Benin [Country Flag of Benin]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Benin]



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

Geographic coordinates: 9 30 N, 2 15 E

Map references: Africa

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: Mount Tanekas 641 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: recent droughts have severely affected marginal agriculture in north; 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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: no natural harbors


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Population: 6,100,799 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (male 1,465,067; female 1,455,852)
15-64 years: 50% (male 1,455,224; female 1,582,880)
65 years and over: 2% (male 61,523; female 80,253) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.31% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 45.82 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 12.77 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 100.22 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 53.61 years
male: 51.56 years
female: 55.72 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.48 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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 70%, Muslim 15%, Christian 15%

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 37%
male: 48.7%
female: 25.8% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local long form: Republique du Benin
local short form: Benin
former: Dahomey

Data code: BN

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

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

Administrative divisions: 6 departments; Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Mono, Oueme, Zou

Independence: 1 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 1 August (1990)

Constitution: 2 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; Prime Minister Adrien HOUNGBEDJI (since 9 April 1996) acts as assistant to the president; a prime minister is not provided for in the constitution but was appointed by President KEREKOU with the permission of the constitutional court
cabinet: Council of Ministers headed by the prime minister; all are appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 18 March 1996 (next to be held March 2001)
election results: Mathieu KEREKOU elected president; percent of vote—Mathieu KEREKOU 52.49%, Nicephore SOGLO 47.51%

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 28 March 1995 (next to be held NA 1999)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RB 20, PRD 19, FARD-ALAFIA 10, PSD 7, NCC 3, RDL-VIVOTEN 3, PCB 2, AC 1, RDP 1, other 17

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

Political parties and leaders: Alliance of the National Party for Democracy and Development or PNDD and the Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Pascal Chabi KAO]; Action for Renewal and Development or FARD-ALAFIA [Mathieu KEREKOU]; Alliance of the Social Democratic Party or PSD and the National Union for Solidarity and Progress or UNSP [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Alliance Chameleon or AC; Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Adekpedjon AKINDES]; Alliance for Social Democracy or ASD [Robert DOSSOU]; Liberal Democrats' Rally for National Reconstruction-Vivoten or RDL-Vivoten [Severin ADJOVI]; Communist Party of Benin or PCB [Pascal TODJINOU, first secretary]; Our Common Cause or NCC [Albert TEVOEDJRE]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP; The Renaissance Party of Benin or RB [Nicephore SOGLO]
note: as of February 1996, more than 80 political parties were officially recognized

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, ECA, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, MIPONUH, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WADB, 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, 6657, 6658
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John M. YATES
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


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Economy—overview: The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output, which had averaged a sound 4% during 1990-95, rose to 5.5% in 1996 and was targeted at 4.8% for 1997. Rapid population growth offset much of this growth in output. Inflation jumped to 55% in 1994 (compared to 3% in 1993) following the 50% currency devaluation in January 1994, but has subsided over the past three years, with a target of 3.5% inflation in 1997. Commercial and transport activities, which make up a large part of GDP, are extremely vulnerable to developments in Nigeria, particularly fuel shortages. Support by the Paris Club and official bilateral creditors has eased the external debt situation in recent years. The government, still burdened with money-losing state enterprises and a bloated civil service, has been gradually implementing a World Bank supported structural adjustment program since 1991.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$11.3 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5.8% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,900 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 34%
industry: 14%
services: 52% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 3.5% (1997 est.)

Labor force: NA

Unemployment rate: NA%

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: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 15,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 6 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 45 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: corn, sorghum, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, rice, cotton, palm oil, peanuts; poultry, livestock

total value: $192 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa
partners: Brazil 18%, Portugal 14%, Morocco, Libya, France

total value: $693 million (c.i.f., 1995)
commodities: foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, petroleum products, intermediate goods, capital goods, light consumer goods
partners: France 27%, Thailand 9%, China, Hong Kong

Debt—external: $1.7 billion (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1—608.36 (January 1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993)
note: beginning 12 January 1994 the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 16,200 (1986 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: fair system of open wire and microwave radio relay
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); submarine cable

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 2, shortwave 0

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 2

Televisions: 20,000 (1993 est.)


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total: 578 km (single track)
narrow gauge: 578 km 1.000-m gauge (1995 est.)

total: 6,787 km
paved: 1,357 km (including 10 km of expressways)
unpaved: 5,430 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: navigable along small sections, important only locally

Ports and harbors: Cotonou, Porto-Novo

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 6 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (1997 est.)


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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: 1,311,490
females age 15-49: 1,378,979 (1998 est.)
note: both sexes are liable for military service

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 671,230
females: 698,290 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 65,498
females: 65,112 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $33 million (1994)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 3.2% (1994)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none

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