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• Benin was formerly known as Dahomey, a powerful kingdom in western Africa that flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries.

• Benin’s southern coast used to be known as the Slave Coast, a departure point for slaves where for over 100 years, an average of 10,000 slaves a year were shipped to the Americas.

• The Route des Esclaves (Route of Slaves) in Ouidah is a road leading from the original slave auction plaza down to the beach where over 12 million slaves were deported and includes the Tree of Forgetfulness.

• The French became the colonial power in Dahomey towards the end of the 19th century. In 1946, Dahomey became an overseas territory of France and then in 1958, it became self-governing within the French Community.

• In 1960, Dahomey achieved complete independence and then in 1975, the country changed its name to the Republic of Benin.

• Hubert Maga was elected as the first president of Benin.

• Benin, along with Burkina Faso and Niger, is home to the largest intact ecosystem in West Africa, the Pendjari National Park. The UNESCO-listed park also “harbours the only viable population of lions in the region.”

• The voodoo religion originated in Benin where National Voodoo Day is celebrated annually on 10th January.

• With a median age of just 17 years old, Benin has the 10th youngest population in the world. Almost 65% of the population is under 25 years old.

• Benin has a high fertility rate with approximately 5 children per woman.

• Benin has a literacy rate of 38.4%.

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    • Angélique Kidjo, the Grammy-winning musician, is from Benin. Kidjo was also awarded Amnesty International’s top human rights award in 2016 for her activism work.
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    • Benin is home to the Temple of Pythons, a sacred shrine inspired by the legends of King Kpasse, that’s home to dozens of royal pythons that move freely within the temple’s grounds.
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    • Kuli-kuli is Benin's national dish, providing nutrition, protein, and sustenance to the poor and often malnourished locals who have limited access to food. This simple meal consists of ground, smashed peanuts that are shaped into balls or biscuits which are deep-fried in their own oils.
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    • The common outfits worn at Beninese traditional weddings do include “Bomba” dresses, which are designed as tunics and trousers for men and a loincloth and a top for women.
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