Overview of Benin
Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel–Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.
Benin had been among the most stable democracies in sub-Saharan Africa, but President Patrice Talon began using the justice system to attack his political opponents after taking office in 2016, and new electoral rules effectively excluded all opposition parties from the 2019 parliamentary elections.
Benin covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres (44,310 sq mi) and its population in 2018 was estimated to be approximately 11.49 million. Benin is a tropical nation, highly dependent on agriculture, and is a large exporter of cotton and palm oil.
Benin exercised considerable influence on the western Igbo, who adopted many of the political structures familiar to the Yoruba-Benin region, but Asaba and its immediate neighbours, which include Ibusa, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Okpanam, Issele-Azagba and Issele-Ukwu, were much closer to the Kingdom of Nri.
Benin was ranked 18th out of 52 African countries and scored best in the categories of Safety & Rule of Law and Participation & Human Rights. In its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Benin 53rd out of 169 countries.
Benin under the rule of the Dahomey kings was a major center of the slave trade, and the Route des Esclaves in Ouidah, terminating at the beachside Point of No Return monument is a memorial to those who were kidnapped, sold, and sent off to the other side of the world.
Benin does not, at this time, share railway links with adjacent countries, but construction work has commenced on international lines connecting Benin with Niger and Nigeria, with outline plans announced for further connections to Togo and Burkina Faso.
Benin shows little variation in elevation and can be divided into four areas from the south to the north, starting with the low-lying, sandy, coastal plain (highest elevation 10 m (32.8 ft)) which is, at most, 10 km (6.2 mi) wide.
Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Mauritius, Philippines, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Singapore citizens can also enter visa-free for 90 days.
Beninese literature had a strong oral tradition long before French became the dominant language. Félix Couchoro wrote the first Beninese novel, L’Esclave (The Slave), in 1929.
Benin scored highly in the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which comprehensively measures the state of governance across the continent.That place had fallen to 78th by 2016, when Mr Talon took office, and has fallen further to 113th since then. Benin has been rated equal-88th out of 159 countries in a 2005 analysis of police, business, and political corruption.
Recent migrations have brought other African nationals to Benin that include Nigerians, Togolese, and Malians. The foreign community also includes many Lebanese and Indians involved in trade and commerce. The personnel of the many European embassies and foreign aid missions and of nongovernmental organisations and various missionary groups account for a large part of the 5,500 European population. A small part of the European population consists of Beninese citizens of French ancestry.
Benin, compared to its neighbours, is geographically smaller, being 112,620km² or a similar size to Honduras or the US state of Ohio.The country is basically divided into five geographic zones, from south to north: the Coastal plain, the plateau, the elevated plateau and savannah, hills in the northwest, and fertile plains in the north.
What can I do to avoid bed bugs?
Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance.See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them.For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs.
What are the toilets like in Benin?
Benin’s toilets may be basic.Be prepared for squat toilets, even in major centres.
Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.
Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Benin?
Mobile phone coverage is limited outside of major centres.Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone.
What is ATM access like in Benin?
ATMs are very uncommon and cannot be relied upon to work.Payment in cash is always preferred.
Did anyone say urban planning?
Despite these measures, Senan Abraham Avakoudjo, secretary general of the National Association of Architects and Urban Planners in Benin, says there’s a lack of sustainable planning.”If you want to preserve the social mix, you have to take a more global approach.” It is not enough to upgrade individual neighborhoods, he said.Above all, poorer people shouldn’t be pushed out of the city.
Are credit cards accepted widely in Benin?
Credit cards aren’t commonly accepted outside major tourist areas.
Go to: http://travel.state.
Go to: https://travel.gc.
New African currency: Will the ‘ECO’ replace the CFA franc?
The CFA franc’s days could be numbered in West Africa.
Is tipping customary in Benin?
Tipping 10% is customary in most touristy places.
Uganda: Will Museveni’s new cabinet disappoint his old comrades?
Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will, in the next two months, appoint a new cabinet to steer his vision as he serves a sixth term …in office.As his old comrades hope to keep grasp of their positions, youths are also optimistic for ministerial appointments.
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.
Hans-Joachim Preuss, a representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, described Benin’s government as an “elected autocracy.” Certain democratic institutions have been eroded in recent years.
What about traffic?
Despite the poor housing situation, it is out of the question for many people to move away from the center.There is no regulated local transportation in Cotonou.So far, there are only “Benin Taxis.” The yellow cabs can be hailed by phone and are available at several locations in the city.However, a ride costs upward of €1.50 ($1.76).
What public holidays are celebrated in Benin?
Please note these dates are for 2017.For a current list of public holidays in Benin go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.
It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries.Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.
Do I need to purchase travel insurance before travelling in Benin?
Absolutely.All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip.Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip.Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.
What is the internet access like in Benin?
