Benin Population: 10,741,458

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 History
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, who won a second five-year term in March 2011. Patrice TALON, a wealthy businessman, took office in 2016 after campaigning to restore public confidence in the government.

 Geography
Sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
Geographic coordinates: 9 30 N, 2 15 E
Area: total: 112,622 sq km
land: 110,622 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km

Size comparison: 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 extremes:
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)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
Current Environment Issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
International Environment 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
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 People
Nationality: noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese
Ethnic groups: Fon and related 38.4%, Adja and related 15.1%, Yoruba and related 12%, Bariba and related 9.6%, Fulani and related 8.6%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4.3%, Dendi and related 2.9%, other 0.9%, foreigner 1.9% (2013 est.)
Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
Religions: Muslim 27.7%, Catholic 25.5%, Protestant 13.5% (Celestial 6.7%, Methodist 3.4%, other Protestant 3.4%), Vodoun 11.6%, other Christian 9.5%, other traditional religions 2.6%, other 2.6%, none 5.8% (2013 est.)
Population: 10,741,458 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 2016 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.04% (male 2,358,838/female 2,264,204)
15-24 years: 20.32% (male 1,110,607/female 1,072,196)
25-54 years: 30.24% (male 1,641,547/female 1,606,185)
55-64 years: 3.56% (male 165,496/female 217,192)
65 years and over: 2.84% (male 120,629/female 184,564) (2016 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: 18 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.4 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.75% (2016 est.)
Birth rate: 35.5 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 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: 0.76 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 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: 405 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 54.2 deaths/1,000 live births male: 57.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 51 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 61.9 years male: 60.5 years
female: 63.3 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.86 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 12.9% (2011/12)
Health expenditures: 4.6% of GDP (2014)
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: 1.06% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 69,100 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 2,800 (2015 est.)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 8.1% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 18% (2014)
Education expenditures: 4.3% of GDP (2014)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.4%
male: 49.9%
female: 27.3% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 12 years male: 14 years
female: 11 years (2013)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 2.4% male: 1.5%
female: 3.1% (2010 est.)
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 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 for the Bight of Benin, the body of water on which the country lies
Government type: presidential 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 (2016)
Legal system: civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Patrice TALON (since 6 April 2016); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Patrice TALON (since 6 April 2016); Prime Minister (vacant)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 6 March and 20 March 2016 (next to be held in 2021)

election results: Patrice TALON elected president; first round percent of vote - Lionel ZINSOU (FCBE) 28.4%, Patrice TALON (independent) 24.8%, Sebastien AJAVON (independent) 23.0%, Abdoulaye Bio TCHANE (ABT) 8.8%, Pascal KOUPAKI (NC) 5.9%, other 9.1%; second round percent of vote - Patrice TALON 65.4%, Lionel ZINSOU 34.6%
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 while in office 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: Alliance for a Triumphant Benin or ABT [Abdoulaye BIO TCHANE] African Movement for Development and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN] Benin Renaissance or RB [Lehady SOGLO] Cowrie Force for an Emerging Benin or FCBE [Yayi BONI] Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI] New Consciousness Rally or NC [Pascal KOUPAKI] Patriotic Awakening or RP [Janvier YAHOUEDEOU] Social Democrat Party or PSD [Emmanuel GOLOU] Sun Alliance or AS [Sacca LAFIA] Union Makes the Nation or UN [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI] (alliance superceded Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD) United Democratic Forces or FDU [Mathurin 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
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
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Omar AROUNA (since 21 May 2014)
chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Lucy TAMLYN (since 8 November 2015)
embassy: Caporal Bernard Anani, 01 BP 2012, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84
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 Economy
The free market economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Cotton is a key export commodity; high prices supported export earnings. Growth in real output has averaged 6.5% since 2014. Inflation has subsided and remained 1% 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. Benin’s 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. Benin has appealed for international assistance to mitigate piracy against commercial shipping in its territory. Though security remains a problem, the Port of Cotonou has made progress towards implementing the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in an effort to remain competitive. Projects included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact (2006-2011) were designed to increase investment and private sector activity by improving key institutional and physical infrastructure. The four projects focused on access to land, access to financial services, access to justice, and access to markets (including modernization of the port). The Port of Cotonou is the largest component of Benin’s economy with revenues projected to account for more than 40% of Benin’s national budget. Realizing its economic potential requires further efforts to infrastructure upgrades, stemming corruption, and expanding access to foreign markets in Nigeria and neighboring landlocked countries. In September 2015, Benin signed a MCC second Compact for $375 million that is designed to strengthen the national utility service provider, attract private sector investment, fund infrastructure investments in electricity generation and distribution, and develop off-grid electrification for poor and unserved households. 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, encourage new information and communication technology, and establish Independent Power Producers (IPP).
GDP (purchasing power parity): GDP (purchasing power parity): $24.31 billion (2016 est.) $23.24 billion (2015 est.) $22.14 billion (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): GDP (official exchange rate): $8.93 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.6% (2016 est.) 5% (2015 est.) 6.5% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,200 (2016 est.) $2,100 (2015 est.) $2,100 (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving: 16.3% of GDP (2016 est.) 16.7% of GDP (2015 est.) 16.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 68%
government consumption: 14.2%
investment in fixed capital: 26.3%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 24.3%
imports of goods and services: -33.3% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin: household consumption: 68%
government consumption: 14.2%
investment in fixed capital: 26.3%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 24.3%
imports of goods and services: -33.3% (2016 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: 4.2% (2016 est.)
Labor force: 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: 36.5 (2003)
Budget: revenues: $1.5 billion
expenditures: $1.939 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 16.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt: 40.2% of GDP (2016 est.) 37.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (2016 est.) 0.3% (2015 est.)
Current account balance: -$892 million (2016 est.) -$893 million (2015 est.)
Exports: $1.713 billion (2016 est.) $1.841 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commodities: cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
Exports - partners: India 24.2%, Gabon 14.6%, China 7.2%, Niger 6%, Bangladesh 5%, Nigeria 4.9%, Vietnam 4.2% (2015)
Imports: $2.591 billion (2016 est.) $2.727 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
Imports - partners: China 42.1%, US 8.9%, India 5.7%, Malaysia 4.8%, Thailand 4.3%, France 4% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $645.5 million (31 December 2016 est.) $731.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external: $2.34 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $2.115 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 605.7 (2016 est.) 591.45 (2015 est.) 591.45 (2014 est.) 494.42 (2013 est.) 510.53 (2012 est.)
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 Energy
Electricity - production: 200 million kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 1 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2013 est.)
Electricity - imports: 1.1 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 163,000 kW (2015 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 99.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 0.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 8 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)
Refined petroleum products - production: 0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 41,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 4,914 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 44,950 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 5 million Mt (2013 est.)
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 Communications
Cellular Phones in use: total: 9.318 million subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 89 (July 2015 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 Oc (2015)
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; (2007)
Internet country code: .bj
Internet users: total: 709,000 percent of population: 6.8% (July 2015 est.)
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 Transportation
Airports: 6 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
Airports (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: total 438 km

narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)
Roadways: total 16,000 km
paved: 1,400 km
unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)
Waterways: 150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2011)
Ports and terminals: major seaport(s): Cotonou LNG terminal(s) (import): Cotonou
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 Military
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: 1.03% of GDP (2012) NA% (2011) 1.03% of GDP (2010)
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 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)
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