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Africa :: Benin
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  • Introduction :: BENIN

  • Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a West African kingdom that rose to prominence in about 1600 and over the next two and a half centuries became a regional power, largely based on its slave trade. Coastal areas of Dahomey began to be controlled by the French in the second half of the 19th century; the entire kingdom was conquered by 1894. French Dahomey achieved independence in 1960; it changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1975. 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, who won a second five-year term in March 2011, has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.
  • Geography :: BENIN

  • Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
    9 30 N, 2 15 E
    total: 112,622 sq km
    land: 110,622 sq km
    water: 2,000 sq km
    slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
    total: 2,123 km
    border countries (4): Burkina Faso 386 km, Niger 277 km, Nigeria 809 km, Togo 651 km
    121 km
    territorial sea: 200 nm
    tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
    mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains
    lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m
    small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
    agricultural land: 31.3%
    arable land 22.9%; permanent crops 3.5%; permanent pasture 4.9%
    forest: 40%
    other: 28.7% (2011 est.)
    230.4 sq km (2008)
    26.39 cu km (2011)
    total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
    per capita: 18.74 cu m/yr (2001)
    hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
    inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
    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
    sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
  • People and Society :: BENIN

  • noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Beninese
    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)
    French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
    Catholic 27.1%, Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, Protestant 10.4% (Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%), other Christian 5.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)
    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 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 43.8% (male 2,269,896/female 2,179,026)
    15-24 years: 20.1% (male 1,036,963/female 1,001,400)
    25-54 years: 29.9% (male 1,530,283/female 1,504,201)
    55-64 years: 3.5% (male 149,883/female 205,701)
    65 years and over: 2.8% (male 112,830/female 170,373) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 83%
    youth dependency ratio: 77.7%
    elderly dependency ratio: 5.3%
    potential support ratio: 18.9% (2014 est.)
    total: 17.7 years
    male: 17.4 years
    female: 18.1 years (2014 est.)
    2.81% (2014 est.)
    36.51 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    8.39 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 43.5% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 3.67% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    COTONOU (seat of government) 680,000; PORTO-NOVO (capital) 268,000 (2014)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2011/12 est.)
    340 deaths/100,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total: 57.09 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 60.26 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 53.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 61.07 years
    male: 59.75 years
    female: 62.47 years (2014 est.)
    5.04 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    12.9% (2011/12)
    4.6% of GDP (2013)
    0.06 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
    0.5 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    urban: 84.5% of population
    rural: 69.1% of population
    total: 76.1% of population
    urban: 15.5% of population
    rural: 30.9% of population
    total: 23.9% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 25.3% of population
    rural: 5.1% of population
    total: 14.3% of population
    urban: 74.7% of population
    rural: 94.9% of population
    total: 85.7% of population (2012 est.)
    1.13% (2013 est.)
    73,900 (2013 est.)
    2,700 (2013 est.)
    degree of risk: very high
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
    vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever
    respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
    animal contact disease: rabies (2013)
    8.1% (2014)
    20.2% (2006)
    5.3% of GDP (2010)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 38.4%
    male: 49.9%
    female: 27.3% (2015 est.)
    total: 11 years
    male: 13 years
    female: 9 years (2011)
    total number: 1,020,981
    percentage: 46% (2006 est.)
  • Government :: BENIN

  • conventional long form: Republic of Benin
    conventional short form: Benin
    local long form: Republique du Benin
    local short form: Benin
    former: Dahomey
    name: Porto-Novo (official capital); note - Cotonou (seat of government)
    geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E
    time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    12 departments; Alibori, Atacora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Couffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou
    1 August 1960 (from France)
    National Day, 1 August (1960)
    previous 1946, 1958 (preindependence); latest adopted by referendum 2 December 1990, promulgated 11 December 1990 (2012)
    civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - Prime Minister Lionel ZINSOU (since 18 June 2015)
    cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 13 March 2011 (next to be held in April 2016)
    election results: Thomas YAYI Boni re-elected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni 53.1%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 35.6%, Abdoulaye Bio TCHANE 6.1%, other 5.2%
    description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
    elections: last held on 26 April 2015 (next to be held in 2019)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 32, UN 15, PRD 10, RB 7, other 19
    highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of the court president and 3 chamber presidents organized into an administrative division, judicial chamber, and chamber of accounts); Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle (consists of 7 members including the court president); High Court of Justice (consists of the Constitutional Court members, 6 members appointed by the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court president); note - jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice is limited to cases of high treason by the national president or members of the government
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court president and judges appointed by the national president upon the advice of the National Assembly; judges appointed for single renewable 5-year terms; Constitutional Court members - 4 appointed by the National Assembly and 3 by the national president; members appointed for single renewable 5-year terms; High Court of Justice "other" members elected by the National Assembly; member tenure NA
    subordinate courts: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; district courts; village courts; Assize courts
    African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie for an Emerging Benin or FCBE [Yayi BONI]; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare SHOUTO]; 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 [Emmanuel GOLOU]; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]; Union for the Relief or UPR [Issa SALIFOU]; Union Makes the Nation or UN [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI] (superceded Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD)
    note: approximately 20 additional minor parties
    other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups
    chief of mission: Ambassador Omar AROUNA (since 21 May 2014)
    chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
    FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
    chief of mission: Ambassador Michael RAYNOR (since 24 May 2012)
    embassy: Caporal Bernard Anani, 01 BP 2012, Cotonou
    mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
    telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
    FAX: [229] 21-30-66-82
    two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side; green symbolizes hope and revival, yellow wealth, and red courage
    note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia
    leopard; national colors: green, yellow, red
    name: "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)
    lyrics/music: Gilbert Jean DAGNON
    note: adopted 1960
  • Economy :: BENIN

