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Literature on the History of East Africa
Ethiopia Eritrea
First posted on July 2nd 2002, last revised on November 14th 2013







History of the Obock/French Somali Coast/Djibouti : Narrative . References : Online Secondary Sources . Online Primary Sources . Bibliographic and Print Sources



NARRATIVE
1862-1896 . 1896-1946 . 1946-1967 . 1974-1990 . Since 1977


Obock, 1862-1896
Construction of the Suez Canal began in 1859; the opening took place in 1869. It was a French-financed project, organized by Ferdinand de Lesseps. The French, in order to establish their presence at the southern end of the Red Sea (where the English already had a colony at Aden) in 1862 acquired, for a sum of 10,000 Maria Theresa Thalers, the right to establish and administrate a suitable port facility at Obock or anywhere else along the coast between Eritrea and Tadjoura, by treaty with the Sultans of Tadjoura, Gobaad and Raheita.
The French established a port; the French made use of the Suez Canal and Red Sea route when France acquired Indochina in the 1850es-1880es; ships to and from Indochina called at the port of Obock, a major coaling station. In 1881, the Franco-Ethiopian Trading Co. was founded, with seat in Obock. In 1884, Leonce Lagarde was appointed French governor of Obock; he expanded the colony and is regarded the real founder of the Cotes des Somalis protectorate.
In the 1880es, interest in the region, both political (colonial) and economical, intensified. At the Berlin Conference, France claimed its share of the Somali coast as defined in the Obock treaty. The first coffee plantation was set up. In 1888, an Anglo-French agreement delimiting their mutual spheres of influence on the northern Somali coast was signed.
An Egyptian expedition in 1873 established military outposts in the area, among others in Massawa, Zeila and Tadjoura. In 1884-1885 Egypt got preoccupied by the Mahdiyya in the Sudan; France seized the opportunity and proclaimed a protectorate over Tadjoura in 1884. France's war with China over Tonkin (1884-1885) increased Obock's importance. The population grew from 800 in 1884 to 2,000 in 1886.
In 1888 the port city of Djibouti was founded; in 1891 the French administration of the Cote des Somalis was transferred there, but Obock and Djibouti were still treated as separate entities : stamps were issued separately for Obock and the Somali Coast between 1892 and 1894.



French Somali Coast Colony, 1896-1946
In 1896, the French Somali Coast Colony was established.
While Obock had primarily the function of a port of call for bypassing French ships, Djibouti had the function of providing access to Ethiopia. The French supplied Ethiopia with European weapons, weapons the Ethiopians required to defend their independence against Italy and others.
While the Berlin Congress of 1884/1885 mainly was concerned about coastal stretches of Africa, in the 1890es European colonial powers were in an intense competition over stretches of inland Africa. Britain's Cecil Rhodes pushed to get a line from Cape to Cairo under British control; France countered with the Dakar-Djibouti line. In 1894, Negus Menelik of Ethiopia granted France the right to construct a railway line across his country, to the White Nile. The agreement signed after the Fashoda Crisis (1898) ended France's hopes of establishing the Dakar-Djibouti line. Djibouti was connected by railway with Diredawa (Ethiopia) by 1902; the line was extended to Addis Ababa in 1917.
In 1904 the size of the territory was given as 36.000 square km, the population estimated at 200,000.
Djibouti continued to serve as a port and coal station for French ships en route to or from Indochina and as a port from which landlocked Ethiopia could be supplied.
In 1935, the Italians invaded Ethiopia, which surrendered in 1936. The League of Nations called for an economic boycott of Italy and it's colonies, a boycott France observed; this boycott was especially harmful to Djibouti's trade with (now Italian) Ethiopia.
World War II broke out in September 1939; France surrendered to invading German troops on June 25th 1940. In unoccupied southern France, an administration centered in Vichy, headed by Henri Philippe Petain was formed. The colonial administration in Djibouti recognized the legitimacy of the Vichy administration.
In 1941, the British occupied Italian East Africa. The administration in Djibouti remained loyal to Vichy until December 28th 1942, when it transferred it's allegiance to the Free French government.

French Somali Coast, Oveaseas Territory, 1946-1967
In 1946, the status was changes, from that of a colony to that of an overseas territory.

