From the 17th to the 19th centuries, the Abomev Kingdom flourished in what is now the nation of Benin. European traders often visited the region.
In 1851, an Abomev chief signed a treaty with France, allowing the French to build a settlement along the coast. By 1904, France had taken control of most of the Abomev territory.
In 1960, France granted independence to the nation of Dahomey. In 1975, the country was renamed Benin, after a tribe, the Beni. who once ruled the region.
This nation has changed its name once, but it has changed its government many more times. Between 1960 and 1972, there were 11 different governments in Benin. During this period, the country was taken over by the army six times. No other nation has had so many changes in government in such a short time.
Benin is a narrow country wedged between Nigeria and Togo. About the size of Pennsylvania, Benin is one of the poorest nations on earth. In the 1980s, more than three-quarters of the country’s 3.4 million people lived in absolute poverty.