The name “Cotonou” means “by the river of death” in the Fon language.
The city is located on the coastal strip between Lake Nokoué and the Atlantic Ocean and is continuously expanding towards the west. It is also divided by a canal, the lagoon of Cotonou, dug by the French in 1855.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Cotonou was a small fishing village that only later grew as a center for the slave trade, and later palm oil and cotton. Although Porto-Novo is the official capital, Cotonou is the seat of government and the economic hub of Benin.
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