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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Afrique équatoriale française
French Equatorial Africa
Federation of French colonies








Capital Brazzaville
Political structure Federation
 - 1908–17 Martial Henri Merlin
 - 1951–57 Paul Louis Gabriel Chauvet
 - 1957–58 Paul Louis Gabriel Chauvet
 - 1958 Pierre Messmer
 - Established January 15, 1910
 - Disestablished September 1958
Currency French Equatorial African franc
CFA franc

French Equatorial Africa (French: Afrique équatoriale française) or the AEF was the federation of French colonial possessions in Middle Africa, extending northwards from the Congo River to the Sahara Desert.

Established in 1910, the federation contained four territories — Gabon, Middle Congo (now the Republic of the Congo), Oubangui-Chari (or Ubangi-Shari, now the Central African Republic) and Chad, although the last was not organized as a separate entity until 1920. The governor-general was based in Brazzaville with deputies in each territory.

In 1911 France ceded parts of the territory to German Kamerun as a result of the Agadir Crisis. The territory was returned after Germany's defeat in World War I, while Cameroun proper became a French League of Nations mandate not integrated into the AEF.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s an anti-colonial movement Société Amicale des Originaires de l'A.E.F. was established by André Matsoua,[1] seeking French citizenship for the territory's inhabitants.[2]

During World War II the federation rallied to the Free French Forces under Félix Éboué (August 1940, except for Gabon which was Vichy French between 16 June 1940 and 12 November 1940) and became the centre for their activities in Africa.

Under France's Fourth Republic (1946–58), the federation was represented in the French parliament. When the territories voted in the September 1958 referendum to become autonomous within the French Community, the federation was dissolved. In 1959 the new republics formed an interim association called the Union of Central African Republics, before becoming fully independent in August 1960.


Postage stamps

The postal administrations of the four territories were separate until 1936, each issuing its own stamps. In that year, stamps of Gabon and Middle Congo were overprinted AFRIQUE / ÉQUATORIALE / FRANÇAISE. A definitive series for the colony followed in 1937, featuring local scenes and key (French) figures in the formation of the colony, with various colour and value changes each year through 1940.

The 1937 series was overprinted AFRIQUE FRANÇAISE / LIBRE or just LIBRE in 1940 by the Free French, and in 1941 they issued a series depicting a phoenix rising from the flames.

A new definitive series, featuring local scenery and people, was issued in 1946, and another twenty-odd stamps came out during the 1950s, with the last being the omnibus Human Rights issue on 10 December 1958.

See also


  1. ^ Ansprenger, Franz. The Dissolution of the Colonial Empires. London: Routledge, 1989. p. 103
  2. ^ Bazenguissa-Ganga, Rémy. Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique. Paris: Karthala, 1997. p. 29


  • Pakenham, Thomas (1991) The scramble for Africa, 1876–1912, London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 738 p., ISBN 0-29-781130-4
  • Petringa, Maria (2006) Brazzà, A Life for Africa, Milton Keynes : AuthorHouse, 276 p., ISBN 1-4259-1198-6

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

"FRENCH EQUATORIAL AFRICA (Afrique Equatoriale Frangaise; or A.E.F.), formerly French Congo (see 11.99), is an immense region stretching from the mouth of the Congo to Tripoli, from the Atlantic to Egypt, covering an area of about 870,000 sq. miles. It is therefore more than four times the size of France. The coast is but little developed and is as a rule flat and sandy. There are few good ports. At a short distance from the Atlantic the country rises to a plateau between 2,300 and 2,700 ft. high, in which lies the vast depression of the closed basin of the Chad. The chief characteristic of the colony is its magnificent river system. It has the Congo for a distance of 370 m. of its course of 2,500 m., its great tributaries (the Sanga or Sangha and Ubangi), the Ogowe (801 m.), and the huge expanse of Lake Chad, which receives the water of the whole of the Schari and Logone valleys. In natural characteristics there are two clearly distinct zones - forest and brush. Tropical forest with luxuriant vegetation and intense animal life covers the Gabun and the valleys of the Sanga and Ubangi; brush reigns up to and beyond Lake Chad. The climate is extremely humid and painfully hot.

Estimates of the population range from 6 to 10 millions. Sleeping sickness is very prevalent. There are many different races and varied types among the natives, but two main groups can be recognized. There are the sedentary people of the forest zone who are very savage and occasionally cannibal, but can adapt themselves to agriculture, and the Nomad tribes of the brush country who are warlike herdsmen influenced by Islam.

