The country we refer to as Benin today was once the powerful Kingdom of Dahomey. It was eventually nicknamed the Slave Coast due to significant trafficking through Dahomey of Africans (against their will) to the Americas, specifically to the slave markets of Brazil and the Caribbean.

It was transformed into a French Colony in the late 1800s, finally gaining its full independence from France in 1960. The country's current name (Benin) was adopted in 1975.

Subsequently, it witnessed a series of military coups, a mistaken association with Marxism, and the somewhat typical health and infrastructure problems indigenous to its neighbors, and most West African countries.

As a new democracy, the bright side is Benin's economy is growing and tourism is on the increase, especially along the coastal areas, and in the wildlife national parks of the north.

Much of the interior population is still dependent on subsistence farming; growing beans, corn and yams. Important cash crops include cotton, cocoa and coffee.

  • Official Name: Republic of Benin

  • Population: 8,662,086

  • Capital City: Porto-Novo (234,168) 

  • Largest Cities: Cotonou, Porto-Novo, Parakou

  • Currency: CFA Franc

  • Languages: French (official), tribal languages

  • National Day: 1 August, National Day

  • Religions: Muslim, Christian, traditional beliefs

  • Land Area: 110,620 sq km (42,710 sq miles)

  • Highest Point: Mt. Sokbaro (658 m) (2,158 ft)

  • Lowest Point: Atlantic Ocean, sea level 

  • Land Divisions: 12 departments, including: Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau and Zou

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