Now some interesting facts about the Republic of Benin! |
Motto: Fraternity, Justice, Labor
Benin is located in West Africa and
covers a land area Of 112,622 Sq. km. and constitutes a long stretch
of hand perpendicular to the Coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It is
bordered on the North by Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger, on
the East by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and on the West by the
Republic of Togo. With a 124 kilometers long coastline, it stretches
North to South some 672 kilometers while its breath extends 324
kilometers at the evident point. It is above two third the Size of
Portugal or slightly smaller than Pennsylvania.
Benin can be divided into 5 natural
A coastal area, low, sandy and about 2 to 5 kilometers wide,
bounded by lagoons;
A plateau zone called "La terre de barre" made of iron clay
cut with marshy dips;
A silica clayey plateau with wooded savannah extending North of Abomey to the
foothills of the Atakora hills;
A hilly region in the Northwest, the Atakora, with elevation ranging
from 500 to 800 meters and constituting the water reservoir for Benin
and Niger Republics.
The forest thins out considerably in the center and gives way to grassland.
Elsewhere, cultivated crops predominate, including the immense
palmgroves of lower Benin and the coconut plantations on the 124
kilometers long coastline and along the lagoons.
Benin is characterized by unusually dry
conditions. This is due primarily to two very important factors. First, the
situation of the coast which is rather well protected from the western winds;
second, the Atakora Barrier in the West and North West which decreases the
amount of rainfall. The great part of the country is under the influence of
transitional tropical conditions. Rainfall is not as abundant as found in areas
with the same latitude thereby giving rise to tropical conditions known as the
BENIN variant. These conditions are marked by a dry season from November to the
beginning of April and a rainy season from the latter part of April to October. The
Southern portion of the Republic of Benin, i.e. the Coastal zone, is under the
influence of a Northern transitional equatorial climate characterized by a long
dry season from November to the end of March, a first rainy season from April to
July, a small dry period in August and a second rainy season in September and October. The
Northern portion of the country is subject to a true tropical climate. A long
dry season in winter can be observed with a long rainy season in the summer. The
mean temperature is between 77oF and 82oF (25o to 28oC).The best time to visit
the Southern area is from December to March and July/August while visiting
period for the Northern part of the Country is between December and April.
People and Languages
|Benin is a Multi-Party
democratic country with a legislative(one body parliament), an executive
(Goverment lead by the President/head of State) and the Judiciary (Supreme
A one-man-one-vote suffrage to elect the
President/Head of Government who may be a member to a Party. His tenure of
office is five (5) years and is renewed only once. He should be of
Beninese nationality for at least ten (10) years. The vacancy
(resignation, death...) of the presidency is filled by the Speaker of the
National Assembly. The new Head of State is elected within forty (40)
days. The President/ Head of State/ Head of Government addresses the
Nation on the state of the Nation in the National Assembly Hall once in a
A one-man-one-vote suffrage to elect the
Members of Parliament (MP). His 4-year mandate is renewable. There is one
MP for 70,000 inhabitants. The vacancy (resignation, death...) at the
speakership is filled by his successor elected within fifteen (15) days
when the House is in session or at an immediate meeting held in compliance
with its rules of procedure. The vacancy of an MP is filled by his
substitute also elected in the same manner. There are two ordinary
sessions starting within the first fortnight of April and the second
fortnight of October respectively. Each session cannot exceed three (3)
months. The decision is taken by a simple majority.
The National Flag whose colors are
green, red and yellow, was formally hoisted on August 1, 1960 to replace
the French Flag. As explained in the second verse of the National
Anthem, the green denotes hope for renewal, the red evokes the ancestors'
courage while the yellow calls to mind the country's richest treasures. But
when the country went red in 1975 after a military coup on October 26,1972
the then one-party regime, with its Marxist-Leninist ideology, decided to
change the National Flag. It became a plain green flag with a red star on
its upper left part. Fed up with a centrally governed State whose ideology
had but retarded the country's development in all fields, a National
Conference in which all walks of life participated from February 19 to 28,
1990 decided among other things to re-establish the above-mentioned flag
of August 1,1960.
|The population of BENIN is estimated at
inhabitants largely concentrated in Southern coastal region near the major
port city of Cotonou (800,000 inhabitants) the chief town of the Atlantic
Department, the capital city of Porto Novo (400,000 inhabitants) in the
OUEME Department as well as the "Royal City" of Abomey (130,000
inhabitants) in the Central Department of ZOU. The annual growth rate is
3.1%. Other important towns are Ouidah, Allada, Abomey, Grand Popo,
Lokossa, Save, Savalou, Parakou(200,000), Djougou, Natitingou, Malanville,
It is a vibrant, young population with
48% below 14 years of age, about 49% between 15 and 65 with a population
growth of 3.33%, made up of African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important
being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500.
