History of Djibouti

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The Republic of Djibouti gained its independence on June 27, 1977. It is the successor to French Somaliland (later called the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which was created in the first half of the 19th century as a result of French interest in the Horn of Africa.


The beginning

The history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian peninsula for more than one-thousand years, the Somali and Afar ethnic groups in this region became among the first on the African continent to adopt Islam. Djibouti was part of Ottoman Empire in Habesh province between 1555-1884.[1]

French Interest

It was Rochet d'Hericourt's exploration into Shoa (1839–42) that marked the beginning of French interest in the African shores of the Red Sea. Further exploration by Henri Lambert, French Consular Agent at Aden, and Captain Fleuriot de Langle led to a treaty of friendship and assistance between France and the sultans of Raheita, Tadjoura, and Gobaad, from whom the French purchased the anchorage of Obock in 1862.

French Somaliland

Growing French interest in the area took place against a backdrop of British activity in Egypt and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Between 1883-87, France signed various treaties with the then ruling Somali Sultans, which allowed it to expand the protectorate to include the Gulf of Tadjoura.[2] Léonce Lagarde was installed as governor of this protectorate. Boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897 by France and Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, were reaffirmed by agreements with Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1945 and 1954.

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