Benin, formerly called Dahomey, is notable for its stable democracy and the strength of its civil society, despite being under an autocratic Marxist-Leninist regime from 1972 to 1990. Colonised at the end of the 19th century by France, the Kingdom of Dahomey had been a powerful state in West Africa that was involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Benin's politics has been dominated by Mathieu Kérékou who was President from 1972 to 1991 after seizing power in a military coup, and again from 1996 to 2006.
Beninese literature is rooted in a long oral tradition that pre-dates French colonisation. Writer José Pliva from Cotonou won the Young Writers' Award from the prestigious Académie francaise in 2003. Influential Beninese writers include Richard Dogbeh, the short-story writer Florent Couao-Zotti, and Adelaïde Fassinou. Melding Francophone poetry with a rich oral tradition, Beninese poets include the poet and journalist Paulin Joachim, who is linked to the French West African Négritude movement, and feminist poet Colette Sénami Agossou Houeto. Paulin Hountondji is a prominent French-educated Beninese intellectual who is renowned for his work in ethnophilosophy.