Benin Profile

Present day Benin was formerly known as Dahomey after the kingdom of Dahomey that ruled the land from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.

After the slave trade was abolished France took control of the area during the scramble for Africa, renaming it French Dahomey.

In 1960 Dahomey gained independence from France ushering in a new era of what was supposed to be democratic government. Democratic it was, however almost inevitably the next twelve years were marred by internal divisions reflecting the composition of tribes and areas with the country.

Eventually, after the 1970 election which became violent, the three leading figures in Benin agreed to rule as a presidential council but were overthrown in 1972 by Lt. Col. Mathieu Kerekou who proclaimed it as a Marxist State and renamed it the People's Republic of Benin on 30th November 1975.

Kerekou placed nearly all economic activity under state control which effectively cut off supplies of foreign investment and the country was reduced to taking nuclear waste to process from France to pay its bills.

As the economy sank and professionals left the country in search of a better life, things came to a head in 1989 when the Marxist regime ran out of funds to pay the army amongst others. With the collapse of the banking system and with it the Benin economy, Kerekou was forced to renounce Marxism and arranged elections in which he was defeated in 1991 by Nicephore Soglo.

To his credit Kerekou abided by the peoples' decision and became the first black African president to voluntarily give up office after an election defeat.

It was perhaps this that saw him re-elected in 1996 until 2006 when he was succeeded by Thomas Boni Yayi, although there were claims of election irregularities.


Benin Profile

Benin Profile

Benin Profile

Benin Profile


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Benin Profile: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license

Benin Profile

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Today Benin is in 167th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country and is considered a model of democracy in Africa although it is still a relatively poor country and dependent on subsistence agriculture. The above picture collection shows typical images from Benin and the video above right depicts daily life there.


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