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Benin Information - Page 2
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore Benin (formerly Dahomey). They were followed by the French and the Dutch.

The French colonized the region in the second half of the nineteenth century. Conflict between France and the Kingdom of Dahomey led to the deportation of the King of Dahomey to Martinique.

Present-day Benin became a French Colony; later it formed part of French West Africa. Its status changed to an Overseas Territory of France in 1946.

Dahomey became self-governing within the French Community in 1958.

Dahomey achieved independence in 1960. In 1975 Dahomey was renamed the People's Republic of Benin; the name changed again in 1990 to the Republic of Benin.

Agriculture produces around a third of the Gross Domestic Product; much of the labour force earns a living from subsistence farming.

Cotton is an important product. Food crops are beans, maize, cassava, yams, groundnuts and palm nuts. Livestock is reared.

There are small offshore oil deposits. Other resources are limestone, marble and timber.

Industries include cement, construction materials, textiles and food processing. (2008)

Masks and sculptures can be seen in the Ethnographique Museum in Porto Novo.

The history and culture of the Kingdom of Dahomey is documented in the Abomey Royal History Museum, part of the World Heritage complex.

There is also a Voodoo museum in Ouidah, the Museum of the History of Ouidah.

Football is a popular sport in Benin. The national team, known as The Squirrels, took part in the African Nations Cup in 2004.

All religious holidays and festivals are celebrated. Independence Day (from France - 1960) is on 1 August.

News from Benin is available from Newslink.

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