/div>Country, western Africa. Area: 43,484 sq mi (112,622 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 8,792,000. Capital: Porto-Novo
(de facto). The Fon
people and related groups constitute two-fifths of the population; minorities include the Yoruba
, and Adjara. Languages: French (official), Fon. Currency: CFA franc. Religions: traditional religions, Islam, Christianity. Extending about 420 mi (675 km) inland from the Gulf of Guinea
, Benin includes a hilly region in the northwest, where the maximum elevation is 2,103 ft (641 m). There are plains in the east and north and a marshy region in the south, where the coastline extends about 75 mi (120 km). Benin's longest river, the Ouémé, flows into the Porto-Novo Lagoon and is navigable for 125 mi (200 km) of its 280-mi (450-km) length. Benin has a developing mixed economy based largely on agriculture and operates an offshore oil field. It is a multiparty republic with one legislative house; the head of state and government is the president, assisted by the prime minister. In southern Benin the Fon established the Abomey kingdom in the early 17th century. In the 18th century the kingdom expanded to include Allada and Ouidah, where French forts had been established in the 17th century. By 1882 the French were firmly reestablished in the area, and conflict between the French and Africans ensued. In 1894 Dahomey became a French protectorate; it was incorporated into the federation of French West Africa
in 1904. It achieved independence in 1960. Dahomey was renamed Benin in 1975. Its chronically weak economy created problems for the country into the 21st century.