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French Somaliland

French Somaliland
Côte Française des Somalis
Dhulka Faransiiska ee Soomaaliya
أرض الصومال الفرنسي
Colony (1896-1946)
Overseas territory (1946-1967)


La Marseillaise  •  Djibouti
(instrumental only)
French Somaliland in 1922
Capital Djibouti
Languages French, Somali, Afar, Arabic
Religion Islam, Christianity
Government Dependent territory
 •  1896-1899 Léonce Lagarde
 •  1966-1967 Louis Saget
Historical era New Imperialism
 •  Established May 20, 1896
 •  Italian invasion June 18, 1940
 •  British occupation December 28, 1942
 •  Status changed to overseas territory October 27, 1946
 •  Renamed July 5, 1967
 •  1963 23,200 km² (8,958 sq mi)
 •  1963 est. 165,000 
     Density 7.1 /km²  (18.4 /sq mi)
Currency French franc
French Somaliland franc
Today part of  Djibouti
Part of a series on the
Emblem of Djibouti
Middle Ages
Colonial period
Modern period
Republic of Djibouti
Djibouti portal

French Somaliland (French: Côte française des Somalis, lit. "French Coast of Somalis"; Somali: Dhulka Faransiiska ee Soomaaliya; Arabic: أرض الصومال الفرنسي‎, ʾArḍ Aṣ-Ṣūmāl Al-Fransī) was a French colony in the Horn of Africa. It was established between 1883 and 1887, after the ruling Somali and Afar sultans signed the land away in various treaties with the French.[1][2][3] The construction of the Imperial Ethiopian Railway west into Ethiopia turned the port of Djibouti into a boomtown of 15,000[4] at a time when Harar was the only city in Ethiopia to exceed that.[5] Although the population fell after the completion of the line to Dire Dawa and the original company failed and required a government bail-out, the rail link allowed the territory to quickly supersede the caravan-based trade carried on at Zeila[6] (then in the British area of Somaliland) and become the premier port for coffee and other goods leaving southern Ethiopia and the Ogaden through Harar.

The railroad continued to operate following the Italian conquest of Ethiopia but, following the tumult of the Second World War, the area became an overseas territory of France in 1946. In 1967, French Somaliland was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas and, in 1977, it became the independent country of Djibouti.

See also


  1. ^ Hugh Chisholm (ed.) The Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed., Vol. 25, p. 383. 1911.
  2. ^ Raph Uwechue, Africa year book and who's who, (Africa Journal Ltd.: 1977), p. 209 ISBN 0903274051.
  3. ^ A Political Chronology of Africa, (Taylor & Francis: 2001), p. 132 ISBN 1857431162.
  4. ^ "Jibuti" [i.e., Djibouti] in the Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed., Vol. 15. 1911.
  5. ^ "Abyssinia" [i.e., Ethiopia] in the Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed, Vol. 1. 1911.
  6. ^ "Zaila" [i.e., Zeila] in the Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed., Vol. 28. 1911.

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