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|Colony of Dahomey and Dependencies|
|Colonie du Dahomey et dépendances|
La Marseillaise • L'Aube Nouvelle
Bariba, Fon, Fula, Yoruba
|•||French West Africa||1904|
|•||French Union||4 September 1947|
|•||French Community||11 December 1958|
|•||Independence||1 August 1960|
|Currency||French West African franc
|Today part of||Benin|
French Dahomey was a French colony of and a part of French West Africa from 1904 to 1958. After World War II, by the establishment of the French Fourth Republic in 1947, Dahomey became part of the French Union with an increased autonomy. On 11 December 1958, the French Fifth Republic was established and the French Union became the French Community. The colony became the self-governing Republic of Dahomey within the Community, and two years later on 1 August 1960 it gained full independence (and in 1975 changed its name to Benin).
Part of a series on the
|History of Benin|
- Kingdom of Dahomey
During the 13th century, the indigenous Edo people of the west Niger area were run by a group of local chieftains, but by the 15th century a single ruler known as the 'oba' had asserted control, creating the Kingdom of Dahomey. Under the dynasty established by Ewuare the Great, the most famous of the obas, Dahoney's territory expanded to cover a region between the Niger River delta and what is now the Nigerian city of Lagos. The obas brought great prosperity and a highly organized state to Benin. They also established good relations and an extensive slave trade with the Portuguese and Dutch who arrived from the 15th century onwards.
The decline of the obas began in the 18th century when a series of internal power struggles began which lasted into the 19th century.
The French takeover and colonization of the Kingdom of Dahomey began in 1872. The First Franco-Dahomean War in 1890 further weakened it. The Second Franco-Dahomean War resulted in it becoming a French protectorate in 1894.
In 1904, the Dahomey territory was incorporated into French West Africa as (French) Dahomey.
Under the French a port was constructed at Cotonou, and railroads were built. School facilities were expanded by Roman Catholic missions. In 1946, Dahomey became an overseas territory with its own parliament and representation in the French national assembly.
On 4 December 1958, it became the Republic of Dahomey (République du Dahomey), self-governing within the French Union.
The republic's first president was Hubert Maga, who had been the Prime Minister during the overseas territory's last year under French rule.
- Chafer, Tony (2002). The End of Empire in French West Africa: France's Successful Decolonization. Berg. ISBN 1-85973-557-6.