Facts about Benin
|Capital||Porto-Novo (official capital)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cotonou (seat of government|
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
General info about 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.
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepat
French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
What about drugs?
transshipment point used by Nigerian traffickers for narcotics destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations
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 ce
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
1.9% (2003 est.)
tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
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.
inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
Cities in Beninabomey abomey-calavi allada aplahoue athieme banikoara bassila bembereke beterou bohicon come cotonou cove djougou dogbo kandi ketou lokossa malanville natitingou nikki ouidah parakou pobe sakete savalou save tchaourou