Benin Destinations Travel Guide



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

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

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.


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.