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Countries > Benin

Languages   4 languages are spoken in Benin. We have 321 products available for 3 of those languages.

Capital: Porto-Novo
Population: 6,000,000
Description: The official language is French. Fon is the most important native language, with about two million speakers in the southern half of the country. Bariba is spoken by about 500,000 people in the north, while Yoruba has a like number of speakers along the eastern border.
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Benin Map


Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Nigeria and Togo

Geographic coordinates: 9 30 N, 2 15 E

Map references: Africa

total: 112,620 sq km
land: 110,620 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries:
total: 1,989 km
border countries : Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km

Coastline: 121 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Tanekas 641 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 13%
permanent crops: 4%
permanent pastures: 4%
forests and woodland: 31%
other: 48% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 100 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north in winter

Environment - current issues: recent droughts have severely affected marginal agriculture in north; inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note: no natural harbors


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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2001 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 47.32% (male 1,574,124; female 1,544,741)
15-64 years: 50.38% (male 1,607,900; female 1,712,360)
65 years and over : 2.3% (male 64,756; female 86,901) (2001 est.)

Population growth rate:2.97% (2001 est.)

Birth rate: 44.23 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Death rate: 14.51 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2001 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 89.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.94 years
male: 49.02 years
female: 50.88 years (2001 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.23 children born/woman (2001 est.)

noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese

Ethnic groups: African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500

Religions: indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%

Languages: 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: 37.5%
male: 52.2%
female:23.6% (2000)


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local long form: Republique du Benin
local short form : Benin
former: Dahomey

Data code: BN

Government type: republic under multiparty democratic rule; dropped Marxism-Leninism December 1989; democratic reforms adopted February 1990; transition to multiparty system completed 4 April 1991

National capital: Porto-Novo

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces; Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Mono, Oueme, Zou

Independence: 1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 1 August (1990)

Constitution: 2 December 1990

Legal system: based on French civil law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mathieu KEREKOU (since 4 April 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mathieu KEREKOU (since 4 April 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government.
cabinet: Council of Ministers headed by the prime minister; all are appointed by the president
elections: president reelected by popular vote for a five-year term; runoff election held 22 March 2001 (next to be held NA March 2006)
election results: Mathieu KEREKOU reelected president; percent of vote - Mathieu KEREKOU 84.1%, Bruno AMOUSSOU 15.9%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 30 March 1999 (next to be held NA March 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RB 27, PRD 11, FARD-ALAFIA 10, PSD 9, MADEP 6, E'toile 4, Alliance IPD 4, Car-DUNYA 3, MERCI 2, other 7

Judicial branch: Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle, Supreme Court or Cour Supreme, High Court of Justice

Political parties and leaders:African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Sylvain Adekpedjou AKINDES]; Alliance of the Social Democratic Party or PSD and the National Union for Solidarity and Progress or UNSP [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Cameleon Alliance or AC [leader NA]; Car-DUNYA [Saka SALEY]; Communist Party of Benin or PCB [Pascal FANTONDJI, first secretary]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Front for Renewal and Development or FARD-ALAFIA [Jerome Sakia KINA]; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Bertin BORNA]; Liberal Democrats' Rally for National Reconstruction-Vivoten or RDL-Vivoten [Severin ADJOVI]; Movement for Citizens' Commitment and Awakening or MERCI [Severin ADJOVI]; New Generation for the Republic or NGR [Paul DOSSOU]; Our Common Cause or NCC [Francois Odjo TANKPINON]; Party Democratique du Benin or PDB [Col. Soule DANKORO]; Rally for Democracy and Pan-Africanism or RDP [Dominique HOYMINOU, Dr. Giles Auguste MINONTIN]; Renaissance Party du Benin or RB [Nicephore SOGLO]; The Star Alliance (Alliance E'toile) [Sacca LAFIA]; Union for National Democracy and Solidarity or UDS [Adamou N'Diaye MAMA]
note: the Coalition of Democratic Forces is an alliance of parties and organizations supporting President KEREKOU [Gatien HOUNGBEDJI]

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, ECA, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WADB, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Lucien Edgar TONOUKOUIN
chancery : 2737 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656, 6657, 6658
FAX : [1] (202) 265-1996

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Pamela E. BRIDGEWATER
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone : [229] 30-06-50, 30-05-13, 30-17-92
FAX: [229] 30-14-39, 30-19-74

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red with a vertical green band on the hoist side


Economy - overview: The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output, which had averaged a sound 4% in 1990-95, rose to 5.5% in 1996. Rapid population growth offset much of this growth in output. Inflation jumped to 55% in 1994 (compared to 3% in 1993) following the 50% currency devaluation in January 1994, but has subsided gradually over the past two years, with 14.5% inflation in 1995 and a target of 4.5% inflation in 1996. Commercial and transport activities, which make up a large part of GDP, are extremely vulnerable to developments in Nigeria as evidenced by decreased reexport trade in 1994 due to a severe contraction in Nigerian demand. Support by the Paris Club and official bilateral creditors has eased the external debt situation in recent years. The government, still burdened with money-losing state enterprises and a bloated civil service, has been gradually implementing a World Bank supported structural adjustment program since 1991.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $6.6 billion (2000 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,030 (2000 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 37.9%
industry: 13.5%
services : 48.6% (1999)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 3% (2000 est.)

Labor force: NA

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $299 million
expenditures: $445 million, including capital expenditures of $14 million (1995 est.)

Industries: textiles, cigarettes; beverages, food; construction materials, petroleum

Industrial production growth rate:6.9% (2000 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 28,000 kW (1992)

Electricity - production: 226 million kWh (1999)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 510.2 million kWh (1999)

Agriculture - products: corn, sorghum, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, rice, cotton, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, livestock

total value : $396 million (f.o.b., 1999)
commodities: cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa
partners:Brazil 14%, Libya 5%, Indonesia 4%, Italy 4% (1999)

total value: $566 million (c.i.f., 1999)
commodities : foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, petroleum products, intermediate goods, capital goods, light consumer goods
partners: France 38%, China 16%, UK 9%, Cote d'Ivoire 5% (1999)

Debt - external: $1.6 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient : $274.6 million (1997)

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1 - 541.69 (January 1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993), 264.69 (1992)
note: beginning 12 January 1994 the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 36,000 (1997)

Telephone system:
domestic: fair system of open wire and microwave radio relay
international : satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); submarine cable

Radio broadcast stations:AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 4 (1998)

Radios: 620,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:2 (one privately-owned) (1997)

Televisions: 60,000 (1997)


total: 578 km (single track)
narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge (2000)

total: 6,787 km
paved: 1,357 km (including 10 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,430 km (1997 est.)

Waterways: navigable along small sections, important only locally

Ports and harbors: Cotonou, Porto-Novo

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 5 (2000 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2000 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m : 2 (1996 est.)


Military branches: Armed Forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), National Gendarmerie

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49 : 1,455,433
females age 15-49: 1,489,947
note: both sexes are liable for military service(2001 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 743,980
females:755,149 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 70,088
females: 73,618 (2001 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $27 million (FY96)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:1.2% (FY96)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for narcotics associated with Nigerian trafficking organizations and most commonly destined for Western Europe and the US

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