Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Martinique

map_of_martinique

Geography

     Martinique is an island with an area of 1,100 square kilometres; land covers 1,060 square kilometres while water covers the remaining forty. The coastline is about 350 kilometres in length. The climate of Martinique is tropical, humid and moderated by trade winds. The rainy season lasts from June to October. The average temperature is 17.3 degrees Celsius. Martinique experiences fierce cyclones about every eight years.

 Politics

     In the 1900’s, a decree ended the indentured servitude of white labourers in Martinique. In 1946, the French National Assembly voted generally to transform Martinique from a colony of France into a department, known in French as a Département d’Outre-Mer, or DOM. Martinique was intended to be legally identical to any department in the metropole; in reality, several key differences remained, particularly within social security payments and unemployment benefits.

Economymartinique4

     In 1900’s there were some 450 sugar mills in Martinique, and molasses was a major export. Also, coffee was cultivated for commercial purposes. Other resources included coastal scenery, beaches, and cultivatable land. The slave trade and sugar crop monoculture wreaked havoc on the economic aspects of the colony. French funding to the DOM somewhat made up for this, giving the island one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. However, it remained dependent upon French aid; Martinique was actually one of the poorer islands in the region based on what it really produced.

Culture

     French occupation initially devastated the social aspects of Martinique, although the French eventually uplifted the situation. The people of Martinique celebrated Carnival, a four day event beginning just before Lent, and ending on its first day with the burning of Vaval, a papier-mâché figure symbolizing the event. Music contributed a great deal to Martinique’s culture. Biguine was popular dance orchestra music from the 1930’s.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Mauritania

mauritaniaGeography

     This colony is located in western Africa and includes the Senegal River.

Politics

     Under French law, slavery was banned and violence amongst various local clans was curbed. Nonetheless, severe warfare plagued Mauritania, perhaps even intensified by the selling of weapons by French merchants. The French mauritauniastruggled to extend control over the warring Maure groups despite officially supplying protection. The government launched a new plan of “peaceful penetration” for the administration of regions under Maure control, succeeding in separating, weakening, and mollifying the Maures. Mauritania was extremely dependent on Senegal in terms of economics, politics, and government. The French oversaw Mauritania using a system of indirect rule. Administrators maintained a relationship with Islamic leaders and conventional warrior tribes in order to govern the colony and execute policies. With the support of two local leaders against attacking warrior groups, a colonial politician named Coppolani took advantage of the major conflicts stressing Maure society and had peacefully checked Traarza, Brakna, and Tagant by 1904. He had also founded French military posts throughout the center of southern Mauritania. In 1908, Colonel Henri Gouraud, took charge of French forces as the government commissioner of the Civil Territory of Mauritania (1904), conquered Atar, and subdued all of the Adrar people within a year’s time. By 1912, opposition in Adrar and the south of Mauritania had been quelled. This displayed the power of the French to the locals of Mauritania, making it clear that the marabouts allied with the French would rise above the warrior clans of Maure. From 1912 to 1934, the French foiled Maure raids; except for insignificant successes (Port-Etienne was attacked in 1924 and 1927), the Maures mostly sumbitted to French administration. France did not devote much time or thought to the political, social, or economic development of Mauritania. In 1904, Mauritania was proclaimed a French protectorate under a delegate general in Saint-Louis. Because the first pacification efforts were successful, Mauritania was made a civil territory and run by a commissioner of government (the first was Coppolani, who was succeeded by Gouraud). Although Mauritania was officially not part of French West Africa, its political structure and yearly budget were closely tied to the French West African colonies. On December 4, 1920, a decree of the Colonial Ministry in Paris made incorporated Mauritania into French West Africa; it came under the centralized colonial administrative structure in Dakar. Although its local government was mainly similar to the other French West African colonies, its districts still included military units because of its more recent pacification. The clashes that occurred between military and administrative authorities caused frequent changes in administration and boundaries, instigating uncertainty. Since Coppolani, the administration largely depended on the support of conventional Maure leaders. In return for the support that Shaykh Sidiya of Trarza had given the French, they put the Boutillimit school of Islamic education under his management. Traditional Islamic judges were employed without direction, and the governmental appointment of local chiefs were required to gain traditional approval. The French gave chiefs of certain warrior tribes positions in the administration in an attempt to keep peace in the colony. Despite the frequent French interference in the traditional chiefs’ processes, the conventional social organization of Mauritania was preserved. After World War II, the two-house Mauritanian General Council was formed, composed of twenty-four members, eight delegated by Europeans, the remaining by Mauritanians. Only 10,000 individuals qualified as voters in the Mauritanian elections of 1946 because the French constitution allowed only officials, wage earners, veterans, those who owned registered property, and members or former members of local groups or trade unions the right to vote. In the following year, those with knowledge of French and Arabic joined the list. Prior to 1946, Mauritania and Senegal combined were considered one electoral unit, represented by one senator in the French Senate. With the 1946 constitution, Mauritania was politically separated from Senegal and received its own delegate to the French National Assembly. Despite all this, Mauritanian political activity was still small. The colony’s first party, the Mauritanian Entente, was established in 1946 for the year’s election, led by Horma Ould Babana, the first Mauritanian delegate to the French National Assembly. The group was not well organized and didn’t represent the greater majority of Mauritanians, yet Babana defeated the candidate representing the French administration and clergy.

