Language: French

Currency: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Calling Code: 229


Benin, officially the Republic of Benin (in French: République du Bénin, formerly Dahomey), is a country located in West Africa. It is limited by Togo to the west, by Nigeria to the east and by Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. The majority of the population lives in the Gulf of Benin. The capital of Benin is Porto Novo but its government is in Cotonou, the largest city in the country. Benin covers approximately an area of ​​112,622 square kilometers, with a population of approximately 9.05 million people. Benin is a tropical and sub-Saharan nation, dependent mainly on agriculture, with substantial employment, whose income comes, once again, from agriculture.

The official language of Benin is French. However, some indigenous languages ​​such as fon or yoruba are commonly spoken. The most widespread religion is Catholicism, followed by near Islam, Voodoo and Protestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the Association of African Oil Producers, and the Authority of the Niger River Basin.7

It is an old French colony, known by the name of Dahomey due to an old local kingdom, which reached independence on August 1, 1960, as the Republic of Dahomey. In 1975, the current name of the Republic of Benin was adopted, taking the name of the Bay of Benin, on whose coast the country is located. In turn, the name of the Bay comes from the ancient Yoruba kingdom of Benin, which was farther east, around the current Nigerian city of Benin City, which can lead to confusion. The reason for having chosen the name of Benin to rename Dahomey, is that it was a neutral name: before the French colonization, "Dahomey" was only the name of a southern coastal kingdom, and therefore its name did not represent to the Atakora region in the northwest, nor to the old kingdom (now department) of Borgou in the northeast.


Travel Destinations in Benin

Pendjari National Park situated in the Northwest corner of Benin. This nature reserve gets its name from Pendjari River that flows through its territory.

W National Park that is shared between Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso. This nature reserve gets its name from a river Niger that runs through protected reserve. Its shape here looks like letter "W", thus it gets the name.



For 280 years, the state of Dahomey was located on the modern territory of the country, which from the end of the 19th century was a colony of France, and in 1960, when independence was declared, it was called the Republic of Dahomey. The origin of the toponym "Dahomey" has several versions. So, V. A. Nikonov suggested that the toponym could be formed from the personal name "Dag" and the Western Sudanese word with the meaning "inside, entrails, stomach", that is, "inside the Dag"; according to other sources - "Dag's palace". In 1975, the country was renamed Benin, from the ethnonym of the Bini people (self-name - Bini, Obini, Edo, Edo), which gave the name to the kingdom of Edo-Bini, which existed in the 12th-19th centuries on the territory of modern Nigeria.


Geography the Republic of Benin

The Republic of Benin is a country in a West Africa. It has access to the Gulf of Benin of the Gulf of Guinea. The country is bordered with Burkina Faso and Niger to the North and Nigeria to the East. In the West it borders Togo. While its capital is officially Porto Novo, its government is established in Cotonous, the largest city in the country.


Geographically Benin is divided into five natural regions: the coastal region, the plateau area, elevated plateau with wooded African savannah in the north, a hilly region in the North West and the fertile plains of the Niger in the North- East.


History of Benin

In ancient times, a gourmet tribe lived in the north of the country, which was then pushed aside by the barba tribe, which came from the territory of modern Nigeria. In the south of the country lived the von and Aja tribes.

In the 15th century, Portuguese appeared on the coast of Benin.

In the XVI – XVII centuries, forts and trading posts of French, Dutch, English merchants and slave traders were built.

Since the 17th century, the coast of Benin and neighboring areas have been transformed by Europeans into the largest slave trade area in Africa (hence the name of the coast - Slave Coast).

In the 17th century, the early state of Dahomey formed on the modern territory of Benin. Its population was mainly engaged in hoe farming. The social system is transitional from primitive to feudal, with elements of slaveholding.

In the XVIII century, the rulers of Dahomey were actively engaged in the slave trade, annually, according to some estimates, up to 20 thousand slaves were sold to European merchants. This continued until the middle of the 19th century, when the slave trade was banned by most European countries.

Colonial period
Dahomey opposed the French colonialists from 1851, but in 1894 was finally subdued and became the possession of France. In 1904, the territory of modern Benin was incorporated into French West Africa as a colony of the French Dahomey (its borders did not coincide with the borders of the precolonial state of Dahomey). The French colonialists began to create industrial enterprises (soap, sewing, etc.), to build railways and highways.

In 1946, Dahomey received the status of overseas territory of France. Under the governor, an elected General Council began to function. It included representatives of the African bourgeoisie, bureaucracy, and intelligentsia.

Since 1958 - Autonomous Republic of Dahomey as part of the French Community. The idea, considered for some time, about the entry of Dahomey into the structure of the then planned and existing in 1959-1960. The Federation of Mali (Mali and Senegal) has not been implemented.

Period of independence
Since August 1, 1960 - an independent state of the Republic of Dahomey. The first president of the independent Dagomei was Maga Kutuku Huber, who established a virtually personal dictatorship.

At the end of 1963, the first military coup was carried out (under the leadership of Colonel K. Soglo). A new constitution was adopted, a multi-party system was restored, and presidential and parliamentary elections were held. S. M. Apiti was elected President, proclaiming the course of the "socialist path."

In 1965 - the second military coup, arranged by a group of senior officers. In 1968, E. Zinsu, who conducted a pro-Western course, was elected president.

