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*On this date in 1960 The Republic of Dahomey (Benin) became independent of France.
In the words of the historian Martin Meredith, the young country "was encumbered with every imaginable difficulty: a small strip of territory jutting inland from the coast, it was crowded, insolvent and beset by tribal divisions, huge debts, unemployment, frequent strikes and an unending struggle for power between three rival political leaders".
By the middle of the nineteenth century, Dahomey had begun to weaken and lose its status as the regional power. This enabled the French to take over the area in 1892. In 1899, the French included the land called French Dahomey within the larger French West Africa colonial region.
The country was renamed the People’s Republic of Benin in 1975. Benin combines three areas which had distinctly different political systems and ethnicity's prior to French colonial control. In 1958, France granted autonomy to the Republic of Dahomey, and full independence two years later, which is celebrated each year as Independence Day, a national holiday. The president who led the country to independence was Hubert Maga.