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 Where is Benin?...
Benin is situated in West Africa and is bounded to the east by Nigeria, to the north by Niger and Burkina Faso, and to the west by Togo. Benin's shoreline now includes what used to be known as the Slave Coast, from where captives were shipped across the Atlantic. Elements of the culture and religion brought by slaves from the area are still present in the Americas, for example the voodoo cult in Haiti.

Before being colonised by France towards the end of the 1800s, the area comprised several independent states, including the Kingdom of Dahomey, which had a well-trained standing army and was geared towards the export of slaves and later palm oil.

The first years of full independence from France in 1960 were marked by instability, and the initial years of Mr Kerekou's rule featured Marxism-Leninism as the official ideology.

However, during the 1980s Mr Kerekou resigned from the army to become a civilian head of state and liberalised the economy.

Since then Benin has a new president, Yayi Bonu who was elected in 2006.

While Benin has seen economic growth over the past few years and is one of Africa's largest cotton producers, it remains among the world's poorest countries. The economy relies heavily on trade with neighbouring Nigeria.

Key Facts:

  • Population: 7.1 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Porto-Novo
  • Area: 112,622 sq km (43,484 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French (official) Fon, Ge, Bariba, Yoruba, Dendi
  • Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Christianity, Islam
  • Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 53 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Cotton, Palm Oil

 

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