Republic of Benin République du Bénin
CAPITAL : Porto-Novo
FLAG: Two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red with a vertical green band on the hoist side.
ANTHEM: L'Aube Nouvelle (The New Dawn).
MONETARY UNIT: The Communauté Financière Africaine franc (CFA Fr), which was originally pegged to the French franc, has been pegged to the euro since January 1999 with a rate of 655.957 CFA francs to 1 euro. The CFA franc has coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 CFA francs, and notes of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 CFA francs. CFA Fr1 = $0.00167 (or $1 = CFA Fr597.577) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Anniversary of Mercenary Attack on Cotonou, 16 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 1 August; Armed Forces Day, 26 October; National Day, 30 November; Harvest Day, 31 December. Most religious holidays have been abolished, but Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas, 'Id al-Fitr, and Id al-'Adha' remain public holidays.
TIME: 1 PM = noon GMT.
The official language is French. However, many African languages are spoken. Fon and Yoruba are the most important in southern Benin. In the north there are at least six major tribal languages, including Bariba (a subgroup of the Voltaic group in which the Mossi language is most important) and Fulani.
In 2002, the armed forces had some 4,550 personnel. The army of 4,300 included 3 infantry battalions. There were 150 personnel in the air force, which had no combat aircraft. The navy numbered an estimated 100 personnel with one patrol boat. A paramilitary gendarmerie totaled 2,500. Military expenditures in 1996 were $27 million, or 1.2% of GDP.
Insurance companies were nationalized in 1974, and the National Society of Insurance and Reinsurance (SONAR) is the state agency.
Benin has no territories or colonies.
Africa on File. New York: Facts on File, 1995.
Alpern, Stanley B. Amazons of Black Sparta: the Women's Warriors of Dahomey. New York: New York University Press, 1998.
Ben-Amos, Paula. Art, Innovation, and Politics in Eighteenth-century Benin. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.
Caulfield, Annie. Show Me the Magic: Travels Round Benin by Taxi. London: Penguin, 2003.
Chatwin, Bruce. The Viceroy of Ouidah. New York: Summit Books, 1980.
Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Benin. 3rd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995.
Duchateau, Armand. Benin: Royal Art of Africa. Houston: Houston Museum of Fine Arts, 1994.
Edgerton, Robert B. Women Warriors: The Amazons of Dahomey and the Nature of War. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000.
Houngnikpo, Mathurin C. Determinants of Democratization in Africa: A Comparative Study of Benin and Togo. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2001.
Law, Robin. The Slave Coast of West Africa, 1550–1750: the Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on an African Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Malaquais, Dominique. The Kingdom of Benin. New York: F. Watts, 1998.