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  Introduction Back To Top

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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)

Total renewable water resources:
25.8 cu km (2001)

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

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
9 30 N, 2 15 E

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m

mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Geography - note:
sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands

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

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

121 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Irrigated land:
120 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March

Land use:
arable land: 23.53%
permanent crops: 2.37%
other: 74.1% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
5.58 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.9% (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
68,000 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 58.56 years
male: 57.42 years
female: 59.76 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2008)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 34.7%
male: 47.9%
female: 23.3% (2002 census)

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
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 census)

Median age:
total: 17.1 years
male: 16.7 years
female: 17.6 years (2008 est.)

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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
4.4% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
3.01% (2008 est.)

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

Death rate:
9.69 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 66.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 69.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 62.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
5,800 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 7 years
male: 9 years
female: 6 years (2001)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45.5% (male 1,978,897/female 1,901,005)
15-64 years: 51.9% (male 2,195,667/female 2,236,458)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 91,213/female 129,307) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
39.8 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Christian 42.8% (Catholic 27.1%, Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%, other 5.3%), Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)

noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Gayleatha B. BROWN
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84

National holiday:
National Day, 1 August (1960)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN
chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996

International organization participation:

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 31 March 2007 (next to be held by March 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 35, ADD 20, PRD 10, other and independents 18

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

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

1 August 1960 (from France)

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

Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD; Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP; African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie for an Emerging Benin or FCBE; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare SÈHOUÉTO]; Movement for the People's Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]; Social Democrat Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Union for the Relief or UPR [Issa SALIFOU]; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]
note: approximately 20 additional minor parties

name: Porto-Novo (official capital)
geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cotonou (seat of government)

adopted by referendum 2 December 1990

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); runoff election held 19 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2011)
election results: Thomas YAYI Boni elected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni 74.5%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 25.5%

Administrative divisions:
12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou

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

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
China 24.7%, India 8.2%, Niger 6.6%, Togo 5.4%, Nigeria 5.3%, Belgium 4.6% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
595 million kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
4.25% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
590 million kWh (2006 est.)

Current account balance:
-$485 million (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$1.2 billion (2007)

Unemployment rate:

Oil - exports:
6,484 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,500 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
19.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$520.6 million (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$13.15 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$6.94 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36.5 (2003)

Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per U 438.77 (2008 est.), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004)
note: since 1 January 1999, the XOF franc has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XOF francs per euro

GDP - real growth rate:
5% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$1.324 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
5.38 million (2007 est.)

Imports - partners:
China 44.5%, France 8.2%, US 6.5%, Thailand 6.3%, Malaysia 4.8% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.2% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 33.2%
industry: 14.5%
services: 52.3% (2007 est.)

Oil - imports:
16,830 bbl/day (2007 est.)

$776 million f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

Economy - overview:
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.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products

textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
37.4% (2007 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

Stock of quasi money:
$627.2 million (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
120 million kWh (2006 est.)

$1.355 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
8 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.292 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
9,232 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29% (2003)

Exports - commodities:
cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood

Economic aid - recipient:
$374.7 million (2006)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 14.2%
hydro: 85.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $1.436 billion
expenditures: $1.729 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
150,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
110,300 (2007)

66,000 (2000)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 34, shortwave 1 (2007)

660,000 (2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.895 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
6 (2007)

Telephone system:
general assessment: inadequate; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment with fixed-line teledensity stuck at 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership is increasing
domestic: system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; multiple mobile-cellular providers
international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
4 (2002)

Internet hosts:
848 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

150 km (on River Niger along northern border) (2007)

total: 758 km
narrow gauge: 758 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)

total: 16,000 km
paved: 1,400 km
unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)

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 (2007)

5 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
21 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; in practice, volunteers may be taken at the age of 18; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2006)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,908,457
females age 16-49: 1,882,421 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,173,742
females age 16-49: 1,162,113 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Benin Armed Forces (FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin People's Air Force (Force Aerienne Populaire de Benin, FAPB) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 97,543
female: 94,008 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.7% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
in September 2007, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened to attempt to resolve the dispute over two villages along the Benin-Burkina Faso border that remain from 2005 ICJ decision; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated; in 2005, Nigeria ceded thirteen villages to Benin, but border relations remain strained by rival cross-border gang clashes; talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 9,444 (Togo) (2007)

Illicit drugs:
transshipment point used by Nigerian traffickers for narcotics destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations

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