A.E.F. is a colony of special growth. Its frontiers were laid down by diplomacy before the country had been explored. The main steps in French occupation of Equatorial Africa were: - (I.) Foundation of French Congo (1842-82), and the great exploration expeditions of de Brazza. (II.) The Berlin Conference and the General Act of 1889 which established international understanding with regard to freedom of navigation and trade in basins and mouths of the Congo and the Niger, and as to the formalities to be observed in order to make the fresh occupations of Africa effective. (III.) The period of political and diplomatic action over the Congo between 1889 and 1909, when a number of Boundary Conventions were signed. (IV.) French expansion towards the Upper Nile, which gave rise to the Fashoda incident (1898) and a declaration in 1899 in which the eastern limits of the French zone of influence in West Africa were laid down.

(V.) French expansion in the Chad. The work of the great explorers Crampel, Maistre, Gentil and Maj. Lamy brought about the realization of the ambitious plan of linking up, through Lake Chad, the oases of Algeria and the shores of the Ubangi.

In 1911, following upon the Agadir incident, A.E.F. enabled France to compensate Germany for the rights she ceded to France in Morocco. The colony then lost nearly 10o,000 sq. m. of territory, which was joined on to German Cameroon. This was restored by the Treaty of Versailles.


A.E.F. is an amalgamation of four different colonies under a governor-general. This post was created by decree June 26 1908, and a further decree Jan. 15 1910 gave definite form to the new administration.

The Government General of French Equatorial Africa consists of the following colonies: Gabun (cap. Libreville) 104,000 sq. m. Middle Congo (cap. Brazzaville) 89,000 sq. m. Ubangi-Schari (cap. Bangi) 193,000 sq. m. Chad (March 17 1920) 482.000 sq. M.

The supreme administrative head is the governor-general who resides at Brazzaville. The different colonies preserve their administrative and financial autonomy and are governed by lieutenantgovernors with the exception of the Chad, which has either a civil or a military administrator. A government council assists the governor-general, who has his delegates in Paris at the Office Colonial and at the Supreme Colonial Council.


The policy pursued with regard to colonization of this vast country has not been very successful. Big concessions have been given to large colonizing companies for the economic development of large tracts of country. Of 40 concessionary companies only very few have proved successful. The only benefit derived from this system has been that river transport has been organized and the resources of the country have been made known. The great drawback in A.E.F. is lack of transport. The rivers provide practically the only means of communication, and the execution of the plan of railway construction is urgently desirable. A bill authorizing a loan of 171,000,000 francs for the construction and improvement of all methods of communication was approved in 1920.


Natural produce is varied. Rubber is the chief vegetable resource. It has so far been found impossible to establish practical rubber plantations, and the rubber output of the colony is wild. Rubber exports, naturally, suffered from the world crisis. Exports in 1913 were 1,600 tons, 1914 600 tons, 1915 1,400 tons, 1917 3,000 tons, 1920 2,140 tons worth 14,156,000 francs. The quality is undeniably good, but there is no great demand for this type of rubber on the French market.

The oil palm is the next important resource. It is very widely distributed but was but little exploited before the war. The export of kernels has been greatly encouraged by the administration and has attracted European firms, thanks to which the export figure for 1920 was nearly 7,000 tons of the value of over 4,000,000 francs. Tobacco and cotton grow wild in the colony. Cocoa and coffee cultivation is on the increase and is attracting attention from European firms. Of all the French colonies A.E.F. is the most richly wooded, 54,000 sq. m. being covered by dense forest, in which the presence of mahogany and rosewood, of tulip and walnut, show the diversity of this almost inexhaustible source of wealth. Before long the annual log production will amount to 450,000 tons. In 1921 the figure was 150,000 tons. Exports in 1920 amounted to 66,000 tons of a value of 6,238,000 francs. The possibility of producing wood-pulp on a large scale has to be borne in mind.

So many elephants have been killed that there are large stocks of ivory in the country. Exports of ivory in 1920 amounted to 93,636 kgm., worth 4,700,000 francs.

The export of whale-oil has been recently started. There are large herds of sheep and cattle in the brush country of the northern districts, which will become of increasing value as it is opened up. There would seem to be a mining future before the country. But few companies have been floated and the underground wealth is still but little known. Copper exists with a yield of 45%, and mines are' in some places already being worked, but in a rudimentary fashion, on a belt of about 60 m. in the middle Congo. Railways alone can bring about the proper development of this district, which is 190 m. from the coast.

General Trade reached its top pre-war figure in 1913 with 57,846,- 000 francs. It fell to just over 22,000,000 francs in 1915 and has since slowly picked up. In 1920 the total was 49,801,000 francs, a figure partly due to inflated prices. There are signs, however, of a return to the normal progress in trade. Imports accounted for over 18,000,000 francs of this sum. (G. A.; M. R.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Proper noun

French Equatorial Africa (uncountable)

  1. (historical) A federation in central Africa, stretching from the Sahara to the Congo River.


  • French: Afrique Équatoriale Française f.


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