This video is part of a series of 14 animated maps.

View series: Decolonization after 1945

An example of an animated map

Independence for Italy’s African colonies

This map is part of a series of 14 animated maps showing the history of Decolonization after 1945.

A direct consequence of the fall of Italy during the Second World War was independence for its African colonies.

In 1941, Italian troops were forced out of Ethiopia by the British army, and this opened the way to a monarchy under King Haile Selassie.

After 1945, other Italian territories were placed under UN control and administered by a European power:

-       Eritrea, which Ethiopia claimed as part of its territory, was administered by the British. On 15 September 1951, it was incorporated into the Ethiopian kingdom as a federal autonomous state.The resulting lengthy civil war lead to Eritrea’s independence in 1993

-       Somalia’s independence was recognized in 1949. However, strong internal divisions emerged and the UN decided to give Italy a 10-year trusteeship for the country. In June 1960, the recently independent British Somalia and the Italian territory of Somalia were merged into a single sovereign state.

In North Africa, Libya was administered by the two countries that had liberated its people from Italy: the United Kingdom was responsible for the regions of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, while France controlled Fezzan.

In May 1948, the United Nations set up a committee of enquiry into the Libyan population’s expectations in terms of its future independence.

However, the country was deeply divided between two options: a federal republic chosen by people living mostly in Tripolitania and Fezzan and a monarchy preferred by the inhabitants of Cyrenaica.

On 21 November 1949, UN decided that Libya would be united and given independence within 12 months. Under UN supervision, representatives of the three provinces drafted a constitution on 2 December 1950 and recognized Sayid Mohammed Idriss as the future king of the Federal Kingdom of Libya.

Independence was proclaimed on 24 December 1951.