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Capital City: Porto-Novo

Being In Benin



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.

Geography Benin

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

Geographic coordinates:  9 30 N, 2 15 E

Map references:  Africa

Area:  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

Coastline:  121 km

Maritime claims:  territorial sea: 200 NM

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

Terrain:  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% permanent crops: 1% other: 84% (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

Population:  6,787,625 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 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 47.2% (male 1,616,138; female 1,585,463)
15-64 years: 50.5% (male 1,665,439; female 1,764,966) 65 years and over:
2.3% (male 65,877; female 89,742) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.91% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  43.66 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  14.52 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.73 male(s)/female total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  88.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   50.61 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  6.14 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  4.1% (2002)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  160,000 (2002)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  37,000 (2002)

Nationality:  noun: Beninese (singular and plural) adjective: Beninese

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%

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

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 37.5% male: 52.2% female: 23.6% (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

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

Administrative divisions:  12 provinces; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique,
Borgou, Collines, Couffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou

Independence:  1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday:  National Day, 1 August (1960)

Constitution:  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: 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:  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:  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 -
RB 27, PRD 11, FARD-ALAFIA 10, PSD 9, MADEP 6, E'toile 4, Alliance IPD
4, Car-DUNYA 3, MERCI 2, other 7 elections: last held 30 March 1999
(next to be held NA March 2003)

Judicial branch:  Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle;
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Court of Justice

Political parties and leaders:  African Movement for Democracy and
Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance for Democracy and Progress
or ADP [Sylvain Adekpedjou AKINDES]; Alliance of the Social Democratic
Party or PSD and the National Union for Solidarity and Progress or
UNSP [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Cameleon Alliance or AC [leader NA]; Car-DUNYA
[Saka SALEY]; Communist Party of Benin or PCB [Pascal FANTONDJI, first
secretary]; 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]; Liberal Democrats'
Rally for National Reconstruction-Vivoten or RDL-Vivoten [Severin ADJOVI];
Movement for Citizens' Commitment and Awakening or MERCI [Severin ADJOVI];
New Generation for the Republic or NGR [Paul DOSSOU]; Our Common Cause
or NCC [Francois Odjo TANKPINON]; Party Democratique du Benin or PDB
[Col. Soule DANKORO]; Rally for Democracy and Pan-Africanism or RDP
[Dominique HOYMINOU, Dr. Giles Auguste MINONTIN]; Renaissance Party du
Benin or RB [Nicephore SOGLO]; The Star Alliance (Alliance E'toile) [Sacca
LAFIA]; Union for National Democracy and Solidarity or UDS [Adamou N'Diaye
MAMA] note: the Coalition of Democratic Forces, [Gatien HOUNGBEDJI],
an alliance of parties and organizations supporting President KEREKOU

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS,
IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU,

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
Pamela E. BRIDGEWATER embassy: Rue Caporal
 B. P. 2012, Cotonou telephone:
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 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 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.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $6.8 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  5.4% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $1,040 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 36% industry: 14% services:
50% (2001 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% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  NA

Unemployment rate:  NA%

Budget:  revenues: $377.4 million expenditures: $561.8 million, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2001)

Industries:  textiles, food processing, chemical production, construction
materials (2001)

Industrial production growth rate:  8.3% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  240 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 16.67% hydro: 83.33%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  523.2 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  300 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans,
palm oil, peanuts, livestock (2001)

Exports:  $35.3 million (f.o.b., 2000)

Exports - commodities:  cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa

Exports - partners:  Brazil, France, Indonesia, Thailand, Morocco,
Portugal, Cote d'Ivoire (2001)

Imports:  $437.6 million (c.i.f., 2000)

Imports - commodities:  foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products

Imports - partners:  France, US, China, Cote d'Ivoire, Netherlands,
Japan (2001)

Debt - external:  $1.18 billion (2000)

Economic aid - recipient:  $342.6 million (2000)

Currency:  Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible
authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

Currency code:  XOF

Exchange rates:  Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US
dollar - 742.79 (January 2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70
(1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997); note - from 1 January 1999, the
XOF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XOF per euro

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)

Radios:  660,000 (2000)

Television broadcast stations:  1 (2001)

Televisions:  66,000 (2000)

Internet country code:  .bj

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  4 (2002)

Internet users:  50,000 (2002)

Transportation Benin

Railways:  total: 578 km narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge (2000 est.)

Highways:   1,357 km (including 10 km of expressways) unpaved: Waterways:
streams navigable along small sections, important only locally

Ports and harbors:  Cotonou, Porto-Novo

Merchant marine:  none (2002 est.)

Airports:  5 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001)

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 (2001)

Military Benin

Military branches:  Armed Forces (including Army, Navy, Air Force),
National Gendarmerie

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 1,509,760 note:
both sexes are liable for military service (2002 est.)  females age
15-49: 1,536,036

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 771,373
females age 15-49: 778,730 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 71,278
females: 70,088 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $27 million (FY96)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1.2% (FY96)

Transnational Issues Benin

Disputes - international:  Benin and Niger have refered to the ICJ the
dispute over l'Ete and 14 smaller disputed islands in the Niger River,
which has never been delimited; with Nigeria, several villages are in
dispute along the Okpara River and only 35 km of the 436 km boundary
are demarcated; the Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint remains undemarcated;
Benin accuses Togo of moving boundary markers and stationing troops in
its territory; two villages are in dispute with Burkina Faso

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

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002




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