Republique du Bénin
short form: Bénin
int’l long form: Republic of Benin
int’l short form: Benin
ISO Country Code: bj
Local Time = UTC +1h
Country Calling Code: +229
Capital City: Porto-Novo (pop. 295 000)
Political and economic capital: Cotonou (pop. 2 million)
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF)
Other Cities: Abomey, Gavié, Kandi, Ouidah
Type: Republic under multiparty democratic rule.
Independence: 1 August 1960 (fom France).
Constitution: 10 December 1990.
Location: Western Africa
Area: 112,622 km² (43,483 sq. mi.).
Terrain: Mostly flat plains of 200 meters average elevation, but the Atacora Mountains with the highest points being Mont Sokbaro 658 m, Mont Tanekas 641 m.
Climate: Tropical, average temperatures between 24 and 31 C. Humid in south; semiarid in north.
Population: 9 million (2012)
Ethnic groups: 42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, and Bariba.
Religions: Indigenous beliefs (animist) 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%.
Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba in the south; Nagot, Bariba and Dendi in the north.
Literacy: Total population 39%; men 53%, women 25%.
Natural resources: Small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber.
Agriculture products: Cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, livestock (2001)
Industries: Textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement (2001)
Exports partners: China 28.7%, India 18.4%, Ghana 6.3%, Thailand 6%, Niger 5.8%, Indonesia 4.2%, Nigeria 4.2% (2004)
Imports partners: China 32.2%, France 13%, Thailand 6.7%, Cote d’Ivoire 5.3% (2004)
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.
border countries: Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria
related countries: France, Haiti (Most Haitians trace their ancestry to Benin.)