Benin Country profile
Area: 112,622 square kilometers
Population: about 10.3 million
Population density: 90 per square kilometer (cf. Germany: 229 per square kilometer)
Official language: French
Capital: Porto Novo
Form of government: Republic under a multiparty democratic rule
Average life expectancy: 61 years
Illiteracy rate: 59.5% (population over the age of 15)
Top 3 exports: raw cotton (70-80%), groundnuts, palm oil
Number of cotton growers: 237,500 (status 2010)
Number of “Cotton made in Africa” farmers: 20,016 (status 2010)
Overview of Benin
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Beninese (singular and plural).
Population (2013): 10,323,474.
Annual growth rate (2001 est.): 2.97%.
Ethnic groups: African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, and Bariba), Europeans 5,500.
Religions: Indigenous beliefs (voodoo) 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%.
Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba in the south; Nagot, Bariba and Dendi in the north.
Education: Literacy—Total population 37.5%; men 52.2%, women 23.6%.
Health: (2001 est.): Infant mortality rate is 89.68/1,000. Life expectancy is 49.94 yrs.
Work force: The labor market is characterized by an increased reliance on informal employment, family helpers, and the use of apprentices. Training and job opportunities are not well matched.
Geographic Location: Benin is situated in West Africa and is bounded to the east by Nigeria, to the north by Niger and Burkina Faso, and to the west by Togo. Benin stretches 700km (435 miles) from the Bight of Benin to the Niger River. The coastal strip is sandy with coconut palms.
Terrain: Beyond the lagoons of Porto Novo, Nokoue, Ouidah and Grand Popo is a plateau rising gradually to the heights of the Atakora Mountains. From the highlands run
two tributaries of the Niger, while southwards the Ouéc flows down to Nokoue lagoon. Mono River flows into the sea at Grand Popo and forms a frontier with Togo.
Benin is once again making a name for itself as it embraces democracy with characteristic fervor and is catapulted onto the African stage as a model of reform. Benin is the birthplace of voodoo (voodoo museums of Ouidah). Voodoo ceremonies can be colorful events, involving feverish drumming and highly charged dancing by costumed fetish priests. The pirogue is the name of a traditional boat.
An advantage of traveling Benin is its size: it has to offer a lot within relatively short distances. For this reason this country offers great possibilities for short tours or for combined tours, covering various countries. The South of Benin has several beautiful beaches and lagoons with pile villages. What characterizes this area besides its beautiful landscape, are its voodoo practices and the interesting, often gruesome history of glorious kingdoms, slavery and colonialism.
The northern part of the country distinguishes itself by the combination of vast savannas, landscapes and hills with plenty of waterfalls. Of special interest is the area of Somba with its unique architecture and exceptional traditions and customs.
In the Pendjari wildlife park, also in the North, many animals like elephants, lions, baboons, antelopes, buffaloes and many different types of birds can be observed. In short, Benin offers brilliant opportunities for nature and culture lovers.