BENINESE Facts & Figures

Size: 43,484 square miles

Population: 8,791,832

Capital: Porto-Novo

Currency: West African CFA

Weather / Climate:

Benin's climate is hot and humid. Annual rainfall in the coastal area averages 1,360 mm (53.5 in), not particularly high for coastal West Africa. Benin has two rainy and two dry seasons. The principal rainy season is from April to late July, with a shorter less intense rainy period from late September to November. The main dry season is from December to April, with a short cooler dry season from late July to early September. Temperatures and humidity are high along the tropical coast. In Cotonou, the average maximum temperature is 31 °C (87.8 °F); the minimum is 24 °C (75.2 °F). Variations in temperature increase when moving north through a savanna and plateau toward the Sahel. A dry wind from the Sahara called the harmattan blows from December to March. Grass dries up, the vegetation turns reddish brown, and a veil of fine dust hangs over the country, causing the skies to be overcast. It is also the season when farmers burn brush in the fields.


BENINESE languages

Local languages are used as the languages of instruction in elementary schools, with French only introduced after several years. In wealthier cities, however, French is usually taught at an earlier age. Beninese languages are generally transcribed with a separate letter for each speech sound (phoneme), rather than using diacritics as in French or digraphs as in English. This includes Beninese Yoruba, which in Nigeria is written with both diacritics and digraphs. For instance, the mid vowels written é è, ô, o in French are written e, ?, o, ?in Beninese languages, whereas the consonants written ng and sh or ch in English are written ? and c. However, digraphs are used for nasal vowels and the labial-velar consonants kp and gb, as in the name of the Fon language Fon gbe /fõ ??be/, and diacritics are used as tone marks. In French-language publications, a mixture of French and Beninese orthographies may be seen.

Taken from:

BENINESE culture


Beninese literature had a strong oral tradition long before French became the dominant language. Felix Couchoro wrote the first Beninese novel, L'Esclave in 1929.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.Singer Angélique Kidjo and actor Djimon Hounsou were both born in Cotonou, Benin. Composer Wally Badarou and singer Gnonnas Pedro are also of Beninese descent.

Customary names

Many Beninois in the south of the country have Akan-based names indicating the day of the week on which they were born. This is due to influence of the Akan people likely the Akwamu and others.


Celestial Church of Christ baptism in Cotonou. Five percent of Benin's population belongs to the Celestial Church of Christ, an African Initiated Church.In the 2002 census, 42.8% of the population of Benin were Christian (27.1% Roman Catholic, 5% Celestial Church of Christ, 3.2% Methodist, 7.5% other Christian denominations), 24.4% were Muslim, 17.3% practices Vodun, 6% other traditional local religious groups, 1.9% other religious groups, and 6.5% claim no religious affiliation.Indigenous religions include local animistic religions in the Atakora (Atakora and Donga provinces) and Vodun and Orisha or Orisa veneration among the Yoruba and Tado peoples in the center and south of the country. The town of Ouidah on the central coast is the spiritual center of Beninese Vodun.The major introduced religions are Islam, introduced by the Songhai Empire and Hausa merchants, and now followed throughout Alibori, Borgou, and Donga provinces, as well as among the Yoruba (who also follow Christianity), and Christianity, followed throughout the south and center of Benin and in Otammari country in the Atakora. Many, however, continue to hold Vodun and Orisha beliefs and have incorporated into Christianity the pantheon of Vodun and Orisha. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a sect originating in the 19th century is also present, in significant minority.


The literacy rate in Benin is among the lowest in the world: in 2002 it was estimated to be 34.7% (47.9% for males and 23.3% for females). Although at one time the education system was not free, Benin has abolished school fees and is carrying out the recommendations of its 2007 Educational Forum.

Taken from wikipedia


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; Fula: Ful?e) 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.

Recent migrations have brought other African nationals to Benin that include Nigerians, Togolese, and Malians. The foreign community also includes many Lebanese and Indians involved in trade and commerce. The personnel of the many European embassies and foreign aid missions and of nongovernmental organizations and various missionary groups account for a large part of the 5500 European population.A small part of the European population consists of Beninese citizens of French ancestry, whose ancestors ruled Benin and left after independence.

