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Coordinates: 7°N 20°E / 7°N 20°E / 7; 20

Colony of Ubangi-Shari
Flag of Ubangi-Shari
Coat of arms (1958–1960)
Coat of arms
Anthem: "La Marseillaise"
Ubangi-shari map.png
  •   Before 1916
  •   After 1916
StatusColony of France
Official languageFrench
Commonly spoken
• Established
29 December 1903
15 January 1910
12 April 1916
30 June 1934
31 December 1937
• Autonomy as CAR
1 December 1958
13 August 1960
Preceded by
Succeeded by
French Congo
Central African Republic
Today part ofCAR
Ubangi-Shari c. 1910. Note the borders are reduced to the southeastern section of the present-day Central African Republic

Ubangi-Shari (French: Oubangui-Chari) was a French colony in central Africa, a part of French Equatorial Africa.

It was named after the Ubangi and Chari rivers along which it was colonised. It was established on December 29, 1903, from the Upper Ubangi (Haut-Oubangui) and Upper Shari (Haut-Chari) territories of the French Congo; renamed the Central African Republic (CAR) on December 1, 1958; and received independence on August 13, 1960.[1]


French activity in the area began in 1889 with the establishment of the outpost Bangi at the head of navigation on the Ubangi.

The Upper Ubangi was established as part of the French Congo on December 9, 1891. Despite a France-Congo Free State convention establishing a border around the 4th parallel, the area was contested from 1892 to 1895 with the Congo Free State, which claimed the region as its territory of Ubangi-Bomu (Oubangui-Bomou). The Upper Ubangi was a separate colony from July 13, 1894, until December 10, 1899, at which time it was folded back into the French Congo. The Upper Shari region was established as part of the French Congo on September 5, 1900.[1] That same year the Company of the Upper Ubangi Sultanates took over 140,000 km2 of Upper Ubangi as a concession.[2]

The territories were united as the separate colony of Ubangi-Shari on December 29, 1903,[1] following the French defeat of Abbas II of Egypt, who had claimed the area.[citation needed] On February 11, 1906, this colony merged with the French settlements around Lake Chad and became the Ubangi-Shari territory of Ubangi-Shari-Chad (Oubangui-Chari-Tchad).[1] In 1909, it received the administration over the sultanates of Zemio and Rafai from the Belgian Congo.[3]

On January 15, 1910, this administration was merged with the French Middle Congo and Gabon as the Ubangi-Shari area of French Equatorial Africa (FEA). On April 12, 1916, it again became the separate colony of Ubangi-Shari, but in 1920 lost the territory around Lake Chad, and on June 30, 1934, was again folded into FEA. As a part of FEA, it was declared an overseas territory on December 31, 1937.[1]

Between 1915 and 1931, stamps were overprinted for use in Ubangi-Shari, and later specially printed for the colony.

During World War II, it remained loyal to Vichy France from June 16 to August 29, 1940, before being taken by the Free French. It was granted autonomy as the Central African Republic on December 1, 1958, and independence under the same name on August 13, 1960.[1]

Concession systems and Atrocities[edit]

Ubangi-Shari had a similar concession system as the Congo Free State and similar atrocities were also committed there. Writer André Gide traveled to Ubangi-Shari and was told by inhabitants about atrocities including mutilations, dismemberments, executions, the burning of children, and villagers being forcefully bound to large beams and made to walk until dropping from exhaustion and thirst.[4] The book "Travels to Congo" by Gide, published in 1927 describes the horrors of the concession companies in French Equatorial Africa. The book had an important impact on the anti-colonialist movement in France.[5] The number of victims under the French concession system in Ubangi-Shari and other parts of French Equatorial Africa remains unknown.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f World Statesmen. "Central African Republic." Accessed 29 Mar 2014.
  2. ^ Richard Bradshaw and Juan Fandos-Rius, Historical Dictionary of the Central African Republic (Scarecrow Press, 2016), p. 176.
  3. ^ World History at KMLA. "Central African Republic". Accessed 29 Mar 2014.
  4. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/world/africa/colonial-ghosts-continue-to-haunt-france.html, last visited on 28-4-2022
  5. ^ Voyage au Congo suivi du Retour du Tchad Archived 16 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, in Lire, July–August 1995 (in French)

External links[edit]