[Country map of Benin]



Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Nigeria and Togo

Map references: Africa

total area: 112,620 sq km
land area: 110,620 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries: total 1,989 km, Burkina 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km

Coastline: 121 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Natural resources: small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 4%
meadows and pastures: 4%
forest and woodland: 35%
other: 45%

Irrigated land: 60 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: recent droughts have severely affected marginal agriculture in north; inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north in winter
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Law of the Sea

Note: no natural harbors


Population: 5,522,677 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (female 1,324,553; male 1,333,673)
15-64 years: 49% (female 1,431,630; male 1,299,180)
65 years and over: 3% (female 74,119; male 59,522) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.33% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 47.25 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 13.93 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 107.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 52.24 years
male: 50.34 years
female: 54.2 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.72 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese

Ethnic divisions: African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500

Religions: indigenous beliefs 70%, Muslim 15%, Christian 15%

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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 23%
male: 32%
female: 16%

Labor force: 1.9 million (1987)
by occupation: agriculture 60%, transport, commerce, and public services 38%, industry less than 2%


conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local long form: Republique du Benin
local short form: Benin
former: Dahomey

Digraph: BN

Type: republic under multiparty democratic rule dropped Marxism-Leninism December 1989; democratic reforms adopted February 1990; transition to multiparty system completed 4 April 1991

Capital: Porto-Novo

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces; Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Mono, Oueme, Zou

Independence: 1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 1 August (1990)

Constitution: 2 December 1990

Legal system: based on French civil law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President Nicephore SOGLO (since 4 April 1991); election last held 10 and 24 March 1991 (next election 1996); results - Nicephore SOGLO 68%, Mathieu KEREKOU 32%
cabinet: Executive Council; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale): elections last held 28 March 1995; results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (83 total) Renaissance Party and allies 20, PRD 19, FARD-ALAFIA 10, PSD 7, NCC 3, RDL-VIVOTEN 3, Communist Party 2, Alliance Chameleon 1, RDP 1, ADP 1, other 16

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders: as of August 1994, 72 political parties were officially recognized; the following are among the most important: Alliance of the Democratic Union for the Forces of Progress (UDFP), Timothee ADANLIN; Movement for Democracy and Social Progress (MDPS), Jean-Roger AHOYO; Union for Liberty and Development (ULD), Marcellin DEGBE; Alliance of the National Party for Democracy and Development (PNDD) and the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), Pascal Chabi KAO; Alliance of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Union for Solidarity and Progress (UNSP), Bruno AMOUSSOU; Our Common Cause (NCC), Albert TEVOEDJRE; National Rally for Democracy (RND), Joseph KEKE; Alliance of the National Movement for Democracy and Development (MNDD), leader NA; Movement for Solidarity, Union, and Progress (MSUP), Adebo ADENIYI; Union for Democracy and National Reconstruction (UDRN), Azaria FAKOREDE; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity (UDS), Mama Amadou N'DIAYE; Assembly of Liberal Democrats for National Reconstruction (RDL), Severin ADJOVI; Alliance for Social Democracy (ASD), Robert DOSSOU; Bloc for Social Democracy (BSD), Michel MAGNIDE; Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ADP), Akindes ADEKPEDJOU, and the Democratic Union for Social Renewal (UDRS), Bio Gado Seko N'GOYE; National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP), Robert TAGNON; Party for Progress and Democracy, Thiophile NATA; FARD-ALAFIA, Mathieu KEREKOU; The Renaissance Party, Nicephore SOGLO; The Patriotic Union for the Republic (UPR), Jean-Marie ZAHOUN; Union for the Conservation of Democracy, Bernard HOUEGNON


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Lucien Edgar TONOUKOUIN
chancery: 2737 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656, 6657, 6658
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ruth A. DAVIS
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 30-06-50, 30-05-13, 30-17-92
FAX: [229] 41-15-22

Flag: two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red with a vertical green band on the hoist side


Overview: The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged a sound 4% in 1991-94 but this rate barely exceeds the rapid population growth of 3.3%. Inflation jumped to 35% in 1994 (compared to 3% in 1993) following the 50% currency devaluation in January. Commercial and transport activities, which make up almost 36% of GDP, are extremely vulnerable to developments in Nigeria as evidenced by decreased reexport trade in 1994 due to a severe contraction in Nigerian demand. The industrial sector accounts for less than 10% of GDP and mainly produces foods, beverages, cement, and textiles. Support by the Paris Club and official bilateral creditors has eased the external debt situation in recent years. The government, still burdened with money-losing state enterprises and a bloated civil service, is gradually implementing a World Bank supported structural adjustment program.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $6.7 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 4% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $1,260 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 35% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $272 million (1993 est.)
expenditures: $375 million, including capital expenditures of $84 million (1993 est.)

Exports: $332 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa
partners: FRG 36%, France 16%, Spain 14%, Italy 8%, UK 4%

Imports: $571 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, petroleum products, intermediate goods, capital goods, light consumer goods
partners: France 20%, Thailand 8%, Netherlands 7%, US 5%

External debt: $1 billion (December 1990 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -0.7% (1988); accounts for 10% of GDP

capacity: 30,000 kW
production: 10 million kWh
consumption per capita: 25 kWh (1993)

Industries: textiles, cigarettes, construction materials, beverages, food, petroleum

Agriculture: accounts for 35% of GDP; small farms produce 90% of agricultural output; production is dominated by food crops - corn, sorghum, cassava, yams, beans, rice; cash crops include cotton, palm oil, peanuts; poultry and livestock output has not kept up with consumption

Illicit drugs: transshipment point for narcotics associated with Nigerian trafficking organizations and most commonly destined for Western Europe and the US

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $46 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $1.3 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $19 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $101 million

Currency: 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1 - 529.43 (January 1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993), 264.69 (1992), 282.11 (1991), 272.26 (1990)
note: beginning 12 January 1994 the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 578 km (single track)
narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge

total: 8,435 km
paved: 1,038 km
unpaved: crushed stone 2,600 km; improved earth 1,530 km; unimproved earth 3,267 km

Inland waterways: navigable along small sections, important only locally

Ports: Cotonou, Porto-Novo

Merchant marine: none

total: 7
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 4


Telephone system: NA telephones; fair system of open wire and microwave radio relay
local: NA
intercity: microwave radio relay and open wire
international: 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station, submarine cable

broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 2, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 2
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Armed Forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), National Gendarmerie

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,165,463; females age 15-49 1,249,234; males fit for military service 596,956; females fit for military service 631,780; males reach military age (18) annually 60,282 (1995 est.); females reach military age (18) annually 58,770 (1995 est.)
note: both sexes are liable for miltary service

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $33 million, 3.2% of GDP (1994)