With a population of a little over 10 million, a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income of $1,600, and a poverty rate of 37.4 percent, the west African country of Benin is low income and one of the least developed nations in the world. Historically known as Dahomey, the kingdom became a French colony in the mid-19th century, but won independence in 1960, becoming the Republic of Benin in 1975. After several years of military control and a subsequent period of socialism, Benin began holding free elections in 1991. Economically, Benin is heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Less than 45 percent of the population is urbanized. Agriculture provides 31.6 percent of GDP but engages 70 percent of the nation’s ...

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