French Somaliland
Côte française des Somalis (French)
Dhulka Soomaaliyeed ee Faransiiska (Somali)
الساحل الصومالي الفرنسي وتوابعه
Flag of
Anthem: La Marseillaise
French Somaliland in 1922
French Somaliland in 1922
StatusColony of France (1884–1946)
Overseas territory of France (1946–1967)
Common languagesFrench, Somali, Afar, Arabic
Christianity, Islam
French Somali
GovernmentDependent territory
• 1884–1899
Léonce Lagarde
• 1966–1967
Louis Saget
Historical eraNew Imperialism
• Established
May 20 1883
June 18, 1940
December 28, 1942
• Status changed to overseas territory
October 27, 1946
• Renamed
July 5 1967
CurrencyFrench franc
French Somaliland franc
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Khedivate's Somali Coast
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas
Today part ofDjibouti

French Somaliland (French: Côte française des Somalis, lit.'French Coast of the Somalis' Somali: Xeebta Soomaaliyeed ee Faransiiska) was a French colony in the Horn of Africa. It existed between 1884 and 1967, at which time it became the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas. The Republic of Djibouti is its legal successor state.[1]


French Somaliland was formally established in 1896 after the Issa[2] and Afar each signed a treaty with the French, but iterations of what will eventually become French Somaliland existed for few decades prior to the official formation.

On March 11, 1862, a treaty signed by Afar Sultan Raieta Dini Ahmet in Paris ceded the territory of Obock for 10,000 thalaris, around 55,000 francs. Later on, that treaty was used by Captain Alphonse Fleuriot de Langle to colonize the south of the Bay of Tadjoura. On March 26, 1885 the French signed another treaty with the Issa making the latter a protectorate under the French. No money changed hands and the Somalis did not sign away any of their land rights; the agreement was meant to protect their land from outsiders with the help of the French. However, after the French sailors of the Le Pingouin vessel were mysteriously killed in Ambado in 1886, the French first blamed the British, then the Somalis, using the incident to lay claim to the entire southern territory.[3][4][5][6] [7][8]

An attempt by Russian adventurer Nikolay Ivanovitch Achinov to establish a settlement at Sagallo in 1889 was promptly thwarted by French forces after just one month.

Coast of the Somalis and dependencies
Coast of the Somalis and dependencies
Map showing the new borders of French Somaliland following the cession of territory to Italian Eritrea in 1935
Map showing the new borders of French Somaliland following the cession of territory to Italian Eritrea in 1935

The construction of the Imperial Ethiopian Railway west into Ethiopia turned the port of Djibouti into a boomtown of 15,000[9] at a time when Harar was the only city in Ethiopia with a greater population.[10] Although the city's population fell after the completion of the line to Dire Dawa and the bankruptcy (and subsequent government bail-out) of the original company, the rail link allowed Djibouti to quickly overtake the caravan-based trade out of Zeila[11] (then in British Somaliland) and become the premier port for coffee and other goods leaving southern Ethiopia and the Ogaden through Harar.

The railway continued operating after the Italian conquest of Ethiopia but following the tumult of the Second World War, the area became a French overseas territory in 1946. In 1967, French Somaliland was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas and, in 1977, became the independent country of Djibouti.

See also


  1. ^ France Ministère des colonies, Sous-secrétariat des colonies; DÉCRET N° 120, ARTICLE PREMIER (1896). "Bulletin officiel du Ministère des colonies". Retrieved 2020-10-24.
  2. ^ "IREL, visualisation d'images". Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  3. ^ Henri, Brunschwig (1968). "Histoire Africaine". Cahiers d'Études africaines. 8 (29): 32–47. doi:10.3406/cea.1968.3123.
  4. ^ "Tracer des frontières à Djibouti". Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  5. ^ Adolphe, Martens; Challamel, Augustin; C, Luzac (1899). Le Regime de Protectorats. Bruxelles: Institut Colonial Internationale. p. 383.
  6. ^ Simon, Imbert-Vier (2011). Trace des frontiere a Djibouti. Paris: Khartala. p. 128.
  7. ^ Raph Uwechue, Africa year book and who's who, (Africa Journal Ltd.: 1977), p. 209 ISBN 0903274051.
  8. ^ A Political Chronology of Africa, (Taylor & Francis: 2001), p. 132 ISBN 1857431162.
  9. ^ "Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Jibuti" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 414.
  10. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abyssinia" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 86.
  11. ^ "Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Zaila" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 950.

Further reading

Coordinates: 11°36′N 43°10′E / 11.600°N 43.167°E / 11.600; 43.167