French Dahomey

French Dahomey

Colony of Dahomey and Dependencies
Colonie du Dahomey et dépendances
French colony



La Marseillaise  •  L'Aube Nouvelle
(instrumental only)
Green: French Dahomey
Lime: Rest of French West Africa
Dark gray: Other French possessions
Darkest gray: French Republic
Capital Porto-Novo
Languages French (official)
Bariba, Fon, Fula, Yoruba
Political structure Colony
 •  Colonised 1872
 •  French West Africa 1904
 •  French Union 4 September 1947
 •  French Community 11 December 1958
 •  Independence 1 August 1960
Currency French West African franc
CFA 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 it changed its name to Benin).


During the 13th century, the 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, paving the way for the French takeover and colonization of the country in 1872. In 1904, the territory was incorporated into French West Africa as 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; and on 4 December 1958, it became the République du Dahomey, self-governing within the French Community.

On 1 August 1960, the Republic of Dahomey gained full independence from France. The first president was Hubert Maga, who bore the title Prime Minister during the country's last year under French rule.

See also

Further reading