Benin

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Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a West African kingdom that rose to prominence in about 1600 and over the next two and a half centuries became a regional power, largely based on its slave trade. Coastal areas of Dahomey began to be controlled by the French in the second half of the 19th century; the entire kingdom was conquered by 1894. French Dahomey achieved independence in 1960; it changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1975.

A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI, who won a second five-year term in March 2011, has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.

Geography

Location

Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo

Geographic coordinates

9.30° N, 2.15° E

Area 102/257

total: 112,622 sq km

land: 110,622 sq km

water: 2,000 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries

total: 2,123 km

border countries (4): Burkina Faso 386 km, Niger 277 km, Nigeria 809 km, Togo 651 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

mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 31.3%

arable land 22.9%; permanent crops 3.5%; permanent pasture 4.9%

forest: 40%

other: 28.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

230 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

26.39 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)

per capita: 18.74 cu m/yr (2001)

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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

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 and Society

Nationality

noun: Beninese (singular and plural)

adjective: Beninese

Ethnic groups

Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Fulani and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, other 1.6%, unspecified 2.9% (2002 est.)

Languages

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

Religions

Catholic 27.1%, Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, Protestant 10.4% (Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%), other traditional religions 6%, other Christian 5.3%, other 1.9%, none 6.5%, unspecified 1.1% (2002 est.)

Population 88/238

10,448,647

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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 43.42% (male 2,314,981/female 2,222,185)

15-24 years: 20.19% (male 1,073,356/female 1,036,459)

25-54 years: 30.04% (male 1,585,098/female 1,553,965)

55-64 years: 3.53% (male 157,171/female 211,292)

65 years and over: 2.82% (male 116,693/female 177,447) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 82%

youth dependency ratio: 76.7%

elderly dependency ratio: 5.3%

potential support ratio: 19% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 17.9 years

male: 17.5 years

female: 18.3 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 15/233

2.78% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 19/224

36.02 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 87/225

8.21 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 106/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 44% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 3.67% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PORTO-NOVO (capital) 268,000 (2014); COTONOU (seat of government) 682,000; Abomey-Calavi 757,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.74 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.3

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2011/12 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 34/184

405 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 25/224

total: 55.68 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 58.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 52.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 194/224

total population: 61.47 years

male: 60.11 years

female: 62.9 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 16/224

4.95 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

12.9% (2011/12)

Health expenditures 154/191

4.6% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.06 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

0.5 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 85.2% of population

rural: 72.1% of population

total: 77.9% of population

unimproved:

urban: 14.8% of population

rural: 27.9% of population

total: 22.1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 35.6% of population

rural: 7.3% of population

total: 19.7% of population

unimproved:

urban: 64.4% of population

rural: 92.7% of population

total: 80.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.14% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

77,900 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

2,400 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 151/191

8.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 30/138

20.2% (2006)

Education expenditures 64/173

5.3% of GDP (2010)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 13 years

female: 9 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 2.4%

male: 1.5%

female: 3.1% (2010 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Benin

conventional short form: Benin

local long form: Republique du Benin

local short form: Benin

former: Dahomey

etymology: named after the Bight of Benin, the body of water on which the country lies

Government type

republic

Capital

name: Porto-Novo (official capital); note - Cotonou (seat of government)

geographic coordinates: 6.29° N, 2.37° E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

12 departments; Alibori, Atacora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Couffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou

Independence

1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday

National Day, 1 August (1960)

Constitution

previous 1946, 1958 (preindependence); latest adopted by referendum 2 December 1990, promulgated 11 December 1990 (2015)

Legal system

civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Benin

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); Prime Minister Lionel ZINSOU (since 18 June 2015)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in two rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 13 March 2011 (next to be held 28 February 2016)

election results: Thomas YAYI Boni reelected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni (FCBE) 53.1%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI (PRD) 35.6%, Abdoulaye Bio TCHANE 6.1%, other 5.2%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 26 April 2015 (next to be held in April 2019)

election results: percent of vote by party - FCBE 30.2%, UN 14.4%, PRD 10.6%, AND 7.6%, RB-RP 7.1%, other 30.1%; seats by party - FCBE 33, UN 13, PRD 10, AND 5, RB-RP 7, other 15

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of the court president and 3 chamber presidents organized into an administrative division, judicial chamber, and chamber of accounts); Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle (consists of 7 members including the court president); High Court of Justice (consists of the Constitutional Court members, 6 members appointed by the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court president); note - jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice is limited to cases of high treason by the national president or members of the government

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court president and judges appointed by the national president upon the advice of the National Assembly; judges appointed for single renewable 5-year terms; Constitutional Court members - 4 appointed by the National Assembly and 3 by the national president; members appointed for single renewable 5-year terms; High Court of Justice "other" members elected by the National Assembly; member tenure NA

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; district courts; village courts; Assize courts

Political parties and leaders

African Movement for Development and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]

Benin Renaissance or RB [Nicephore SOGLO]

Cowrie Force for an Emerging Benin or FCBE [Yayi BONI]

Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]

