French Community, established in 1958 by the constitution of the Fifth French Republic to replace the French Union. Its members consisted of the French Republic, which included metropolitan France (continental France, Corsica, Algeria and the Sahara), the overseas territories (Comoro Islands, French Polynesia, the Territory of the Afars and the Issas, New Caledonia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the French Southern and Antarctic territories, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands), the overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion), and six independent African republics (the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon, Malagasy Republic, and Senegal). The member states were self-governing but were represented through the institutions of the Community in matters of common interest: foreign policy, defense, economic and financial policy, policy on strategic raw materials, supervision of courts, higher education, and communications. In 1962 the metropolitan departments of Algeria and the Sahara became the sovereign state of Algeria and ceased to be part of the Community. After 1962, the Community operated primarily through bilateral agreements in the areas of military, economic, technical, and cultural affairs between the French Republic and other members. However, as the former French African possessions evolved their own political and economic structures, the French Community became largely defunct, although it was not formally abolished.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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