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Equatorial Africa



FIRST STAMPS after new division 15 October 1904.

FIRST STAMPS after independence inscribed REPUBLIQUE GABONAISE, 29 November 1959.


French until 1959 and then 100 centimes = 1 CFA.

As part of anti-slavery activities, French established posts on the Gabon estuary and founded Libreville as a settlement for freed slaves. The explorations of Brazza extended the territory. A governor was appointed in 1886. Gabon was absorbed into French Congo between 11 December 1888 and 1 July 1904 and became part of French Equatorial Africa (see below) after 1910. Gabon became autonomous in 1958 and independent within the French Community in 1960.

Earliest office set up at Libreville in 1862 routed mail via the British PO at Fernando Po.

Used French Colonies General Issues from c. 1862 (oblit. GAB in lozenge of dots applied at Libreville). Used stamps of French Congo (see below) from 1891-1904.

Used stamps of French Equatorial Africa (see below) 1936-59.

One of the more stable of the former French African Colonies. Multi-party elections were held in the autumn of 1990 and were won by the ruling Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG) amid allegations of fraud. The PDG formed a coalition government and the presidential election of 1993 was won by the leader of the PDG. There was some rioting in Libreville in 1994, but these were peacefully resolved amd the recent 1996 elections confirmed the PDG in power.

Gabon to 1920
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French Congo




1891, as France.
After independence, 100 centimes = 1 CFA.

Came under French control in 1880, when the capital Brazzaville was founded. Pointe Noire and Loango occupied in 1882 and the region was opened up towards Lake Chad in 1888. On 11 December 1888 was made a colony (incorporating Gabon, Ubangi-Shari and Chad) called Gabon-Congo until 20 April 1891, Congo Francais thereafter. Colony was redivided on 1 July 1904, and the central portion was renamed Moyen Congo. Territories were again combined on 15 January 1910 into French Equatorial Africa (this is not reflected in stamp issues until 1936, see French Equatorial Africa). Area became the Congo Republic (see below) on 28 November 1958.

Used French Colonies General Issues c. 1881 (but there was very little postal activity before the absorption of Gabon). Used stamps of French Equatorial Africa 1937-59.

French Congo to 1920
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Congo Republic

FIRST STAMPS 28 November 1970.


After independence 100 centimes = 1 CFA.

Autonomous 28 November 1958, with full independence within the French Community 15 August 1960. Became 'People's Republic of the Congo' on 3 January 1970.

Referred to as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it initially from the Belgian Congo and more recently the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 1968 a National Council of Army Officers took power and created the Parti Congolais du Travail (PCT) and the Peoples Republic of Congo (stamps so inscribed were issued in 1970).

After popular pressure, the PCT gave up its monopoly of power and renounced Marxism in 1990. In 1992 a new multi-party constitution was adopted. There was a minor civil war in 1997, but the country now remains stable, though there are a number of political parties in opposition to the Central Government.

Ubangi-Shari-Chad (Oubangui-Chari-Tchad)

FIRST STAMPS French Colonies General Issues 1897. French Congo to 1915.




French influence was extended north of the Ubangi River by Brazza, and the territory of Upper Ubangui was formed in 1894, centred on the recently founded town of Bangui. The Shari area was occupied in 1898. Ubangi-Shari was part of French Congo until it was made a colony on 1 July 1904, but it was postally administered from French Congo until 1915. Both territories were incorporated into French Equatorial Africa in 1910. Chad became a separate colony on 17 March 1920.

Ubangi-Shari (Oubangui-Chari)

FIRST STAMPS As Ubangi-Shari-Chad until 1922.


Although Chad became postally separate in 1920, the new stamps were not issued until 1922. The colony used the stamps of French Equatorial Africa in 1936-60.

Central African Republic (Republique Centrafricaine)

FIRST STAMPS 1 December 1959.


100 centimes = 1 CFA.

Independent successor of Ubangi-Shari. Became a republic on 1 December 1958. Its ruler President Bokassa proclaimed himself emperor in 1976 and the country's name was changed to Central African Empire. Emperor overthrown in 1979 and title of republic reintroduced.

Central African Empire

FIRST STAMPS 16 December 1976.


100 centimes = 1 CFA.

Emperor was overthrown in 1979 and title of republic reintroduced.

Central African Republic


100 centimes = 1 CFA.

After the Emperor Bokassa was overthrown by Dacko, the country reverted to a republic and Dacko became the president. He surrendered power to the military from 1981 to 1985 when a civilian dominated Cabinet was appointed.

Since that date there have been several changes of government and numerous alterations to the Constitution. Since 1998, the Central African Peoples Liberation Party (MLPC) have remained in power.

Chad (Tchad)

FIRST STAMPS November 1922.


100 centimes = 1 CFA.

A French military territory by 1900, Chad became dependent upon Ubangi- Shari until made a separate colony on 17 March 1920. Acquired independence in two stages in 1958 and 1960.

