On Aug. 1, 1960, the French colonial territory in Africa known as Dahomey declared its independence, later renaming itself Benin.
Before French invasion, Dahomey was home to one of the region’s most influential kingdoms. However, by 1900, the French wrested control of Dahomey and converted the land into one of its overseas colonies. The country reclaimed its independence in 1960 and, in 1975, the country’s president Mathieu Kérékou declared Dahomey would be renamed Benin.
Europeans began arriving in the area in the 18th century. The Portuguese, the French and the Dutch created trading posts along the coast and traded weapons for slaves. The slave trade in the country ended in 1848. By 1900, the territory became a French colony.
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(Photo: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)