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Benin - Country facts

Map

Small map of Benin
Click for a larger map

Flag

Country flag: Benin

Capital

Porto-Novo is the official capit

Currency

Communaute Financiere Africaine

Internet Code

.bj

Location

Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo

Background

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.

Climate

tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Terrain

mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Population

7,460,025
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AI

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)

Map of Benin

Large map of Benin
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