February 4, 2016

Schleswig-Holstein

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Schleswig-Holstein is Number 35 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were ruled by the king of Denmark until 1864 when, as a consequence of a short war by Austria and Prussia against Denmark, they were brought under joint Austro-Prussian rule. The condominium of the two great German powers existed only until 1866, when, as a consequence of the Austro-Prussian War of that year, both duchies came under exclusive Prussian control and were merged to form the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. The inhabitants of Holstein were overwhelmingly German speaking, those of Schleswig mainly Danish speaking, although for centuries German had been spreading to more and more territory north of the Eider River (the boundary between the two duchies and traditionally the frontier between Germany and Scandinavia). A small Frisian-speaking minority also inhabited parts of mainland Schleswig and several islands of the duchy. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions, with by far the largest part taken up by the historical section and its discussion of the political, diplomatic, military, dynastic, and linguistic aspects of the disputes over control of the province. The population of Schleswig-Holstein is given as 1,621,004 in 1910. The economic section stresses the importance of the Kiel Canal linking the Baltic and North Seas (built by Germany and opened in 1895), the industrial ports of Kiel and Altona, and the wealth generated by the province’s small farms and haddock, herring, and cod fisheries. Following Germany’s defeat in World War I, the Treaty of Versailles stipulated that the future of Schleswig was to be determined by a plebiscite. The vote was held in February 1920. Three-quarters of the population elected in favor of union with Denmark, and in July 1920 the province was incorporated into Denmark. Holstein remained a part of Germany.

Senegal

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Senegal is Number 102 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Senegal was one of the oldest and most important of France’s African colonies. French activity on the African coast at the mouth of the Senegal River began as far back as 1626, and settlement by the Royal Senegal Company began in the early 18th century. The colony came under British control at times but was restored to France in 1814. By the French government decree of October 18, 1904, Senegal became part of the Government-General of West Africa. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on social and political conditions is very brief, as the topics of religious conditions, military organization, and public education in Senegal are covered in Number 100 in the series, French West Africa. The population of the colony is given as 1,259,920 (1916), with the main ethnic groups being the Wolof, Peul (i.e., Pular or Fulani), and Serer. The economic section stresses the importance of the great commercial and naval port of Dakar, which also was linked by rail to the coastal city and port of Saint Louis. Agriculture was the colony’s main industry, and ground nuts its primary export. Deforestation and desertification are listed as serious environmental challenges. The colony became the independent Republic of Senegal in 1960.

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is Number 131 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon are two small islands, located approximately 16 kilometers west and southwest of Newfoundland, which, as the study notes, are “all that remains to France of her once great empire in North America….” The section on political history traces how the islands went back and forth between French and British possession a number of times between the first occupation by the French in circa 1650 and their final restoration to France in 1814. The study notes that the “purpose for which the cession of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon was valued by the French Government was their utility as a base for carrying on the fishery on the Grand Banks and the Newfoundland coast. Accordingly, for many years Saint-Pierre enjoyed a considerable measure of prosperity as the head-quarters of an important fishing fleet of some 200 vessels….” The study traces the subsequent economic decline of the islands to the decline of the cod fishery and the shift of home ports to the mainland of Newfoundland. The section on economic conditions deals in detail with the cod fishery, including local stocks, how fishing is carried out, the cleaning and drying of the fish, the export market, and the labor involved in the fishery. The population of the colony in 1911 is given as 4,209, down from 6,482 in 1902. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is today a self-governing collectivity that is part of France.

San Thomé and Principe

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. San Thomé and Principe is Number 119 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Located in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, the islands of Sao Tome and Principe were discovered and claimed by Portuguese navigators around 1470. They were uninhabited at the time. In 1493 the Portuguese began the colonization of Sao Tome, introducing the cultivation of sugar cane based on slave labor imported from the nearby African mainland. The earliest Portuguese settlers were mainly convicts and Jewish boys taken from their parents. Sugar cane production began on Principe in around 1520. For a time during the 16th century the islands were the largest producers of sugar in the world, but production later declined as a result of competition from Brazil. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The total population of the islands was 58,907 (1914), the vast majority of which (53,969) was concentrated on Sao Tome. With the sugar industry having long since disappeared, the main staple crop was cocoa. Sao Tome and Principe were estimated to have produced about a sixth of the world’s cocoa in 1913. Exports of the crop totaled a record 43,495 metric tons, accounting for 97 percent of all island exports. In concluding remarks the study notes that the “islands suffer a serious handicap in the fact that so much of their surplus revenue, which might be applied to local purposes, is appropriated to make good the deficits in other Portuguese colonies, such as Angola.” The colony became the independent Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe on July 12, 1975.

French Guiana

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. French Guiana is Number 137 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. Situated on the northern coast of South America between Dutch Guiana (present-day Suriname) and Brazil, the colony of French Guiana had a diverse population that included aboriginal Indians of three main groups (Arawak, Carib, and Tupi), descendants of former slaves (including of the marrons, runaway slaves living in the interior of the country), and Europeans of French, English, Portuguese, Dutch, and German ancestry. The section on political history discusses the competition in the 17th and 18th centuries between the French, Dutch, and British for control of Cayenne Island, the historical core of the colony. After occupation by an Anglo-Portuguese force during the Napoleonic wars, the colony was restored to France, which  has ruled it ever since. In 1854 Cayenne became a French penal colony, the site of the notorious Devil’s Island where such famous prisoners as Captain Alfred Dreyfus were held. The total penal population in 1915 is given as 8,568. Gold was discovered in 1853, and gold mining was the colony’s chief industry. A table in the appendix lists the number of gold mining concessions by year in the period 1900‒15, their size, and the total annual production of gold in troy ounces and by value in pounds sterling. French Guiana is today an overseas department of France. It is home to the Guiana Space Center, operated by the French and European space agencies.

