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Location of British West Africa.

British West Africa was the collective name for British colonies in West Africa during the colonial period, either in the general geographical sense or more specifically those comprised in a formal colonial administrative entity. The United Kingdom colonised varying parts of these territories or the whole from the late 1780s until the 1960s.

Contents

Historical jurisdiction

British West Africa or the British West African Settlements constituted during two periods (17 October 1821 until its first dissolution on 13 January 1850 and again 19 February 1866 till its final demise on 24 November 1888) an administrative entity under a governor-in-chief (comparable in rank to a Governor-general), an office vested in the governor of Sierra Leone (at Freetown).

The various colonies were established mainly to aid the efforts of the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron rather than any expansionist or economic reasons. Coaling stations and depots were built in the coastal villages and, because jobs were created for the local population, newcomers flocked into them and the villages grew into cities.

The other colonies originally included in the jurisdiction were the Gambia and the British Gold Coast (modern Ghana). Nigeria as a whole never was, but since the re-constitution in 1866 its nucleus, Lagos territory, was.

Flag of British West Africa

Aftermath

Even after its final dissolution, a single currency, the British West African pound, was in effect throughout the region -including Nigeria- from 1907 to 1962.

Nigeria gained independence in 1960. Sierra Leone was self-governing by 1958 and gained independence in 1960. Gambia gained independence in 1965. In 1954, the British Gold Coast was allowed by Britain to self-govern and in 1957, the Gold Coast was given independence from Britain, under the name Ghana.

See also

Royal West African Frontier Force

Sources and references

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