Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger. It has a short coastline at its south. During the colonial period and at independence, the country was known as Dahomey. It was renamed on November 30, 1975, to Benin after the body of water on which the country lays, the Bight of Benin, which had in turn been named after the Benin Empire.


The Kingdom of Dahomey formed from a mixture of ethnic groups on the Abomey plain. It covered the southern third of the present country. The kings of Dahomey sold their war captives into transatlantic slavery, which flourished in the region of Dahomey for almost three hundred years, leading to the area being named "the Slave Coast".


By the middle of the nineteenth century, Dahomey started to lose its status as the regional power. This enabled the French to take over the area in 1892. In 1899, the French included the land called French Dahomey within the French West Africa colony. In 1958, France granted autonomy to the Republic of Dahomey, and full independence as of August 1, 1960. For the next twelve years, ethnic strife contributed to a period of turbulence, involved several coups and regime changes. On October 26, 1972, Lt. Col. Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the ruling triumvirate, announced that the country was officially Marxist, started his 29 years’ ruling of this country (he was defeated in the election of 1991-96 term). On November 30, 1975, he renamed the country to People's Republic of Benin and changed it to the Republic of Benin on March 1, 1990 after he renounced Marxism in 1989. Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world, about a third of the population live below the international poverty line.