Culture

     Because of France’s imperialist rule, the French language was introduced to the people of Mauritania. During its rule, the Mauritanians remained nomadic, and groups that had been forced out of the region many years ago gradually began to move back in. The constant fighting in the colony depleted the stocks of the nomadic Maures, who then raided other groups to gain possession of the animals they had lost. Another indigenous people living in Mauritania in the time of colonial rule were the Hassane warriors, also a nomadic group.

Economy

     The French did not make much of an effort to develop the economy of Mauritania.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Senegal

senegalGeography

     The colony of Senegal lies on the west coast of Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Geographically, it is the center of French West Africa. It includes the Senegal River, which leads into the region’s interior.  

Politics

     In the early 20th century, France was working towards acquiring complete control of Senegal. In 1902, Dakar replaced the city of Saint-Louis as the capital of the colony, and soon, Senegal came under strict French administrative control. Africans who had been born in one of the four communes of Senegal, or oldest towns of French West Africa, but held on to their African or Muslim status weren’t allowed both full voting rights and legal protections simultaneously. The African electors of the colony sent African Blaise Diagne, previously a colonial official, the main leader of change, to represent them in the National Assembly of Paris. He became the first black representative, but he soon lost Senegalese support because he cooperated with the French and their selfish interests in the colony Diagne was able to obtain full French citizenship rights for a Senegalese urban minority – even if these citizens wanted to keep their position under Islamic law – because he had helped recruit many African soldiers to fight in World War I. Although these rights were taken away from 1940 to 1942, they were reinstated in 1947. After Daigne, up until independence, the representatives of the communes were always African supporters of decolonization. A deputy named Léopold Senghor created a firm relationship with conservative Muslim groups like the Mourides. Senegal was proclaimed an overseas territory of France in 1946. That same year, France granted Senegal more independent rule and two deputies in French Parliament. Senghor and another politician named Lamine Gueye headed a new group of African politicians that spoke out for the ending of imposed labour, higher standards of living, and the colonial subjects’ rights to French citizenship. Many thousands of Senegalese individuals fought for allies in World War II.

Economy

     Arabic gum, acquired from the acacia tree, was an example of a colonial agricultural product. Senegal experienced an economic fall in the twentieth century, partly because of the decrease in the value of its currensenegalcy, the CFA franc, a fast-growing population, and severe unemployment.

Culture

     French rule deeply influenced colonial Senegal. French was adopted as the official language and Roman Catholic missionaries promoted the word of Christianity. A Western-style education system was used in an attempt to teach the locals French culture and to make administration simpler. The School of Medicine of Dakar was established in 1918, providing opportunities for higher education.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

French Soudan

french-sudanfrench-sudanGeography

     French Soudan is a landlocked area in northwest Africa. It includes the Niger River, which flows into the south Atlantic.

