A republic in western africa, south of NIGER and between togo and nigeria. Its capital is Porto-Novo. It was formerly called Dahomey. In the 17th century it was a kingdom in the southern area of africa. Coastal footholds were established by the French who deposed the ruler by 1892. It was made a French colony in 1894 and gained independence in 1960. benin comes from the name of the indigenous inhabitants, the Bini, now more closely linked with southern nigeria (benin City, a town there). Bini may be related to the Arabic bani, sons. (From Webster's New Geographical dictionary, 1988, p136, 310 & Room, Brewer's dictionary of names, 1992, p60)

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