Benin



Official Country Name
Benin

Benin Overview
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.

Benin Economy
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 six 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. Many of these proposals 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 in spite of government reluctance. 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. Benin continues to be hurt by Nigerian trade protection that bans imports of a growing list of products from Benin and elsewhere, which has resulted in increased smuggling and criminality in the border region.

Benin Location
Benin is located in Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo

Region
Benin is located in Africa

Benin Population
Benin has population of 7,862,944

Benin Climate
Benin has tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

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

Benin Natural Resources
small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Ethnic Groups in Benin
Benin has the following ethnic groups - African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500

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

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

Benin Capital
Benin capital is Porto-Novo

Benin Currency
Benin currency is Communaute Financiere Africaine franc

Map of Benin