Politics

     In 1902, the regions of French Soudan that were not organized into military districts were joined to form Senegambia and Niger. Two years later, these areas became Upper Senegal and Niger. In 1920, the regions were reorganized yet again and brought under the old name of French Soudan. When the French colony of Upper Volta was first canceled in 1933, some of its provinces were added to French Soudan. 

Economy

     The French introduced the French West African Franc as the monetary unit of the colony.

Culture

     The French language was introduced and adopted for use in speech and literature throughout this colony.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

French Guinea

guinea1Geography

     French Guinea is situated in coastal West Africa, bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Portuguese Guinea in the north, Upper Senegal and the Ivory Coast in the east, and Liberia and Sierra Leone in the south. Although it does include a couple rocky promontories, the shore is formed by alluvial deposits, mostly sandy, low, interrupted by rivers and deep estuaries, and speckled with marshy islands. Examples of estuaries in the area include Rio Pongo and Rio Bramaya. French Guinea also includes the Los Islands. Thirty meters inland stand a row of cliffs called the Susu Hills, forming the first step in the terrace-shaped terrain of the interior. The Susu Hills give way to the massif of Futa Jallon, which is mainly Archean and granite rocks. The Futa Jallon plateau reaches higher heights, such as 5000 feet, in its bottom portions. In close proximity to the Sierra Leone border, the table carries on west to about twenty meters of the sea. Here, Mount Kakulima stands at 3000 ft. The terrain declines down to the basin of the upper Niger to the east and south of the high land. The southern frontier of the region is established by the steep ridges that separate the Niger River basin from those of Liberia’s coastal rivers. Apart from the Niger, Gambia, and Senegal rivers, many different streams which meet the Atlantic begin in the plateau. They include the Great and Little Scarcies and the Rio Grande. Rivers who run only through French Guinea are the Cogon, Rio Nunez, Fatalla, Konkure, Forekaria, and Melakori. The coastal regions are hot and humid, with a period of hard rainfall from May to November and different winds and tornadoes occur. Rain is plentiful in the Futa Jallon highlands but not as much in the Niger basin. These two regions sport milder climates than the coast and are therefore suitable for Europeans.  

Politics

     French Guinea was administered by a lieutenant governor, above whom sat the Governor General in Dakar, Senegal. The lieutenant governor was assisted by a group of elected individuals. France negotiated and acquired the colony’s boundaries in the early twentieth century. Lieutenant governors administered the individual colonies, including Guinea. It was administered by a lieutenant-governor, assisted by a nominated council. Customs and head tax, having replaced a hut tax, financed the government of French Guinea. Throughout most of the colony, the local rulers maintained authority under French charge. The administration took special interest in the development of agriculture and education.

Economy

     The French West African Franc and CFA Franc were introduced as currency during French Guinea’s colonial period. The oil palm was important to the colony’s economy. Rubber vines, bamboos, karate, gum-producing trees, kola trees, and fruit trees like orange, citron, and baobab also played a role in French Guinea’s economy. Cotton and coffee plants were easily grown and banana plantations were numerous. Because of its rich soils, the colony produced many tropical agricultural items; the main products were rubber from the interior and palm oil and palm kernels from the interior. Most of the rubber went to England, the palm goods to Germany, and the groundnuts to France. Cotton was grown in the Niger basin area. Gum, copal, groundnuts, and sesame are also cultivated. The colony exports coffee, wax, and ivory. Cattle and sheep are raised in Futa Jallon and then sent to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and French Congo. French Guinea additionally participates in the noteworthy trade of animal hides. The chief imports of the colony are cotton items, four fifths of which come from Britain, rice, kola nuts, mainly from Liberia, spirits, tobacco, construction material, and ammunition, mostly guns. Almost all of the colony’s commercial activity is done with France and England, the latter involved in almost half of French Guinea’s trade. Next came Germany. Since 1905, a tax of seven percent was imposed on all non-French items.                           french_guinea

Culture

     France introduced both French and Christianity to the natives of the region. The Tendas and Iolas are two local tribes that lived in French Guinea. Other indigenous groups, like the Baga, Nalu, Timni, and Landuman, arrived considerably later. The Susu, Fula, Malinke, and other Mandingo tribes also resided in the area. The Mandingo, Fula and Susu were Muslims, although the Susu continued to follow the traditional African ways of the Baga and other groups – ancient ceremonies and beliefs involving spirit and object worship.  The few remaining descendants of the aboriginies, like the Tiapi, Koniagui, and Bassari can be found in the colony, too. South of the Rio Pongo, coastal tribes mostly speak pigdin English. Only a few hundred Europeans live in French Guinea; most are French. The white inhabitants number a few hundreds only and are mainly French.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Côte d’Ivoire

cote-divoireGeography

     The French colony of Côte d’Ivoire is located in the western region of Africa and has a tropical climate.