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Even in many urban areas, cooking is done outside or, when it rains, in a separate room or shelter. Women and girls cook family meals, although more young men are learning to cook. Because many homes do not have refrigeration, most people go to the market several times a week to purchase food.

The basic meal consists of a staple starch prepared as a sort of mush, eaten with a sauce that contains vegetables and meat or fish. Food is prepared at least twice a day: at midday and in the evening. The morning meal may consist of warmed-up leftovers from the previous evening's meal or food purchased from roadside vendors.

In the south, rice, corn, and manioc are the primary starches; millet, sorghum, and yams are preferred in central and northern communities. Sauces may contain okra, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, eggplant, peppers, and other vegetables. Legumes may be made into side dishes. In the marshy areas, carrots, green beans, and lettuce are being incorporated into the diet.

Beninese also eat many varieties of tropical fruits. Traditionally palm wine was produced in the south, while millet beer was brewed and consumed by the northern peoples. Today alcoholic beverages are likely to be imported.

Smoked, dried, or fresh fish is likely to accompany a meal in the south, while beef is more common in the north. Goats, sheep, and poultry are found throughout the country. Poor people often eat meals with no protein. "European" foods were introduced during the colonial period. Many young people perceive the traditional diet as monotonous and want to eat more expensive and often less nutritious imported foods.

Children and adults buy snacks from roadside vendors. Men without female family members to cook for them often eat in makeshift outdoor restaurants. In the cities, French cuisine is available in restaurants.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions

Weddings, funerals, and holidays always involve eating. The Muslim feast day of Tobaski is celebrated by eating mutton, and families save to purchase a large sheep. Items such as pasta and canned peas are purchased by rural dwellers to eat on special occasions.

Taken from wikipedia

Doing business in BENIN

Benin has undergone vast political and economic transformations over the past several years. Yet, economic reforms have proven more uneven than political transformation. Although the basic institutional framework for a market economy has been increasingly strengthened, the economy remains dominated by the informal sector. There is a lack of consensus as to the exact percentage of the workforce that is employed in this sector: estimates vary between 80% and 95%. In any case, sources agree that the informal sector continues to play an important role in Benin's economy with both the productivity and trade of SMEs and individual labourers operating in the informal sector accounting for upwards of 50% of the country's annual GDP.

There are several obstacles to attracting foreign investors in Benin. The most important obstacle, according to many observers, is widespread petty (facilitation payments and small bribes) and grand (government, contracts) corruption in the country. According to the World Bank & African Development Bank 2007 (in French), 58% of the households and companies surveyed in Benin rank corruption in the public sector as the most important concern in their daily activities. Furthermore, 20% of household and company respondents report that they spend a minimum of 1% of their annual income on unofficial payments to public officials. According to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, companies identify corruption as the third most problematic factor for doing business in Benin, right after tax regulations. Furthermore, according to an official estimate, corruption costs companies 8.4% of their annual turnover. Another obstacle for doing business in Benin is complicated bureaucratic procedures. Companies should therefore expect to encounter corruption in many areas of business activities: in relation to public utilities, licences and permits, in contracting with state institutions, and in dealings with government bureaucracy and customs authorities, particularly at the Port of Cotonou.

According to US Department of State 2009, foreign investment in Benin has, for the most part, entailed the purchase of interests in privatised companies by investors from Lebanon, India, Germany, France and other countries. According to the South African Credit Guarantee Benin Country Profile 2008, foreign investment is subject to government approval and regulations that require the hiring of native Beninese, just as part-Beninese ownership of privatised companies is required. Corruption in the political system is endemic and the diversion of funds and allocation of state resources through patron-client networks is widespread. The distribution of funds through these informal networks creates a non-transparent investment climate that discourages foreign investment. On the basis of the above, companies are urged to develop, implement and strengthen integrity systems and to conduct thorough due diligence before investing in or when already doing business in Benin.

From business anti corruption website

BENIN: useful links

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