Article published on 11 January 2024
last modification on 9 February 2024

When the Colonial health service is created, French possessions in Equatorial Africa consist of two colonies, Gabon and Oubangui, administered by a General Commissioner (commissaire général). In 1908, four territories are established : Gabon, Moyen-Congo, Oubangui-Chari and Chad and in 1910 a decree organizes a government for the whole of the AEF at Brazzaville. The territories are divided into regions, which are themselves divided into districts.

This organization will be modified several times by the changes in territorial frontiers.

In August 1940, the Governor General F. Eboué allies himself with General De Gaulle and, after a few local conflicts, takes with him the whole of the AEF which becomes the first African territory to be associated with Free France (la France Libre).

In 1946, the French Union passes an electoral law permitting African populations to elect members of parliament and senators to the French Parliament.

In 1951, territorial assemblies elected through universal suffrage are organized on the basis of a double electorate. A regional council of 20 members, 5 from each territory, assists the High Commissioner.

The blueprint law of 1956 endows each territory with a governing council presided over by the governor of the colony whose ministers are appointed by the territorial assembly elected through universal suffrage by a single electorate.

In 1958, adhesion to the French Community is approved by all the territories. Le Moyen-Congo is named Congo-Brazzaville and Oubangui-Chari becomes the Central African Republic. In the two years which follow, they gain Independence and become members of the United Nations Organization.


Historical account from 1890 to 1970.

In 1882, Libreville is the capital of the French Congo (at present, Congo and Gabon) of which Savorgnan de Brazza is the government commissioner (commissaire général). The occupation, confined to a few trading posts, has pacified the tribes. In 1886, Gabon is separated from the Moyen-Congo. Brazzaville becomes the capital of the Moyen-Congo and Libreville that of Gabon.

In 1910 Gabon is incorporated into the AEF. In 1911, the north of the country is ceded to the Germans and recovered in 1914.

The surface area is at that time half that of France. From 1957 onwards petrol, instead of the wood of Okoumé, becomes the principal resource.

Like other AEF colonies, Gabon goes through different stages from "Territory of the French Union" (1956) and "Republic in the Community" (1958) to "Independent State" (1960).

MOYEN-CONGO (now Congo)

Historical account from 1890 to 1970.

In rivalry with the Portuguese and the Belgians, military advance between the coast and Brazzaville is slow. Just a border region of Gabon since 1882, the Congo, whose surface area is two-thirds that of France, is separated from Gabon in 1886.

In 1903, the colony is called Moyen-Congo and is incorporated into the AOF in 1910. In 1911, a vast portion of the land is ceded to Germany but recovered in 1915.

The construction of a railway line Congo-Ocean between 1921 and 1934 causes fear in Metropolitan France because of the difficulties met with and the human cost of the operation and this apprehension is transmitted into the Congo by the "prophet" Matswa.

The Congo is the first African country to ally itself with General De Gaulle on the 28th of August 1940. It is also in Brazzaville that the conference announcing the emancipation of Africa opens in February 1944. Like other colonies of the AEF, the Congo goes through various phases - "Territory of the French Union" (1946), "Republic in the Community" (1946) (which assumes once again the appellation ’the Congo’) and "Independent State" (1960).

OUBANGUI-CHARI (now Central African Republic)

Historical account from 1890 to 1970.

Following rivalry with other colonizing nations and several rebellions, the frontiers of this territory are definitely established only in 1939.

In 1911, a large part of the west of the territory is ceded to Germany and recovered in 1914. A country bigger than France, the Oubangui is, from 1928 to 1931, the centre of conflicts which extend to the south of Chad. Allying itself with Free France (la France Libre) from August 1940, it then follows the evolution of the other states of the AEF.

It changes its name to become the Central African Republic following the referendum for joining the French Community on the 28th of October 1958. This Republic proclaims its Independence in 1960. Its capital is Bangui.


Historical account from 1890 to 1970.

On the 22nd April 1900, the Foreau-Lamy battalion from Alger, the Joalland-Meynier battalion from Dakar and the Gentil battalion from Brazzaville meet on the shores of Lake Chad and defeat Rabeh’s army at the battle of Kousseri. The conquest begins and will not end till 1930.

Chad, a military zone till 1910, is placed under civil administration in 1920. Its definitive frontiers are traced in 1936. Its surface area is more than double that of France but most of the territory is a desert. Only the south is agricultural and produces cotton. The capital is Fort Lamy which has become N’Djamena.

Like the other colonies of the AEF, Chad goes through various appellations - "Territory of the French Union" (1946), "Republic in the Community" (1958) and "Independent State" (1960).