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Benin: tribal traditions and vestiges of ancient kingdoms

Benin (République du Bénin/Republic of Benin) is a presidential republic of West Africa, whose capital is Porto Novo, but the seat of the government is Cotonou. It is a former French colony bordered to the west by Togo, to the north by Burkina Faso and Niger, to the east by Nigeria and washed to the south by the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean).

The coast of the country has an extension of 120 km, is low and sandy with lagoons called Ahémé lagoon and Nokoué lagoon. This is the most densely populated area, where the major cities of Benin Porto-Novo, the capital, and Cotonou, an important commercial center and the seat of government, are located. A bit further north you find a fertile plain known as Terre de Barre. Still more to the north the land rises gradually toward the interior of the country to become lower again towards the valley of the Niger, which marks the northern boundary.

A POOR COUNTRY

The Atacora mountain range extends along the northwestern border with Togo. Here is the highest height of Benin, Mount Sokbaro (658 meters). As for the rivers, in the far north of the country, the Niger river marks the border with the homonymous state for about 150 km. To the south, instead, the rivers Ouémé and Kouffo flow. While in the south-west the Mono marks the southern border with Togo.

The economy of Benin, one of the poorest countries of Africa, is based on agricultural products: copra, palm seeds and palm oil, coffee, cocoa, cotton, cassava and peanuts. Fishing is widely practiced in lagoons and along the coast. In recent years oil has been discovered in the territorial waters in the Gulf of Guinea. Tourism is still a marginal activity even though the country has several interesting tourist attractions.

The climate of Benin.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster.

  • Area: 112,622 sq km: arable land 16,7%, pastures 3,9%, forests and bushland 30,2%, uncultivated and unproductive land 49,2%
  • Population: 11,500,000 (as of 2018): There are more than 40 ethnic groups in Benin. The largest is the Fon with 39% of the population, followed by the Yoruba 12%, Adja 11%, Houeda 8,5%, Bariba 8% and Fulba 5,5%.
  • State Capital: Porto Novo.
  • Language: Official language is French. Fon and Yoruba are also spoken.
  • Religion: Animists 50%, Christians 30%, Muslims 20%.
  • Currency: CFA-Franc (XOF)
  • Time Zone: UTC+1 hour.

This post is also available in: German

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