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Obock (also Obok, Ubuk) is a small port town in Djibouti. It is located on the northern shore of the Gulf of Tadjoura, where it opens out into the Gulf of Aden. The population in 2003 was about 8,300 inhabitants.During the Middle Ages, Obock was ruled by the Ifat Sultanate and the Adal Sultanate. It later formed a part of the French Somaliland protectorate in the first half of the 20th century. Obock was originally significant as the site of the first French colony in the region, established by treaty with the local Afar rulers on March 11, 1862. The French interest was in having a coaling station for steamships, which would become especially important upon the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. (Up to that time French ships had to buy coal at the British port of Aden across the gulf, an unwise dependency in case of war.) By 1885, Obock had 800 inhabitants and a school. However, the anchorage was more exposed than the site of Djibouti on the south side of the Gulf of Tadjoura, and the colonial administration moved there in 1894. Subsequently the population of Obock declined.