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. The last coup brought to power Mathieu Kerekou, who instituted one-party, Marxist-Leninist rule until the early 1990s. In 1990, Kerekou convened a National Conference that transitioned the country to a democratic government. In the years since then, U.S.-Benin bilateral relations have been excellent. The United States supports the consolidation of democracy and economic liberalization in Benin. Legislative and presidential elections in 2015 and 2016, respectively, were peaceful and benefited from strong citizen participation and robust press freedom. The most recent legislative elections in April 2019 occurred without opposition party participation and under a media blackout. The elections were neither fully competitive nor inclusive, and were characterized by historically low voter turnout. The next presidential election will take place in 2021. Poor health care, the low quality of public education, and endemic corruption, however, 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. 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 entered into force in June 2017, and is designed to strengthen Benin’s national electricity 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. 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 used vehicles, oil, machinery, 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 often 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.
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 a member of International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
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: