Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in Africa, bordered to the east by Nigeria, to the west by Togo, and by Burkina Faso and Niger to the North. Benin has around 100km of coastline along the Gulf of Guinea. A former trading post for slave labour, it was a French colony from 1900 until 1958 when it became a self-governing republic, with independence following in 1960.
Civilian rule was to be shortlived, and a military coup in 1963 began a period of army influence over government that lasted until civilian elections in 1991. The new government installed economic reforms that, together with a series of good harvests, contributed to the end of an economic depression that had existed since the mid 1980s.
Climate and geography are varied in Benin, ranging from agriculturally productive lands near the coast to the barren rocky north, and climate varying from equatorial in the south to tropical in the north, the northern parts experiencing longer dry seasons. Around three quarters of Benin's population of roughly 9 million people live in the southern regions.