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Benin, See : Flags, Maps

Antique Works of Art from Benin, Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers

Benin (Africa)

Introduction ::Benin


Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI has begun a high profile fight against corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.

Geography ::Benin

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Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and

Geographic coordinates:
9 30 N, 2 15 E

Map references:




total: 112,622 sq km country comparison to the world: 101 land: 110,622 sq km

water: 2,000 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:

total: 1,989 km

border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km

Benin beach


121 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 200 nm


tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north


mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m

Natural resources:

small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Land use:

arable land: 23.53%

permanent crops: 2.37%

other: 74.1% (2005)

Irrigated land:

120 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

25.8 cu km (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)

per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)

Natural hazards:

hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March


Environment - current issues:

inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto
Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental
Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer
Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands

People ::Benin


9,056,010 country comparison to the world: 90 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 45.2% (male 2,028,493/female 1,948,353)

15-64 years: 52.1% (male 2,275,662/female 2,308,945)

65 years and over: 2.6% (male 94,569/female 135,810) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 17.3 years

male: 16.9 years

female: 17.8 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.944% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 15

Birth rate:

38.67 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 17

Death rate:

9.23 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 70

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 89


urban population: 41% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 63.13 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 30 male: 66.51 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 59.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 59.42 years country comparison to the world: 188 male: 58.21 years

female: 60.68 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

5.4 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 14

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.2% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 50

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

64,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 58

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

3,300 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 53

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever

respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis

animal contact disease: rabies (2009)


noun: Beninese (singular and plural)

adjective: Beninese

Ethnic groups:

Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Peulh and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, other 1.6% (includes Europeans), unspecified 2.9% (2002 census)


Christian 42.8% (Catholic 27.1%, Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%, other 5.3%), Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)


French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 34.7%

male: 47.9%

female: 23.3% (2002 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 9 years

male: 10 years

female: 6 years (2005)

Education expenditures:

3.6% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 130

Government ::Benin

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Benin

conventional short form: Benin

local long form: Republique du Benin

local short form: Benin

former: Dahomey

Government type:



name: Porto-Novo (official capital)

geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

note: Cotonou (seat of government)

Administrative divisions:

12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou


1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday:

National Day, 1 August (1960)


adopted by referendum 2 December 1990

Legal system:

based on French civil law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); runoff election held on 19 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2011)

election results: Thomas YAYI Boni elected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni 74.5%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 25.5%

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 31 March 2007 (next to be held by March 2011)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 35, ADD 20, PRD 10, other and independents 18

Judicial branch:

Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle; Supreme Court or
Cour Supreme; High Court of Justice

Political parties and leaders:

African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou
FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD; Alliance of
Progress Forces or AFP; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO];
Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie
for an Emerging Benin or FCBE; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or
IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare SEHOUETO]; Movement
for the People's Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for
Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]; Social
Democrat Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Union for Democracy and
National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]; Union for the Relief or

note: approximately 20 additional minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:

other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups

International organization participation:


Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN

chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador James A. KNIGHT

embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou

mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou

telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84

Flag description:

two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side; green symbolizes hope and revival, yellow wealth, and red courage

note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia

National anthem:

name: "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)

lyrics/music: Gilbert Jean DAGNON

note: adopted 1960

Economy ::Benin

Economy - overview:

The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output had averaged about 4% before the global recession, but fell to 2.5% in 2009 and 3% in 2010. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth, 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. Specific projects to improve the business climate by reforms to the land tenure system, the commercial justice system, and the financial sector were included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. As result of these reforms, Benin has become the most competitive country in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, according to the World Economic Forum. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G-8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms. An insufficient electrical supply continues to adversely affect Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$14.2 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 139 $13.79 billion (2009 est.)

$13.42 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$6.494 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 127 2.7% (2009 est.)

5.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,600 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 198 $1,600 (2009 est.)

$1,600 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 33.2%

industry: 14.5%

services: 52.3% (2007 est.)

Labor force:

3.662 million (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 93

Unemployment rate:

Population below poverty line:

37.4% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.1%

highest 10%: 29% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

36.5 (2003) country comparison to the world: 82

Investment (gross fixed):

18.5% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 104

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.6% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 42 2.2% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

4.25% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 91 4.75% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

NA% (31 December 2009 est.)

NA% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$1.551 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 125 $1.619 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$2.424 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 138 $2.517 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$1.222 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 143 $1.269 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock


textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement

Industrial production growth rate:

3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 105

Electricity - production:

124 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 185

Electricity - consumption:

597 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 156

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

588 million kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 117

Oil - consumption:

23,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 119

Oil - exports:

8,770 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 96

Oil - imports:

28,900 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 100

Oil - proved reserves:

8 million bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 92

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 203

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 113

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 55

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 82

Natural gas - proved reserves:

1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 97

Current account balance:

-$582 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 121 -$644 million (2009 est.)


$1.125 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 150 $994 million (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood

Exports - partners:

India 19.72%, China 13.18%, Niger 6.94%, Nigeria 6.56%, Indonesia 5.73%, Togo 5.63%, Namibia 4.17% (2009)


$1.812 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 153 $1.703 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

China 35.62%, US 7.51%, France 7.38%, Thailand 6.71%, Malaysia 6.13%, Netherlands 4.83%, Belgium 4.02% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.254 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 107 $1.23 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$2.894 billion (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 131 $986.2 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 506.04 (2010), 472.19 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006)

Communications ::Benin

Telephones - main lines in use:

127,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 141

Telephones - mobile cellular:

5.033 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 94

Telephone system:

general assessment: inadequate system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment

domestic: fixed-line teledensity only about 2 per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular providers, cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly

international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; long distance fiber-optic links with Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2008)

Broadcast media:

state-run Office de Radiodiffusion et de Television du Benin (ORTB) operates a TV station with multiple channels giving it a wide broadcast reach; several privately-owned TV stations broadcast from Cotonou; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio, under ORTB control, includes a national station supplemented by a number of regional stations; substantial number of privately-owned radio broadcast stations; transmissions of a few international broadcasters are available on FM in Cotonou (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,286 (2010) country comparison to the world: 165

Internet users:

200,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 139

Transportation ::Benin


5 (2010) country comparison to the world: 180

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)


total: 578 km country comparison to the world: 112 narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)


total: 16,000 km country comparison to the world: 120 paved: 1,400 km

unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)


150 km (on River Niger along northern border) (2007) country comparison to the world: 102

Ports and terminals:


Military ::Benin

Military branches:

Benin Armed Forces (FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces
Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin People's Air Force (Force Aerienne
Populaire de Benin, FAPB) (2008)

Military service age and obligation:

21 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; in practice, volunteers may be taken at the age of 18; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2006)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 2,023,449

females age 16-49: 1,971,788 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 1,331,242

females age 16-49: 1,345,145 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 105,468

female: 101,603 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1% of GDP (2009) country comparison to the world: 129

Transnational Issues ::Benin

Disputes - international:

in September 2007, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened to attempt to resolve the dispute over two villages along the Benin-Burkina Faso border that remain from 2005 ICJ decision; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated; in 2005, Nigeria ceded thirteen villages to Benin, but border relations remain strained by rival cross-border gang clashes; talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 9,444 (Togo) (2007)

Illicit drugs:

transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)


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