National Alliance for Development and Democracy (Alliance nationale pour le developpement et la democratie) or AND

Patriotic Awakening or RP [Janvier YAHOUEDEOU]

Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]

Social Democrat Party or PSD [Emmanuel GOLOU]

Sun Alliance or AS [Sacca LAFIA]

Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]

Union Makes the Nation or UN [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI] (superceded Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD)

United Democratic Forces or FDU [ lMathurin NAGO]

note: approximately 20 additional minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, CD, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side; green symbolizes hope and revival, yellow wealth, and red courage

note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia

National symbol(s)

leopard; national colors: green, yellow, red

National anthem

name: "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)

lyrics/music: Gilbert Jean DAGNON

note: adopted 1960

Economy

Economy - overview

The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Cotton, a key export, suffered from flooding in 2010-11, but high prices supported export earnings. Growth in real output had averaged almost 4% before the global recession, and it has averaged 5.5% since 2012. Inflation has subsided over the past several years.

An insufficient electrical supply continues to hamper Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production. Private foreign direct investment is small, and foreign aid accounts for the majority of investment in infrastructure projects.

In order to raise growth, 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. Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. Projects to improve the business climate by reforms to the land tenure system, the commercial justice system, and the financial sector were included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006. In 2015, Benin signed a second Compact under the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 142/230

$21.16 billion (2015 est.)

$20.06 billion (2014 est.)

$19.03 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$7.701 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 31/225

5.5% (2015 est.)

5.4% (2014 est.)

5.6% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 205/230

$2,000 (2015 est.)

$1,900 (2014 est.)

$1,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 130/179

13.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

10.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

13.2% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 77.9%

government consumption: 11.6%

investment in fixed capital: 27.8%

investment in inventories: 0.6%

exports of goods and services: 20.1%

imports of goods and services: -38%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 36.3%

industry: 13.5%

services: 50.2% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

cotton, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock

Industries

textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement

Industrial production growth rate 78/202

3.2% (2015 est.)

Labor force 97/233

3.662 million (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate

NA%

Population below poverty line

37.4% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.1%

highest 10%: 29% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 83/144

36.5 (2003)

Budget

revenues: $1.762 billion

expenditures: $1.895 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 138/219

22.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 63/220

-1.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 125/176

35% of GDP (2015 est.)

33.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 93/226

1.6% (2015 est.)

-1.1% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 92/156

4.25% (31 December 2010)

4.25% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

NA%

Stock of narrow money 121/192

$2.388 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.336 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 140/193

$4.165 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$3.61 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 143/191

$1.697 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.792 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$NA

Current account balance 110/197

-$719 million (2015 est.)

-$695 million (2014 est.)

Exports 138/224

$2.047 billion (2015 est.)

$2.147 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood

Exports - partners

China 27%, India 21.7%, Lebanon 8.4%, Niger 5%, Nigeria 4.5% (2014)

Imports 152/223

$2.646 billion (2015 est.)

$2.736 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products

Imports - partners

China 30.2%, Algeria 25.1%, US 6.8%, India 4.6%, Thailand 4.4%, Malaysia 4.3% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 139/170

$808.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$726 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 146/206

$2.635 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$2.367 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -

580.5 (2015 est.)

494.42 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)

510.53 (2012 est.)

471.87 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 192/220

154 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 158/219

911 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 111/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 62/219

983 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 161/214

171,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 47/214

99.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 56/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 145/214

0.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 160/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 112/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 102/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 164/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 94/215

8 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 160/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 115/212

31,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 159/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 97/213

30,930 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 162/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 121/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 67/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 167/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 102/212

1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 129/212

4.581 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 127/219

total subscriptions: 200,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 82/217

total: 10.8 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 106 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: inadequate system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment

domestic: fixed-line teledensity only about 2 per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular providers, cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly

international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; long distance fiber-optic links with Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2008)

Broadcast media

state-run Office de Radiodiffusion et de Television du Benin (ORTB) operates a TV station with multiple channels providing a wide broadcast reach; several privately owned TV stations broadcast from Cotonou; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio, under ORTB control, includes a national station supplemented by a number of regional stations; substantial number of privately owned radio broadcast stations; transmissions of a few international broadcasters are available on FM in Cotonou (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 34, shortwave 1 (2007)

Television broadcast stations

6 (2007)

Internet country code

.bj

Internet hosts 183/232

491 (2012)

Internet users 132/217

total: 441,000

percent of population: 4.3% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 171/236

6 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

Railways 114/136

total: 438 km

narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 119/223

total: 16,000 km

paved: 1,400 km

unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)

Waterways 101/107

150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2011)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cotonou

LNG terminal(s) (import): Cotonou

Military and Security

Military branches

Benin Armed Forces (Forces Armees Beninoises, FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin Air Force (Force Aerienne du Benin, FAB) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18-35 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; a higher education diploma is required; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2013)

Military expenditures 99/132

1.03% of GDP (2012)

NA% (2011)

1.03% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River; Benin retains a border dispute with Burkina Faso near the town of Koualou; location of Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint is unresolved

Illicit drugs

transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)