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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 112,620 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania) with 8,294,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Benin

The landscape offers mostly flat to undulating plain with 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 and 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

Benin Flag Icon

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

SummaryContinent: Africa
Neighbours: Niger, Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria
Capital: Porto-Novo
Size112,620 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 43,482 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
CurrencyName Franc, Currency Code:XOF
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD).bj
Telephone Country Prefix+229
Mobile Phone Connections5,033,000
Landline Phone Connections127,100

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 nameValueWorld Rank
Area112,622 (sq km)102

People and Society

Value nameValueWorld Rank
Population9,877,292 89
Population growth rate2.84 (%)16
Birth rate37.02 (births/1,000 population)18
Death rate8.59 (deaths/1,000 population)77
Maternal mortality rate350.00 (deaths/100,000 live births)30
Infant mortality rate58.54 (deaths/1,000 live births)27
Life expectancy at birth60.67 (years)191
Total fertility rate5.13 (children born/woman)17
Health expenditures4.10 (% of GDP)166
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate1.20 (%)40
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS60,000 55
HIV/AIDS - deaths2,700 48
Obesity - adult prevalence rate6.00 (%)151
Children under the age of 5 years underweight20.20 (%)34
Education expenditures5.40 (% of GDP)58
Unemployment, youth ages 15-240.80 (%)143


Value nameValueWorld Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity)15,840,000,000 139
GDP - real growth rate3.80 (%)90
GDP - per capita (PPP)1,700 199
Labor force3,662,000 96
Distribution of family income - Gini index36.50 83
Investment (gross fixed)22.60 (% of GDP)67
Taxes and other revenues18.90 (% of GDP)172
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3.80 (% of GDP)132
Public debt30.20 (% of GDP)113
Inflation rate (consumer prices)6.50 (%)172
Central bank discount rate4.25 (%)82
Stock of narrow money1,836,000,000 129
Stock of broad money2,950,000,000 145
Stock of domestic credit1,602,000,000 142
Industrial production growth rate3.00 (%)93
Current account balance-625,300,000 101
Exports1,578,000,000 148
Imports2,136,000,000 162
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold977,000,000 139
Debt - external953,500,000 159


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Electricity - production120,000,000 (kWh)193
Electricity - consumption778,000,000 (kWh)156
Electricity - imports866,000,000 (kWh)68
Electricity - installed generating capacity60,000 (kW)177
Electricity - from fossil fuels98.30 (% of total installed capacity)60
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants1.70 (% of total installed capacity)139
Crude oil - proved reserves8,000,000 (bbl)95
Refined petroleum products - consumption29,170 (bbl/day)118
Refined petroleum products - exports11,410 (bbl/day)85
Refined petroleum products - imports35,140 (bbl/day)80
Natural gas - proved reserves1,133,000,000 (cu m)99
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy3,650,000 (Mt)133


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Telephones - main lines in use152,700 133
Telephones - mobile cellular7,765,000 91
Internet hosts491 183
Internet users200,100 139


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Airports5 179
Railways438 (km)113
Roadways16,000 (km)119
Waterways150 (km)102


Value nameValueWorld Rank
Military expenditures1.50 (% 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

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 ...