Benin Flag Icon

Benin Country Guide

Explore Benin in Africa

Benin with the capital city Porto-Novo is located in Africa (Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin). It covers some 112,621 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania) with 8,294,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Benin

The landscape offers mostly flat to undulating plain and some hills and low mountains. The average density of population is approximately 74 per km². The notable climate conditions in Benin can be described as tropical with hot, humid in south, semiarid in north. Potential threats by nature are hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March.

To reach someone in Benin dial +229 prior to a number. There are 127,100 installed telephones. And there are 5,033,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".bj". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Benin

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.

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.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Africa
Neighbours: Niger, Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria
Capital: Porto-Novo
Size 112,620 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 43,483 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Population 8,294,000
Currency Name: Franc, Currency Code: XOF
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .bj
Telephone Country Prefix +229
Mobile Phone Connections 5,033,000
Landline Phone Connections 127,100

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 112,622 (sq km) 102

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 9,877,292 89
Population growth rate 2.84 (%) 16
Birth rate 37.02 (births/1,000 population) 18
Death rate 8.59 (deaths/1,000 population) 77
Maternal mortality rate 350.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 30
Infant mortality rate 58.54 (deaths/1,000 live births) 27
Life expectancy at birth 60.67 (years) 191
Total fertility rate 5.13 (children born/woman) 17
Health expenditures 4.10 (% of GDP) 166
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 1.20 (%) 40
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 60,000 55
HIV/AIDS - deaths 2,700 48
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 6.00 (%) 151
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 20.20 (%) 34
Education expenditures 5.40 (% of GDP) 58
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 0.8 (%) 143


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 15,840,000,000 139
GDP - real growth rate 3.80 (%) 90
GDP - per capita (PPP) 1,700 199
Labor force 3,662,000 96
Distribution of family income - Gini index 37 83
Investment (gross fixed) 22.60 (% of GDP) 67
Taxes and other revenues 18.9 (% of GDP) 172
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -3.80 (% of GDP) 132
Public debt 30.20 (% of GDP) 113
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 6.50 (%) 172
Central bank discount rate 4.25 (%) 82
Stock of narrow money 1,836,000,000 129
Stock of broad money 2,950,000,000 145
Stock of domestic credit 1,602,000,000 142
Industrial production growth rate 3.00 (%) 93
Current account balance -625,300,000 101
Exports 1,578,000,000 148
Imports 2,136,000,000 162
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 977,000,000 139
Debt - external 953,500,000 159


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 120,000,000 (kWh) 193
Electricity - consumption 778,000,000 (kWh) 156
Electricity - imports 866,000,000 (kWh) 68
Electricity - installed generating capacity 60000 (kW) 177
Electricity - from fossil fuels 98.3 (% of total installed capacity) 60
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 1.7 (% of total installed capacity) 139
Crude oil - proved reserves 8000000 (bbl) 95
Refined petroleum products - consumption 29,170 (bbl/day) 118
Refined petroleum products - exports 11,410 (bbl/day) 85
Refined petroleum products - imports 35,140 (bbl/day) 80
Natural gas - proved reserves 1,133,000,000 (cu m) 99
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 3,650,000 (Mt) 133


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 152,700 133
Telephones - mobile cellular 7,765,000 91
Internet hosts 491 183
Internet users 200,100 139


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 5 179
Railways 438 (km) 113
Roadways 16,000 (km) 119
Waterways 150 (km) 102


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 1.50 (% of GDP) 97

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Royal Palaces of Abomey
From 1625 to 1900, 12 kings succeeded one another at the head of the powerful Kingdom of Abomey. With the exception of King Akaba, who had his own separate enclosure, they all had their palaces built within the same cob-wall area, in keeping with pre ...