Benin

Capital: Porto-Novo
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

History :

  • 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 Flag

Demographics :

Benin’s ethno-linguistic groups are represented by three main language families:

  • Niger-Congo
  • Nilo-Saharan
  • Afroasiatic.
    • 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.

Culture :

  • 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.

Economy :

  • 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.

Infrastructure :

  • 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 :

  • 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.

Freedom :

  • 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:

» Colleges and Universities in Benin » Sports in Benin » Benin Shipping Companies

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