Welcome Country #176 – Benin Population: 9,325,032

Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. 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 has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin’s economic growth.
Sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
Geographic coordinates: 9 30 N, 2 15 E
Area: total: 112,622 sq km land: 110,622 sq km water: 2,000 sq km

Size comparison: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land Boundaries: total: 1,989 km border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km
Coastline: 121 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m
Natural resources: small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
Land use: arable land: 23.53% permanent crops: 2.37% other: 74.1% (2005)
Irrigated land: 120 sq km (2008)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
Current Environment Issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
International Environment Agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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Population: 9,325,032 (July 2011 est.) note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.7% (male 2,126,973/female 2,042,340) 15-64 years: 52.6% (male 2,443,370/female 2,461,421) 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 101,640/female 149,288) (2011 est.)
Median age: total: 17.4 years male: 17 years female: 17.9 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.911% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 38.11 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 61.56 deaths/1,000 live births male: 64.89 deaths/1,000 live births female: 58.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59.84 years male: 58.61 years female: 61.14 years (2011 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.31 children born/woman (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 60,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 2,700 (2009 est.)
Nationality: noun: Beninese (singular and plural) adjective: Beninese
Ethnic groups: Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Peulh and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, other 1.6% (includes Europeans), unspecified 2.9% (2002 census)
Religions: Catholic 27.1%, Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, Protestant 10.4% (Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%), other Christian 5.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)
Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 34.7% male: 47.9% female: 23.3% (2002 census)
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Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Benin conventional short form: Benin local long form: Republique du Benin local short form: Benin former: Dahomey
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Porto-Novo (official capital) geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) note: Cotonou (seat of government)
Administrative divisions: 12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou
Independence: 1 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday: National Day, 1 August (1960)
Constitution: adopted by referendum 2 December 1990
Legal system: civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); Prime Minister Pascal KOUPAKI (since 28 May 2011) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 13 March 2011 (next to be held in March 2016) election results: Thomas YAYI Boni re-elected president; percent of vote – Thomas YAYI Boni 53.1%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 35.6%, Abdoulaye Bio TCHANE 6.1%, other 5.2%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held on 30 April 2011 (next to be held in 2015) election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – FCBE 41, UN 30, other 12
Judicial branch: Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle (7 members; 4 appointed by the National Assembly, 3 appointed by the President; appointed for a 5-year term for one term); Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (President of the Supreme Court appointed by the President for a 5-year term); High Court of Justice (composed of members of the Constitutional Court and 6 members appointed by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders: African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD; Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie for an Emerging Benin or FCBE; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare S�HOU�TO]; Movement for the People’s Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]; Social Democrat Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]; Union for the Relief or UPR [Issa SALIFOU] note: approximately 20 additional minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers’ unions and other educational groups
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656 FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador James A. KNIGHT embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50 FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84
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The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output had averaged about 4% before the global recession, but fell to 2.7% in 2009 and 3% in 2010. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. Specific projects to improve the business climate by reforms to the land tenure system, the commercial justice system, and the financial sector were included in Benin’s $307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. As result of these reforms, Benin has become the most competitive country in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, according to the World Economic Forum. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G-8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms. An insufficient electrical supply continues to adversely affect Benin’s economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production.
GDP (purchasing power parity): GDP (purchasing power parity): $13.99 billion (2010 est.) $13.66 billion (2009 est.) $13.3 billion (2008 est.) note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): GDP (official exchange rate): $6.649 billion (2010 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 2.5% (2010 est.) 2.7% (2009 est.) 5% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,500 (2010 est.) $1,600 (2009 est.) $1,600 (2008 est.) note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 35.8% industry: 6.1% services: 58.1% (2010 est.)
Labor force: 3.662 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation:
Unemployment rate: NA%
Population below poverty line: 37.4% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.1% highest 10%: 29% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 36.5 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (2010 est.) 2.2% (2009 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): Investment (gross fixed): 22% of GDP (2010 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.218 billion expenditures: $1.418 billion (2010 est.)
Agriculture – products: cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
Industries: textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
Industrial production growth rate: 3% (2010 est.)
Electricity – production: 128 million kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 653 million kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity – imports: 651 million kWh (2008 est.)
Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil – consumption: 25,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil – exports: 10,840 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil – imports: 33,410 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil – proved reserves: 8 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
Natural gas – production: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
Current account balance: -$485.1 million (2010 est.) -$523.4 million (2009 est.)
Exports: $1.254 billion (2010 est.) $1.13 billion (2009 est.)
Exports – commodities: cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
Exports – partners: India 26.4%, China 21.4%, Niger 6.5%, Nigeria 5.6%, Indonesia 4.4% (2010)
Imports: $1.781 billion (2010 est.) $1.646 billion (2009 est.)
Imports – commodities: foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
Imports – partners: China 35.2%, France 8%, US 7.2%, Malaysia 5.9%, UK 4.8%, Netherlands 4.3%, India 4.1%, Thailand 4% (2010)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $953 million (31 December 2010 est.) $1.23 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Debt – external: $2.894 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $1.073 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar – 495.28 (2010) 472.19 (2009) 447.81 (2008) 493.51 (2007) 522.59 (2006)
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Telephones in use: 127,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 142
Cellular Phones in use: 5.033 million (2009)
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment domestic: fixed-line teledensity only about 2 per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular providers, cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly international: country code – 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; long distance fiber-optic links with Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria; satellite earth stations – 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
Television broadcast stations:
Internet country code: .bj
Internet hosts: 1,286 (2010)
Internet users: 200,100 (2009)
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Airports: 5 (2010) country comparison to the world: 179
Airports (paved runways): total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)
Airports (unpaved runways): total: 4 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)
Railways: total: 438 km narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2010)
Roadways: total: 16,000 km paved: 1,400 km unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)
Waterways: 150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2010)
Ports and terminals: Cotonou
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Military branches: Benin Armed Forces (Forces Armees Beninoises, FAB): Army (l’Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin Air Force (Force Aerienne du Benin, FAB) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18-35 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; a higher education diploma is required; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty – 18 months (2011)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 2,095,373 females age 16-49: 2,038,351 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 1,385,065 females age 16-49: 1,400,045 (2010 est.)

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