In 1472 the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the country. The hinterland was developed as a source of slaves. By 1700, some 20,000 slaves were being exported annually. After long resisting attempts at colonization, the south became a French protectorate in 1893 while the north was added incrementally between 1895 and 1898. In 1904, present day Benin, then known as Dahomey, became part of the French West African Federation. Dahomey played a key role in the administration of the region, providing educated staff to other parts of the French African empire. It became independent on 1 August 1960. After independence, civilian government did not survive for long.
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