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Benin – The spatial, historical and socio-political context


This publication is part of the Benin Institutional Diagnostic.

This chapter, Chapter 1, constitutes the first part of a two-step overview of institutional and other constraints on the development of Benin. It looks at the context in which Benin’s development has taken place, including geography, historical legacies, and social and political characteristics.

The second part, Chapter 2, provides a macro-picture of growth performances and their determinants, structural change, and social achievements since 1960. Together, these two chapters contain many useful pieces of information required for a proper understanding of the background against which all the subsequent chapters should be read. To facilitate this understanding, the conclusion at the end of Chapter 2 summarises the main lessons drawn from both Chapters 1 and 2.


  • Overview
  • 1 Geography
  • 2 Deep historical legacies
  • 3 Ethnicity
  • 4 Landmarks in the post-1944 political history
    • 4.1 Political instability before and after independence: 1944 to 1972
    • 4.2 A Marxist-Leninist Revolution: 1972–1990
    • 4.3 Democratic Renewal: 1990 to the present
  • 5 Characterising the political system of Benin: Patrimonialism with multiple oligarchs
    • 5.1 General considerations
    • 5.2 The case of Benin
  • 6 Conclusion
  • References


Jean-Philippe Platteau, University of Namur

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