Politics

     To prevent acts of opposition and resistance, the governor of Côte d’Ivoire implemented a policy of pacification in which entire villages were compelled to relocate to areas more easily controlled by the administration. A head tax, the growing of cocoa, and military service for some were made mandatory by 1912. The severity of French administration induced heavy, prolonged resistance throughout the colony. Guerrilla warfare by local groups like the Baoulé plagued the colony until 1917. Throughout its colonial history, Côte d’Ivoire had different administrative capitals both in and outside its actual borders (Goree, Saint Louis, Conakry, Bassam, Bingerville, Abidjan). To make governing the colony easier, Côte d’Ivoire was divided into circles, cantons, and villages, with an administrator in charge of each. The village chiefs were stripped of their power and served as minor agents to French-appointed leaders. Complete pacification wasn’t achieved in Côte d’Ivoire until 1915. Until 1938, there was not much political activity in the colony, no organized groups of Africans working towards making a difference; this made it extremely easy for the French to govern rigidly. Following the Brazzaville Conference of 1944, though, a speech by General de Gaulle brought into the minds of the people the idea of Africans having rights in Côte d’Ivoire. In 1944, Félix Houphouët-Boigny created a trade union for African cocoa farmers, put off by the fact that colonial administration lent greater support to French plantation owners. As the founder of the Syndicat Agricole Africain, he helped improve the lives of the African farmers. He entered local politics, heading the “African bloc” and winning the Abidjan municipal elections in 1945. In two months, Houphouët-Boigny was elected to the French constituent assembly in Paris as a delegate of African interests. By the following year, the government abolished forced labor in the colony. Houphouët-Boigny even became the first African minister in both French and European government. Côte d’Ivoire hugely benefited from Houphouët-Boigny firm relationship with the French management. Political groups were established; the most significant of these, the Rassemblement Democratique Africain, was founded in 1946 and led by Houphouët-Boigny himself. In 1945, Houphouët-Boigny also formed a small smaller, local party called Parti Democratique de la Cote d’Ivoire. Until after World War II, the colony’s political issucote-divoire1es were handled by the administration in Paris. France considered all African residents of Côte d’Ivoire official French subjects without any rights to governmental representation in Africa or France. The Vichy regime held political power in the colony until 1943, when General Charles De Gaulle’s temporary government seized control of French West Africa. 1944’s Brazzaville conference, the first Constituent Assemble of the Fourth Republic in 1946, and the African loyalty France perceived in World War II brought about many changes for the natives of Côte d’Ivoire; they were granted French citizenship rights, political organization rights, and exemption from different types of forced labor.

Economy

     With French colonial rule, the West African CFA Franc became the monetary unit of Côte d’Ivoire.  The colony included cocoa, coffee, and banana plantations, a third of which were in the possession of French citizens. An imposed labor system propped its economy. The French didn’t refinance the colony in a way sufficient enough to ensure its economic development. They didn’t introduce a diverse range of crops to the colony, so that it suffered whenever the global value of cocoa and coffee declined.

Culture

     French colonialism drastically changed the lives of the locals of Côte d’Ivoire. One obvious impact is of language and religion; French and Christianity became a part of the lives of the locals of Côte d’Ivoire because of France. Because of the harsh nature of French administration, many native folk move immigrated to other areas in Africa like Ghana and Liberia, often after baptism by a man named William Harris. There were a considerable number of French settlers in the colony. The Baoulé were one group of indigenous people in Côte d’Ivoire in the colonial period.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Upper Volta

upper-volta2Geography

     Upper Volta is located in West Africa. This French colony includes the upper portion of the Volta River, whicU1249629h is divided into three parts: the Black Volta, White Volta, and Red Volta.

