Porto-Novo, Benin

By | November 29, 2021

According to abbreviationfinder, Porto Novo is the political and official capital of the African nation of Benin, and was the capital of French Dahomey. It is located in a bay in the Gulf of Guinea in the southeast of the country. The municipality covers an area of 110 square kilometers and in 2005 it had a population of 234,168 people.

It is the second largest city in Benin, and although Porto-Novo is the official capital, the city of Cotonou is not only bigger, but also more important, politically and culturally: Cotonou is the seat of government.

The charms of Porto Novo are numerous, as shown by the palm grove that surrounds it from the outset. The streets of the capital show the antiquity of another era in its oldest area and offer clues to its founding in the 16th century.


The city’s name is of Portuguese origin, which means “New Port.” It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade.

In 1863, the British, who were active in neighboring Nigeria, bombarded the city, which convinced the Kingdom of Porto-Novo to accept French protection. The neighboring kingdom of Abomey opposed France’s participation in the region and war broke out between the two states. In 1883, Porto-Novo was incorporated into the French colony of Dahomey and its dependencies. “In 1900, it became the capital of Dahomey.

The kings of Porto-Novo continued to rule in the city, both officially and unofficially, until the death of the last king, Alohinto Gbeffa, in 1976 – From 1908, the king had the title of Chef suprieur.

Many Afro-Brazilians settled in Porto-Novo after their return to Africa after the emancipation of Brazil. The architecture and food of Brazil are important for the cultural life of the city.



Porto-Novo is a port located on the Porto-Novo bay in the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern part of the country.


Dry tropical climate


Porto Novo had an estimated population of 234,168 in 2005. See population of Benin.

  • 1979: 133,168
  • 1992: 179,138
  • 2000: 210,400
  • 2002: 223552
  • 2005: 234,168


Porto-Novo has a cement factory. The city is home to a branch of the Banque Internationale du Benin, a major bank in Benin, and the Ouando Market. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Oil was discovered off the city’s coast in the 1990s, and has become a major export product.

Art and culture

This place is on the indicative list of UNESCO World Heritage on October 31, 1996 in the category of Culture.

Places of cultural and artistic interest

  • The Porto Novo Museum of Ethnography contains a large collection of Yoruba masks, as well as articles on the history of the city and Benin.
  • King Toffa’s Palace, now a museum, shows what life was like for African royalty.
  • Jardin Place Jean Bayol is a large square that contains a statue of the first king of Porto-Novo.
  • The Museo da Silva is a museum of the history of Benin. Shows what life was like for returning Afro-Brazilians
  • The Palais de Gouverneur is home to the national legislature.

Other sites of interest such as the Brazilian-style church, which is now a mosque, and the Benin Institute of Higher Studies. The Stade Municipale and the Stade Charles de Gaulle are the largest football stadiums in the city.

Porto-Novo is not far from the life history of the city of Ouidah. It is also close to Nigeria and Cotonou, and not far from Pendjari National Park, a natural habitat for many species of African animals.


Adjogan music is endemic to Porto-Novo. The style of music is played on an alounloun, a stick with attached metal rings that tinkle in time with the beat of the stick. The alounloun are said to descend from the staff of the office of King Te-Agdanlin. Music is played in honor of the King and his ministers. Music is also played in the city’s Catholic churches, but the top of the royal bird has been replaced by a cross.

Important characters

  • Anicet Adjamossi, footballer, was born here in 1985
  • Kamarou Fassassi, politician was born here.
  • Samuel Oshoffa who founded the Heavenly Church of Christ was born here in 1905.
  • Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, director and author
  • Romuald Hazoumé, artist


Cotonou. It is the main city and economic capital of Benin, it is also the largest city in the country and although the official capital is Porto-Novo, it is the seat of the national government. It is located in the southeast of the country, between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Nokoué, around the Cotonou lagoon, specifically between the coordinates: 6 ° 21′36 ″ N 2 ° 26′24 ″ E, and has a population of 761,137 population.


In its beginnings, the today city of Cotonou was a small fishing town that evolved slowly, remaining without many changes until the beginning of the 19th century, prior to this date in the 18th century the city was dominated by the kingdom of Dahomey.

In 1851 the French colonialists obtained permission to establish a trading post in Cotonou, which was achieved through a treaty they signed with King Ghezo of Dahomey.

Years later, on May 19, 1868, Glele, the successor of Ghezo and the new monarch of the kingdom, signed a treaty through which he ceded the territory to France.

In 1883, due to the danger posed to France by the British conquests in the area, the French army occupied the city to avoid occupation by the English.

The name Cotonou means the mouth of the river of death in the Fon language.


The city is located in the southeast of the country, between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Nokoué, around the Cotonou lagoon (which is actually a strait), specifically between the coordinates: 6 ° 21′36 ″ N 2 ° 26 ′ 24 ″ E,


According to official data from the 2006 census, the city had 761,137 residents by that date, however some unofficial estimates indicate that the city could have more than 1.2 million.


Cotonou is considered the economic capital of the country and has two-thirds of Benin’s industries, and the headquarters of the largest companies and banks in the country. Due to the development achieved by the city in the field of transport and the infrastructures related to this economic activity, Cotonou has become the main communication center of the country and a central point for the commerce of West Africa. These infrastructures include the city’s airport, various road and rail communication routes as well as its important port which has made the city famous and is recognized as one of the largest in the entire region.

The city is called throughout the region “market city” for all the facilities it provides for its development, especially trade with inland African states such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

In the city, cement, palm oil, beer, textiles are manufactured, motor vehicles and bicycles are assembled, in addition to the intense activity that takes place in the various sawmills that it has.

Among the products that the city exports, the derivatives of petroleum, bauxite and iron stand out.

The city also has a free zone inside to be used by landlocked states.


All levels of education are developed in the city, including university. The city has the National University of Benin.

Porto-Novo, Benin