Currency:West African CFA franc
President: Yayi Boni
National Anthem : Jadis a son
Colleges and Universities: National University of Benin, University of Science and Technology of 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
- The African kingdom of Dahomey was first established on the Abomey plain.
- The kingdom was consisted of an ethnic mix of different populations.
- Dahomey had a strict military culture and boys and girls were recruited into the army at a very young age.
- Dahomey was also famous for instituting an elite female soldier corps, called Ahosi or "our mothers" in the Fongbe language.
- Emphasis on military culture earned Dahomey the nickname of "black Sparta" from European observers.
- Human sacrifice was a common practice and often a sign of prestige and potency.
- Slave trade was rampant in the region for three centuries and the country came to be known as "the Slave Coast".
- In 1885, the slave trade declined due to the banning of trans-Atlantic trade by Britain and other countries.
- This decline continued until 1885, when the last Portuguese slave ship departed from the coast of present-day Benin bound for Brazil.
- the Ketu, Icha, Dassa, Anago, and other Yoruba-speaking people were other groups that inhabited the region.
These groups were in constant conflict with the Dahomeans.
- Dahomey was colonized by the French in 1892 and was included in the French West Africa colony in 1899.
- France granted autonomy to the Republic of Dahomey in 1958.
- Dahomey gained full independence from France on August 1, 1960.
- Ethnic conflicts and social turbulence followed for 12 years after independence.
- Political leaders agreed to form a presidential council after the cancellation of elections in 1970.
- The council was overthrown by a coup led by Mathieu Kérékou in 1972.
- A Marxist government was formed under the control of Military Council of the Revolution (CNR).
- The country was named People's Republic of Benin in 1975.
- A parliamentary capitalist system was reestablished in the 1980s.
Benin’s ethno-linguistic groups are represented by three main language families:
- The Hausa community represents the Afroasiatic group.
- The Dendi community (descendants of the Songhai Empire) represents the Nilo-Saharan group.
- The Dendi language is dominant among the Muslim communities in the northern region.
- The Niger-Congo family consists of Mande, West-Atlantic, Benue-Congo, Gur (Voltaic) and Kwa languages which are represented by the Boko/Busa, Fulbe, Yoruba, Yom and Tado communities respectively.
- The Fon are the dominant ethnic group.
- Other groups are Yoruba, Aja, Bariba, Ayizo, Fulbe and Gun.
- Descendants of the Brazilian slaves inhabit the southern coastal areas in small numbers.
- Small communities consist of French, Lebanese, East Asians and Indians.
- Animism is an important part of traditional religious practices.
- Roman Catholicism (27.1%) and Islam (24.4%) are the predominant religions.
- Other faiths include Vodun (17.3%), Celestial Christian (5%), Methodist (3.2%), Other Christian denominations (7.5%), Traditional religions (6%) and other religions (8.4%).
- The town of Ouidah on the central coast is the spiritual center of Beninese Vodun.
Government and Politics :
- Benin is ruled by a republican government.
- Administrative divisions consist of 12 departments namely: Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau and Zou.
- Independence Day (1 August 1960) is observed as a national holiday.
- The Constitution was adopted by referendum on 2 December 1990.
- The president is the chief of state and head of government.
- The cabinet consists of a council of ministers appointed by the president.
- The president is elected by popular vote to serve a five-year term.
- The legal system is based on French civil law and customary law.
- Benin has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
- The legislative branch is represented by a unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale consisting of 83 members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms.
- The judicial branch is represented by the Constitutional Court (Cour Constitutionnelle), Supreme Court (Cour Supreme) and the High Court of Justice.
- Vodun (Voodoo) is said to have originated in Benin.
- It was introduced to the Caribbean islands by the slaves exported from this region.
- Vodun is one of the official religions of Benin.
- A National Vodun Holiday is celebrated on January 10.
- Akan-based names of people are common some regions which are based on the day of week an individual were born.
- Twins are also given special names in the Beninois culture.
- Education in schools is imparted in local languages.
- The economy of Benin is still in a developing stage.
- The country depends primarily on subsistence agriculture, cotton production and regional trade.
- Efforts are being made to develop the tourism, agriculture and foreign investment sectors.
- Limited availability of electric power hinders the development of industries.
- GDP (purchasing power parity) as calculated in 2007 was $12.1 billion.
- 37.4% of the population is below poverty line.
- Agricultural produce consists of cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews and livestock.
- The main industries are textiles, food processing, construction materials and cement.
- Export commodities include cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products and seafood.
- Import commodities include foodstuffs, capital goods and petroleum products.
- Telephone services are underdeveloped and limited.
- There is only one fixed line connection per 100 persons.
- Mobile cellular usage is relatively widespread.
- There are six radio broadcast stations and six television broadcast stations.
- Internet facilities are limited.
- Bhutan has 5 airports of which one has paved runways.
- The railway network covers a distance of 758 km.
- Roadways span a total distance of 16,000 km.
- The waterways are 150 km long and located along the River Niger.
- The main ports and terminals are located at Cotonou.
- Education system in Benin is underdeveloped.
- 34.7% of the population is literate.
- Literacy rates are higher among males (47.9%) than females (23.3%)
- Local languages are used as a medium to impart education in schools.
Neighbouring Countries :
Benin is surrounded by:
- Togo (east)
- Nigeria (west)
- Burkina Faso (south)
- Niger (south)
- Bight of Benin (south)
Geographical Settings :
- Benin is located in West Africa.
- Its geographical coordinates are 9 30 N, 2 15 E.
- The country covers a total area of 112,620 sq km.
- The coastline is 121 km.
- The climate is mostly tropical.
- The southern region is hot and humid while the north is semiarid.
- The terrain comprises of flat to undulating plains with a few hills and low mountains.
- The highest point is Mont Sokbaro standing at 658 m.
- Natural resources include small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble and timber.
- 23.53% of the land is arable.
- Hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds are common in the northern region during December and March.
- Poaching of wildlife, deforestation and desertification are the major environmental concerns.
- In 1958, France granted autonomy to the Republic of Dahomey.
- The country gained full independence on August 1, 1960.
Notable People :
- Djimon Gaston Hounsou (Academy Award-nominated actor, dancer and fashion model)
- Angelique Kidjo (Singer)
Total Population :
- According to a 2008 census, the total population was estimated to be 8,294,941.
- The annual population growth rate is 2.619% (2008 est.).
- Birth rate: 37.36 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
- Death rate: 11.67 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Benin Related Topics:
Benin Tourist Attractions:
- Pendjari National Park
- Musee en Plein Air de Parakou
- W National Park
- Stade de I'Amitie
- Cotonou Cathedral
- Royal Palace
- Royal Palaces of Abomey
- Cotonou Central Mosque
- Ancien Pont Bridge
- Basilique de I'Immaculee Conception