Benin

Benin
image: justine Shapiro cools off in the shade

Justine Shapiro cools off in the shade

To the south of the Sahara Desert lie the three former French Colonies of Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin. The unpredictable and often primitive conditions of this West African region are what Western travellers find so enticing and its experience contrasts cultural vibrancy with striking rough and barren landscapes.

With a rich but unsettled history, Benin has managed to keep its distinctiveness despite its increasing popularity as a tourist destination. Home to the former Slave Coast of West Africa, Benin was colonised in 1800 and brought under French control. Having regained its independence in 1960, The country is only just recovering from a highly unstable political and economic situation and years of military intervention, several attempts at reform having failed.

Cultural resilience has allowed Benin to preserve its traditional customs and in many parts the ancient practice of Voodoo is still celebrated.

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