Country Summary



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. French Dahomey achieved independence in 1960 and changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1975.



total: 112,622 sq km
land: 110,622 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km


tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Natural resources

small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

People and Society


14,219,908 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Fon and related 38.4%, Adja and related 15.1%, Yoruba and related 12%, Bariba and related 9.6%, Fulani and related 8.6%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4.3%, Dendi and related 2.9%, other 0.9%, foreigner 1.9% (2013 est.)


55 languages; French (official); Fon (a Gbe language), Yom (a Gur language) and Yoruba are the most important indigenous languages in the south; half a dozen regionally important languages in the north, including Bariba (once counted as a Gur language) and Fulfulde


Muslim 27.7%, Roman Catholic 25.5%, Protestant 13.5% (Celestial 6.7%, Methodist 3.4%, other Protestant 3.4%), Vodoun 11.6%, other Christian 9.5%, other traditional religions 2.6%, other 2.6%, none 5.8% (2013 est.)

Population growth rate

3.31% (2023 est.)


Government type

presidential republic


name: Porto-Novo (constitutional capital); Cotonou (seat of government)

Executive branch

chief of state: President Patrice TALON (since 6 April 2016); note - the president is both head of state and head of government
head of government: President Patrice TALON (since 6 April 2016); prime minister position abolished

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (109 seats, including 24 seats reserved for women; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms except for the current members whose terms will end in 2026 to facilitate general elections)


Economic overview

robust economic growth; slightly declining but still widespread poverty; strong trade relations with Nigeria; cotton exporter; COVID-19 has led to capital outflows and border closures; WAEMU member with currency pegged to the euro; recent fiscal deficit and debt reductions

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$43.17 billion (2021 est.)
$40.287 billion (2020 est.)
$38.794 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$3,300 (2021 est.)
$3,200 (2020 est.)
$3,200 (2019 est.)

Agricultural products

cassava, yams, maize, cotton, oil palm fruit, rice, pineapples, tomatoes, vegetables, soybeans


textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement


$3.506 billion (2020 est.)
$3.585 billion (2019 est.)
$3.848 billion (2018 est.)

Exports - partners

Nigeria 25%, Bangladesh 14%, United Arab Emirates 14%, India 13%, China 8%, Vietnam 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, cotton, cashews, refined petroleum, soybeans (2021)


$3.942 billion (2020 est.)
$4.307 billion (2019 est.)
$4.669 billion (2018 est.)

Imports - partners

China 28%, Thailand 9%, India 8%, Togo 6%, United States 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

rice, cars, palm oil, electricity, cotton (2019)

Exchange rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
554.608 (2021 est.)
574.295 (2020 est.)
585.951 (2019 est.)
555.446 (2018 est.)
580.657 (2017 est.)

Page last updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024