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(This article is about the country Benin; see also Benin City.)

The Republic of Benin is a nation of western Africa, formerly known as Dahomey. It has a small coast line with the Bight of Benin in the south, borders Togo in the west, Nigeria in the east, and Burkina Faso and Niger in the north.

République du Bénin
(In Detail)
National motto: Fraternité, Justice, Travail (French: Fellowship, Justice, Labour)
Official language French
Capital Porto Novo, Cotonou¹
President Mathieu Kérékou
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 99th
112,620 km²
 - Total (Year)
 - Density
Ranked 94th
IndependenceAugust 1, 1960
Currency Franc
Time zone UTC + 1
National anthem L'Aube Nouvelle
Internet TLD .BJ
Calling Code229
(1) Seat of government

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links


Main article: History of Benin

The mediaeval African kingdom of Dahomey originated in Benin. By the 15th century, the kingdom, ruled by an oba, stretched beyond the borders of present-day Benin, covered a large part of West-Africa. The kingdom was prosperous and established slave trading relations with the Europeans (mostly Portuguese and Dutch) who first arrived in the late 15th century.

By the 18th century, Dahomey started to fall apart, enabling the French to take over the area in 1892. In 1904, the land became part of the French West Africa colony, still as Dahomey. In 1958, Dahomey was granted autonomy, and full independence followed in 1960.

A turbulent period followed independence, and there were several coups and regime changes before control was seized by Mathieu Kérékou. He established a Marxist government, and the country was renamed to Benin. By the late 1980s, Kérékou abandoned Marxism and decided to re-establish democracy. He was defeated in 1991 elections, but proved victorious again in the 1996 vote.


Main article: Politics of Benin

The parliament of Benin is formed by the 83-seat Assemblée Nationale, for which election are held every five years. Head of the government and head of state is the president, who is chosen in separate presidential elections, also held every five years. The president also appoints a council of ministers.


Main article: Provinces of Benin

Benin is divided into twelve provinces:


Main article:
Geography of Benin

Stretched between the Niger River in the north and the Bight of Benin in the south, Benin's elevation is about the same for the entire country. Most of the population lives in the southern coastal plains, where Benin's largest cities are also located, including Porto Novo and Cotonou. The north of the country consists mostly of savanna and semi-arid highlands.

The climate in Benin is hot and humid, with relatively little rain, although there are two rainy seasons (April-July and September-November).


Main article: Economy of Benin

The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged a stable 5% in the past six years, but rapid population rise has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth still further, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. The 2001 privatization policy should continue in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture in spite of initial government reluctance. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, while pressing for speeded-up structural reforms.


Main article: Demographics of Benin

There are about 40 different ethnic groups living in Benin, the largest being the Fon who account for about 49% of Benin's population. Other ethnic groups include the Adja, Yoruba, Somba and Bariba. Most of these ethnic groups have their own languages, although French is the official language, which is spoken mostly in the cities. Of the indigenous languages, the Fon and Yoruba languages are most common.

Local indiginous religions are predominant, although significant parts of the population are Christian or Muslim. However, the local practices and traditions are often combined with those of the foreign religions.


Main article: Culture of Benin

It is believed that Voodoo (Vodou, Vodun) originated in Benin and was introduced to Brazil, the Caribbean Islands, and parts of North America by slaves taken from this particular area of the Slave Coast. The indiginous religion of Benin, it is practiced by about 70% of the population. Since 1992 Voodoo has been recognized as one of Benin's official religions, and a National Voodoo Holiday is celebrated on January 10.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries of the world  |  Africa