General issues: French colony 1899-1944, French overseas territory, self government 1960, Republic 1960-1975
Country name on general issues: Dahomey
Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1899-1944, 1 (CFA) Franc = 100 Centimes 1960-1975
Population: 482 000 in 1900, 2 237 000 in 1960
Political history Dahomey
Dahomey – the current Benin – is located in western Africa. In the middle of the 19th century current Dahomey existed of a number of smaller kingdoms and one larger kingdom, the kingdom of Dahomey. Between 1850 and 1885, the French settle on a number of locations on the coast – Cotonou, Grand-Pipo, Ouidah and Porto Novo. To be able to do so, they sign treaties with the kingdom of Dahomey and the kingdom of Porto Novo. In 1886, the French join these settlements to form the Établissements du Golfe de BeninSettlements in the Gulf of Benin. In 1892, the Établissements are annexed by France as a French colony. In 1894, the French sign a treaty of protection with the kingdom of Dahomey. Nonetheless, in the same year the French possessions – including the kingdom of Dahomey – are joined to form the colony of Dahomey. The northern part of Dahomey is colonized by the French in subsequent years. In 1899, Dahomey joins French West Africa, the federation of French colonies in western Africa formed in 1895.
The border of Dahomey with Nigeria is defined in 1898 in a treaty with Great Britain, the border with Togo is defined in treaties with Germany in 1885 and 1899. When in 1899 French Sudan is split up, two provinces are transferred to Dahomey as Upper Dahomey. These provinces, in 1907, are transferred back to what is then called Upper Senegal & Niger. The French mandated territory of Togo – occupied by the French during WWI and awarded to the French by the League of Nations in 1922 – is administered as part of Dahomey from 1934 until 1937.
Dahomey becomes a French overseas territory in 1946, gains self government in 1958 and full independence in 1960 as the republic of Dahomey. From 1960, Dahomey knows many changes of power. In 1972, a coup d’etat turns the country into a communist/Marxist state with a de facto one party system.
The name of the country is changed to that of the peoples republic of Benin in 1975. The strict Marxist economic policy creates problems that, in 1990, are reason for economic and political reforms. Benin becomes a republic with a multi party system. Since 1990, Benin has known political stability. Economically, Benin largely depends on agriculture.
Postal history Dahomey
The first stamps used in Dahomey are, from 1888, the general issues for the French colonies in Porto Novo. From 1892, stamps are issued for the Établissments du Golfe de Benin. When in 1899 Dahomey is formed, these are superseded by the issues for Dahomey. The first issue for Dahomey is of the general design for the French colonies. It is inscribed ‘Dahomey et Dépendances'‘Dahomey and Dependencies’ showing the predominance of the kingdom of Dahomey. Subsequent issues are inscribed ‘Dahomey’ with the additional inscription ‘Afrique Occidentale Française’ or ‘AOF’ to show that Dahomey was part of the federation of French West Africa. From 1944 until 1960, the issues for French West Africa are used. Dahomey resumes issuing stamps in 1960. These are, in 1975, superseded by the issues of Benin.