Over half the people speak Fon. Yoruba,
Mina, Bariba and Dendi are the other important languages. French is the
official language. Beside the French language, English is necessarily one
of the two foreign languages taught in secondary school..
The population of Benin is made up of
about 20-25% Christians, 20% Muslims and 55-60% atheist and traditional
belief systems. There are a number of people who hold a mixture of belief
systems( example Chistians who still hold some traditional beliefs).
Beninese are very hospitable people. the
crime rate is quite low compare to most of the neighboring countries
although some criminal activities such as mugging and thievery happen in
the urban centers and the proximity of Nigeria which has a big criminal
problem is a concern.
The unemployment rate is still high in
Benin but the economy has being steadily growing with new constructions
and bustling activities evident all over the country. The informal sector
is a determinant aspect of the economy. This makes it harder to accurately
evaluate the state of the economy
Greetings in Fon:
How are you: AH-FON Ghan-Jee-Ah
Good Bye :OH-Dah-Boh
Places of Interest
Benin has a lot to offer tourists:
Spelt "WHYDAH" in history books written in English, it is the
"Museum City". It is evocative of European penetration with its
ancient Portuguese, English, Danish and French trading posts or
strongholds. There can be seen the remains of the ancient port from which
slaves were boarded and shipped to the
Referred to as the "Royal City", it is the capital of Dan-Home,
the ancient Kingdom. It has one of the most impressive museums of Africa.
Its artists and craftsmen, be they weavers, jewelers, woodcarvers, iron
and brass workers are famous far beyond the boundaries of the Republic of
It is the city, the cradle of "voodoos" in vogue in the
Americas, namely in Brazil, West Indies, the Caribbean countries, with
The "City with three Names" (Porto Novo,Hogbonou,Adjatche) . It
is Benin's administrative capital, right in the middle of the Yoruba land.
The historic capital of the Baatonu people, also known as Bariba. The baatonu
are great horsemen, traders and farmers. The "Gani" celebration is a wonderful event
to see and involves groups from Benin, Niger and Nigeria in Nikki
It may be recalled that Benin, former
Dahomey, is perhaps the "most beaten track by Europeans of any
Africa". The history of Benin is a succession of kingdoms.The most
famous one is the Kingdom of Danhome whose capital is
It is the Kingdom of the Fon(Danmenou),with powerful kings such as Ghezo
"le Grand", meaning Ghezo the Mighty who expanded his territory
all the way to the coastal area of Cotonou-Ouidah and up to the outskirts
of the Mahis kingdom in Central Benin and had a standing army of
fierce female warriors known as the Amazones of Danhomey, Glele a
remarkable leader, Behanzin(better known as Kondo "le Requin",
meaning Kondo the Shark) who fought a bitter battle against the French colonization
and finally surrendered only when betrayed by his half-brother
and on promises that the exactions being committed against his people by
French conquering troops and the sackings of cities will stop with his
surrender. He was exiled and died in captivity in Algeria.
The kingdom of Danhomey, which use to trade cotton, palm oil, etc.. under
King Guezo resorted more and more to the slave trade with Europeans .
Ouidah was one of the busiest Slave trading ports off the coast of West
Africa. The vestiges are still there to be
found today and an annual event called "La route de L'esclave" commemorate
the memories of the millions sold and shipped off to a cruel life in
There were occasional wars between the Kingdom of Abomey and the kingdom
of Oyo in today's Nigeria with victories and defeat on both
sides. The kingdom of Porto-Novo, an arch-rival of the kingdom
of Danhomey, prospered under remarkable kings such as Toffa 1er. However,
these conflicts and the subsequent protectorate status given to Porto-Novo
by France will be one of the excuses the latter will use to conquer the
kingdom of Danhomey.
