Republic of Benin
République du Bénin



Benin is a slim, rectangular country situated in West Africa. Benin has a narrow 100-kilometer (62-mile) coastline along the Bight of Benin, in the Atlantic Ocean. The country is bordered to the west by Nigeria, to the north by Niger and Burkina Faso, and to the east by Togo. Benin has a land area of 112,622 square kilometers (42,985 square miles), making it slightly smaller than the state of Pennsylvania. Both the capital, Porto-Novo, and Cotonou, the largest city, are located on the coast in the southeast of the country.


The population was estimated at 6.4 million in mid-2000. The relatively high population growth rate of 3.3 percent from 1992 to 1996 has led to a young population age profile, with 47 percent below the age of 15, 50 percent aged between 15 and 64, and only 3 percent 65 and over. The birth rate was 45 per 1000 in the year 2000, and the death rate was 15 per 1000.

The principal ethnic groups are the Fon (42 percent), the Adja (15.6 percent), and the Yoruba (12.1 percent) in the south, and the Bariba (8.6 percent), the Otamari (6.1 percent), and the Peulh (6.1 percent), who live further north. Some 40 other groups are identifiable. Around 70 percent of the population follow traditional indigenous beliefs, 15 percent are Muslim, and 15 percent Christian.

Roughly 38 percent of the population live in towns (1995 estimates), double the 1990 census figure of 16 percent. Approximately 54 percent of urban dwellers have sanitation facilities. Infant mortality is high at 140 per 1000 births, but down from 205 per 1000 births in 1980 (by way of comparison, in the United States, infant mortality is 7 per 1,000).


Benin has no territories or colonies.


Allen, Chris, and Michael Radu. Benin, the Congo, Burkina Faso: Economics, Politics, and Society. New York and London: Printer, 1988.

"Benin Economy." . <> . Accessed October 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Benin. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Hodd, Michael. "Niger." The Economies of Africa. Dartmouth:Aldershot, 1991.

Kelly, R. C. et al., editors. Benin Country Review 1998/1999. Houston: Commercial Data International, Inc., 1999.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <> . Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Benin. < guides2001/africa/index.html> . Accessed October 2001.

—Jack Hodd




Communauté Financiére Africaine franc (CFA Fr). One franc equals 100 centimes. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 CFA Fr. There are notes of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 CFA Fr.


Cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa.


Foodstuffs, tobacco, petroleum products, capital goods.


US$6.6 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$396 million (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$566 million (c.i.f., 1999 est.).

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