Afars and Issas Territory, French, 1967-1977
In 1967, the territory was renamed into the Afars and Issas Territory, now ruled by a high commissioner instead of a governor. In 1955 the Diocesis of Djibouti was established. The Issas (ca. 50 % of the population) are a branch of the Somali people; their representatives long advocated unification with Somalia; the Afar (ca. 40 %) were against this step. Independence had been postponed due to the lack of agreement over the territory's political future; it was finally declared in 1977.

Independence, since 1977
Independence was declared in 1977. In 1979, the RPP (People's Movement for Progress) was founded as a multiethnic party (to overcome the ethnic friction between Afars and Issas); in 1981 Djibouti became a one-party-state. In 1991 ethnic tensions, which turned violent in the Afar rebellion, broke out. A new constitution, passed in 1992, foresees multiparty democracy.
French military presence continues. Djibouti is member of the OAU, the UNO, the Arab League.

Historic Encyclopedia Entries : Adal 1854-1885

Students' Paper : Sung Ji Yun, History of Nutrition in East Africa (2012)






WEB-BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . EXTERNAL SECONDARY SOURCES
Country Profiles . Links . Organizations . Accounts of History . Politics . Military History . Economic History . Social History . Ethnography
History of Religion . Regional History . Local History . Institutions . Culture . Biography . Environmental History . Others
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Organizations
Historical Dictionaries
Timelines from BBC News
Accounts of History General, Modern from Wikipedia
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General, Historical
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Languages of Djibouti (4), from Ethnologue
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Others

WEB-BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . EXTERNALLY POSTED PRIMARY SOURCES
Historical Data . Statistical Data . Documents Newspapers . Yearbooks . Image Databanks . Archival Deposits . Laws . Historiography
Document Collections . Historical Maps . Historical Encyclopedia Articles . Travelogues . Institutions . National Symbols
Historical Data Lists of Statesmen from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon), from Rulers (B. Schemmel), from World Rulers (E. Schulz, illustrated)
Lists of Ambassadors U.S. Ambassadors to Djibouti, from NNDB: Chinese Ambassadors to Djibouti, from PRC MOFA
Statistical Data Responsible Institution
Population Figures from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
World Life Expectancy : Health Profile : Djibouti
Exchange Rates Historical Exchange Rates, from Oanda, since 1990
Historical Exchange Rates, from FXTop, since 1965
Inflation Rates Trading Economics : Djibouti Inflation Rate, 1981-
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Election Results from Psephos, since 1999; from IFES Election Guide, since 1999; from African Elections Database, from 1967
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Documents Historical Newspapers Djibouti Libre 1941, Gallica
Modern Newspapers Newspapers and News Media : Djibouti, from ABYZ; from Online Newspapers, from World Newspapers (links)
Individual Articles
Online Yearbooks - Djibouti Entries Statesman's Year-Book, Obock 1890, p.510, IA, 1891, p.514, IA, 1892, p.521, IA, 1894, p.521, IA, 1895, p.521, IA, 1896, p.521, IA, 1898, p.519, IA, 1899, p.562, IA, Somali Coast 1903, p.625, IA, 1913, p.835, IA, 1919, p.868, IA, 1921, pp.894-895, IA
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Africa : 1977
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Image Databanks Systematic Collections
General
Archives nationales d'outre-mer, Base Ulysse, image base (France)
Systematic Collections
Specialist
Accidental Collections
Universal Collections
Items on Djibouti
License Plates, from Francoplaque, from License Plates around the World
Airline Timetable Images : Djibouti
Archival Deposits
Constitutions
Laws
Treaties List of Ratifications of International Labour Conventions by Djibouti, from ILO, 62 docs. since 1978
Consular Reports
Historiography
Document Collections Information by Country : Djibouti, from U.S. Committee forRefugees, 2 Reports 1999-2000
Djiboutian Sightings by Pierre Soulard
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Historical Maps responsible institutions Division topographique de la Republique de Djibouti, National Mapping Agencies in Africa
Direction nationale des statistiques et des etudes demographiques, National Mapping Agencies in Africa
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Geographical
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Musea
Monuments
Libraries
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BIBLIOGRAPHY AND PRINT SOURCES
Bibliographies . Online Libraries . Thesis Servers . Online Journals . General Accounts . Specific Topics . Historical Dictionaries . Statistical Data . Yearbooks
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on Djibouti survey of bibliographies
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general bibliographies
annual bibliographies
specialist bibliographies
serial publications
general bibliographies
Djibouti entries
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