After seizing power in 1972, Major Mathieu Kérékou declared Dahomey a Marxist-Leninist state and sought financial support from communist governments in Eastern Europe and Asia. To distance the modern state from its colonial past, the country became the People's Republic of Benin in 1975. However, Benin dropped the socialist ideology in 1989 following pressure from creditors and domestic unrest related to economic hardship.
In recent years Benin has strengthened ties with France, the former colonial power, as well as the United States and the main international lending institutions. Benin has also adopted a mediating role in the political crises in Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, and Togo and provided a contribution to the United Nations force in Haiti, all of which were indications of the country's growing confidence in the international community. Some of the allies of Benin are France, India, US, UK, Netherlands, Ghana, and China.
Both countries established diplomatic relations on 2 August 2007.
In September 2007, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened to attempt to resolve the dispute over two villages along the Benin-Burkina Faso border that remain from a 2005 ICJ decision.
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Despite the occasional recurrence of a border conflict over Lete Island in the Niger River, Benin and Niger, both former French subjects of French West Africa, relations are close. Niger relies on the port at Cotonou, and to a lesser degree Lomé (Togo), and Port Harcourt (Nigeria), as its main route to overseas trade. Niger operates a Nigerien Ports Authority station, as well as customs and tax offices in a section of Cotonou's port, so that imports and exports can be directly transported between Gaya and the port. French Uranium mines in Arlit, which produce Niger's largest exports by value, travel through this port to France or the world market.
Benin enjoys stable relations with Nigeria, the main regional power. In fact Benin is dependent on Nigeria for most of its export. Its economy is primarily based on informal trade with Nigeria.
The two nations have had an excellent history of relations in the years since Benin embraced democracy. The U.S. Government continues to assist Benin with the improvement of living standards that are key to the ultimate success of Benin's experiment with democratic government and economic liberalization, and are consistent with U.S. values and national interest in reducing poverty and promoting growth. The bulk of the U.S. effort in support of consolidating democracy in Benin is focused on long-term human resource development through U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs.
In September 2007, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened to attempt to resolve the dispute over two villages along the Benin-Burkina Faso border that remain from 2005 ICJ decision; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated; in 2005, Nigeria ceded thirteen villages to Benin, but border relations remain strained by rival cross-border gang clashes; talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River.
Refugees (country of origin): 9,444 (Togo) (2007)
Transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)
This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.