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    Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, is one of Africa’s most stable democracies. 


    The official language of Benin is French. However, indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by Islam, Vodun and Protestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.

    Benin’s politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, where the President of Benin is both head of state and head of government, within a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the legislature. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The political system is derived from the 1990 Constitution of Benin and the subsequent transition to democracy in 1991.
    Benin scored highly in the 2009 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which comprehensively measures the state of governance across the continent. Benin was ranked 15th out of 53 African countries, and scored particularly well in the categories of Safety & Security and Participation & Human Rights.[27]
    In its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Benin 53rd out of 169 countries.
    Benin has been rated equal-88th out of 159 countries in a 2005 analysis of police, business and political corruption.

    The Situation

    The economy of Benin is dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Cotton accounts for 40 percent of GDP and roughly 80 percent of official export receipts.[31] Growth in real output has averaged around 5 percent in the past seven years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. Benin uses the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro.
    Benin’s economy has continued to strengthen over the past years, with real GDP growth estimated at 5.1 and 5.7 percent in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The main driver of growth is the agricultural sector, with cotton being the country’s main export, while services continue to contribute the largest part of GDP largely because of Benin’s geographical location, enabling trade, transportation, transit and tourism activities with its neighbouring states.
    In order to raise growth still further, 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. 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 US$307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006.

    The majority of Benin’s population lives in the south. The population is young, with a life expectancy of 59 years. About 42 African ethnic groups live in this country; these various groups settled in Benin at different times and also migrated within the country. Ethnic groups include the Yoruba in the southeast (migrated from Nigeria in the 12th century); the Dendi in the north-central area (they came from Mali in the 16th century); the Bariba and the Fula (French: Peul or Peulh; Fula: Fulɓe) in the northeast; the Betammaribe and the Somba in the Atacora Range; the Fon in the area around Abomey in the South Central and the Mina, Xueda, and Aja (who came from Togo) on the coast.

    Fun Trivia Facts
    • Full name: The Republic of Benin
    • Population: 9.4 million (UN, 2012)
    • Capital: Porto-Novo
    • 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
    Women navigate through Ganvie, a stilted fishing village on Lake Nokoue which is also known as the Venice of Africa

    Women navigate through Ganvie, a stilted fishing village on Lake Nokoue which is also known as the Venice of Africa

    Other African Nations

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