** scramble for Africa European colonialism Italy Somaliland

Italian Colonies

Figure 1.--The world payed little attention to Italy's first colonies. The invasion of Ethiopia, howeever, attracted considerable attention, especially the use of poison gas. After seizing the country, Italy tried to convince the world that they were moderizing the country and treating the population humanely. And in comparison to subsequent German policies, there was some truth to this. Here is a standard Italian press release after after the invasion. The caption reads, "Ethiopian Children Form Fascist Group: Inthe above photo, recently taken in Addis-Ababa. The newly felt vItalian influence is already being shown. The griuos of children have been formed in a juvenile Fascist group, for the glory of the fatherlamd and emperor." Fatherland and empoeror refers to Italy and King Victor Emanuel who was made Emperor of Ethiopia. Notice Musolini's portariat on the wall. The oher portrair must be Victor Emanuel.

Italy was finally unified (1861). And the new laeders saw colonies as part of the dignity of appropriate for a European power. The preceived over population was a major concern. Italy joined other European poewers in the scarambleb for Africa. Italy focused on East Africa. This was an area of Africa in which the British and French were also interested. The area attracted colonial interest because of the importance of Suez. East Africa juts out into the Indian Ocean south of Suez and control the entrance to the Red Sea. It began when sn Italian company (Rubattino) bought the rights to Assab Bay from the local Sultan (1869). The Italian Government bought these rights from the company and declared Assab an Italian colony (1882). Italaian Somalialamd was established (1880s). The Italians also attempted to add Ethiopia to their East African colony, , but were miitarily defeated at Adwa (1896). This was the only colonial army defaeted by an Africa force and Ethiopia rbecame the only independent African country in a continent dominated by Europeans. Later Libya in North Africa was added (1912), but took severl years and a brutal camapaign ordered by Musolinin to pacuify. Mussolinialso added Ethiopia to the Italian colonial empire and another brutal campauign shocking internatioanml public opinion (1935). It was the first Facist aggressiion that would ultimately lead to World War II. The War that Mussolini thought would expandf his empire would in afew short years leads to its disintegration (1941-42).

Eritrea (1869)

An Italian company (Rubattino) bought the rights to Assab Bay from the local Sultan (1869). The Italian Government bought these rights from the company and declared Assab an Italian colony (1882). This was Italy's first territorial acquisition in Africa. Assab became the primary port in what was to become the colony of Eritrea.

Somaliland (1880s)

Modern Somalia is a union of British (northern) Somalialand and Italian (eastern Somalialand. Britain became concerned with the Horn of Africa in the mid-19th century. The British concern was primarily with Egypt and Suez and the line of communications with its most important colonial possession--India. There were important trade routes through Egypt to India even before the Suez Canal was built. The British established a rotectorate over Aden at the rntrance to the Red Sea (1839). Aden became an important Royal Navy base. Aden relied on Somali mutton as its principal food source. Egyptian forces which occupied much of Somalia, withdrew to fight the fundamentalist rebellion led by the Mahdi in Sudan (1884). The British negotiated agreements with tribal chiefs in what is now northern Somalia (1884-86). The British established a protectorate (1887). France which was also interested in Suez had acquired a position in the area at Djibouti which was known as French Somaliand (1860s), but this was not incorporated into Somalia when it became independent. The British and French negotiated a boundary agreement (1888). Italy entered Somalia the following year (1889). The Italians created a snall protectorate along the eastern Indian Ocean coast. Some resistance was encoutered as the Italians expanded their new colony (1889-92). Subsequently additional territory was added in the south which the sultan of Zanzibar was forced to relinquish. Additional territory was added in the north. The final addirion was Jubaland or the Trans-Juba (east of the Juba/Jubba River). It was transferred by the British from Kenya to become the westernmost area of Italian Somaliland (1925). The Italians invaded and seized Ethiopia (1935). The following year, the Italians unified Somali-speaking regions of eastern Ethiopia to create Italian East Africa. The Italians after declaring war on the British (1940) attacked British Somaliland. The small British force evacuated to Aden. After stopping the Italian invasion of Egypt (1940), the British reinforced by South Africans organized a small military force in Kenya. They attacked the Italians from the south and quickly defeated the numerically superior Italian forces in Ethiopia and Somaliland. Britain governed the area until 1950, when Italian Somaliland reverted to a United Nations trust territory under Italian administration. Somalia which unified British and Italian Somaliland became independent (1960).

Libya (1912)

Italy seized Libya after a brief war with the Ottomans (1912). The Libyans resisted. Fighting broke out, but the British brokered a truce after Italy joined the Allies in World War I (1915). After the War, fighting broke out again leading to a prolonged colonial war. Italy continued efforts to colonize Libya. Mussolini with his dreams of reconstituting the Roman Empire would wage a merciless campaign to end Libyan resistance to Italian rule. The Italians seized control of the coast cities, but have great difficulty maintaining control of the interior. The Italians unified Tripolitania and Cyrenaica as the colony of Libya (1929). Mussolini employing brutal tactics, including poison gas, finally suceeded in crushing Libyan resistance. Mussolini saw Libya as offering the possibility of colonization by Italy's burgoning population. The Sanusis finally surrender to the Italians (1931). One of the goals of Italian colonism was the concern with over population. Italy called Libya "The Fourt Shore" and promoted Italian settlement there. Several projects with Italian colonists were launched.

Ethiopia (1935)

The Italians eyed Ethiopia during the European Scranle for Africa. Much of Africa had been divided among the Great Powers (Britain, France, and Germany), before Italy felt it got it fair share. Italy was only unified in the 1860s and with a very small navy was unable to fully participate in the Scramble for Aftrica. Thus Ethiopia, a rare African country that remained independent took on some importance, epecially after Italy acquired smll coastal colonies in East Aftrica. Italy nationalists began to see colonies as important if the new nation was to replicate the greatness of their ancestors. Italy assisted Ethiopian Emperor Menelik expand his territory in East Africa. The Italians claimed that in exchange Menelik had agreed to a protecorate and invaded Rthiopia. The Ethiopians decisively defeated theItalians at the battle of Aduwa/Adowa (1895). This was a rare African victory over European colonizers. Italy was forced to recognize the independence of Ethiopia. After the war with Memelik, Italy declared the colony of Eritrea in the coastal area they still controlled. Ethiopia remained independent until the Italians under Mussolini invaded (1935), causing a major international incident. Italy was widely criticized for its invasion. The young Emperor Haile Salassie appealed to the League of Nations, but half-hearted anctions were quickly abandoned. Even so, the feeble criticism by the British and French helped push Mussolini toward Hitler. Mussolini's persued colonial policies of racial superiority, yet Italian racism might be considered somewhat more cultural than the extreme biological racism of their NAZI allies. Mussolini mercilessly supressed any opposition. Some efforts were made to modernize Ethiopia which at the time was virually medieval. Fascist propaganda claimed to be different from the other colonial powers. Mussolini claimed that Fascist Italy was a benevolent nation that cared for the people under its control and was not interested in exploiting them. [Palumbo] Italian control of Ethiopia was extremely short lived. After Italy entered World War II by declaring war on Britain (June 1940), the British launched an invasion from Kenya and quickly over ran both Italian Somaliland Eritrea and Ethiopia, ending the Italian presence in East Africa (1941).


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Created: 6:36 AM 9/9/2021
Last updated: 6:36 AM 9/9/2021