Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, is scarred with the slave trade major role it played in the 17th and 18th century. The tragic life and suffering of the country's native inhabitants, deported mainly to West Indies and Brazil, can be encountered in many places throughout the country. During the period that followed, the French colonized Benin leaving a profound mark on its identity. If you consider both above-mentioned historical aspects as the major molding forces, you are bound to end up with a painfully intricate and beautiful West African country adorned with some French charm.
After a successful transition from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system, today Benin is a country of a stable repute and relations, especially with the main regional power, Nigeria. However, the economic growth over the last decades has not been high enough to handle haunting poverty. Another significant problem, a long-standing border dispute with Niger over the Niger River islands, has finally been resolved and, indisputably, contributed to Benin's territorial and political stability.
Benin is a great country to visit on any West African itinerary. In many aspects it is a very French place so do expect to bump into some Beninois walking with a baguette under one arm and a French newspaper under the other. Cotonou even has its own Boul' Mich you can stroll up and down enjoying the French and native Black vibes alloyed into a mix worth exploring. Pay a visit to Porto Novo, the country's capital city, with its museums and royal palace, and the slave port of Ouidah, with numerous historical sites. Don't miss Ganvie, ‘the Venice of Africa', a village built on stakes in the Nokoué Lake. And if you happen to be interested in Voodoo, Benin is also the place to have some delved into and maybe even applied.