Independence Day in Benin

Observed annually on August 1st as a public holiday in Benin, Independence Day commemorates the country’s independence from France on this date in 1960. Benin began as a French colony and was later incorporated into French West Africa at the turn of the 20th century.

Over the years, it eventually became a self-governing autonomous republic within the French Community but did not become fully independent until 1960. The country is now known as the Republic of Benin and is bordered by Togo to the west and Nigeria to the east.

The History of Independence Day in Benin

The region where Benin is now situated was known as the Slave Coast. It was used by Europeans for the enslavement and exportation of Africans for the slave trade. The Portuguese made agreements with local warlords to supply slaves for the trade. This resulted in the growth of Dahomey, a kingdom that became the dominant power in the region.

When the slave trade was abolished, Dahomey’s power and influence faded, allowing the French to take over the region during the 19th century. It became a colony, and French Dahomey was incorporated into French West Africa in 1904.

Dahomey became an overseas territory of France in 1946 when the Fourth French Republic was established. On December 4, 1958, the Republic of Dahomey became a self-governing autonomous republic within the French community.

On July 11, 1960, Dahomey achieved independence and gained full independence on August 1 of that year. Hubert Maga became the first president of Dahomey. In 1975, the country’s name was changed to Benin—after a bay in the Gulf of Guinea known as the Bight of Benin.

Observing Independence Day in Benin

This holiday is observed with great fervor throughout Benin. It is celebrated with speeches by politicians and civic leaders, as well as the playing of the national anthem, dances, and various festivals. Some of the largest celebrations in the country take place in Porto-Novo, the capital city of Benin.

Where is it celebrated?
Benin (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
August 1 Thursday
Next year (2025)
August 1 Friday
Last year (2023)
August 1 Tuesday