Royal hip mask, Kingdom of Benin, Nigeria, c. late 17th to 18th century AD, bronze - Krannert Art Museum, UIUC - DSC06155
Exhibit in the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA. This work is old enough so that it is in the public domain.
Benin is a country in West Africa, bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso to the north-west and Niger to the north-east. The capital is Porto-Novo, but the largest city is Cotonou. The official language is French and the currency is the West African CFA franc. Benin has a population of about 12 million and covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres. The country is known for its rich cultural heritage, including the kingdom of Dahomey, which was renowned for its powerful army and intricate artwork. Today, Benin is a developing country with agriculture and trade as its main economic activities. It is important to note that Benin has a dark history as a major centre of the African slave trade. Many people from the region were captured and sold into slavery, with the city of Ouidah being one of the main departure points for slaves transported across the Atlantic. Today, Benin is working to preserve and honour its cultural heritage, while acknowledging and addressing the atrocities of its past. Benin gained independence from France in 1960 and has had a stable democratic government ever since. The country has made progress in improving education and healthcare, but still faces challenges such as poverty and corruption.