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    Welcome to the Country Studies section of the web site.  Here you will find information on various African nations that were directly or deeply affected by World War II.
    Each entry has a map of the nation as it stands today and a listing of its name, capital, current leader, what nation(s) it belonged to as a colony, when it gained its independence, and from whom.  This listing is followed by a brief story regarding the nation and how World War II affected it, its people, and its standing as a nation or colony.

Please use the table below to navigate the page.

Egypt Ethiopia
Morocco Map citation


Country Name: Egypt
Capital: Cairo
Current Leader: President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak
Colonially controlled by: Great Britain
Date of Independence: February 28, 1922
Granter of Independence: Great Britain1

    Although Egypt was technically a sovereign nation during World War II, in fact, it might as well still been a colony of Great Britain.  The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 ensured that Egyptian independence was "almost meaningless" due to its stipulations.  Britain drew Egypt into the war by citing part of this treaty which stated that the Egyptians would furnish "all the facilities and assistance in [their] power, including the use of ports, aerodromes, and means of communication."  Egypt, with its capital city of Cairo, became home to large contingents of British Forces -- supposedly to defend the Suez Canal -- during the Second World War -- however, this was really just a "virtual occupation" of Egypt during the war years.2
    The fascinating thing about Egypt in this period is that many elements of Egyptian government were actually pro-Axis -- or pro-Germany, in some cases.  Also, during the war, nationalism steadily grew.3  Following the war, Egypt attempted, with other "Arab" states, to block the creation of Israel.  With the failure to do so came a coup d'etat against King Faruk in 1952 carried out by the military.  In 1953, Egypt became a republic.4

Cairo Cityscape

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Country Name: Ethiopia
Capital: Addis Ababa
Current Leader: President Negasso Gidada
Colonially controlled by: Italy (occupied)
Date of Independence: Occupied from 1936-1941
Granter of Independence: Italy (liberated from 1941)5 

    Ethiopia, once referred to as Abyssinia, was traditionally ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie until its fall in 1936 to Italian forces under Marshal Pietro Badoglio.  The population was "ruthlessly oppressed"6 by the Italian governor-general and viceroy of the region, Rodolfo Grazaiani, who followed Badoglio in May of 1936.  As a result, a violent uprising ensued but was unsuccessful.7Haile Sellassie  Ethiopia was used during the war as a staging area for attacks on the Sudan, Kenya, and British Somaliland despite lingering civil unrest in the region.  In 1941, Ethiopia was liberated by the Gideon Force, a group of combined British and Ethiopian forces, during the East African campaign.  Haile Selassie regained the throne of Ethiopia later that year.8  Selassie ruled in Ethiopia until he was overthrown in a military coup in 1974.  He died the next year in the capital.9


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Country Name: Morocco
Capital: Rabat
Current Leader: King Mohamed VI
Colonially controlled by: France
Date of Independence: March 2, 1956
Granter of Independence: France10

    Morocco is an interesting case for study when speaking of World War II and Africa.  Morocco was originally held by two nations -- France and Spain -- but France held the greater part of Morocco, hence our concentration.  Morocco was a war-torn nation before World War II ever began.  French and Spanish forces had a hard time putting down various revolts that occurred in the decades leading up to World War II.11  This is not to say, however, that the Moroccans did not care for their "mother country" -- at least, not in the case of France.  During the early part of World War II (1939-1940), as France fought to remain unoccupied by Germany, the Moroccans fielded a force 47,000 strong to aid the French.12  However, after the fall of France to Germany, the Vichy government allowed Moroccans to support Germany -- and some did.  Others, like Sultan Sidi Muhammad, patiently awaited American intervention in this affair -- the Sultan himself had more than one conversation with Franklin Delano Roosevelt regarding the fate of Morocco.13  In 1942, during Operation Torch, American forces invaded Morocco and from there on in, the area was a major supply post for the Allies.  One of the most famous Allied meetings of the war, in fact, occurred in Morocco -- 1943's meeting in Casablanca, southwest of the capital of Rabat.14Old Wall, Rabat, Morocco.
    Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, with the Spanish following suit with its own Moroccan holdings during the same time period.  By 1969, all of Morocco was free and under the control of the sultanate.  Sidi Muhammad died in 1961 and was succeeded by his son, Hassan II, who was thus succeeded by his son, Mohamed VI.  Thanks to Hassan II, Morocco is now a constitutional monarchy and is free from its colonial ties.15
    Morocco is a member of the Arab League and the United Nations as of 1945.

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All maps courtesy of The World Factbook 2001 published by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.  For the full citation, please click here.