The World's Most Short-Lived Country

A map of Western Africa, where the Republic of Benin existed for less than one day.

The Republic of Benin

There are kingdoms, republics, and empires that have survived the test of time and have been in existence for centuries. Despite numerous wars and conflicts that these countries have endured, they have been able to withstand all challenges. However, some countries have not had such luck and their independence lasted for a short time. The Republic of Benin holds the record for being the shortest-lived country as it was formed on September 20, 1967, and lasted for less than a day. The Republic was previously the Mid-Western region of Nigeria before the Biafran War.


From 1967 to 1970, Nigeria experienced civil war, also referred to as the Biafran Wars, caused by the desire of the Igbo people to separate from Nigeria to form the independent Republic of Biafra. During the conflict, the Nigerian Mid-Western region attempted to take a neutral position as it had both the Igbo and the non-Igbo communities. From the beginning of the war, the Biafran forces announced the occupation of the Mid-Western region led by their leader Albert Okonkwo and spread Biafran propaganda in the process. In the beginning, the Igbo people were happy for the Biafran control, but that was not the case with the non-Igbo. The non-Igbo at the time did not display any animosity with the Biafra. To strengthen their relation with the non-Igbo people, Okonkwo decided to concentrate on spreading news concerning the Biafran’s position in their streets and homes.

The media also began broadcasting news stating that there was oppression of the Igbo people in Federal Nigeria. This propaganda led to ethnic animosity leading to the intensifying of the wars. At this time, the non-Igbo people started protesting the Biafran occupation. The protests resulted in the invasion of the Mid-Western region by the Nigerian federal forces. At this point, Okonkwo’s administration started losing popularity and support and that caused fear to Okonkwo as he knew the federal forces would cite with the non-Igbo people to overthrow him. Therefore, he needed to act promptly to stay in power. Okonkwo had to do anything he could to remain as the leader.

The formation of the Republic of Benin on September 20, 1967, was the desperate measure he had to take to guard his leadership. The Republic of Benin derived its name from the Benin, the Nigerian Coastal city. Okonkwo, however, knew that the newly formed Republic would not last for long as there was disagreement with other officials about its independence on September 5, 1967. The newly formed republic was supposed to be separate from Nigeria and Biafra and wanted to apply immediately for UN membership. Barely 12 hours after its declaration, the established Republic was overthrown by the Nigerian federal forces who were assisted by British troops. Following the invasion of the federal troops, the Okonkwo led forces retreated. A report by the British High Commissioner stated that large crowds filled the streets to celebrate the reconquest signifying the death of the newly formed republic.


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