West African Nations - 2012

news stunned the world and made Einstein famous everywhere. When asked how he would have reacted had the observations failed to support his hypothesis, he is reported to have replied, “Then I would feel sorry for the dear Lord. The theory is correct anyway!”


Though it was the site of a great civilization in the 15 th century (The Kingdom of Dahomey), today Benin is a tiny (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania), backward and poor country with a government that is struggling to improve conditions for its people. With a population of 9,500,000 only 35% of which are literate in the official language, French, it is easy to be somewhat pessimistic about its prospects. Another drawback that is clear in the statistics: the median age of the people is only 17 with a life expectancy of 60. The economy is based on subsistence agriculture, cotton exportation, and a small oil reserve offshore. Independence was gained from France in 1960 after just shy of 100 years under French colonization. Successive military governments governed unit 1972 when a government with Marxist-Leninist principles took over. Representative government was established in 1989 and free elections were held for the first time in 1991. With such a short history of independence and stable government, it is easy to understand why Benin has not progressed very impressively since independence.


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