Arising out of the 15th-century kingdom of Dahomey, the Republic of Benin won its independence from France in 1960. In the early 1990s, Benin became the first African nation to successfully transform itself from a Marxist-Leninist government to a multi-party democracy, though local elections were not actually held until 2002. With a per capita income of only $1,100, Benin is the 27th poorest country in the world. One-third of the people live in poverty, and a fifth of them are seriously undernourished. Benin's economy is generally underdeveloped and is chiefly dependent on subsistence agriculture. Less than 45 percent of the people live in urban areas. In addition to small offshore deposits of oil, Benin's natural resources include limestone, marble, and timber.

Bordering on the Bight of ...

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