French West Africa

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Related to Afrique Occidentale Française: AEF

French West Africa,

former federation of eight French overseas territories. The constituent territories were Dahomey (now Benin), French Guinea (now Guinea), French Sudan (now Mali), Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). The federation was created in 1895 to consolidate the French holdings in W Africa and was definitively constituted in 1904. It was ruled by a governor-general, who resided first in Saint-LouisSaint-Louis
, city (1988 pop. 160,689), NW Senegal, a port at the mouth of the Senegal River. The terminus of a railroad from Dakar, it is a fishing, trade, and export center for peanuts, hides, and skins.
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, then in DakarDakar
, city (1988 pop. 672,991), capital of Senegal, W Senegal, on Cape Verde Peninsula, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. Situated in a market-gardening region, Dakar is Senegal's largest city and its administrative, communications, and economic center.
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. During World War II the federation supported the Vichy government until Nov., 1942, when it accepted the authority of the Free French. In 1958 the constituent territories became autonomous republics in the French CommunityFrench Community,
established in 1958 by the constitution of the Fifth French Republic to replace the French Union. Its members consisted of the French Republic, which included metropolitan France (continental France, Corsica, Algeria and the Sahara), the overseas territories
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, except for Guinea, which became independent. The federation was dissolved in 1959.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

French West Africa


a political and administrative association of French colonial possessions in West Africa that was created between 1895 and 1904 and existed until October 1958. In 1958 it included Senegal, Mauritania, the French Sudan, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Dahomey, and Niger. The colonies were administered from Dakar in Senegal.

Under pressure from the anti-imperialist movement, which gained momentum after World War II, the French government in 1958 granted the colonies the status of autonomous republics within French West Africa. At that time Guinea opted for independence. In 1960 independence was declared by the Ivory Coast, Dahomey, Upper Volta, Niger, and Mauritania. Senegal and the Sudanese Republic (the former French Sudan) merged in April 1959 to form the Mali Federation, which declared its independence in June 1960. When Senegal seceded in August 1960 the Sudanese Republic was proclaimed the Republic of Mali.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

French West Africa

a former group (1895--1958) of French Overseas Territories: consisted of Senegal, Mauritania, French Sudan, Burkina-Faso, Niger, French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Dahomey
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005