Internet access is fairly sparse outside of the largest city, Cotonou.
What are the Benin bronzes, and why are they so controversial?
In 1897, British soldiers looted sculptures which now remain in Western museums and collections.But there are growing calls for restitution.
History of Benin
In 1750 the Oyo Empire invaded Dahomey and took its people as slaves.
In 1861 Lagos was colonized by the British and 1914, the entire country became The Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.
In 1885, the last Portuguese slave ship left from the coast of modern Benin.
In 1892, France took over the area after the slave trade was banned and named it French Dahomey.
In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France, and had a tumultuous period with many different democratic governments, many military coups and military governments.
In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France.
In 1967 Niger province became the southern part of North-Western state, and in 1976 it became Niger state (excluding the newly created Abuja Federal Capital Territory).
In 1972, a coup led by Colonel Mathieu Kérékou overthrew the government and embraced Marxism-Leninism.
In 1972, Major Mathieu Kérékou, a staunch Marxist, organized the fourth of the military coups, and renamed the country the People’s Republic of Benin.
In 1989, the French government, in exchange for financial support of Benin’s flailing economy, persuaded the Benin government to abandon its one-party Socialist rule, and to move to a multiparty republic.
In 1990, Benin abandoned Marxist ideology, began moving toward multiparty democracy, and changed its name again, to the Republic of Benin.
In 1990, the country was renamed the Republic of Benin, and in 1991, Benin held its first free elections with significant success, and Kereku lost to Nicephore Soglo—Benin was thus the first African nation to successfully coordinate a peaceful transfer of power from a dictatorship to a functioning democracy.
In 1991 part of northwestern Kwara state, lying between the Niger River and the Republic of Benin, was added to Niger state.
In 1991, it was replaced by the current multi-party Republic of Benin.
In 1991, it was replaced by the current multi-party Republic of Benin.5
In 1991, Nicphore Soglo, an economist and former director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was elected president.
In 1993, Benin reported approximately 14,000 cases of Guinea worm, and The Carter Center assisted the Ministry of Health in establishing a national program to eradicate the disease.
In 1993, ECOWAS brokered a peace agreement in Cotonou, Benin.
In 1996, Kérékou returned to power after winning the elections.
In 1999, President Kérékou convened a conference in Cotonou to apologize for his country's complicated history of involvement with the slave trade of centuries past.
In 1999, the previous six departments were each split into two halves, forming the current 12. The six new departments were assigned official capitals in 2008.
In 2001, Kérékou won another term in a close election with claimed irregularities.
In 2005 the estimated net migration rate was zero.
In 2006, an Indian proposal surfaced to link the railways in Benin and Togo with landlocked Niger and Burkina Faso.
In 2007, Benin counted 1,000 researchers (in headcounts).
In 2010, it helped create the Benin Dialogue Group: a team of African and Western stakeholders tasked with the artefacts’ return.
In 2012, Robert Owen Lehman gave his collection of art from the Benin kingdom to the MFA.
In 2012, the project became a Biennial coordinated by the Consortium, a federation of local associations.
In 2013, the government devoted 2.5% of GDP to public health.
In 2015, Benin’s priority areas for scientific research were: health, education, construction and building materials, transportation and trade, culture, tourism and handicrafts, cotton/textiles, food, energy and climate change.
In 2015, public expenditure on education (all levels) amounted to 4.4% of GDP, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
In 2016, Benin had 0.9 global hectares  of biocapacity per person within its territory, much less than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. In 2016 Benin used 1.4 global hectares of biocapacity per person – their ecological footprint of consumption.
In 2017, Benin imported about $2.8 billion in goods such as rice, meat and poultry, alcoholic beverages, fuel plastic materials, specialized mining and excavating machinery, telecommunications equipment, passenger vehicles, and toiletries and cosmetics.
In 2018 our work reached 3,740,839 people among a population of 12 million, without regard to ethnicity or creed.
In 2019, 746 labor inspections were conducted in Benin, a dramatic increase over the previous year, with the majority of them occurring in big city open air markets.
In 2019, Benin GDP was an estimated $14.4 billion (current market exchange rates); real GDP was up by an estimated 6.4%; and the population was 12 million.
In 2019, Benin made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.
In 2019, criminal law enforcement agencies in Benin took actions to combat child labor (Table 7).
In 2019, labor law enforcement agencies in Benin took actions to combat child labor (Table 6).
In 2019, RAVIP retroactively registered the births of more than 1 million children over the age of 1 and aided in registering the births of 3,543 children who were younger than age 1.
In 2019, Togo made a minimal advancement in its efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.
In the 1980s, few, less than one third, had access to primary health care.
On 5 March 2006, an election was held that was considered free and fair.
On 7 May 1972, Maga ceded power to Ahomadégbé.