Porto-Novo

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Porto-Novo

(pôr`tō nō`vō), city (1992 pop. 179,138), capital of Benin, S Benin, a port on Porto-Novo lagoon, an arm of the Gulf of Guinea. It is Benin's second largest city and an administrative and shipping center. However, it is less important commercially and industrially than CotonouCotonou
, city (1992 pop. 536,827), capital of Atlantique prov., S Benin, on the Gulf of Guinea. It is Benin's chief seaport and commercial center. Cotonou's airport and road and rail connections also make it the transportation and communications hub of Benin.
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, to which it is connected by rail. Porto-Novo is the trade center for an agricultural region whose chief product is palm oil; the city's exports include palm oil, cotton, and kapok. Probably founded in the late 16th cent. as the capital of a small kingdom, Porto-Novo [new port] got its name from the Portuguese, who built a trading post there in the 17th cent. Africans were shipped as slaves from Porto-Novo to the Americas. The Porto-Novo kingdom accepted French encroachment in 1863 as a means of fending off Great Britain, which was active in nearby S Nigeria. However, the inland Dahomean kingdom of Abomey resented the French presence, and fighting broke out. In 1883 the French navy landed at Porto-Novo and Cotonou. Porto-Novo was incorporated into Dahomey colony and in 1900 was made its capital. The Institute of Higher Studies of Benin is in the city.

Porto-Novo

 

the capital of Benin (formerly Dahomey). Second to Cotonou in political terms, it is an economic and cultural center. Porto-Novo is situated near the Gulf of Guinea. The climate is equatorial, with a mean temperature of 27.7 °C in January and 25.3 °C in July. Precipitation totals 1,590 mm a year. Population, 91,000 (1973).

The first information about Porto-Novo dates from the 17th century, when the city was called Adjatché and was the capital of the kingdom of the same name. The name Porto-Novo reflects the presence in Adjatché of the Portuguese, who first reached the coast of what is now Benin in the 15th century. In the first half of the 19th century, Porto-Novo became part of Dahomey. When Dahomey became a French colony in 1893, Porto-Novo became its capital. On Aug. 1, 1960, it became the capital of the independent state of Dahomey (since November 1975, Benin).

A highway junction, Porto-Novo has a port and a railroad station. Industries include handicraft production, primary processing of agricultural raw materials, and production of food and condiments. The city also has a large soap-manufacturing plant There are oil-palm plantations outside of Porto-Novo. Fishing is important to the city’s economy.

Porto-Novo is the site of the Institute of Applied Research, the National Library, the National Archives, and the Ethnographic Museum.