World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Africa

Benin Travelling Guide
Benin Travelling Guide

General background: Dahomey gained its independence from France in 1960; the name was changed to Benin in 1975. From 1974 to 1989 the country was a socialist state; free elections were reestablished in 1991.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

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

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

Population: 6,787,625

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

Religions: Indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%

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

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

Capital: Porto-Novo is the official capital; Cotonou is the seat of government

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

Economic overview: The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output averaged a stable 5% in the past five years, but rapid population rise 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 privatisation 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.

Communication/Telephone system: Fair system of open wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections. Satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); submarine cable.

Places of interest:
Benin has the hottest attractions in all of West Africa - the stilted fishing villages in the lagoon near Porto Novo. The towns however - and even Cotonou, the biggest - may seem unremarkable to the short-term visitor. It's the kind of place that hides its best features. You need to be patient and observant to glimpse many of the cultural highlights of Benin. Food lovers needn't worry, though. Beninese food is possibly the best in the region, and is widely available. Voodooism and fetishism are still widely practiced and many of the associated artifacts attract and repel visitors in equal numbers.

Travel Tips: Benin shares many of the problems of its neighbors such as bad roads and infrastructure, poor water and health conditions and institutionalized corruption, it is comparatively violence-free, is richer and economically stronger than most of its neighbors and has the best beaches and landscapes.