possession covering much of sub-Saharan West Africa
, existing between 1895 and 1958. It was formed by the union of a number of individual colonies
, namely those comprising the modern countries of Benin
, Burkina Faso
, Côte d'Ivoire
, and Senegal
. It was ruled from Dakar
, capital of Senegal, by a governor general
. Each of the colonies retained some internal existence and had its own governor.
However, French West Africa did not include France's Mediterranean colonies of Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia. Nor did it include Togo, which was a League of Nations then United Nations mandate over the former German Togoland.
After the Second World War the colonies prepared for partial or full independence. From 1946 the constituent colonies were classed as French overseas territories. The interior territories had undergone several re-formations and renamings in the early 1900s, but by this time they were established as Niger, French Sudan (now Mali), and Upper Volta (now Burkina).
From 1957 the governor-general was known as the high commissioner. French West Africa was replaced by a confederation of autonomous republics at the end of 1958, which stayed within a Commonwealth-like organization called the French Union. The exception was French Guinea, which under President Ahmed Sékou Touré opted for full independence in 1958 as the Republic of Guinea. Some other leaders, such as Senegal's Léopold Sédar Senghor, wanted the association with France to continue indefinitely, but between June and August 1960 it was dissolved as each republic gained full independence. Senegal and the Sudanese Republic (French Sudan) were initially united as the Mali Federation but this only lasted two months. Benin was then known as Dahomey, and Côte d'Ivoire was originally known in English as its translated name Ivory Coast.
rulers.org, with FWA governors-general listed under Senegal at rulers.org/ruls2.html
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