The small Western African country of Benin (formerly Dahomey) has had a turbulent post-colonial history. Since gaining independence from the French in 1960, the country has experienced various forms of government, coups, periods of military rule and ethnic strife. A number of politicians rose and fell from power in a series of coups between 1960 and 1972.
On October 26, 1972, the army led by Commander Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the government, dissolved its governing bodies and suspended the constitution. In November 1974 he announced that the state would be Marxist-Leninist, and banks and the petroleum industry were nationalized.
In 1975 the country was renamed the People’s Republic of Benin.