French North Africa (French: Afrique du Nord française, sometimes abbreviated to ANF) is a term often applied to the three territories that were controlled by France in the North African Maghreb during the colonial era, namely Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In contrast to French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa which existed as federations of French colonies and administrative entities in their own right, French North Africa was never more than a term of convenience to refer to the three separately governed territories under different forms of colonial regime.[1]


In the 19th century, the decline of the Ottoman Empire, which had loosely controlled the area since the 16th century, left the region vulnerable to other forces. In 1830, French troops captured Algiers and from 1848 until independence in 1962, France treated Algeria as an integral part of France, the Métropole or metropolitan France.[2] In subsequent decades, a substantial European settler population emerged in Algeria known as the Pieds-Noirs. Seeking to expand their influence beyond Algeria, the French established protectorates to the east and west of it. The French protectorate of Tunisia was established in 1881, following a swift military invasion,[3] and the French protectorate in Morocco in 1912, following a prolonged military campaign. These lasted until 1956 when both protectorates gained full independence, Tunisia on 20 March and Morocco on 7 April.

French rule in North Africa was finally ended as a result of the Algerian War (1954–62) and the Évian Accords of March 1962 which enabled the Algerian independence referendum of July 1962.[4] Algeria formally became independent the same month.

See also


  1. ^ Hoisington, William A. Jr. (1991). "The Mediterranean Committee and French North Africa, 1935–1940". The Historian. 53 (2): 255. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1991.tb00806.x.
  2. ^ J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver, The Cambridge History of Africa, vol. 6 (1985), p. 159
  3. ^ William E. Watson, Tricolor and Crescent: France and the Islamic World (2003), p. 28
  4. ^ Serge Berstein, The Republic of de Gaulle 1958–1969 (1993), p. 54.

Further reading