Some of the colonies Italy established in North Africa:




In 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen, adopting the throne name Haile Selassie, was crowned emperor of Ethiopia. His reign was interrupted in 1936 when Italian Fascist forces invaded and occupied Ethiopia (they first invaded on October 2, 1935, took the capital Addis Ababa on May 5 and formally annexed Ethiopia on May 9). The emperor was forced into exile in England despite his plea to the League of Nations for intervention. Italian administration issued only one set of seven stamps for the colony:

In 1938 Ethiopia was incorporated into Italian East Africa. In 1941 the Italians were defeated by British and Ethiopian forces, and the emperor returned to the throne.




Eritrea had been ruled by many powers before it was colonized by the Italians in 1885. Previously, the coast was long occupied by the Ottoman Turks, who then left it to their Egyptian heirs in the mid 1800's. The interior, was traditionally part of the Ethiopian Empire. An Italian Roman Catholic priest by the name of Sapetto purchased the port of Asab from the Afar Sultan (a vassal of the Emperor of Ethiopia) on behalf of an Italian commercial conglomerate. Later, as the Egyptians were retreating out of Egypt during the Mahdist rebellion, the British brokered an agreement whereby the Egyptians could retreat out of the Sudan through Ethiopia, and in exchange, they would allow the Emperor of Ethiopia to occupy those lowland districts that he had disputed with the Turks and Egyptians. Emperor Yohannis IV believed this included Massawa, but instead, the port was handed by the Egyptians and the British, to the Italians, who united it with the already nationalized port of Asab to form a coastal Italian possession. The Italians took advantage of disorder in northern Ethiopia following the death of Emperor Yohannis IV to occupy the highlands, and established their new colony, henceforth known as Eritrea, and achieved recognition by Ethiopia's new Emperor Menelik II.

In 1938, Eritrea was absorbed into Italian East Africa. The Italians remained the colonial power in Eritrea until they were defeated by Allied forces in World War II (1941), and Eritrea became a British protectorate.




The attempted Italian colonization of the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica was never wholly successful. Several reorganizations of the colonial authority were made necessary, in the face of an armed Libyan opposition. From 1919 to 1929 the Italian government maintained the two traditional provinces, with separate colonial administrations. A system of controlled local assemblies with limited local authority was set up, but it was revoked on 9 March 1927. In 1929 Tripoli and Cyrenaica were united as one colonial province. In 1934, as Italy struggled to retain colonial power, the classical name "Libya" was revived as the official name of the colony, which was split into four provinces, Tripoli, Misurata, Bengasi, and Derna. In March 1937 Mussolini made a spectacular state visit to Libya, where he opened a new military highway running the entire length of the colony. He had himself declared protector of Islam and was presented with a symbolic sword.

Mussolini's highway sped the invasion of Egypt by Italian forces stationed in Libya, but in 1943 Allied forces finally liberated the country.




Somalia is the country on the eastern coast of Africa, bordering on the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Italy gained control of various parts of Somalia in the 1880s and, over the ensuing decades, Italian settlement was encouraged. In 1936, after the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Italian Somaliland became part of the Italian African Empire, along with Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In 1938, Somalia was merged with Eritrea and Ethiopia to form Italian East Africa. Italian hegemony of Somalia was short-lived, because on the outset of WWII, Mussolini realized he would have to concentrate his resources primarily on the home front to survive the Allied onslaught. As a result the British were able to totally reconquer Somalia by 1941. During the war years, Somalia was directly ruled by a British military administration and martial law was in place. British continued to administer the area until November 1949, when Italian Somaliland was made a United Nations Trust Territory under Italian administration for the period of 10 years. As scheduled, in 1959, Somalia was granted independence, and power transferred smoothly from the Italian administrators to the by then well developed Somali political culture.




A former Italian colony in East Africa, formed in 1938 from Eritrea, Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia.

During the Second World War, the Italian army recruited many thousands of native Africans from the colony to fight against the British in the East African Campaign. However due to poor training and inadequate supplies and arms, Italian native troops were usually defeated in the face of the enemy. The colony was occupied by the British in 1941 and, after World War II, was dissolved.