Africa :: Benin
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Benin
Location of Benin
 
Map of Benin
Introduction ::Benin
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. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI has begun a high profile fight against corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.
Geography ::Benin
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
9 30 N, 2 15 E
total: 112,622 sq km
country comparison to the world: 101
land: 110,622 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
total: 1,989 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km
121 km
territorial sea: 200 nm
tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m
small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
arable land: 23.53%
permanent crops: 2.37%
other: 74.1% (2005)
120 sq km (2003)
25.8 cu km (2001)
total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)
hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
People ::Benin
8,791,832
country comparison to the world: 90
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
0-14 years: 45.2% (male 2,028,493/female 1,948,353)
15-64 years: 52.1% (male 2,275,662/female 2,308,945)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 94,569/female 135,810) (2009 est.)
total: 17.2 years
male: 16.8 years
female: 17.7 years (2009 est.)
2.977% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
39.22 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
9.45 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
urban population: 41% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 64.64 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 34
male: 68.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 61.04 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 59 years
country comparison to the world: 185
male: 57.83 years
female: 60.23 years (2009 est.)
5.49 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
1.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
64,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
3,300 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese
Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Peulh and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, other 1.6% (includes Europeans), unspecified 2.9% (2002 census)
Christian 42.8% (Catholic 27.1%, Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%, other 5.3%), Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)
French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 34.7%
male: 47.9%
female: 23.3% (2002 census)
total: 7 years
male: 9 years
female: 6 years (2001)
4.4% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 91
Government ::Benin
conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local long form: Republique du Benin
local short form: Benin
former: Dahomey
republic
name: Porto-Novo (official capital)
geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cotonou (seat of government)
12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou
1 August 1960 (from France)
National Day, 1 August (1960)
adopted by referendum 2 December 1990
based on French civil law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); runoff election held 19 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2011)
election results: Thomas YAYI Boni elected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni 74.5%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 25.5%
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 31 March 2007 (next to be held by March 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 35, ADD 20, PRD 10, other and independents 18
Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle; Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Court of Justice
Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD; Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP; African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie for an Emerging Benin or FCBE; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare SÈHOUÉTO]; Movement for the People's Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]; Social Democrat Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Union for the Relief or UPR [Issa SALIFOU]; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]
note: approximately 20 additional minor parties
other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups
ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN
chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
chief of mission: Ambassador Gayleatha B. BROWN
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84
two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side
Economy ::Benin
The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged around 5% in the past seven years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth still further, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. Specific projects to improve the business climate by reforms to the land tenure system, the commercial justice system, and the financial sector were included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture though the government annulled the privatization of Benin's state cotton company in November 2007 after the discovery of irregularities in the bidding process. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms. An insufficient electrical supply continues to adversely affect Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production.
$12.83 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
$12.25 billion (2007 est.)
$11.72 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$6.94 billion (2008 est.)
4.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
4.5% (2007 est.)
3.8% (2006 est.)
$1,500 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
$1,500 (2007 est.)
$1,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 33.2%
industry: 14.5%
services: 52.3% (2007 est.)
3.662 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
NA%
37.4% (2007 est.)
lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29% (2003)
36.5 (2003)
country comparison to the world: 82
19.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
revenues: $1.407 billion
expenditures: $1.291 billion (2008 est.)
7.9% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
1.3% (2007 est.)
4.75% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 114
4.25% (31 December 2007)
NA
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 110
$1.324 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 135
$627.2 million (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 146
$520.6 million (31 December 2007)
$NA
cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
3.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
124 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
597 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
0 kWh (2008 est.)
588 million kWh (2007 est.)
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
21,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
8,770 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96
28,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
8 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 49
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
$-487 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
$-407 million (2007 est.)
$894 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
$819 million (2007 est.)
cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
China 19.7%, Japan 8.9%, India 6.3%, Niger 5.1%, US 4.9%, Nigeria 4.5%, Togo 4.2% (2008)
$1.399 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
$1.194 billion (2007 est.)
foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
China 39.8%, US 14%, Thailand 6.9%, France 6.9%, Malaysia 4.2% (2008)
$1.236 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$1.209 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$1.2 billion (2007)
country comparison to the world: 149
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 447.81 (2008 est.), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004)
note: since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par
Communications ::Benin
159,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 131
3.435 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 100
general assessment: inadequate; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment with fixed-line teledensity only about 2 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly
domestic: system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; multiple mobile-cellular providers
international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
AM 1, FM 34, shortwave 1 (2007)
6 (2007)
.bj
1,155 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 157
160,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 141
Transportation ::Benin
5 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 177
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2009)
total: 578 km
country comparison to the world: 113
narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
total: 16,000 km
country comparison to the world: 121
paved: 1,400 km
unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)
150 km (on River Niger along northern border) (2007)
country comparison to the world: 102
Cotonou
Military ::Benin
Benin Armed Forces (FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin People's Air Force (Force Aerienne Populaire de Benin, FAPB) (2008)
21 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; in practice, volunteers may be taken at the age of 18; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2006)
males age 16-49: 1,908,457
females age 16-49: 1,882,421 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 1,279,053
females age 16-49: 1,292,438 (2009 est.)
male: 101,549
female: 97,856 (2009 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 96
Transnational Issues ::Benin
in September 2007, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened to attempt to resolve the dispute over two villages along the Benin-Burkina Faso border that remain from 2005 ICJ decision; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated; in 2005, Nigeria ceded thirteen villages to Benin, but border relations remain strained by rival cross-border gang clashes; talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River
refugees (country of origin): 9,444 (Togo) (2007)
transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)