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Benin

Benin, located in western Africa, borders the Bight of Benin as well as Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger. Benin was occupied by France from 1872 to 1960; the year it obtained independence. Formerly known as Dahomey, Benin is the site of the well-known Dahomey Kingdom, which gained momentum in the 15th century. In the years following independence, Benin has evolved to become the beacon of democracy. In fact, Benin is one of Africa’s most stable nations. The coastline of Benin was part of the Slave Coast, where thousands of African captives were shipped from this region across the Atlantic. Elements of the culture and religion brought by the slaves from this part of Africa are very much present in parts of

the Americas and Caribbean. The museums of Benin, the royal palaces, songs, dances and Benin’s traditional religions are some of the many interesting attractions of Benin. The capital city of Benin is Porto-Novo; 'the city with three names.' In the Goun language it is 'Hogbounou' and in the Yoruba language it is 'Adjatche.' Porto-Nowo is home to several museums, including the Honme Museum, the Alexandre Senou Adande Ethnographic Museum and the Urbain Karim da Silva Museum. On the coast, people can enjoy the beautiful beaches as well as relive part of the history of Benin. For instance, one can visit some old Slave Routes to have a deeper understanding of the country’s unfortunate experience with the slave trade. Benin is currently building the National Theatre, which will provide this country with a cultural complex where artistic performances and trade shows will be held. The national parks and the wildlife reserves are other attractions of Benin, without forgetting its many markets, famous for their local and arts crafts.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Benin's Flag

Two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side.

Nationality: Beninese

Capital: Porto-Novo

Population: 7,862,944 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 44.1%
  • 15-64 years: 53.5%
  • 65 years and over: 2.4% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.73% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 33.6% of the population is literate (male: 46.4%, female: 22.6%) (2002 est.)

Major religions: Indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%

Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common in the south) and tribal languages (at least six major ones in north).

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 112,620 sq km
  • land: 110,620 sq km
  • water: 2,000 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: double the size of Nova Scotia

Natural resources: small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber .

Environmental Issues: insufficient supplies of potable water; poaching threatening wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Economy

Benin’s economy is defined as underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production and regional trade. Benin is focusing on increasing their economic growth by attracting more foreign investment, improving their tourism industry, developing new food processing systems as well as improving the information and communication technology industry. Both the Paris Club and bilateral credits have relaxed Benin’s debt situation, as revealed in July 2005. Unfortunately, Benin is suffering from the Nigerian trade protection that prohibits imports of various products from Benin and elsewhere.

Major industries:

  • textiles
  • food processing
  • construction materials
  • cement

Agricultural products:

  • cotton
  • corn
  • cassava (tapioca)
  • yams
  • beans
  • palm oil
  • peanuts
  • livestock

Oil production: 400 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: 578 km

Road map: 6,787 km (paved: 1,357 km, unpaved: 5,430 km)

Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 72,800 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 386,700 (2004)

Television Stations: 1 (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 4 (2000)

Internet users: 100,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 1.9% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 68,000 (2003 est.)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bn.html