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Political entity created by the constitution of 1946 of the Fourth Republic. It replaced the French colonial empire with a semifederal entity that absorbed the colonies (overseas departments and territories) and gave former protectorates limited local autonomy, with some voice in decision making in Paris. By the constitution of 1958, the French Union was replaced by the French Community.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on French Union, visit Britannica.com.