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Republic of Benin

République du Bénin (in French)
Flag of Benin
Location of Benin within the African Union.
Location of  Benin  (dark blue)

– in Africa  (blue & purple)
– in the African Union  (blue)  —  [Legend]

Official languagesFrench
Fon, Yoruba
Ethnic groups
Fon 39.2%
Adja 15.2%
Yoruba 12.3%
Bariba 9.2%
Peulh 7%
Ottamari 6.1%
Yoa-Lokpa 4%
Dendi 2.5%
other 1.6%
unspecified 2.9%
Demonym(s)Beninese; Beninois
GovernmentMultiparty democracy
• President
Patrice Talon[1]
Lionel Zinsou
LegislatureNational Assembly
• from France
August 1, 1960
• Total
112,622 km2 (43,484 sq mi) (101st)
• Water (%)
• 2012 estimate
9,598,787 (89th)
• 2002 census
• Density
78.1/km2 (202.3/sq mi) (120th)
GDP (PPP)2011 estimate
• Total
$14.683 billion[2]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2011 estimate
• Total
$7.306 billion[2]
• Per capita
Gini (2003)36.5[3]
HDI (2011)Decrease 0.427
low · 167th
CurrencyWest African CFA franc (XOF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (not observed)
Driving sideright
Calling code229
ISO 3166 codeBJ
  1. Cotonou is the seat of government.
  2. Estimates for this country take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

Benin (officially called the Republic of Benin) is a country in Africa. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo. The government is based in Cotonou, the country's largest city. Most people live on the small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin.[4]

Because Benin was colonized by France and is still close to it, the official language of Benin is French. Languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism. This is followed closely by Islam, Vodun, and Protestantism.

Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.[5]

From the 17th to the 19th century, Benin was ruled by the Kingdom of Dahomey. It was called the Slave Coast by white people from as early as the 17th century, because of the large number of slaves shipped from Porto-Novo, Cotonou, and other ports to European colonies in the Americas.

After slavery was made illegal, France fought a war against Dahomey and took over the kingdom. They renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained official independence from France.[6] From 1972 to 1990 a Marxist–Leninist state called the People's Republic of Benin existed. The current Republic of Benin was formed in 1991.[6]


Benin is a narrow country in west Africa. The country measures about 325 km (202 mi) at its widest point. It is between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Benin is bordered by Togo to the west, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Nigeria to the east, and the Bight of Benin to the south.

The highest point is Mont Sokbaro at 658 m (2,159 ft).

Reserve du W du Niger and Pendjari National Park attract tourists who want to see elephants, lions, antelopes, hippos, and monkeys.[7] Historically Benin has been a home for the endangered Painted Hunting Dog, Lycaon pictus;[8]

Benin's climate is hot and humid. Yearly rainfall in the coastal area averages 1300 mm or about 51 inches. Benin has two rainy and two dry seasons per year. The main rainy season is from April to late July, with a shorter less strong rainy period from late September to November. The main dry season is from December to April, with a short cooler dry season from late July to early September. In Cotonou, the average maximum temperature is 31 °C (87.8 °F); the minimum is 24 °C (75.2 °F).


See also: List of cities in Benin

Benin is divided into 12 Departments. Then it is divided into 77 communes.

  1. Alibori
  2. Atakora
  3. Atlantique
  4. Borgou
  5. Collines
  6. Donga
  7. Kouffo
  8. Littoral
  9. Mono
  10. Ouémé
  11. Plateau
  12. Zou



Beninese literature had a strong oral tradition long before French became the main language.[9] Felix Couchoro wrote the first Beninese novel, L'Esclave in 1929.

Singer Angélique Kidjo and actor Djimon Hounsou were both born in Cotonou, Benin. Composer Wally Badarou and singer Gnonnas Pedro are also from Benin.


In the 2010 census, 27.2% of the population of Benin were Christian, 24.4% were Muslim, 17.3% practiced Vodun, 6% other traditional local religious groups, 1.9% other religious groups, and 6.5% have no religious affiliation.[10]


The literacy rate in Benin is one of the lowest in the world. In 2002 it was said to be 34.7%.[11] At one time the education system was not free.[12]


Beninese cuisine is known in Africa for its exotic ingredients and flavorful dishes. Beninese cuisine has lots of fresh meals with a variety of sauces. In southern Benin cuisine, the most common ingredient is corn. It is often used to prepare dough which is mainly eaten with peanut- or tomato-based sauces. Fish and chicken are the most common meats used in southern Beninese cuisine however Beef, goat, and bush rat are also eaten. The main food in northern Benin is yams. The northern provinces use beef and pork meat which is fried in palm or peanut oil or cooked in sauces. Cheese is used in some dishes. Couscous, rice, and beans are commonly eaten, along with fruits such as mangoes, oranges, avocados, bananas, kiwi fruit, and pineapples.[13]

Meat is usually expensive. Meals are usually light on meat and generous on vegetable fat. Smoked fish is commonly prepared in Benin. Many people have outdoor mud stoves for cooking.[13]


  1. Adida, Claire; Adam Chabi Bouko (April 13, 2016). "Benin has a new president: Patrice Talon, an ironic outsider politician". Washington Post. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Benin". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  3. "Distribution of family income – Gini index". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  4. R. H. Hughes, J. S. Hughes. A directory of African wetlands, p. 301. IUCN, 1992.

    Template-specific style sheet:

    ISBN 2-88032-949-3
  5. "Benin – International Cooperation". Nation Encyclopedia (2010-06-29).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ibp Usa. Global Logistics Assessments Reports Handbook: Strategic Transportation and Customs Information for Selected Countries, p. 85. Int'l Business Publications, 2008.

    Template-specific style sheet:

    ISBN 0-7397-6603-1
  7. "Background Note: Benin". U.S. Department of State (June 2008).
  8. C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Painted Hunting Dog: Lycaon pictus,, ed. N. Stromberg
  9. "Benin". Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  10. International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Benin. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. Literacy. Retrieved on 2012-08-15.
  12. "Benin". Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. United States Department of State. February 23, 2001. section 5. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Beninese Cuisine." Wikia Recipes Wiki. Accessed June 2011.

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