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Benin    Introduction Top of Page
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.
Benin    Geography Top of Page
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

land:  110,620 sq km

water:  2,000 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:  13%

permanent crops:  4%

permanent pastures:  4%

forests and woodland:  31%

other:  48% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 100 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north in winter
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: no natural harbors
Benin    People Top of Page
Population: 6,590,782

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 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  47.32% (male 1,574,124; female 1,544,741)

15-64 years:  50.38% (male 1,607,900; female 1,712,360)

65 years and over:  2.3% (male 64,756; female 86,901) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.97% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 44.23 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate: 14.51 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 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:  0.75 male(s)/female

total population:  0.97 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 89.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population:  49.94 years

male:  49.02 years

female:  50.88 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate: 6.23 children born/woman (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 2.45% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 70,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 5,600 (1999 est.)
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)
Benin    Government Top of Page
Country name: conventional long form:  Republic of Benin

conventional short form:  Benin

local long form:  Republique du Benin

local short form:  Benin

former:  Dahomey
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
Administrative divisions: 6 provinces; Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Mono, Oueme, Zou; note - six additional provinces have been reported but not confirmed; they are Alibori, Collines, Couffo, Donga, Littoral, and Plateau; moreover, the term "province" may have been changed to "department"
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:  Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections:  president reelected by popular vote for a five-year term; runoff election held 22 March 2001 (next to be held NA March 2006)

election results:  Mathieu KEREKOU reelected president; percent of vote - Mathieu KEREKOU 84.1%, Bruno AMOUSSOU 15.9%

note:  the four top-ranking contenders following the first round presidential elections were: Mathieu KEREKOU (incumbent) 45.4%, Nicephore SOGOLO (former president) 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, 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"
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections:  last held 30 March 1999 (next to be held NA March 2003)

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
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 is an alliance of parties and organizations supporting President KEREKOU [Gatien HOUNGBEDJI]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNTAET, UPU, WADB, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Lucien Edgar TONOUKOUIN

chancery:  2737 Cathedral Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone:  [1] (202) 232-6656

FAX:  [1] (202) 265-1996
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador Pamela E. BRIDGEWATER

embassy:  Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou

mailing address:  B. P. 2012, Cotonou

telephone:  [229] 30-06-50, 30-05-13, 30-17-92

FAX:  [229] 30-14-39, 30-19-74
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red with a vertical green band on the hoist side
Benin    Economy Top of Page
Economy - overview: The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output averaged a sound 5% in 1996-99, but a rapid population rise offset much of this growth. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. Commercial and transport activities, which make up a large part of GDP, are vulnerable to developments in Nigeria, particularly fuel shortages. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation in recent years. While high fuel prices constrained growth in 2000, increased cotton production - enabled by a major restructuring program - and an expansion of the Cotonou port, may lead to increased growth in 2001.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $6.6 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,030 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  37.9%

industry:  13.5%

services:  48.6% (1999)
Population below poverty line: 37.2% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  NA%

highest 10%:  NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (2000 est.)
Labor force: NA
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues:  $299 million

expenditures:  $445 million, including capital expenditures of $14 million (1995 est.)
Industries: textiles, cigarettes; beverages, food; construction materials, petroleum
Industrial production growth rate: 6.9% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production: 226 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  24.78%

hydro:  75.22%

nuclear:  0%

other:  0% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 510.2 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 300 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: corn, sorghum, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, rice, cotton, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, livestock
Exports: $396 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Exports - commodities: cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa
Exports - partners: Brazil 14%, Libya 5%, Indonesia 4%, Italy 4% (1999)
Imports: $566 million (c.i.f., 1999)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, tobacco, petroleum products, capital goods
Imports - partners: France 38%, China 16%, UK 9%, Cote d'Ivoire 5% (1999)
Debt - external: $1.6 billion (1998 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $274.6 million (1997)
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 - 699.21 (January 2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70 (1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996); 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
Benin    Communications Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use: 36,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 4,295 (1997)
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 (1998)
Radios: 620,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 2 (one privately-owned) (1997)
Televisions: 60,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .bj
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 10,000 (2000)
Benin    Transportation Top of Page
Railways: total:  578 km (single track)

narrow gauge:  578 km 1.000-m gauge (2000)
Highways: total:  6,787 km

paved:  1,357 km (including 10 km of expressways)

unpaved:  5,430 km (1997 est.)
Waterways: streams navigable along small sections, important only locally
Ports and harbors: Cotonou, Porto-Novo
Merchant marine: none (2000 est.)
Airports: 5 (2000 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total:  1

1,524 to 2,437 m:  1 (2000 est.)
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 (2000 est.)
Benin    Military Top of Page
Military branches: Armed Forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), National Gendarmerie
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49:  1,455,433

females age 15-49:  1,489,947

note:  both sexes are liable for military service (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49:  743,980

females age 15-49:  755,149 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males:  70,088

females:  73,618 (2001 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $27 million (FY96)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.2% (FY96)
Benin    Transnational Issues Top of Page
Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for narcotics associated with Nigerian trafficking organizations and most commonly destined for Western Europe and the US


Source of Information: CIA - The World Factbook 2001