Africa Facts Zone presents Benin Republic. To the north, Burkina Faso and Niger border Benin, while to the south, the Bight of Benin, located in the Gulf of Guinea, the tropical north Atlantic Ocean, which is about south of West Africa, borders the Republic of Benin.
Dahomey was Benin Republic previous name until 1975. Located on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, Porto-Novo is Cotonou’s capital, biggest city, and commercial center.
There are 42 ethnic groups in Africa (the most prominent being Fon, Adja and Yoruba), with Europeans making up only 5,500 of the population.
In the south, Fon and Yoruba (the two most popular vernaculars) and tribal languages are spoken (at least six major ones in north).
In 1625, the Dahomey or Fon peoples created the Abomey kingdom. Dahomey’s wooden masks, bronze sculptures, tapestries, and ceramics are among the world’s best-known artifacts. France seized Dahomey, Africa’s smallest and most populous area, in 1893 and merged it into French West Africa in 1904. France awarded independence to Dahomey on August 1, 1960, making it an independent republic within the Community.
In 1963, Gen. Christophe Soglo led an army coup that ousted the country’s first president, Hubert Maga. As head of state in 1965, he sacked the civilian administration and replaced it with his own. Young army officers overthrew the Soglo regime in December 1967. Benin had its sixth military takeover in a decade in December 1969. This commission, formed in May 1970, had a six-year mandate and took control of the government. In May of 1972, the triumvirate was deposed once again by an army coup, this time by Lt. Col. Mathieu Krkou. Dahomey became the People’s Republic of Benin from 1974 to 1989, when it adopted socialism and renamed itself. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Benin was a thriving African kingdom in southwest Nigeria. As a result, Benin changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1990, abandoning Marxism and moving toward multiparty democracy and renaming itself.
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Benin’s economy was on the verge of collapse by the end of the 1980s. Over 100,000 Beninese migrant workers were forced to leave Nigeria as the oil boom ended, and Nigeria closed its border with Benin. The socialist collectivization of Benin’s agriculture under Krkou, as well as the growth of the bureaucracy, exacerbated the country’s economic difficulties. International financial institutions were concerned that Benin might default on its debts in 1988, so they put pressure on Krkou to implement financial reforms.
Later, Krkou launched a large privatization effort, slashing the government’s workforce, as well as reducing social programs, which sparked student and labor union discontent. Krkou consented to a new constitution and free elections for fear of a revolution. A former International Bank for Reconstruction and Development director and economist, Nicphore Soglo was elected president in 1991. Soglo’s popularity began to wane as austerity measures and a 50% devaluation of the currency in 1994 lowered living standards and sparked inflation. In the 1996 elections, Krkou beat Soglo, and he was handily reelected in the March 2001 elections. He was unable to seek for re-election due to term restrictions. Yayi Boni became president in April 2006. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to eliminate most of Benin’s foreign debt after the government exhibited considerable economic reform.
Some 55,000 dwellings were damaged by floods in 2010, tens of thousands of cattle were slaughtered, and 680,000 people were relocated. The death toll was 46.
Facts About Benin Republic
- The Republic of Dahomey replaced the French flag with the one displayed above. The yellow on the flag represents the northern savannas, the green represents the palm groves, and the crimson represents the sacrifices of those who fought for Dahomey.
- However, despite the country’s efforts to break away from France, France’s influence is still rather powerful. The national anthem is sung in French, the official language is French, and important national festivals are celebrated in French.
- “Voodoo” has its origins here. Voodoo (locally referred to as Vodun) is a sort of superstition that, contrary to popular belief, is based on a belief in spirits, the five basic components of nature, and a reverence for serpents. They even have a Temple of Serpents, a 130-square-foot chamber in which they keep 50 royal snakes. There are no other countries that recognize this as an official religion.
- The voodoo and animism influences on many Beninese people have led some of them to think that taking a picture of someone may steal a portion of their soul. So, if you’re a photographer, be careful to get permission first!
- The Slave Coast was the capital of Benin during the colonial period. It wasn’t until the 16th century that they ceased selling their own nationals that neighboring countries and tribes also began doing so. Museums have opened around the nation to commemorate this tragic chapter in their history.
- When it comes to transitions from dictatorships into multi-party democracies, Benin was the first in the area to do so. In the mid-to-late ’90s.
- In Benin, the rainy season occurs twice a year, from April to July and from September to November. As a result, one should always have a raincoat on hand!
- Because hospitality is ingrained in their culture, visitors can expect to be served food and drink nearly without fail. It’s impolite and disrespectful to refuse them, so get your stomach ready.
- Even though it’s impoverished, it’s had a lot more political stability than other West African countries.
- One of the most popular souvenirs from Benin is the wooden mask, which is handcrafted by master artisans in the country’s capital city of Banjul.