Politics

     Throughout its colonial history, Upper Volta was a stage for conflicts between the French administration and the locals, private capitalist administrators and public officials who competed for labor, and from 1914 to 1939, France and Britain over the district of Koudougou. François Charles Alexis Édouard Hesling became the first governor of the colony of Upper Volta. Among other things, he directed road construction in the colony. Recruits from Upper Volta fought in the European fronts during World War I. The people of Upper Volta also served as workers in the Ivory Coast and the developing Office of Niger. From 1915 to 1916, the colony became involved in the Volta-Bani War, an armed resistance to colonial rule in the region. The government eventually managed to quell the opposition with the biggest military force French Upper Volta had ever seen, but only after facing several losses. Similar resistances were staged towards the north, when allied native groups like the Taureg and others in the Dori region ended their peace agreement with the French government. Different kinds of labor policies were put into effect, influencing the size of the labor force. The collection of forced labor had a tremendous impact on the native populations. Imposed labor in the colony was abolished in 1947.                

Economy                                                                                             

     France introduced the monetary units the French West African Franc and the CFA Franc to Upper Volta during colonial rule. The production of cotton for commercial export was encouraged in the new colony, but the policy failed, unable to yield sufficient profit. Imposed, underpaid labor, taxes, and cash cropping induced a negative result on the people and internal economy.                                                   

Culture                                                                                                        

     The Mossi and the Taureg are examples of local African tribes that could be found in French Upper Volta. During French colonial rule, Upper Volta was introduced to both the French language and the Roman Catholic religion. In 1934, during the French invasion, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo wrote Maximes, pensées et devinettes mossi, a book that detailed the oral traditions of the Mossi natives. Food cropping suffered at the hands of French colonialism, creating problems for the locals of Upper Volta. European theatre, namely French theatre, became popular in this time period. The pressure that the indigenous village leaders felt widened the gaps amongst the different classes in Upper Volta and increased levels of conflict amongst them.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Dahomey

dah1Geography                                                                                                                            

     Dahomey is a French colony towards the north of the Gulf of Guinea, west of Nigeria, and east of Togoland. The first fifty meters past the shoreline is flat land; a large swamp called the Lama Marsh, stretching about twenty-five meters laterally and somewhere between six to nine meters longitude wise, is found after this. As the land progresses northward, it forms a plateau as it steadily rises to about 1650 feet and then declines into the Niger River basin. The Atacora, a range of hills, lie between the basins of the Niger, Weme, and Volta in the northwest. The coastal regions are very hot and humid, annually exposed to four distinct seasons. An extended dry period sometimes interrupted by tornadoes is followed by a season of heavy rainfall, after which a briefer dry season, and then a smaller wet season, arrives. Further inland, two prevalent seasons exist: a dry season from November to May and a rainy season from June to October. Precipitation is less frequent towards the north.                                   

Politics                                                                                                                 

     Dahomey’s government sits in the city of Kotonu. The colony is administered by a lieutenant governor who is supported by a council of formal and informal members. It is separated into provinces, each of which are governed by a powerful administrator. Most states under the authority of local rulers are retained under French direction. Natives may choose to live under French law. In 1900, a prince who had been crowned the king of Abomey was caught plotting against the French and was therefore expelled to Congo, taking with him the last remnants of native Dahomeyan authority.                                                                                                                  

Economy                                                                                                                            

     France worked to develop the material resources of Dahomey. From 1894 onward the French devoted great attention to the development of the material resources of the country. It introduced the CFA Franc as the colony’s currency. The primary agricultural produce is palm-oil, yielded in great amounts in oil palm orchards throughout the colony. The colony’s revenue highly depends on the export of palm oil and palm kernels. The French hindered the locals’ tampering with palm kernels, which impeded trade, through ensuring that the kernels were carefully examined prior to shipment. Palm-wine is generated, although not in such quantity because its manufacturing method damages the tree. Other important vegetable crops include corn, guinea-corn, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, coconuts, oranges, limes, and wild African apples. The colony also produces groundnuts, kola nuts, pineapples, guavas, various spices, ginger, hibiscus, sugarcane, onions, tomatoes, and papaws. In addition, rubber tree and vine plantations supply colonial Dahomey’s economy. Agriculture struggles in the village areas. A big fishing industry thrives around the colony’s lagoons. Copra, kolanuts, rubber, and dried fish are exported. The majority of the colony’s trade is done with Germany and England, a rough quarter with France. Imports include cotton items (mainly from Britain), machinery and metals, alcohol (from Germany), and tobacco. The overall amount of trade rose during the turn of the twentieth century but declined in 1903 when a lack of precipitation harmed the generation of palm oil and kernels. By 1904, trade had recovered and increased once again.                                                                                  

