We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!


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... See More



 Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo

Geographic Coordinates:

 9 30 N, 2 15 E


 Total: 112,622 sq km
Land: 110,622 sq km
Water: 2,000 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 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


 121 km (Rank: 159)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 200 nm


 Tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north


 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)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 25.8 cu km (2001)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
Per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)

Natural Hazards:

 Hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March

Environment - Current Issues:

 Inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Environment - International 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

Geography - Note:

 Sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands

Back to the Top



 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)


 French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)


 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)


 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.)


 Urban population: 42% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 COTONOU (seat of government) 815,000; PORTO-NOVO (capital) 276,000 (2009)

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.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 410 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

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.)

Health Expenditures:

 4.2% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.059 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 0.5 beds/1,000 population (2005)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 84% of population
Rural: 69% of population
Total: 75% of population
Urban: 16% of population
Rural: 31% of population
Total: 25% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 24% of population
Rural: 4% of population
Total: 12% of population
Urban: 76% of population
Rural: 96% of population
Total: 88% of population (2008)

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.)

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: very high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
Respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
Animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 20.2% (2006)

Education Expenditures:

 3.5% of GDP (2007)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 34.7%
Male: 47.9%
Female: 23.3% (2002 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 9 years
Male: 11 years
Female: 8 years (2005)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 0.8%
Male: 1.1%
Female: 0.6% (2002)

Back to the Top


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:



 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


 1 August 1960 (from France)

National Holiday:

 National Day, 1 August (1960)


 Adopted by referendum 2 December 1990

Legal System:

 Civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 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

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

International Organization Participation:


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

Flag Description:

 Two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side; green symbolizes hope and revival, yellow wealth, and red courage

Note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia

National Symbols:


National Anthem:

 Name: "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)
Lyrics/music: Gilbert Jean DAGNON

Note: adopted 1960

Back to the Top


Economy - Overview:

 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):

 $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):

 $6.649 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 2.5% (2010 est.)
2.7% (2009 est.)
5% (2008 est.)

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.)

Unemployment Rate:


Population Below Poverty Line:

 37.4% (2007 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 3.1%
Highest 10%: 29% (2003)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 36.5 (2003)

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons:

 Refugees (country of origin): 9,444 (Togo) (2007)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 22% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $1.218 billion
Expenditures: $1.418 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 18.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 2.3% (2010 est.)
2.2% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 4.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
4.25% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:


Stock of Money:

 $1.592 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.324 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $742.8 million (31 December 2008)
$627.2 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $1.619 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.679 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $2.389 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$2.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $1.204 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.316 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

 Cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock


 Textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 3% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 128 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 14.2%
Hydro: 85.8%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

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 - Proven 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 - Proven Reserves:

 1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$485.1 million (2010 est.)
-$523.4 million (2009 est.)


 $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)


 $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.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert CFA Franc (BCEAO) to Any Currency

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
495.28 (2010)
472.19 (2009)
447.81 (2008)
493.51 (2007)
522.59 (2006)

Back to the Top


Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 133,400 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 7.075 million (2010)

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)

Broadcast Media:

 State-run Office de Radiodiffusion et de Television du Benin (ORTB) operates a TV station with multiple channels giving it a wide broadcast reach; several privately-owned TV stations broadcast from Cotonou; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio, under ORTB control, includes a national station supplemented by a number of regional stations; substantial number of privately-owned radio broadcast stations; transmissions of a few international broadcasters are available on FM in Cotonou (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 1, FM 34, shortwave 1 (2007)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 6 (2007)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 1,286 (2010)

Internet Users:

 200,100 (2009)

Back to the Top



 5 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - With 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)


 Total: 438 km
Narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2010)


 Total: 16,000 km
Paved: 1,400 km
Unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)


 150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:


Back to the Top


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.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 108,496
Female: 104,526 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1% of GDP (2009)

Back to the Top


Disputes - International:

 Talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River; Benin retains a border dispute with Burkina Faso around the town of Koualou; location of Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint is unresolved

Illicit Drugs:

 Transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations(2008)

Back to the Top

Last Updated: December 2011

Benin Main Page World Factbook Main Page


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map