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Hogbonou, Adjacé
City and commune
Ouando Market
Country Benin
Established16th century
 • Total110 km2 (40 sq mi)
38 m (125 ft)
 • Total223,552
 • Density2,000/km2 (5,300/sq mi)
Parliament building of Benin in Porto-Novo

Porto-Novo (also known as Hogbonou and Adjacé) is the official capital of the West African nation of Benin, and was the capital of French Dahomey. The commune covers an area of 110 square kilometres and as of 2002 had a population of 223,552 people.[1][2]

Porto-Novo is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern portion of the country. It is Benin's second largest city, and although the official capital, the city of Cotonou is more important, culturally and politically. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Petroleum was discovered off the coast of the city in the 1990s, and has become an important export.

Porto-Novo is located at 6°28' North, 2°36' East (6.46667, 2.6).[3]


Porto-Novo was once a tributary of the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo and there continues to be a sizable Yoruba community in Porto Novo today. The city's name is of Portuguese origin, meaning "New Port." It was originally developed as a port for the slave trade.

In 1863, the British, who were active in nearby Nigeria, bombarded the city, which convinced the Kingdom of Porto-Novo to accept French protection. The neighboring Kingdom of Abomey objected to French involvement 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 Dahomey's capital city.

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 held the title of Chef supérieur.

Many Afro-Brazilians settled in Porto-Novo following their return to Africa after emancipation in Brazil. Brazilian architecture and foods are important to the city's cultural life.


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

Population trend:

  • 1979: 133,168 (census)
  • 1992: 179,138 (census)
  • 2000: 210,400 (estimate)
  • 2002: 223,552 (estimate)
  • 2005: 234,168 (estimate)


Mosque in Porto-Novo
  • The Porto Novo Museum of Ethnography contains a large collection of Yoruba masks, as well as items on the history of the city and of Benin.
  • King Toffa's palace (also known as the Musée Honmé and the Royal Palace), now a museum, shows what life was like for African royalty.
  • Jardin Place Jean Bayol is a large plaza which contains a statue of the first King of Porto-Novo.
  • The da Silva Museum is a museum of Benin history. It shows what life was like for the returning Afro-Brazilians
  • The palais de Gouverneur (governor's palace) is the home of the national legislature.

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

Porto-Novo is not far from the living history town of Ouidah. It is also near to Nigeria and to Cotonou, and is not far from Pendjari National Park, a natural habitat for many African animal species.


Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at's national headquarter is situated in Qtier Dodji. Ahmadiyyat was introduced here through an Ahmadi, native of the People’s Republic of Benin, who was residing in Nigeria. His name is Alhaji Sikirou DAOUDA. He worked at Lagos for 17 years where he joined Ahmadiyyat in 1965. In 1967, he made proposals of introducing Ahmadiyyat to his country to the Amir of Nigeria, Maulvi N.D. AHMAD, who agreed with him. Then a delegation composed of Maulvi Bashir SHAD, Alhaji Sikirou DAOUDA and two local missionaries travelled by road to Porto—Novo, capital of the People’s Republic of Benin. They stayed there for one week to preach and got in touch with personalities. Before they returned to Lagos four (4) men signed bai’at. In 1969, Alhaji Sikirou DAOUDA resigned his appointment in Lagos and came back home after he had got another job here. His returning home is an opportunity for the few-members to start getting together from time to time. The first Ahmadiyya Mosque was built on 25 August 1974 in Porto—Novo. It was inaugurated by Maulana Muhammad Ajmal SHAHID. It is in polygonal form and dwelling house like. It is made of blocks.For the cause of Ahmadiyya community and Islam, the National President of Ahmadiyya Jama'at,(Petit Baza) Late Bissiriou RADJI has donated the lands. Latter in 2008 a new Ahmadiyya mosque AL MAHDI has been inaugrated by His Excellency Hadhrat Khalifatoul Massih V Mirza Masoor Ahmad atba.[4]


Adjogan music is endemic to Porto-Novo. The style of music is played on an alounloun, a stick with metallic rings attached which jingle in time with the beating of the stick. The alounloun is said to descend from the staff of office of King Te-Agdanlin. The music is played to honor the King and his ministers. The music is also played in the city's Roman Catholic churches, but the royal bird crest has been replaced with a cross.

Notable people


Porto-Novo has a cement factory. The city is home to a branch of the Banque International du Benin, a major bank in Benin, and the Ouando Market.

World Heritage Status

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on October 31, 1996 in the Cultural category.[7]


  1. "Porto Novo". Atlas Monographique des Communes du Benin. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  2. "Communes of Benin". Statoids. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  5. Adjamossi profile, (in French)
  6. Crumbly, Deidre Helen (2008). Spirit, Structure, and Flesh: Gendered Experiences in African Instituted Churches Among the Yoruba of Nigeria p. 54 on. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 182. ISBN 9780299229108. Retrieved February 2010. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. La ville de Porto-Novo : quartiers anciens et Palais Royal - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

See also

External links

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