French West Africa

French West Africa, former federation of eight French overseas territories. The constituent territories were Dahomey (now Benin), French Guinea (now Guinea), French Sudan (now Mali), Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). The federation was created in 1895 to consolidate the French holdings in W Africa and was definitively constituted in 1904. It was ruled by a governor-general, who resided first in Saint-Louis, then in Dakar. During World War II the federation supported the Vichy government until Nov., 1942, when it accepted the authority of the Free French. In 1958 the constituent territories became autonomous republics in the French Community, except for Guinea, which became independent. The federation was dissolved in 1959.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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