From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Porto Novo)
Jump to: navigation, search
"Porto Novo" redirects here. For other uses, see Porto Novo (disambiguation).
Hogbonou, Hogbonu, Adjacé, Adjase, Adjatchê
City and commune
Ouando Market, Porto-Novo
Ouando Market, Porto-Novo
Porto-Novo is located in Benin
Location of Porto-Novo in Benin
Coordinates: 6°29′50″N 2°36′18″E / 6.49722°N 2.60500°E / 6.49722; 2.60500Coordinates: 6°29′50″N 2°36′18″E / 6.49722°N 2.60500°E / 6.49722; 2.60500
Country  Benin
Department Ouémé
Established 16th century
 • Mayor Moukaram Océni
 • City and commune 110 km2 (40 sq mi)
 • Metro 110 km2 (40 sq mi)
Elevation 38 m (125 ft)
Population (2009)[1]
 • City and commune 267,191
 • Density 2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Website Official website
Parliament building of Benin in Porto-Novo

Porto-Novo (also known as Hogbonou or Hogbonu by the Aja people, and Adjacé or Adjase or Adjatchê by the Yorubas) is the official capital of the West African nation of Benin, and was the capital of French Dahomey. The commune covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42 sq mi) and as of 2002 had a population of 223,552 people.[2][3]

Porto-Novo is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern portion of the country. It is Benin's second-largest city, and although Porto-Novo is the official capital, where the national legislature sits, the larger city of Cotonou is the seat of government, where most of the government buildings are situated and government departments operate. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Petroleum was discovered off the coast of the city in the 1990s, and has become an important export.


Historically, Porto-Novo was created as a port of the West African Kingdom of Little Ardra,[4][5], called Ardres by the French, or Arda,[6]. The Kingdom itself had spawn from the nearby kingdom of Allada, or Great Ardra. According to oral tradition, Little Ardra was founded by the younger brother of a then-king of Great Ardra (Allada), which was centered around the current day town of Allada, after their father died.[6] Historical records from 1765[7] state that, at the time, the current day territory of Benin was under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Dahomey, to whom were vassals the King of Great Ardra (current day Allada), in the hinterland, while the coastline was split between the Kings of Juida (present day Ouidah) to the west and Little Ardra to the east - confirming the location of then Kingdom of Little Ardra as that of present day Porto-Novo's.

The current name of Porto-Novo is of Portuguese origin, meaning "New Port". The city was originally developed, with Portuguese auspices, from the small settlement of Little Ardra, as a port for slave trade.

In 1863, the British, who were active in nearby Nigeria, bombarded the city, which persuaded the Kingdom of Porto-Novo to accept French protection. The neighbouring Kingdom of Dahomey objected to French involvement in the region and war broke out between the two states. In 1883, Porto-Novo was incorporated into the French "colony of Dahomey and its dependencies." In 1900, it became Dahomey's capital city.

The kings of Porto-Novo continued to rule in the city, both officially and unofficially, until the death of the last king, Alohinto Gbeffa, in 1976. From 1908, the king held the title of Chef supérieur.

Many Afro-Brazilians settled in Porto-Novo following their return to Africa after emancipation in Brazil. Brazilian architecture and foods are important to the city's cultural life.


Porto Novo had an estimated population of 234,168 in 2005.

Population trend:

  • 1979: 133,168 (census)
  • 1992: 179,138 (census)
  • 2000: 210,400 (estimate)
  • 2002: 223,552 (estimate)
  • 2005: 234,168 (estimate)

Geography and climate[edit]

Climate data for Porto Novo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) 27
Precipitation mm (inches) 23
Source: [8]

Administrative divisions[edit]


Mosque in Porto-Novo
  • The Porto Novo Museum of Ethnography contains a large collection of Yoruba masks, as well as items on the history of the city and of Benin.
  • King Toffa's Palace (also known as the Musée Honmé and the Royal Palace), now a museum, shows what life was like for African royalty. The palace and the surrounding district was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on October 31, 1996 in the Cultural category.[9]
  • Jardin Place Jean Bayol is a large plaza which contains a statue of the first King of Porto-Novo.
  • The da Silva Museum is a museum of Benin history. It shows what life was like for the returning Afro-Brazilians
  • The palais de Gouverneur (governor's palace) is the home of the national legislature.

Other sites of interest include a Brazilian-style church, which is now a mosque, and the Institute of Higher Studies of Benin. The Stade Municipale and the Stade Charles de Gaulle are the largest football stadiums in the city.


Adjogan music is endemic to Porto-Novo. The style of music is played on an alounloun, a stick with metallic rings attached which jingle in time with the beating of the stick. The alounloun is said to descend from the staff of office of King Te-Agdanlin. The music is played to honor the King and his ministers. The music is also played in the city's Roman Catholic churches, but the royal bird crest has been replaced with a cross.

Notable people[edit]


Porto-Novo has a cement factory. The city is home to a branch of the Banque Internationale du Bénin, a major bank in Benin, and the Ouando Market.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]