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|French Equatorial Africa
Afrique Équatoriale Française
French Equatorial Africa was a federation of French colonial possessions in central Africa extending northwards from the Congo River to the Sahara Desert. Established in 1910, the federation contained five territories : French Congo (now the Republic of Congo), Gabon, Oubangui-Chari (now the Central African Republic), Chad and French Cameroon (after World War I). The Governor-General was based in Brazzaville, with deputies in each territory.
The first French colonists arrived in Equatorial Africa in 1839, and settled on the Gabon River. In 1849, they founded Libreville as the capital of the colony.
In 1911, France ceded parts of the territory to German Kamerun. Some of the territory was returned to France after Germany's defeat in World War I, while most of Cameroon proper became a French League of Nations mandate not integrated into French Equatorial Africa.
During World War II, the federation rallied to the Free French Forces, except for Gabon, and became the strategic center of Free French activities in Africa.
The territories of French Equatorial Africa were offered the chance to become independent in November, 1958, and all of them chose to become self-governing states within an association called the Union of Central African Republics. They became fully independent nations in August, 1960.
World Book Encyclopedia Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International, 1978
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