During the Colonial period in Africa, the British and the French colonized more than 95% of the continent. The British colonized twenty-two African states while the French colonized twenty. France retained control of North, and West and parts of Central Africa while the British took control of East and South Africa. The scramble and partition of Africa led other countries to express their interest including the Germans, Portuguese, Italians, and the Dutch. The entry of European powers into Africa led to the spread of European culture, particularly the languages, in the continent. Today, most of Africa uses either French or English as a second language.
Former French Colonies
Across the world, the dominance of the French as a colonial power was only overshadowed by the British. Between the 19th and 20th centuries, France ruled over colonies that span about 4,980,000 sq mi. Between the 1920s and 1930s French colonies had an estimated population of about 110 million, half of British India. The first French colonies were in North America, India, and the Caribbean after the Spanish and the Portuguese successfully established colonies. The French and the British engaged in a fierce rivalry over colonies during the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to armed conflict in North America and India. France lost the wars and ceased all colonial activities in the region allowing the British to dominate the Indian subcontinent and the North American continent. In 1830 France established its first African after ceasing Algier followed by several others in South East Asia. Other African countries colonized by France include Gambia, Chad, Mali, Togo, Sudan, Gabon, Tunisia, Niger, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and several others. In North America, France colonized the New France region, Newfoundland, and resent day Haiti. Former colonies in the Caribbean include Grenada, Nevis, Sait Croix, Dominica, Tobago and several other Islands. In South America, the French took over the control of parts of Brazil, Iles Malouines, and French Guiana. In the Indian Ocean, the major French colony was Mauritius. In the Middle East, the major French colony was the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon.
Francafrique symbolizes the French relationship with its former African colonies. The term was first used by Côte d'Ivoire’s former president Félix Houphouët-Boigny to express the role of France in improving the political and economic stability of the country. Today, the term has acquired a negative sense and is mostly used to refer to the neocolonial relationship between France and the colonies. After independence in the 1960s, most of the French colonies in Africa were thrown into a civil conflict that still ravages across the states. France has been forced to intervene militarily in the colonies with the aim of restoring peace. The former colonial power has set up military bases in Djibouti, Senegal, and Gabon. Currently, it is actively engaged in military activities in Chad, Mali, Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic.