A democratic government between 1960 and 1972 was followed by a self-proclaimed "Marxist-Leninist" dictatorship between 1972 and 1991, which was highly repressive and led to economic collapse. Multiparty elections have taken place since 1991. About a third of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. Main income sources are subsistence agriculture and cotton.
Parakou is the largest city in eastern Benin, with an estimated population of around 188,853 people, and capital of the Borgou Department. The mayor as of 2008 was Samou Seidou Adambi and administratively the commune of Parakou makes up one of Benin's 77 communes.
Parakou lies on the main north-south highway RNIE 2 and at the end of a railway to Cotonou. This has made it an important market town, with major industries in cotton and textiles, peanut oil manufacture and brewing. The town grew initially from revenue generated from passing merchants that took goods from the region across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Europe. It also served as an important stop over in the distribution of goods around Africa. As a result Parakou became well-known in the slave trade. Later traders concentrated on cotton and Parakou remains the hub of the Beninese cotton trade to this day, with considerable interest from Europe. (Read more...)
Ahomadégbé became President as part of a system that rotated the office between three leading political figures: Ahomadégbé, Hubert Maga, and Sourou-Migan Apithy. Maga peacefully handed power to Ahomadégbé on May 7, 1972. On October 26, 1972, he was overthrown in a coup d'état led by Mathieu Kérékou. All three remained under house arrest until 1981.