  • The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output had averaged almost 4% before the global recession and it has exceeded that level in 2013-14. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth, 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. An insufficient electrical supply continues to hamper Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production. Private foreign direct investment is small, and foreign aid accounts for the majority of investment in infrastructure projects. Cotton, a key export, suffered from flooding in 2010-11, but high prices supported export earnings. Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory. In 2012, Benin became eligible for a second Compact under the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is expected to be signed in 2015.
    $19.85 billion (2014 est.)
    $18.82 billion (2013 est.)
    $17.81 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    $9.237 billion (2014 est.)
    5.5% (2014 est.)
    5.6% (2013 est.)
    5.4% (2012 est.)
    $1,900 (2014 est.)
    $1,800 (2013 est.)
    $1,800 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2013 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 205
    10.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    11.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
    9.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    household consumption: 76.8%
    government consumption: 11.7%
    investment in fixed capital: 17.4%
    investment in inventories: 6.8%
    exports of goods and services: 12.5%
    imports of goods and services: -25.2%
    (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 31.8%
    industry: 12.3%
    services: 55.9% (2014 est.)
    cotton, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
    textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
    3.2% (2014 est.)
    3.662 million (2007 est.)
    37.4% (2007 est.)
    lowest 10%: 3.1%
    highest 10%: 29% (2003)
    36.5 (2003)
    revenues: $1.885 billion
    expenditures: $2.074 billion (2014 est.)
    20.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
    -2% of GDP (2014 est.)
    30.1% of GDP (2014 est.)
    29.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
    calendar year
    -0.9% (2014 est.)
    1% (2013 est.)
    4.25% (31 December 2010)
    4.25% (31 December 2009)
    $2.509 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $2.268 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $4.165 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $3.61 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $2.112 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $1.851 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    $-956.4 million (2014 est.)
    $-871.4 million (2013 est.)
    $2.045 billion (2014 est.)
    $1.87 billion (2013 est.)
    cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
    Lebanon 21.7%, China 21.6%, India 18.5%, Niger 4.9%, Nigeria 4.9% (2013)
    $2.905 billion (2014 est.)
    $2.659 billion (2013 est.)
    foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
    China 37.1%, India 10.3%, US 7.5%, Malaysia 6.7%, Thailand 6.1%, France 4.4% (2013)
    $972.6 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $694.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    $2.458 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $2.224 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
    491.2 (2014 est.)
    494.04 (2013 est.)
    510.53 (2012 est.)
    471.87 (2011 est.)
    495.28 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: BENIN

  • 146 million kWh (2011 est.)
    858 million kWh (2011 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    925 million kWh (2011 est.)
    171,000 kW (2011 est.)
    99.4% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0.6% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    8 million bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    34,410 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    34,840 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    4.581 million Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: BENIN

  • 156,700 (2012)
    8.408 million (2012)
    general assessment: inadequate system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment
    domestic: fixed-line teledensity only about 2 per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular providers, cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly
    international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; long distance fiber-optic links with Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
    state-run Office de Radiodiffusion et de Television du Benin (ORTB) operates a TV station with multiple channels providing a wide broadcast reach; several privately owned TV stations broadcast from Cotonou; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio, under ORTB control, includes a national station supplemented by a number of regional stations; substantial number of privately owned radio broadcast stations; transmissions of a few international broadcasters are available on FM in Cotonou (2007)
    AM 1, FM 34, shortwave 1 (2007)
    6 (2007)
    491 (2012)
    200,100 (2009)
  • Transportation :: BENIN

  • 6 (2013)
    total: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 5
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
    total: 438 km
    narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
    total: 16,000 km
    paved: 1,400 km
    unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)
    150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2011)
    major seaport(s): Cotonou
    LNG terminal(s) (import): Cotonou
  • Military :: BENIN

  • Benin Armed Forces (Forces Armees Beninoises, FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin Air Force (Force Aerienne du Benin, FAB) (2013)
    18-35 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; a higher education diploma is required; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2013)
    males age 16-49: 2,095,373
    females age 16-49: 2,038,351 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 1,385,065
    females age 16-49: 1,400,045 (2010 est.)
    male: 108,496
    female: 104,526 (2010 est.)
    1.03% of GDP (2012)
    NA% (2011)
    1.03% of GDP (2010)
  • Transnational Issues :: BENIN

  • talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River; Benin retains a border dispute with Burkina Faso near the town of Koualou; location of Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint is unresolved
    transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)