimed an autonomous republic within the French Community in July 1958. A struggle for power then flared up between the Congolese parties. The Democratic Union for the Defence of African Interests (DU) was the most reactionary of all the parties. Founded in 1956 with the support of the colonial authorities, it represented part of the local bourgeoisie, the patriarchal-feudal elite, Catholic clergy and civil servants, who were interested in preserving the domination of foreign monopoly capital. Two other parties ― the Congolese Progressive Party and the African Socialist Movement (ASM) ― hardly differed from the DU in social composition, but they demanded certain restrictions of foreign control and democratisation of internal political life. Jacques Opangolt became the first prime minister of the autonomous republic in July 1958. He was general secretary of the ASM, which had a majority in the Legislative Assembly at that time. But in November 1958, Abbe Joulou, chairman of the DU, staged what virtually amounted to a coup with the help of the colonial police and the army. At first Joulou was prime minister of the autonomous republic and after August 15, 1960, became the first head of the state and government of the independent republic. The history of independent Congo is divided into two stages ―  the period of Joulou's neo-colonialist rule and the post-revolutionary period.

  • Mauritania   ( 2 Articles )

    Three-fourths of the territory of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania are located in the Sahara Desert. The meagre pasture-lands in some parts of the desert can maintain only a small number of livestock. That is why almost the entire population of the country is concentrated south of 18°N, near the capital Nouakshott. Here in the sahel zone nomads raised cattle, sheep, goats and camels and collected gum of wild-growing acacias used in the making of dyes and some fabrics. In the southernmost part of the country the population settled in the Senegal River valley grows African millet on alluvial soils. The nomads did not live near the river because their camels could hardly stand the humid climate. Mauritanians who engage in nomad stock-raising were primarily an Arabic-speaking Europoid people, descendants of Berbers who in the Middle Ages intermingled with the Arabs. The language and customs of these nomads have been adopted by part of the Negro-Africans ― Haratins. The settled Negroid population in the south constitutes a special group: these are chiefly Toucouleurs who live both in Mauritania and in adjacent Senegal and Mali.

  • Mali   ( 4 Articles )

    The distinctive features of economic life in the Republic of Mali largely stem from the diversity of its natural conditions. Farming is the main occupation of the Negroid peoples inhabiting the Sudanese savanna. As in the past, the bulk of the peasants employ the shift-and-fallow cultivation system, burning down the vegetation cover in the dry season. Only few peasant families used ploughs. The most fertile soils were in the valley of the Niger and they took up approximately 300,000 sq. km. Owing to the arid climate, cereal yields were unstable. The southern part of the valley, where the climate is more humid, is the main producer of African millet and the district of the Niger's inland delta, a rice producer. North of the Niger, in semi-desert and desert areas, farming is practised only in the oases. The Arabs and Tuaregs living here were chiefly stock herders. The sahel districts located between 14° and 18°N. have vast pasture-lands and, in the opinion of some specialists, could serve as a basis for creating a "new Australia". Stock-raising is of an extensive nature, with epizootics and the shortage of water leading to considerable losses. Nevertheless, in the late 1950-s Mali held first place among West African countries for the head of cattle, sheep and goats.

  • Niger   ( 4 Articles )

    Located deep in the interior, the Republic of Niger is called a bridge between North and Tropical Africa. Although the country bears the name of a great African river, it is only in its westernmost part that the people's life is connected with the Niger River. Niger is a land of deserts and semi-deserts, which take up 70% of the entire territory, a land of rare oases often linked only by caravan paths. More than 20% of the population are nomad stock-raisers: Tuaregs, Fulanis, Arabs and Tibbus. Djerma and Songhai farmers and fishermen live in the west and Hausa farmers and artisans, in the south. The geographical location of Niger (the great distance from the sea), her natural conditions and specific features of the nomadic life led by a considerable part of the population have largely determined the republic's economic backwardness even as compared with other African countries.

  • Senegal   ( 4 Articles )

    The independence of Senegal was proclaimed in June 1960. At first, Senegal and the former French Sudan (the present Republic of Mali), when they gained their independence, united in the Federation of Mali. But two months later, because of a number of economic, political and ideological reasons, the federation disintegrated.The constitution, adopted by the National Assembly on August 25, 1960, proclaimed Senegal a "laic, democratic and social republic". A bourgeois democratic parliamentary regime was established. Executive authority was divided between the president and the prime minister; the head of the government was responsible to the National Assembly, the highest legislative authority. In March 1963, a new constitution came into force instituting a presidential regime. Leopold Sedar Senghor, president of Senegal since the proclamation of independence, became the head of the state, government and the armed forces.

  • Togo   ( 2 Articles )

    The small Republic of Togo, set up on the former French mandate territory, stretches in a narrow strip 600 km. long from the Gulf of Guinea deep into the interior. Owing to different climatic zones ― mountainous districts with high humidity and relatively arid regions of the Sudanese savanna ― the people cultivated a wide range of crops. In 1950's disintegration of the patriarchal and feudal way of life and the emergence of capitalist relations were proceeding quite swifty. This was facilitated by the considerable growth of plantations in the southern, most developed districts after the Second World War. Tens of thousands of peasants left the backward central and northern regions for southern Togo and neighbouring Ghana. They hired out as sharecroppers on coffee and tea plantations belonging to prosperous Ewes (Togo's largest ethnical group).

  • Central African Republic   ( 4 Articles )

    A new stage in the history of the Central African Republic (formerly the French colony of Ubangi-Shari), the stage of its independent political development, began on August 13, 1960. The republic received a bitter legacy from the colonial regime. In 1960, the per capita gross social product barely reached 27,000 African francs CFA or less than $100. The economy was one-sided. Three items ― diamonds, cotton and coffee ― accounted for 80% of all exports in 1960. On the very day when political independence was proclaimed the republic's government signed a string of "cooperation" agreements, assuming the obligation to consult France on matters of foreign policy, defence, economics, finances, the use of strategic raw materials and the organisation of its transport system and higher education.

  • Chad   ( 2 Articles )

    The Republic of Chad, far removed from the Atlantic and Indian oceans, is situated at the crossing of roads which have for ages linked the Western and Eastern Sudan and the Mediterranean area and Tropical Africa. The entire northern part of the country lies in the Sahara, where only a few oases and rare seasonal pastures can be found amidst the sands and barren mountains. A semi-desert extends farther to the south. Still farther south stretches the savanna with a longer rain season which feeds the wadis. In the early 1960's african millet and sorghum were the traditional food crops grown by the settled population in the savanna. Groundnuts and cotton were exporting, with the latter cultivated chiefly in the basins of the Shari and the Logone. Lastly, the floodlands of the Logone were suitable for the growing of rice, which was in big demand in Fort-Lamy, Fort-Archambault, Moundou and Bongor.