This suggests that the Adal Sultanate with Zeila as its headquarters dates back to at least the 9th or 10th century. According to I.M. Lewis, the polity was governed by local dynasties consisting of Afarized Arabs or Arabized Somalis, who also ruled over the similarly-established Sultanate of Mogadishu in the Benadir region to the south. Adal’s history from this founding period forth would be characterized by a succession of battles with neighboring Abyssinia. At its height, the Adal kingdom controlled large parts of modern-day Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Between Djibouti City and Loyada are a number of anthropomorphic and phallic stelae. The structures are associated with graves of rectangular shape flanked by vertical slabs, as also found in Tiya, central Ethiopia. The Djibouti-Loyada stelae are of uncertain age, and some of them are adorned with a T-shaped symbol. Additionally, archaeological excavations at Tiya have yielded tombs. As of 1997, 118 stelae were reported in the area. Along with the stelae in the Hadiya Zone, the structures are identified by local residents as Yegragn Dingay or “Gran’s stone”, in reference to Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi (Ahmad “Gurey” or “Gran”), ruler of the Adal Sultanate.
Ottoman Eyalet (1577–1867):
Governor Abou Baker ordered the Egyptian garrison at Sagallo to retire to Zeila. The cruiser Seignelay reached Sagallo shortly after the Egyptians had departed. French troops occupied the fort despite protests from the British Agent in Aden, Major Frederick Mercer Hunter, who dispatched troops to safeguard British and Egyptian interests in Zeila and prevent further extension of French influence in that direction.
On 14 April 1884 the Commander of the patrol sloop L’Inferent reported on the Egyptian occupation in the Gulf of Tadjoura. The Commander of the patrol sloop Le Vaudreuil reported that the Egyptians were occupying the interior between Obock and Tadjoura. Emperor Yohannes IV of Ethiopia signed an accord with Great Britain to cease fighting the Egyptians and to allow the evacuation of Egyptian forces from Ethiopia and the Somalia littoral. The Egyptian garrison was withdrawn from Tadjoura. Léonce Lagarde deployed a patrol sloop to Tadjoura the following night.
French Somaliland (1894–1977):
From 1862 until 1894, the land to the north of the Gulf of Tadjoura was called Obock and was ruled by Somali and Afar Sultans, local authorities with whom France signed various treaties between 1883 and 1887 to first gain a foothold in the region. In 1894, Léonce Lagarde established a permanent French administration in the city of Djibouti and named the region French Somaliland. It lasted from 1896 until 1967, when it was renamed the Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas (TFAI) (“French Territory of the Afars and the Issas”).
In 1958, on the eve of neighboring Somalia’s independence in 1960, a referendum was held in Djibouti to decide whether to remain with France or to join the Somali Republic. The referendum turned out in favor of a continued association with France, partly due to a combined yes vote by the sizable Afar ethnic group and resident Europeans. There were also allegations of widespread vote rigging. The majority of those who had voted no were Somalis who were strongly in favor of joining a united Somalia as had been proposed by Mahmoud Harbi, Vice President of the Government Council. Harbi was killed in a plane crash two years later.