In December 1969 - the third military coup. Maga and Apiti were returned to power.

In October 1972, Major Mathieu Kereku made the fourth coup d'etat, establishing a one-party system with a Marxist-Leninist ideology and proclaiming the task of the government to build socialism. Since November 1974, Benin was ruled by the Politburo, led by Kereku.

Since November 30, 1975, the country was renamed the People's Republic of Benin.

In 1977, an attack on Benin by a group of mercenaries led by Bob Denard was unsuccessful.

In 1983, the entire population of the country aged 15 to 40 was enrolled in the Organization of Revolutionary Youth (the average life expectancy in the country at that time was 43 years).

Since 1989, Kereku has disowned Marxist principles and removed the word “People’s” from the official name of the country. In 1991, free elections were held.

After the dismantling of the one-party system, from March 1990 - the Republic of Benin.



The latest population census in Benin was conducted on May 11-25, 2013. According to the census, the population of the country in 2013 was 9,983,884 people.

Annual population growth - 2.9% (fertility - 5.4 births per woman).

The average life expectancy is 59 years.

Infection with the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - 1.2% (2007 estimate).

Ethnic composition: more than 60 peoples, the most numerous are the Eastern Ewe, which include the background people (about 65%), Dahomey, Barba, Somba, Yoruba, Busa and others.

Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (mainly in the south of the country), various tribal languages ​​in the north of the country.

Religions: Christian 48.5%, Muslim 27.7%, voodoo 11.6, other 2.6%, atheist 5.8%, traditional beliefs 2.6% (2013 census). The majority of Christians are Catholics (25.5%), Protestants make up 13.5%.

Literacy of the population over 15 years old is 34.7%, 48% of men and 23% of women (according to the 2002 census).


Administrative-territorial division

In 1999, the administrative division of the country was changed. In each of the 6 previously existing provinces (Atakora, Atlantic, Borgu, Vema, Zu, Mono) a new administrative unit was allocated. Thus, now the country is divided into 12 departments, which in turn include 77 communes.


Political structure

Benin is a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The President of Benin is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The judiciary is independent. The current constitution of Benin was adopted in 1990.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the country in 2018 was classified on the Democracy Index as a hybrid regime.



Sub-equatorial in the northern part of the country, equatorial in the southern part, with two rainy seasons (from March to July and from late September to early November). During this period, 800-1300 mm of precipitation falls and very high humidity. Average monthly air temperatures range from +24 °C to +27 °C. In the north of the country, two seasons are clearly expressed - dry (from December to April-May) and rainy (from June to November). The average January temperature is +25 °C, July +32 °C, precipitation is less than in the south - 750-1250 mm, droughts are frequent. The best time to visit the country is from December to March, which is associated not only with the most favorable climatic conditions at this time, but also with the numerous festivities held during this period.



Benin is an underdeveloped agrarian state. The economy is based on subsistence agriculture (corn, tapioca, yams) and cotton. Cotton is one of the main cash crops, in 2014 cotton production reached 600 thousand standard 480 pound bales (217.72 kg), 17th in the world. The second most important commercial crop is cashew nuts for 2015/2016, the harvest was estimated at 125 thousand tons.

The country has oil and gas deposits, but they are not exploited. Other known natural resources are iron ore, gold, phosphate rock, marble, and timber (minor development).

Exploration by international gold mining companies in Benin has identified 39 major gold deposits (many of which have been found by satellite). The volume of gold mining is about 500 kg per year.

Electricity is mainly imported from Ghana.

Export commodities ($1.11 billion in 2016) - gold, cotton, cashew nuts, fruits, palm oil, timber, petroleum products (re-exports)

The main buyers (in 2016) are the UAE (27%), India (17%), Lebanon (6.6%), Mali (6.6%), China (5.3%)

Imports ($1.8 billion in 2016) - food (mainly rice and meat products), manufactured goods, fuel, etc.

The main suppliers (in 2016) are China (27%), Thailand (11%), India (10%), France (5.3%).

The Benin authorities are planning to attract foreign investment, primarily for the development of the tourism business.



Cajehoun Airport provides air links to cities in Africa and several points outside of it. There are railways in Benin, but their network is not yet connected to the railways of neighboring countries, although there are projects and plans for such a connection on the basis of 1000 mm gauge. Most of the roads are unpaved, but there are a dozen highways.



During the 1980s, less than 30% of the population had access to health care. The under-5 mortality rate in Benin was one of the highest in the world. The infant mortality rate was 203 deaths per 1,000 newborns. Only one in three mothers had access to child health care. Bamako's health reform initiative has made a significant difference. The strategy of an integrated approach to the reform of all areas of health has improved the performance of health care, as well as its efficiency and cost.

Beninese literature had a deep oral tradition long before French became the dominant language. In 1929, Felix Cucho wrote the first Benin novel, Slavery.

Mass media
The state television and radio company ORTB (Office de Radiodiffusion et Télévision du Bénin - “Benin Broadcasting and Television Administration”) was established on October 20, 1972. The first radio station in Benin, La chaîne nationale (part of ORTB), was launched by SORAFOM on March 7, 1953 as Radio Dahomey, and on April 1, 1983, the network of regional radio stations Radio Parakou was launched. On 31 December 1978, Benin's first television channel, ORTB Télévision nationale, was launched.