Culture                                                                                                                    

     Under the colonial grip of France, the refined Dahomeyans learned French, which became very commonly used in the region. Also, France introduced Christianity to the locals. In most of the districts of Dahomey, native laws and traditions were kept, under French supervision. The native inhabitants spoke a language called Fon, similar to the Ewe tongue also used by certain indigenous people, and part of the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo family of African. The Dahomeyans were one of eighteen different but associated tribes living in the colony. They were people of courtesy, high estedahomey_amazon5em, and calmness, involved in trade and warfare. A group called the Mina is reputed for its skilled seafarers while another, the Nago, of part Yoruba blood and dialect, are known for their tranquility and extreme interest in trade. Coastal towns like Whydah are home to mulattos who speak Portuguese and live by grand Portuguese names. Those natives who live to the north of the colony, such as the Mahi, Bariba, and Gurmai, are not as civilized as those in the coastal areas. The Fula and Hausa people live amongst them, too. Many Muslims can be found in these northern areas, but most of the Mahi and Dahomeyans all take part in idol worship.

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Togo

 

map_of_togo1

Geography

Togo has a total area of around 56,785 square kilometers. To the west and the southwest of a tableland lie the Togo Mountains. These mountains run across the central region of Togo, ranging from the southwest to the northeast. The highest mountain of Togo is Mount Agou, which stands at a height of 986 meters.

Politics

    On August 8, 1914, French and British forces invaded German Togoland; the German forces there surrendered on August 26. In 1916, Togoland was divided into French and British administrative zones. Following the war, Togoland formally became a League of Nations mandate, divided for administrative purposes between France and the United Kingdom. After World War I, newly founded Czechoslovakia was also interested Togo, but it did not lay claim to the colony. 

Economy

     The natural resources found in this colony were phosphates, limestone, marble, and arable land. Agriculture was the main economic activity in Togo during French rule; the majority of the population depended on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and cocoa were the major cash crops for export. Food and cash crop production employed the majority of the labor force.

Culture

     Togo’s culture reflected the influences of its thirty-seven ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the

togo

Ewe, Mina, and Kabre. The many indigenous African languages that were spoken by the Togolese include Gbe languages such as Ewe, Mina, and Aja, and Kabiyé. French colonialism made French the official language of Togo.

 

 

Posted by: frenchimperialism | April 7, 2009

Morocco

morocco-mapGeography

     The Mediterranean coast of Morocco is mountainous. The highest point in the area is Jbel Toubkal; the lowest is Sebkha. Some of the other mountains are Jbel Ayachi, Jebel Musa, Jbel Toubkal, and Mount Zagora. Some of thmorre rivers are El-Abid River, Baht River, Dadès River, Lakhdar River, and Molouya River. The region also includes a fertile plain on the Atlantic coast. Morocco has a Mediterranean climate.

Politics

     The French government established French legal systems in Morocco. It also enhanced the Moroccan economy, created a modern transportation system, and developed agriculture. However, the French did all this for their own benefits. The French never wanted Morocco to gain independence; they used to prevent all moves that Moroccans took towards autonomy.

Economy

     During French rule, the Moroccan economy developed tremendously. Modern transportation systems were created and agriculture advanced. The French were trying to go ahead through the exploitation on Morocco’s mineral wealth. Morocco had very fertile land; more than one fifth of it was arable, so many crops were cultivated in its soils. France was aware that if the economy of Morocco grew, the French economy would develop with it; Morocco helped French markets expand.

Culture

     French colonization brought the French language to the Moroccan people.

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