French Equatorial Africa

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. French Equatorial Africa is Number 108 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. French Equatorial Africa was an administrative division of the French Empire, established in 1910 under a governor-general responsible to the French authorities in Paris. It included the colonies of Middle Congo (the present-day Republic of the Congo), Gabon, Chad, and Oubangui-Chari (the present-day Central African Republic). The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history recounts the key events by which France acquired this vast swathe of territory, the settlement of its borders with neighboring colonies controlled by other European powers, and the interactions between France and Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and France and Italy as they related to the territory. The economic section notes that the colonies that constituted French Equatorial Africa were relatively undeveloped, owing to both natural factors (few internal waterways, small population) and a lack of investment and other failures of French policy. Economic activity was dominated by 13 concessionaire companies that were mainly engaged in the extraction and export of animal and vegetable products. The chief exports in 1913 were rubber, wood (including tropical timbers such as ebony and mahogany), whale oil, and ivory.

French Guinea

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. French Guinea is Number 103 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The colony of French Guinea was established in the latter part of the 19th century as France acquired territories on the west coast of Africa by treaty with the local inhabitants and settled the boundaries of those territories with neighboring British (Sierra Leone) and Portuguese colonies (Portuguese Guinea, present-day Guinea-Bissau) and with the independent Republic of Liberia. In 1904 French Guinea became part of the Government-General of French West Africa. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, and economic conditions. (Social and political conditions are treated in Number 100 in the series, French West Africa.) The population of the colony for 1916 is given as an estimated 1,808,893, with the main ethnic groups being the Fula, Mandinka (i.e., Malinke), and Susu. The total European population was only 1,166. The economy of the colony was heavily based on the production of rubber, which accounted for 73 percent of exports in the period 1900‒1914. The appendix includes extracts from the main treaties defining the borders of the colony and tables with detailed trade statistics. French Guinea became the independent Republic of Guinea on October 2, 1958.

French Possessions in India

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. French Possessions in India is Number 77 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. In 1664 France under King Louis XIV established La Compagnie des Indes Orientales (The East India Company) for the purpose of founding French settlements and trading posts in India and competing for a share of the commerce of the subcontinent. French colonial efforts in India were never very successful, however, and by 1817, when the final territorial arrangements were made regarding the Établissements français de l’Inde (French  possessions in India), they consisted of just five small and widely scattered territories: Pondicherry, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahé, and Chandernagor. This study covers the physical and political geography of these territories, their political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The study estimates the total population of the territories as 266,828 in 1915. It states that in the past French India had experienced certain periods of prosperity, mainly as a result of trade, but it offers a pessimistic outlook for the future in view of the “insuperable difficulties arising from the geographical situation of these scattered territories.” In 1947 and 1954 France turned its Indian possessions over to the independent Republic of India.

French Morocco

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. French Morocco is Number 101 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The study can be read in conjunction with Number 122 in the series, Spanish Morocco. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The historical section gives a brief overview of Moroccan history from the Arab conquest of the seventh century, to the Berber dynasties of the 11th‒16th centuries, to the Sherifian dynasties of the 16th‒19th centuries, and concludes with the modern era beginning in 1830 with the French invasion of Algeria and spanning the period up to 1912 when French and Spanish protectorates were established in Morocco. The “Moroccan Question,” involving rivalry among the European powers for influence in the strategically important territory, is covered in detail. The study estimates the total population of Morocco at between 4 million and 6 million people, of which from 3.5 million to 5 million were living in French Morocco; 1 million in the Spanish Protectorate; and another 1 million in parts of Morocco not occupied by either European power. The main ethnic groups are listed as Berbers, Arabs, Jews, and several others. The study notes: “The determining factors of Moroccan history have always been its geography and ethnography. Its wide tracts of extremely fertile and easily cultivable soil have from the earliest times attracted invaders from the east, and still more from the deserts of the south. Its long coast-line, lying as the country does along two trade-routes—a Mediterranean and an Atlantic—threatened the security of European traders and voyagers for long years….” More recently, “reports of Morocco’s mineral resources excited the attention of competing Powers and stimulated international rivalry.”

French Indo-China

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. French Indo-China is Number 78 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. French Indochina was comprised of the colony of Cochinchina (the extreme southern part of present-day Vietnam), the protectorates of Tongking (i.e., Tonkin, or the northern part of Vietnam), Annam (central and southern Vietnam except for the area occupied by Cochinchina), Cambodia, parts of present-day Laos, and the leased Chinese territory of Kwang-chow-wan (Guangzhouwan). The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on geography notes the importance of the two main rivers, the Red and the Mekong, and the long coastline. The population is estimated at 16.6 million people, of which approximately 80 percent were Annamese (i.e., Vietnamese), with the remainder comprised of Cambodians, Chinese, Thai (i.e., Tay), and members of other smaller groups. The historical section alludes briefly to the ancient Khmer and Annamese kingdoms, but it focuses mainly on the 19th century, when the French penetrated the region and competed with China and Siam (present-day Thailand) for influence. The economy of French Indo-China was largely agricultural, and its main export rice. The study notes that the “natives of Indo-China have accepted with apparent placidity the rule of the French, though disturbances have occurred from time to time in Annam and Tongking which show that discontent and unrest are at work beneath the surface.”