Benin, officially the Republic of Benin and formerly Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. The country has long history with slave trade. Let’s learn more about it with these 43 interesting facts!

Facts about history of Benin

1. Benin is named after the body of water on which it lies – the ‘Bight of Benin’.

2. The people of Benin are called as Beninese.

3. Benin became independent from France on August 1, 1960.

4. The capital region of the country and the area nearby was referred as ‘Slave Coast’ from as early as the 17th century. During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, a large number of slaves were shipped to the New World.

5. By about 1750, the Kingdom of Dahomey (a part of Benin) was earning an estimated £250,000 per year by selling Africans to the European slave-traders.

6. The last ship of slaves departed from Dahomey for Brazil in 1885.

7. The region was a French colony for 58 years between 1900 and 1958.

8. Benin was the first country in the 1990s to make the transition from a dictatorship to a multiparty democracy.

Benin view of a town
A view of a town in Benin. Image credit – RNW.org

Facts about its geography, languages spoken, economy and agriculture

9. The capital of Benin—Porto Novo—was developed as a port for the slave trade.

10. The country was named Benin on November 30, 1975. Earlier it was known as Dahomey.

11. Indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken in Benin.

12. The country measures about 325 km (202 mi) at its widest point.

13. The W-Arli-Pendjari in Benin harbours the largest remaining population of lions in West Africa.

14. While cotton is the country’s main export item, the economy of the country is also dependent on agriculture and regional trade.

15. The country’s only seaport and international airport are in Cotonou, which is also the largest city in the country.

16. Soccer is the national sport of Benin.

17. The high prices of legal petrol forces the locals to buy it illegally for cheap. Petrol is illegally sourced from Nigeria and is sold in the country. Petrol stations are scarce in the country.

18. In terms of area, Benin is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania. Or it is above two third the Size of Portugal.

19. The country has a 121 km long coastline.

Interesting facts about Benin - Country map
Benin on the map with neighboring countries.

20. 31.3% of the country’s land area is under agriculture while 40% of it is under forest.

21. The median age of the people in Benin is 17.9 years.

22. Benin has a high fertility rate with approximately 5 children per woman.

23. Benin has a literacy rate of 38.4%.

24. Almost 4.5% of the country’s population uses the internet.

25. Crime rate is low in the country. However, theft is a problem and many wealthier homeowners generally hire a night watchman.

26. The red color on its flag symbolizes courage, yellow stands for wealth and green symbolizes hope and revival.

27. The southern part of the country receives heavy rainfall and produces more vegetation as compared to the other parts of the country.

28. Hubert Maga was elected as the first president of Benin.

29. Benin is also home to Fulani herders who move their livestock over long distances in search of grass. These herders are locally known as the Peul.

Facts about Benin’ culture, people, slaves and health care

30. There is at least one open-air market in every town of the country.

31. People generally eat rice, vegetables and meat. Food is prepared at least twice a day. A variety of fish is eaten in the south while beef is more popular in the north.

32. In the country’s culture, it is considered bad to eat with the left hand or offer another person something with it.

33. Upon entering or leaving an appointment, it is appropriate to shake the hand of each person present.

34. Young Beninese like to eat packaged food items that are mostly imported. They perceive their traditional diet as monotonous and like to eat imported food, instead.

35. AIDS is a major concern in the country and it is straining the health care system.

36. With over twelve thousand students enrolled, the University of Benin in Cotonou is the only postsecondary institution in the country.

37. Because of the extreme heat during the summers in the country, the people wear jackets even when the temperature in near 20 degrees on plus.

38. White persons visiting the country are referred to as “yovo”. Do not be surprised to find people and kids shouting this word behind you if you happen to visit the country. The people, however, are very friendly and lively.

39. The capital of Benin, Porto-Novo is also known as Adjatche and Hogbonou.

40. People of the country do not like to be photographed. They believe that a photograph can be used to cast a sell or a course.

41. The country is famous the world over for carved wood masks.

42. Though Benin has a long history with slavery, slaves in the region were treated very well.

43. While being very poor, Benin is also one of the most politically stable country in the West Africa.

Quick facts about Benin

Capital CityPorto-Novo
Largest CityCotonou
Total area112,622 sq km
Population10,879,829 (2015 estimate)
Official LanguageFrench
BordersTogo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria
CurrencyWest African CFA franc (XOF)
ReligionCatholicism, Islam, Vodoun
Life expectancy 61.47 years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
Terrainmostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains
Natural resourcessmall offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
Agricultural land31.3%
Birth rate36.02 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate8.21 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence1 August 1960 (from France)
National symbolleopard; national colors: green, yellow, red
National anthem"L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)
Industriestextiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
Exports$2.047 billion (2015 est.)
cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood

Imports$2.646 billion (2015 est.)
foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,100 (2015 est.)
Internet users709,000
percent of population: 6.8% (July 2015 est.)
Internet country code.bj
Time ZoneWAT (UTC+1)
Calling Code+229
Drives on theRight

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