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Benin Introduction

Benin   IntroductionTop of Page
Background: Dahomey gained its independence from France in 1960; the name was changed to Benin in 1975. From 1974 to 1989 the country was a socialist state; free elections were reestablished in 1991.

Benin was the seat of one of the great medieval African kingdoms called Dahomey. During the 13th century, the indigenous Edo people were run by a group of local chieftains, but by the 15th century a single ruler known as the 'oba' had asserted control. Under the dynasty established by Ewuare the Great, the most famous of the obas, Benin's territory expanded to cover a region between the Niger River delta and what is now the Nigerian city of Lagos. The obas brought great prosperity and a highly organized state to Benin. They also established good relations and an extensive slave trade with the Portuguese and Dutch who arrived from the 15th century onwards.

The decline of the obas began in the 18th century when a series of internal power struggles began which lasted into the 19th century, paving the way for the French takeover and colonization of the country in 1872. In 1904, the territory was incorporated into French West Africa as Dahomey. On December 4, 1958, it became the République du Dahomey, self-governing within the French community, and on August 1, 1960, the Republic of Benin gained full independence from France.

Post-Independence Politics
Between 1960 and 1972, a succession of military coups brought about many changes of government. The last of these brought to power Major Mathieu Kérékou as the head of a regime professing strict Marxist-Leninist principles. The Revolutionary Party of the People of Benin (PRPB) remained in complete power until the beginning of the 1990s. Kérékou, encouraged by France and other democratic powers, convened a National Conference that introduced a new democratic constitution and held presidential and legislative elections. Kérékou's principal opponent at the presidential poll, and the ultimate victor, was Prime Minister Nicéphore Soglo. Supporters of Soglo also secured a majority in the National Assembly.

Benin was thus the first African country to successfully effect the transition from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system. In the second round of National Assembly elections held in March 1995, Soglo's political vehicle, the Parti de la Renaissance du Benin, was the largest single party but lacked an overall majority. The success of a party formed by supporters of ex-president Kérékou, who had officially retired from active politics, encouraged him to stand successfully at both the 1996 and 2001 presidential elections.

During the 2001 elections, however, alleged irregularities and dubious practices led to a boycott of the run-off poll by the main opposition candidates. The four top-ranking contenders following the first round presidential elections were Mathieu Kerekou (incumbent) 45.4%, Nicephore Soglo (former president) 27.1%, Adrien Houngbedji (National Assembly Speaker) 12.6%, and Bruno Amoussou (Minister of State) 8.6%. The second round balloting, originally scheduled for March 18, 2001, was postponed for days because both Soglo and Houngbedji withdrew, alleging electoral fraud. This left Kerekou to run against his own Minister of State, Amoussou, in what was termed a "friendly match".

1UpTravel's Guide to Benin

Geography of Benin - Highlights the location, map references, area, land boundaries, climate, natural resources, land use, natural hazards, environment, and geography of Benin

People of Benin - Learn about the population, age structure, birth and death rate, sex ratio, nationality, ethnic groups, religions, languages, and literacy in Benin

Government and Politics in Benin - Profiles the country name, government type, administrative divisions, independence, national holiday, constitution, legal system, suffrage, executive, legislative, and judicial branches, political parties and leaders, and a flag description of Benin.

Economy of Benin - Study the GDP, growth rate, per capita, inflation, labor, budget, industries, exports, imports, currency, exchange rates, and economy of Benin

Communications in Benin - Browse statistics on telephones, mobile and cellular lines in use, radio broadcast stations, televisions, internet country code, ISP's, internet users, and facts on communications in Benin

Transportation in Benin - Offers statistical details on the railways, highways, waterways, ports & harbors, airports, and other facts on transportation in Benin

Military of Benin - Provides statistics on military branches, army, air force, navy, manpower, military service, expenditure, and facts on military in Benin

Transnational Issues of Benin - Explore international disputes and transnational issues of Benin

Maps of Benin - Discover a detailed map of Benin

Map Database of Benin - Browse a large collection of city, country, historical, political, thematic, and shaded relief maps of Benin

Flags of Benin - Uncover the flag images and description of the flag of Benin. Includes historical flags, symbols, and related information

Weather for cities of Benin - Browse weather forecast, hourly conditions, temperature, sunrise, sunset, and other weather related reports for the cities of Benin

1Up Info - Benin Political Geography - Encyclopedia resource provides information on the country along with its cities.


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