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Benin country facts

Republic of Benin Africa Porto-Novo (official capital) 10,160,556 inhabitants 112,622 sq km 90.22 inhabitants/sq km Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) population evolution



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 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.



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

Geographic coordinates

9 30 N, 2 15 E

Area (sq km)

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

Area - comparative (sq km)

slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries (km)

total: 2,123 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 386 km, Niger 277 km, Nigeria 809 km, Togo 651 km

Coastline (km)

121 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 200 nm


tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north


mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Elevation extremes (m)

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

Natural resources

small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Land use (%)

arable land: 22.48%
permanent crops: 2.61%
other: 74.9% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

230.4 sq km (2008)

Total renewable water resources (cu km)

26.39 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) ()

total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita: 18.74 cu m/yr (2001)

Natural hazards

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

Environment - current issues

inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

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

Geography - note

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

People and Society


noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese

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)

Languages (%)

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

Religions (%)

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.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

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.)

Age structure in Benin

Median age (years)

total: 17.7 years
male: 17.4 years
female: 18.1 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

2.81% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

36.51 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

8.39 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 44.9% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 4.12% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

COTONOU (seat of government) 924,000; PORTO-NOVO (capital) 314,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

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.)

Maternal mortality rate (deaths/100,000 live births)

350 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

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.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 61.07 years
male: 59.75 years
female: 62.47 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

5.04 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Health expenditures (% of GDP)

4.6% of GDP (2011)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

0.06 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

0.5 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 84.5% of population
rural: 69.1% of population
total: 76.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 15.5% of population
rural: 30.9% of population
total: 23.9% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 25.3% of population
rural: 5.1% of population
total: 14.3% of population
unimproved: urban: 74.7% of population
rural: 94.9% of population
total: 85.7% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)

1.1% (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

71,500 (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

3,100 (2012 est.)

Major infectious diseases

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)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate (%)

6% (2008)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight (%)

20.2% (2006)

Education expenditures (% of GDP)

5.3% of GDP (2010)

Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.4%
male: 55.2%
female: 30.3% (2010 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) (years)

total: 11 years
male: 13 years
female: 9 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 (%)

total: 0.8%
male: 1.1%
female: 0.6% (2002)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local long form: Republique du Benin
local short form: Benin
former: Dahomey

Government type



name: Porto-Novo (official capital); 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)

Administrative divisions

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


1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday

National Day, 1 August (1960)


previous 1946, 1958 (preindependence); latest adopted by referendum 2 December 1990, promulgated 11 December 1990 (2012)

Legal system

civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

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); Prime Minister Pascal KOUPAKI (since 28 May 2011)
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 March 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%

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 on 30 April 2011 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 41, UN 30, other 12

Judicial branch

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 to limited 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

Political parties and leaders

Be 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 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 [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

Political pressure groups and leaders

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

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

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

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael RAYNOR (since 24 May 2012)
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-66-82

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)


National anthem

name: "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)
lyrics/music: Gilbert Jean DAGNON
note: adopted 1960


Economy - overview

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 returned to roughly that level in 2011-12. 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. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation with Benin benefiting from a G-8 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. 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. The government agreed to a 25% increase in civil servant salaries in 2011, following a series of strikes, increasing pressure on the national budget. Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$16.65 billion (2013 est.)
$15.86 billion (2012 est.)
$15.04 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$8.359 billion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

5% (2013 est.)
5.4% (2012 est.)
3.5% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$1,600 (2013 est.)
$1,600 (2012 est.)
$1,500 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 31.6%
industry: 12.9%
services: 55.6% (2013 est.)

Labor force

3.662 million (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate (%)


Population below poverty line (%)

37.4% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

36.5 (2003)


revenues: $1.712 billion
expenditures: $1.825 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

20.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-1.3% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt (% of GDP)

29.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
31.9% of GDP (2012 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

2.4% (2013 est.)
6.8% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate (%)

4.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
4.25% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate (%)


Stock of narrow money

$1.889 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.755 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money

$3.06 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$2.943 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.511 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.529 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Agriculture - products

cotton, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock


textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement

Industrial production growth rate (%)

3.7% (2013 est.)

Current account balance

-$699.3 million (2013 est.)
-$684.9 million (2012 est.)


$1.108 billion (2013 est.)
$1.071 billion (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood

Exports - partners (%)

China 25%, India 23.5%, Lebanon 18.7%, Niger 4.3%, Nigeria 4% (2012)


$1.835 billion (2013 est.)
$1.755 billion (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products

Imports - partners (%)

China 37.2%, US 8.9%, India 6.7%, France 5.6%, Malaysia 5.3% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$720.3 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$712.8 million (31 December 2012 est.)

External debt ($)

$1.236 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.123 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
500.7 (2013 est.)
510.53 (2012 est.)
495.28 (2010 est.)
472.19 (2009)
447.81 (2008)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

142.1 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

870.1 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

935 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

61,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

98.4% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

1.6% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

8 million bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

29,170 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

34,840 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

4.655 million Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

156,700 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

8.408 million (2012)

Telephone system

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)

Broadcast media

state-run Office de Radiodiffusion et de Television du Benin (ORTB) operates a TV station with multiple channels giving it 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)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

491 (2012)

Internet users

200,100 (2009)



6 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

Railways (km)

total: 438 km
narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)

Roadways (km)

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

Waterways (km)

150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2011)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cotonou


Military branches

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)

Military service age and obligation (years of age)

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)

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 2,095,373
females age 16-49: 2,038,351 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 1,385,065
females age 16-49: 1,400,045 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 108,496
female: 104,526 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures (% of GDP)

1.03% of GDP (2012)
NA% (2011)
1.03% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River; Benin retains a border dispute with Burkina Faso around the town of Koualou; location of Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint is unresolved

Illicit drugs

transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)

Largest cities of Benin

These are the 50 largest cities of Benin ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Cotonou 690,584
2 Abomey-Calavi 385,823
3 Djougou 202,834
4 Parakou 163,759
5 Bohicon 125,116
6 Kandi 109,705
7 Lokossa 86,987
8 Ouidah 83,506
9 Abomey 82,158
10 Natitingou 80,896
11 Savé 75,973
12 Nikki 54,009
13 Dogbo 41,312
14 Cové 38,566
15 Malanville 37,117
16 Pobé 32,983
17 Savalou 30,187
18 Sakété 30,111
19 Comé 29,208
20 Bembèrèkè 24,006
21 Bassila 23,616
22 Banikoara 22,487
23 Kétou 22,341
24 Tchaourou 20,971
25 Allada 20,094
26 Aplahoué 19,862
27 Athiémé 13,585
28 Bétérou 13,108