The Republic of Dahomey (French: République du Dahomey) was established on December 11, 1958, as a self-governing colony within the French Community. Prior to attaining autonomy it had been French Dahomey, part of the French Union. On August 1, 1960, it attained full independence from France.
In 1975, the country was renamed Benin after the Bight of Benin (which was in turn named after the Benin Empire which had its seat of power in Benin City, modern day Nigeria), since "Benin", unlike "Dahomey", was deemed politically neutral for all ethnic groups in the state.
Dahomey was chosen for some of the filming locations in the film The Comedians, with an all-star cast that included Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Lillian Gish, James Earl Jones, Roscoe Lee Brown, Alec Guinness, Raymond St. Jacques, Gloria Foster, Zakes Mokae, Paul Ford, Georg Stanford Brown, Peter Ustinov, Douta Seck and Cicely Tyson. The movie is the story of an adulterous affair placed against the backdrop of Haiti during the tumultuous dictatorship of François Duvalier, (known as "Papa Doc"). Dahomey resembled Haiti in many ways, both geographically and culturally, and it was safer to film there than in Haiti.