Italian East Africa (Italian: Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI) was an Italian colonial administrative subdivision established in 1936, resulting from the merger of Ethiopia (recently occupied after the Second Italo-Abyssinian War) with the old colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian Eritrea. In August 1940, British Somaliland was conquered and annexed to Italian East Africa. Italian East Africa was eventually disestablished as a consequence of the events of World War II.
In 1936, Italian East Africa covered Italian Eritrea, the just conquered Ethiopia and the former Italian Somaliland. The colony was divided into the six governorates of Italian East Africa: Italian Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, plus four provinces of Ethiopia (Amhara, Galla-Sidamo, Scioa, Harar) each run by an Italian governor. Each governor was answerable to the Italian viceroy, who represented the Emperor Victor Emmanuel III.
Italian East Africa briefly enlarged in 1940, as Italian forces conquered British Somaliland, thereby creating a single Somali provincial entity within Italian control, though this and the colony was broken apart one year later as Italian East Africa was occupied by British forces.
In the course of the British-led East African Campaign (June 1940-November 1941), Italian East Africa was conquered and dismembered. The other Italian colony in Africa was Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana, or ASI).
The dominion was formed in 1936 during Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini's government in Italy with the defeat of Haile Selassie's Ethiopia in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
Rule in Italian East Africa was harsh for the native peoples, especially towards Ethiopians as Fascist policy sought to integrate their culture into the Italian Empire. Eritreans integrated very well and even in some way most Somalians. But Ethiopians opposed strongly: in February 1937, following an assassination attempt on Italian East Africa's Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani, Graziani ordered Italian soldiers to raid the famous Ethiopian monastery Debre Libanos where the would-be assassins had briefly taken refuge and had the monks and nuns in the monastery executed. Afterwards, Italian soldiers destroyed native settlements in Addis Ababa, which resulted in hundreds of Ethiopians being killed and their homes left burned to the ground.
Full article ▸