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Map of France-Africa relations.

France-Africa relations cover a period of several centuries, starting around in the Middle Ages, and have been very influential to both regions.


Early beginnings

According to some historians, French merchants from the Normandy cities of Dieppe and Rouen traded with the Gambia and Senegal coasts, and with the Ivory Coast and the Gold Coast, between 1364 and 1413.[1][2] Probably as a result, an ivory-carving industry developed in Dieppe after 1364.[3] These travels however were soon forgotten with the advent of the Hundred Years War in France.[3]

Barbary States

Contacts between Francis I of France and the Ottoman Emperor Suleiman the Magnificient were initiated in 1526, leading to a Franco-Ottoman alliance, which soon created close contacts with the Barbary States of Northern Africa, which were becoming vassals of the Ottoman Empire. The first Ottoman embassy to France was the Ottoman embassy to France (1533) led by Hayreddin Barbarossa, then head of the Barbary States in Algiers.

Suleiman ordered Barbarossa to put his fleet at the disposition of Francis I to attack Genoa and the Milanese.[4] In July 1533 Francis received Ottoman representatives at Le Puy, and he would dispatch in return Antonio Rincon to Barbarossa in North Africa and then to the Asia Minor.[5]

Various military actions were also coordinated during the Italian War of 1551–1559. In 1551, the Ottomans, accompanied by the French ambassador Gabriel de Luez d'Aramon, succeeded in the Siege of Tripoli.[6]


In 1659, France established the trading post of Saint-Louis, Senegal. The European powers continued contending for the island of Gorée, until in 1677, France led by Jean II d'Estrées during the Franco-Dutch War (1672–1678) ended up in possession of the island, which it would keep for the next 300 years.[7] In 1758 the French settlement was captured by a British expedition as part of the Seven Years' War, but was later returned to France in 1783.

French West Africa

In 1904, Dakar became the capital of French West Africa.

From 1880, France endeavoured to build a railway system, centered around the Saint-Louis-Dakar line that involved taking military control of the surrounding areas, leading to the military occupation of mainland Senegal.[8] The construction of the Dakar-Niger Railway also began at the end of the 19th century under the direction of the French officer Gallieni.

The first Governor General of Senegal was named in 1895, overseeing most the of territorial conquests of Western Africa, and in 1904, the territories were formally named French West Africa (AOF: "Afrique Occidentale Française"), of which Senegal was a part and Dakar its capital.

See also


  1. ^ African glory: the story of vanished Negro civilizations by John Coleman De Graft-Johnson p.121 [1]
  2. ^ Carter G. Woodson: a historical reader by Carter Godwin Woodson p.43 [2]
  3. ^ a b African glory: the story of vanished Negro civilizations by John Coleman De Graft-Johnson p.122 [3]
  4. ^ Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566 Roger Bigelow Merriman p.139 [4]
  5. ^ Suleiman the Magnificent 1520-1566 Roger Bigelow Merriman p.140 [5]
  6. ^ The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II by Fernand Braudel p.920- [6]
  7. ^ International Dictionary of Historic Places: Middle East and Africa by Trudy Ring p.303 [7]
  8. ^ Slavery and colonial rule in French West Africa Martin A. Klein p.59 [8]


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