The United States established diplomatic relations with Benin (then called Dahomey) in 1960, following its independence from France. Between 1960 and 1972, a succession of military coups brought about many changes of government, followed by one-party, Marxist-Leninist rule until the early 1990s, when the country transitioned to a democratic government. In the years since then, the history of bilateral relations has been excellent.
The United States supports the consolidation of democracy and economic liberalization in Benin. Presidential and legislative elections in 2011 were peaceful and benefited from strong citizen participation and robust press freedom. However, poor health care, low quality of public education, and insufficiently transparent governance persist as obstacles to national development.