Used stamps of French Equatorial Africa in 1936-59.

Chad & Ubangi-Shari to 1922
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Chad Republic (Republique du Tchad)

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 28 November 1959.

The Constitution of the country was suspended in 1975 when the President was killed during a coup led by General Felix Malloum. This was followed by a further series of coups and French troops were sent to the country to prevent further civil unrest. Idris Diby came to power in 1990 and announced the adoption of a multi-party system. A Transitional Council was elected in 1992 to serve as the legislature in conjunction with President Deby.

This transitional period was twice extended to allow sufficient time for the organisation of elections. In March 1996, an agreement was concluded to allow for a ceasefire and an independent commission to oversee the election. Deby won the first multi-party election in 1996 and has since remained in power.

French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatorial Francaise)

FIRST STAMPS 16 March 1936.



Territories of Ubangi-Shari, Chad, French Congo and Gabon were federated in 1910 but retained certain separate services (including postal) until 1936. The region adhered to the Free French in 1940. In 1958 the federation broke up again into independent republics (see above). Stamps ceased 1960, last used in Ubangi-Shari.

French Equatorial Africa
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St Thomas and Prince Islands (Sao Tome e Principe)



1870, Portuguese.
1975, 100 centavos = 1 Dobra.

Two islands in the Gulf of Guinea discovered by the Portuguese in 1471 and populated by their exiled criminals and sugar planters. Portuguese colony until 11 June 1951 when the islands became an overseas province of Portugal. Independent republic from 12 July 1975. A multi-party constitution was approved by referendum in August 1990. The Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe Social Democratic Party (MLSTP- PSD) which had been the sole legal party since Independence was defeated by the Democratic Convergence Party (PCD) in legislative elections held on 20 January 1991. In August 1995, five junior Army Officers launched a bloodless military coup, ousted the President and suspended both Parliament and the Constitution. Following Angolan mediation and the EU threat to suspend all aid, the officers relinquished power on 21 August and all returned to normal.

Fernando Po

FIRST STAMPS Britain from 1874.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED (as Spanish colony) 1 July 1868.


1874, Portuguese.

Island in the Gulf of Guinea discovered by the Portuguese (1472), acquired by Spain in 1778, and in 1827-34 leased to Britain as an antislavery naval base. Became a separate Spanish colony until it merged in 1909 with Elobey, Annobon, Corisco and Rio Muni into Spanish Guinea (see below). On 30 July 1959 the .island and Annobon were made a province of Spain, but on 12 October 1968 Fernando Po combined with Rio Muni to form Equatorial Guinea (see below).

Postal History
When British base was closed in 1834, the island, having a better climate than the coast, became a centre of British activity and a consul was appointed c. 1850. The consul was made British packet agent in March 1859, when a 'Paid' handstamp was supplied. The agency was closed in 1877. The island was authorized to use stamps of Britain in April 1858- 77, though none may have been supplied before 1874 (in 1874-7, oblit. 247).

Except for a special issue of 1929, used stamps of Spanish Guinea during 1909-60. Used separate stamps again 25 February 1960 - 11 October 1968.

Elobey, Annobon and Corisco



1903, as Spain.

Three islands in Gulf of Guinea acquired from Portugal in 1778 and forming a Spanish colony. From 1909 to 1959 they were part of Spanish Guinea. In 1959 the islands were split, Annobon to Fernando Po and Elobey and Corisco to Rio Muni. Stamp issue ceased 1909.

Spanish Guinea (Guinea Espanola)



1902, Spanish.

Spanish mainland territory (also known as Rio Muni) made a protectorate on 9 January 1885. During 1909-59 included Elobey, Annobon, Consco and Fernando Po. On 30 July 1959 Annobon and Fernando Po were detached again. The mainland area, together with Elobey and Corisco, became an overseas province of Spain known as Rio Muni (see below).

Issues during 1909-49 bear the inscription TERRITORIOS ESPANOLES DEL GOLFO DE GUINEA.

The last issue inscribed GUINEA ESPANOLA appeared on 23 November 1959 (i.e., after the changes of 30 July).

Spanish Guinea 1909
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Rio Muni



1962, Spanish.

Overseas province of Spain from 30 July 1959, formerly part of Spanish Guinea (see above). On 12 October 1968 it recombined with Fernando Po to become Equatorial Guinea (see below).

Equatorial Guinea

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 12 October 1968.


1968, 100 centimes = 1 CFA.

Former Spanish Guinea territories became an independent republic on 12 October 1968. Its despotism has been condemned by a UN Commission for crimes against human rights.

All issues since 1972 have been condemned by official philatelic bodies as undesirable. In 1979 the President was deposed by a revolutionary military Council. Constitutional amendments in 1982nprovided for legislative elections. These were held in 1983 and 1988 but all the candidates were chosen by the President! A multi-party political system under a new constitution was approved by referendum in 1991, but elections throughput the decade were boycotted by most of the elctorate. This situation pertains to this day.

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