|R®¶publique du B®¶nin
|Form of government
||parliamentary presidential republic
||UTC + 1
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Benin is located in West Africa and,
with an area of 112.622 km², is one of the smaller
countries on the African continent (about a third the
size of Germany). In the south, Benin borders the Gulf
of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean), the coastline is about 125
km long. To the west is Togo , in northwestern Burkina
Faso , Benin bordered to the north of Niger and to the
east by Nigeria .
The coastal plain is characterized by lagoons, swamps
and lakes. To the north, the country gradually rises to
a plain (Terre de Barre), which joins the plateau of
Central Benin to the north. Island mountains reach a
height of up to 250 m here. The country falls towards
the northeast to the border river | Niger. In the
north-west of Benin is the chain of the Atakora
mountains, which reach heights of up to around 650 m.
The largest rivers in Benin are the Niger in the
north of the country and Ou®¶m®¶, Couffo and Mano in the
south. The capital Porto-Novo is in the south of the
country, the seat of government is the port city of
Benin has a tropical climate with consistently high
temperatures all year round. Average temperatures in the
south of the country are between 26 °„ C and 29 °„ C per
month, in the north between 24 °„ C and 33 °„ C. In the
south of Benin there is an average of between 1,000 and
1,400 mm of rainfall, there are two rainy seasons (March
to July, October). Precipitation decreases to the north,
in Middle Benin and in the Niger Basin between 500 and
1,000 mm are measured, here there is a rainy season that
lasts from May to September. A hot desert wind (Harmattan)
occurs in the north from November to April.
Flora and fauna
The original stocks of tropical rainforest in the
south of the country are only preserved in small
remains. Today, crops such as oil and coconut palms
dominate the landscape. Most of the country is taken up
by wet savannah, here too the tree population is
decimated by human intervention (eg slash and burn). Dry
savannah with light trees and short grasses can be found
on the Niger plain.
Most of the animals in Benin are adapted to life in
wet and dry savannah. These include antelopes, buffalos,
giraffes, warthogs, hippos and lions. The bird and
reptile world is rich in species. In the north of Benin
there are several designated conservation areas such as
the Pandjari National Park.
Around 8.5 million people live in the Republic of
Benin, about a third of them in cities. According to COUNTRYAAH,
population density is 75 people per square kilometer,
with the south of the country being more densely
populated than the north. The largest city is Cotonou
with around one million residents, followed by the
capital Porto-Novo with around 250,000 residents.
Around 60 population groups live in Benin. The Fon
(which belong to the Ewe) have a share of around 40% of
the total population, the second largest group are
Yoruba (12%), followed by Adja (11%), Bariba (8%), Somba
(6% ), Fulbe and Haussa. About 23% of the population
practice natural religions; the area of today's Benin
is considered to be the country of origin of the voodoo
cult, which is common today in Haiti, for example. The
proportion of Christians is officially around 42%, the
proportion of Muslims is around 25%.
The official language is French, the languages of
the existing ethnic groups are also spoken (eg Fon,
Yoruba). Benin is one of the poorest countries in the
world. Medical care for the population is particularly
poor in rural areas. The average life expectancy is 59
years. Almost half of the Beninese are under the age of
15. Population growth is very high at around 3%. School
attendance is compulsory for children between the ages
of six and twelve, but literacy is only 35% due to the
lack of schools (only around a quarter of women can read
According to the 1990 constitution, Benin is a
parliamentary presidential republic (multi-party
democracy). The head of state and at the same time head
of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces
is the President (since April 2006 Boni Yayi). He is
elected by the people for a term of five years
(re-election is possible, maximum age of the candidate
is 70) and appoints the cabinet ministers. The prime
minister, which is not provided for in the constitution
and was elected for the first time in May 2011, has a
coordinating function and carries out tasks assigned to
him by the president.
The legislature lies with the National Assembly,
whose 83 deputies are elected by the people for a term
of four years. The legal system with a constitutional
and supreme court is based on French civil law.
Benin is divided into 12 departments.
Benin is one of the poorer developing countries, a
third of the population lives below the poverty line.
Due to the rapidly increasing population and high
inflation rates, there is no sign of an early change in
the situation despite stable overall economic growth
since the early 1990s.
The majority of the employed work in the agricultural
sector, where around 32% of the gross domestic product
(GDP) is generated. Mainly in subsistence farming, corn,
millet, cassava, beans, peanuts, sweet potatoes and oil
palms are grown, and cotton, cocoa and coffee are
exported. Livestock farming is dominated by cattle,
sheep, goats and poultry. Fishing in the lagoons of the
coastal plain plays an important role in supplying the
population in southern Benin. Firewood is still the most
important source of energy for the rural population.
The industry focuses on the manufacture of textiles,
food and beverages, building materials and cigarettes.
Around 13% of GDP is generated in this area. Benin's
most important raw material is crude oil, which is
extracted off the coast. So far, deposits of diamonds
and limestone have hardly been exploited.
The service sector contributes 54% to GDP and more
than a third of the workforce is employed here. Trade
and traffic have traditionally been of great importance
for the transit country of Benin. The port as an
economic factor accounts for over 10% of GDP. China,
Indonesia and India are the most important trading
partners for the export of (agricultural) products.
Mainly foodstuffs, industrial goods, machinery and
vehicles are imported, with China, France, the USA and
Thailand being the most important suppliers.
Part of the total of around 6,700 km of road network
is impassable during the rainy season. The main rail
link is between the port of Cotonou and Parakou in
central Benin. International airlines fly to Cotonou.
The currency is the CFA franc.