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Introduction Benin
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.
Geography Benin
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
Geographic coordinates:
9 30 N, 2 15 E
Map references:
total: 112,620 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km
land: 110,620 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
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: 15.28%
permanent crops: 1.36%
other: 83.36% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
120 sq km (1998 est.)
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
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
People Benin
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 47% (male 1,668,817; female 1,638,291)
15-64 years: 50.7% (male 1,739,517; female 1,834,231)
65 years and over: 2.3% (male 67,504; female 93,130) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 16.4 years
male: 15.9 years
female: 16.9 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.95% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
43.15 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
13.65 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 86.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 81.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 91.79 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.08 years
male: 50.35 years
female: 51.84 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
6.04 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
3.6% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
120,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
8,100 (2001 est.)
noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese
Ethnic groups:
African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500
indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 40.9%
male: 56.2%
female: 26.5% (2000)
Government Benin
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local short form: Benin
former: Dahomey
local long form: Republique du Benin
Government type:
republic under multiparty democratic rule; dropped Marxism-Leninism December 1989; democratic reforms adopted February 1990; transition to multiparty system completed 4 April 1991
Porto-Novo is the official capital; Cotonou is the 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)
December 1990
Legal system:
based on French civil law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mathieu KEREKOU (since 4 April 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mathieu KEREKOU (since 4 April 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president reelected by popular vote for a five-year term; runoff election held 22 March 2001 (next to be held NA March 2006)
note: the four top-ranking contenders following the first-round presidential elections were: Mathieu KEREKOU (incumbent) 45.4%, Nicephore SOGOLO (former president) 27.1%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI (National Assembly Speaker) 12.6%, and Bruno AMOUSSOU (Minister of State) 8.6%; the second-round balloting, originally scheduled for 18 March 2001, was postponed four days because both SOGOLO and HOUNGBEDJI withdrew alleging electoral fraud; this left KEREKOU to run against his own Minister of State, AMOUSSOU, in what was termed a "friendly match"
election results: Mathieu KEREKOU reelected president; percent of vote - Mathieu KEREKOU 84.1%, Bruno AMOUSSOU 15.9%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Presidential Movement 52, opposition (PRB, PRD, E'toile, and 5 other small parties) 31
elections: last held 30 March 2003 (next to be held NA March 2007)
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle; Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Court of Justice
Political parties and leaders:
African Congress for Renewal or DUNYA [Saka SALEY]; African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance of the Social Democratic Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Coalition of Democratic Forces [Gatien HOUNGBEDJI]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Front for Renewal and Development or FARD-ALAFIA [Jerome Sakia KINA]; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Bertin BORNA]; Key Force or FC [leader NA]; Presidential Movement (UBF, MADEP, FC, IDP, and 4 other small parties); Renaissance Party du Benin or PRB [Nicephore SOGLO]; The Star Alliance (Alliance E'toile) [Sacca LAFIA]; Union of Tomorrow's Benin or UBF [Bruno AMOUSSOU]
note: approximately 20 additional minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Wayne NEILL
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 30-06-50
FAX: [229] 30-06-70
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red with a vertical green band on the hoist side
Economy Benin
Economy - overview:
The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged a stable 5% in the past six years, but rapid population rise has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth still further, 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. The 2001 privatization policy should continue in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture in spite of initial government reluctance. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, while pressing for speeded-up structural reforms.
purchasing power parity - $7.38 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,100 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 38%
industry: 15%
services: 47% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
37% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.3% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $377.4 million
expenditures: $561.8 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001)
textiles, food processing, chemical production, construction materials (2001)
Industrial production growth rate:
8.3% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
274.3 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 14.2%
hydro: 85.8%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
631.1 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
376 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
700 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
11,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
4.105 million bbl (37257)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
608.8 million cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, livestock (2001)
$207 million f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa
Exports - partners:
India 25%, Italy 11.1%, Indonesia 7.4%, China 7.2%, Thailand 6.7%, Brazil 6.1%, UK 4.4%, Niger 4% (2002)
$479 million c.i.f. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
China 30.7%, France 15.7%, UK 4.8%, Italy 4.2% (2002)
Debt - external:
$1.6 billion (2000)
Economic aid - recipient:
$342.6 million (2000)
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 696.99 (2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.7 (1999), 589.95 (1998)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Benin
Telephones - main lines in use:
51,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
55,500 (2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: fair system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); submarine cable
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 9, shortwave 4 (2000)
660,000 (2000)
Television broadcast stations:
1;; (2001)
66,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
4 (2002)
Internet users:
25,000 (2002)
Transportation Benin
total: 578 km
narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge (2002)
total: 6,787 km
paved: 1,357 km (including 10 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,430 km (1999 est.)
streams navigable along small sections, important only locally
Ports and harbors:
Cotonou, Porto-Novo
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
5 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
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 (2002)
Military Benin
Military branches:
Armed Forces (including Army, Navy, Air Force), National Gendarmerie
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
note: both sexes are liable for military service
females age 15-49: 1,536,036 (2003 est.)
males age 15-49: 1,597,562
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 805,603
females age 15-49: 809,961 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 75,021
females: 78,998 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$80.8 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.7% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Benin
Disputes - international:
two villages are in dispute along the border with Burkina Faso; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated, but states accept 2001 arbitration over disputed Niger River islands; several villages along the Okpara River are in dispute with Nigeria; in 2001, Benin claimed Togo moved the boundary stones - joint commission presently resurveying the boundary
Illicit drugs:
transshipment point for narcotics associated with Nigerian trafficking organizations and most commonly destined for Western Europe and the US; vulnerable to money laundering due to a poorly regulated financial infrastructure