Full name: The Republic of Benin
Population: 9.4 million (UN, 2012)
Area: 112,622 sq km (43,484 sq miles)
Major languages: French (official) Fon, Ge, Bariba, Yoruba, Dendi
Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Christianity, Islam
Life expectancy: 55 years (men), 59 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
Main exports: Cotton, palm oil
GNI per capita: US $780 (World Bank, 2011)
Internet domain: .bj
International dialling code: +229
President: Thomas Boni Yayi
Thomas Boni Yayi won presidential elections in March 2006, and again in 2011. He won 75% of the votes in the 2006 polls, but managed only 53% in the 2011 elections. These later polls were postponed twice and their results were disputed by the main challenger, Adrien Houngbedji.
Visas may be applied for by post or personal application. Callers at the Consulate will normally be able to obtain visas without delay. All applications must be accompanied by the following.
- Best period
It is best to visit during the dry seasons, from December to February and from July to September, when temperatures are higher and overland travel is generally much easier. Weather in Benin is the most temperate and pleasant in August and September. Visiting in mid-January will allow you to witness the Voodoo Festival. Some tourist facilities, particularly in the south, close during the rainy season.
The U.S. Department of State’s consular website has a great deal of information about safety and security in Benin. It can’t be repeated often enough: be sensible when you travel. Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
The Republic of Benin was formed in 1960 when the colony of French Dahomey gained independence from France. Prior to this, the area that is now the Republic of Benin was divided largely between two coastal kingdoms, Dahomey and Porto-Novo, and a large area of various tribes in the north. The French assembled these various groups together into the colony of French Dahomey, which was part of the various colonies of French West Africa from 1904 until 1960. In the independence era, the republic was extremely unstable for the first decade and a half of existence, with multiple governments and multiple military coups. In 1972, Mathieu Kérékou led a military coup deposing the Presidential Council and appointing himself as the head of state, a position he held until 1991 when the country returned to multiparty elections. Since that point, the state has held multiple presidential and legislative elections and a number of different parties have become important.
- Music :
Benin has played an important role in the African music scene, producing one of the biggest stars to come out of the continent in Angélique Kidjo. Post-independence, the country was home to a vibrant and innovative music scene, where native folk music combined with Ghanaian highlife, French cabaret, American rock, funk and soul, and Congolese rumba. It also has a rich variety of ethnomusicological traditions.
- Literature :
Literature in Benin had a strong oral tradition long before French became the dominant language.
Felix Couchoro wrote the first Beninese novel, L'Esclave in 1929.
- Film industry
Europeans discovered this country (formerly Dahomey) in the 15th century. Many arrived there, but only the Portuguese and later on the French people really settled. Benin was thereafter part of the French Western Africa With a stretched shape in latitude, Benin expands over an area of 114.763 sq m and has a population of about 6 million people, half of which is less than 20. 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.
- Famous monuments
The royal palaces of Abomey
- Architecture history
The rise of kingdoms in the West African coastal region produced architecture which drew on indigenous traditions, utilizing wood. The famed Benin City, destroyed by the Punitive Expedition, was a large complex of homes in coursed mud, with hipped roofs of shingles or palm leaves. The Palace had a sequence of ceremonial rooms, and was decorated with brass plaques. The Walls of Benin City are collectively the world's largest man-made structure.