More information about Benin is available on the Benin Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Benin (then called Dahomey) in 1960, following its independence from France. Between 1960 and 1972, a succession of military coups brought about many changes of government, followed by one-party, Marxist-Leninist rule until the early 1990s, when the country transitioned to a democratic government. In the years since then, the history of bilateral relations has been excellent. The United States supports the consolidation of democracy and economic liberalization in Benin. Presidential and legislative elections in 2011 were peaceful and benefited from strong citizen participation and robust press freedom. However, poor health care, low quality of public education, and insufficiently transparent governance persist as obstacles to national development.
U.S. Assistance to Benin
The United States supports efforts to improve the health of Beninese families by reducing the malaria disease burden, improving the health of mothers and young children, and strengthening the health system. U.S. assistance also provides support to Benin’s defense and military capacity enhancement, enabling the country to maintain domestic peace and security while contributing to regional stability.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Benin is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Trade between Benin and the United States is small, but interest in U.S. products is growing. U.S. exports to Benin include vehicles, oil, machinery, low-value shipments, and perfumery/cosmetics. U.S. imports from Benin include Shea butter and cashews. The United States aims to promote increased trade with Benin and thereby with Benin's neighbors, particularly Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso, whose imports pass through Benin. The United States also works to stimulate U.S. investment in key sectors such as energy, telecommunications, and transportation. Benin and the United States have a bilateral investment agreement. The United States also has a trade and investment framework agreement with the West African Economic and Monetary Union, of which Benin is a member. In September 2015, Benin and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) signed a second compact for $375 million, plus a $28 million contribution from the Government of Benin. The MCC compact aims to strengthen Benin’s national utility, attract private sector investment, and fund infrastructure investments in electric generation and distribution as well as off-grid electrification for poor and unserved households.
Benin's Membership in International Organizations
Benin and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Benin also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
Benin maintains an embassy in the United States at 2124 Kalorama Road, Washington, DC 20008, tel. 202-232-6656.
More information about Benin is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Benin Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Benin Page
U.S. Embassy: Benin
USAID Benin Page
History of U.S. Relations With Benin
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information