History in Benin city

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An author once wrote “a rose is a rose is a rose,” and while for the most part this is true, when you look at Benin City History and that of West Africa, things get a little confusing. At one time, there was a great empire that sprawled all over ancient West Africa, ruled from the city of Benin in Nigeria.

The Oba

Founded in the 10th century, the ancient empire was ruled by the Oba of Benin. It flourished from the 14th to the 17th century and featured some famed architecture, although by the time the 17th century rolled around, the famed architecture had disappeared.

Yoruba Empire

This empire was also known as the Yoruba empire, and it flourished and grew on the back of the slave trade. Slavery was encouraged by the European powers with which the Yoruba had come into contact by this time. The primary trading partners of the Yoruba were the Dutch and Portuguese, who traded for tropical products.

The Yoruba, the power in the area, captured people from weaker tribes and sold them into slavery. After 1700, though, this trade started to dwindle. Things did stagnate for a time, but then the 19th century revival of trading palm products to Europeans started a second flourishing of the Yoruba. Interestingly, Benin was able to maintain its independence by banning exported goods little by little until the trade was primarily palm oil.

Republic of Dahomey

Note, though, that this wasn’t the only Benin in the Bight of Africa. The French conquered an area to the west of Benin which was also known as Benin. It became the Republic of Dahomey when it was conquered by France. This later became Dahomey in 1972 and was, at one time, a model of free elections. However, there have been a number of coups in this state. This state, though it once was named "Benin," is not to be confused with the real Benin.


Instead, the city of Benin has seen its share of ups and downs. Today it is thriving thanks to the fact that it is the center of the country’s rubber industry as well as its thriving palm oil industry. The city of Benin, the seat of an empire, is still a success, after all these years.  It is the capital of the Edo state, and has a population of slightly over 1 million.

March 29, 2010 new by piyushjain

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