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  The World Factbook.  2008.
 
Benin
 
Flag of Benin                                Map of Benin
 
Background:Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. 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. YAYI has begun a high profile fight against corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.
  
Geography
  
Location:Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
Geographic coordinates:9 30 N, 2 15 E
Map references:Africa
Area:total: 112,620 sq km
land: 110,620 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km
Area—comparative:slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries:total: 1,989 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 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:lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m
Natural resources:small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
Land use:arable land: 23.53%
permanent crops: 2.37%
other: 74.1% (2005)
Irrigated land:120 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:25.8 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)
Natural hazards:hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
Environment—current issues:inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
Environment—international 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
Geography—note:sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
  
People
  
Population:8,078,314
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 43.9% (male 1,788,248/female 1,754,940)
15-64 years: 53.7% (male 2,138,649/female 2,203,291)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 77,844/female 115,342) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 17.7 years
male: 17.3 years
female: 18.1 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:2.674% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:38.1 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:11.94 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:0.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.019 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.971 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.675 male(s)/female
total population: 0.983 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 77.85 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 82.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 73.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 53.44 years
male: 52.28 years
female: 54.63 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:5.08 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:1.9% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:68,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS—deaths:5,800 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2008)
Nationality:noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese
Ethnic groups:Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Peulh and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, other 1.6% (includes Europeans), unspecified 2.9% (2002 census)
Religions:Christian 42.8% (Catholic 27.1%, Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%, other 5.3%), Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)
Languages:French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 34.7%
male: 47.9%
female: 23.3% (2002 census)
  
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
Government type:republic
Capital:name: Porto-Novo (official capital)
geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cotonou (seat of government)
Administrative divisions:12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou
Independence:1 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday:National Day, 1 August (1960)
Constitution:adopted by referendum 2 December 1990
Legal system:based on French civil law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); runoff election held 19 March 2006 (next to be held in March 2011)
election results: Thomas YAYI Boni elected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni 74.5%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 25.5%
Legislative branch:unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 31 March 2007 (next to be held by March 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 35, ADD 20, PRD 10, other and independents 18
Judicial branch:Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle; Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; High Court of Justice
Political parties and leaders:Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD; Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP; African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie for an Emerging Benin or FCBE; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare SÈHOUÉTO]; Movement for the People's Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]; Social Democrat Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Union for the Relief or UPR [Issa SALIFOU]; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]
note: approximately 20 additional minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN
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 Gayleatha B. BROWN
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84
Flag description:two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side
  
Economy
  
Economy—overview:The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged around 5% in the past seven years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. 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. Specific 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 $307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture though the government annulled the privatization of Benin's state cotton company in November 2007 after the discovery of irregularities in the bidding process. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms. An insufficient electrical supply continues to adversely affect Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$12.18 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$5.425 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:4.5% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$1,500 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 33.2%
industry: 14.5%
services: 52.3% (2007 est.)
Labor force:5.38 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)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):2.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):19.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $936.9 million
expenditures: $1.226 billion (2007 est.)
Agriculture—products:cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
Industries:textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
Industrial production growth rate:4.5% (2007 est.)
Electricity—production:105 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:587 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:595 million kWh (2005)
Oil—production:0 bbl/day (2007)
Oil—consumption:9,232 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil—exports:0 bbl/day (2007)
Oil—imports:16,830 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil—proved reserves:8.21 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:1.086 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:$-278.8 million (2007 est.)
Exports:$708.7 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports—commodities:cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
Exports—partners:China 20.9%, Indonesia 7.7%, India 7%, Netherlands 6.2%, Niger 5.7%, Togo 4.6%, Nigeria 4.3% (2006)
Imports:$976.3 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports—commodities:foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
Imports—partners:China 46.6%, France 7.5%, Thailand 6% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$825 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt—external:$1.2 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$NA
Economic aid—recipient:$374.7 million (2006)
Currency (code):Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States
Exchange rates:Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004), 581.2 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
  
Communications
  
Telephones—main lines in use:77,300 (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:1.056 million (2006)
Telephone system:general assessment: inadequate; fixed-line network is almost saturated with fixed-line teledensity stuck at a meager 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular telephone subscribership is increasing
domestic: fair system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; four mobile-cellular providers
international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth station - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 1, FM 34, shortwave 1 (2007)
Television broadcast stations:6 (2007)
Internet country code:.bj
Internet hosts:798 (2007)
Internet users:700,000 (2006)
  
Transportation
  
Airports:5 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)
Railways:total: 758 km
narrow gauge: 758 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)
Roadways:total: 16,000 km
paved: 1,400 km
unpaved: 14,600 km (2005)
Waterways:150 km (on River Niger along northern border) (2005)
Ports and terminals:Cotonou
  
Military
  
Military branches:Benin Armed Forces (FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin People's Air Force (Force Aerienne Populaire de Benin, FAPB) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:21 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; in practice, volunteers may be taken at the age of 18; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2006)
Manpower available for military service:males age 21-49: 1,295,230
females age 21-49: 1,301,936 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 21-49: 749,774
females age 21-49: 751,329 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 76,661
females: 75,068 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:1.7% (2006)
  
Transnational Issues
  
Disputes—international:two villages remain in dispute along the border with Burkina Faso; Benin accused Burkina Faso of moving boundary pillars; much of Benin-Niger boundary, including tripoint with Nigeria, remains undemarcated; in 2005, Nigeria ceded thirteen villages to Benin, but border relations remain strained by rival gang clashes; Benin and Togo announced plans in 2006 to construct a joint hydroelectric dam on the Mona River at the southern end of the border
Refugees and internally displaced persons:refugees (country of origin): 26,632 (Togo) (2006)
Illicit drugs:transshipment point used by Nigerian traffickers for narcotics destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations

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