(pronounced "mah-tee-OO kay-ray-KOO")
"I formulate the wish that the entire country will live in peace, concord, and tolerance, and the democratic gains will be consolidated in order to create the proper conditions for a stable, durable, peaceful and harmonious development."
Known as the Republic of Dahomey before December 1975, Benin was a former French colony until independence was granted on 1 August 1960. This West African nation borders on Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, and Togo to the west. With a July 2002 estimated population of 6,787,625 inhabitants and a land mass of 112,620 sq km (43,483 sq mi), Benin is a small country compared with its neighbors.
Despite its size, Benin is composed of more than 40 ethnic groups. The largest indigenous groups are the Fon, Adja, Yoruba, and Bariba. While the official language is French, the principal spoken languages are Fon and Yoruba in the south, and several languages, including Bariba and Fulani, in the north. The dominant group is the Fon-Adja, accounting for approximately 60% of the population, while the Bariba and Yoruba account for 10% and 9% respectively. The Beninese are primarily animist (50%), with the remainder being divided into Christians (approximately 30% of the total population, mostly in the south) and Muslims (20%, mostly in the north). The life expectancy at birth is 51 years for males and 56 years for females. The literacy rate is 37%.
The economy of Benin is mostly based on agriculture, which employs more than 50% of the population. The main agricultural products are cassava, yams, cotton, and maize. Benin has traditionally run massive trade deficits, but principal exports are cotton and energy products. The leading trading partners are France, the United States, Côte d'Ivoire, and People's Republic of China. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $1,040 in 2001. Cotonou, the economic capital, and Porto Novo, the political capital, are its largest cities. The national currency is the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) franc .
Office of the President
Cotonou, Republic of Benin
Web site: http://www.gouv.bj