The Northern part of Benin was ruled by the Bariba( Baatonu) with the
Kingdoms of Nikki and Kouande. They are closely linked to kin in Northern
Nigeria. FThe Baatonu society was mainly made of commoners-farmers and the
upper class fierce Horsemen-warriors. Some of them fought bitterly against
the French colonization: Bio Guerra who fought a guerilla warfare against
the french troops till he was captured and decapitated as a warning to
In 1704, France received permission to erect a port at Ouidah, and in 1752
the Portuguese founded Porto Novo. On June 22, 1894, the territory was
named by decree the "Colony of Dahomey and its dependences" and
was granted autonomy which it retained until October 18, 1904 when it
became part of French West Africa. On December 4, 1958 the Republic was
proclaimed. Dahomey became independent on August 1, 1960 and is a UN
When visiting Benin....
Industry and Trading
|Visa Requirements from non ECOWAS
(Economic Community of West African States) Nationals
1/ Two (2) application forms in legible writing.
2/ Two (2) passport size photos.
3/ International certificate of vaccination
(yellow fever and cholera).
4/ Visa is issued for fifteen (15) days or longer: Entry and transit within 3 months. Extensions may be obtained at
the Immigration Office.
5/ A $ 20.00 (twenty dollars) fee for each
applicant (cash, money order of certified cheque only. No personal cheque please.)
6/ A letter of guarantee from employer of
travel agency or Xerox of round trip ticket or a Bank letter of guarantee.
- Join your passport to the forms.
- Please allow 48 hours for issuance of visa.
- Passport must be valid for at least six (6) months and if it is to be
sent back by mail, please enclose self addressed certified envelope or an
express mail envelope.
You can use traveler cheques or even have
money sent by Western Union. Some of the Banks will take Visa and
Mastercard and provide you with Cash and most Banks Have Partners in
Europe and the US. The following banks are
Central Bank of West Africa(BCEAO),Bank of Africa, Financial Bank,
International Bank of Benin (B.I.B.),ECO-BANK,etc.
The Currency is the CFA which is in a fix
parity with the French Francs 1FF=100FCFA. Depending on how Strong the
Dollar is, the parity can be as much as $1=730FCFA
|Industry accounts for only a
small percentage of the gross domestic product. Fishing industry meets
only local consumption, so does textile industry although Benin does
import a significant amount of Cotton. Palm processing facility needs
improving; a sugar complex and a cement factory are jointly owned with Nigeria.
Breweries, soap unit... meet only local demand. Possotome village is,
however, known for its internationally recognized mineral water.
Apart from limestone found in open quarry
at ONIGBOLO, deposits of gold, phosphates, iron ore, marble, clay... are
yet to be explored. The development of off- shore fields at SEME and
elsewhere are underway. A Benin/Togo hydroelectric power has just been
completed on the Mono river (the NANGBETO dam). There are attractive
industrial projects and feasibility studies are available for some of
them. The Beninese code of investment has been reviewed to insert, among
other things, more incentives for investors. Benin is the natural gateway
to Togo and Nigeria and to such landlocked countries as Burkina Faso,
Niger and Mali.
Direct investments by American companies
are promoted and strongly encouraged by the Benin Government. There can be
joint ventures between Benin private sector and American companies to
carry out such industrial undertakings as canning, paper processing units,
glass manufacturing, salt processing units, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals,
clothing, palm oil, building materials, chemicals and any other items
reflective of an industrial developing nation.
Monday - Friday:8a.m.-12:30am
3:30 p.m. to 7pm
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 pm
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. to 12:30 pm
3 p.m. to 6:30 pm
TIME: GMT + 1
ELECTRICITY: 220 volts AC,50Hz.
Phone: Country code: 229. International code: 00
Mobile phones are in use. They can be hired locally
Voice of America, BBC, Africa N1 and RFI can be received there. As
well as many international channels if you have a satellite receiver.
There are two TV Stations and a large number of Radio stations and
Internet Access: available through ISP or Cybercafe
|Official Holidays (Notice the numerous religious holidays)
January 1: New Year's Day
May 1: May Day
August 1: National Day
August 15: Assumption Day
November 1: All Saints' Day&
December 25: Christmas Day
Ramadan :Moslem Celebration
Tabaski: Moslem Celebration
Most Popular Sport: Soccer
Night-Clubs: Crystal Palace, VIP, New York-NY...
Restaurants:Le Berlin, etc.......
Movies: le Benin, Concorde, Okpe-Oluwa