Wednesday, 21 December 2016


Benin is a small West African country. It was once famous for its fabulous Empire.

Benin, or Dahomey as it was previously called, lies on the Gulf of Guinea. On the west it borders on Nigeria and on the east Togo, On the north is Niger and Burkina Faso.

As all the countries along the Gulf of Guinea in the south are wet and rainy so is Benin with swamps fringing the lagoons. A belt of rainforest is behind the swamps.

The high grassy plains in the north are drier and rise slowly towards the Atakora Mountains.

About 70 per cent of the people are farmers They grow crops to feed their families. They are subsistence farmers and there food consists of millets, maize, yams and cassava. Some families on the coast live by fishing. Their houses are built on stilts above the water.

Cotton, palm oil, cocoa and coffee are grown for export.

The capital is Porto Novo with around 200,000 inhabitants. The old slave trade port of Cotonou is twice as big than Port Novo. Cotonou is located on the narrow strip of land on the edge of a lagoon. It was from here that thousands of slaves were shipped to the cotton plantations in the southern states of the USA.

Benin was previously called Dahomey  and a powerful empire existed in the area from 1625.

Dahomey empire sold slaves to Euroean traders, who shipped them to the Americas therefore the coastline was then known as the Slave Coast.

The empire was much bigger than today's country and the capital was at what is now a small town of Abomey in the interior. It is still known for its ancient dancing rituals.

France ruled Dahomey  from 1892 until independence in 1960. The name was changed in 1975 to Benin.

Political unrest has plagued the country and brought it down to poverty. It now relies on aid from


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