Republic of Benin (Republique du Benin)
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean; between Nigeria and
Area: 112,620 sq. km (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania)
Border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km
Natural Resources: small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
Geographical Notes: Sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural
harbors, river mouths or islands.
Nationality (noun/adj.): Beninese/Beninese
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 gender than would otherwise be expected (July 2001 est.).
Growth Rate: 2.97% (2001 est.)
Birth Rate: 44.23 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Infant Mortality Rate: 89.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life Expectancy: 49.94 years
Ethnic Breakdown: African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja,
Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500
Religious Breakdown: indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in the south),
tribal languages (at least six major ones in the north)
Type: Republic under multiparty democratic rule. Dropped Marxism-Leninism
December 1989. Democratic reforms adopted February 1990. Transition to multiparty
system completed April 4, 1991.
Capital: Porto-Novo is the official capital; Cotonou is the seat of government.
Independence: Aug. 1, 1960 (from France)
Legal System: Based on French civil law and customary law.
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
International Disputes: none
GDP: $6.6 billion (2000 est.)
Per capita GDP: $1,030 (2000 est.)
Division of Labor: NA
Industries: textiles; cigarettes; beverages and food; construction materials; petroleum.
Source: CIA World Factbook 2001 (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/)