Benin was the seat of one of the great medieval African kingdoms called Dahomey. Europeans began arriving in the area in the 18th century, as the kingdom of Dahomey was expanding its territory. The Portuguese, the French, and the Dutch established trading posts along the coast (Porto-Novo, Ouidah, Cotonou), and traded weapons for slaves. Slave trade ended in 1848. Then, the French signed treaties with Kings of Abomey (Guézo, Toffa, Glèlè) to establish French protectorates in the main cities and ports.
However, King Behanzin fought the French influence, which cost him deportation to Martinique.
From a Colony of France to Independence:
In 1892 Dahomey became a French protectorate and part of French West Africa in 1904. Expansion continued to the North (kingdoms of Parakou, Nikki, Kandi), up to the border with former Upper Volta. On 4 December 1958, it became the République du Dahomey, self-governing within the French community, and on 1 August 1960, the Republic of Dahomey gained full independence from France. T he country was renamed Benin in 1975
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 Parti de la Révolution Populaire Béninoise (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 Dieudonné Soglo.
Supporters of Soglo also secured a majority in the National Assembly.
Benin was thus the first African country to effect successfully the transition from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system. In the second round of National Assembly elections held in March 1995, Soglo"s