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Republic of Benin

Benin location

Oofficially - the Republic of Benin
Former name - Republic of Dahomey
Official language - French
Capital – Porto Novo
Largest City – Cotonou
National holiday – Independence Day, 1 August (1960) (from France)
Government type – Presidential Republic

Border countries: Togo (in the west), Nigeria (in the east), Burkina Faso and Niger (in the north). Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located

Area – 112,622 sq km
Natural resources: clay, iron, gold, limestone, potassium salts, marble, oil (small offshore oil deposits), pyrite, natural gas, rutile, titan, phosphorite, chrome

Population – 12,1 mln (2020, UNCTAD)
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:
The Yoruba (12,3%) 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 (20% together with Somba and Gurma) and the Fulbe (Peul) in the northeast;
the Betammaribe and the Somba (20% together with Bariba and Gurma) in the Atacora Range;
the Fon (39,2%) in the area around Abomey in the South Central; and
the Mina, Xueda, and Aja (15,2%) (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.
French is the official language but is spoken more in urban than in rural areas. Local languages – Fon and Yoruba most common vernaculars in south, tribal languages (at least six major ones in north).

50% – Animism is widespread and its practices vary from one ethnic group to the other.
20% – Muslims. Arab merchants introduced Islam in the north and among the Yoruba.
30% – Christians. European missionaries brought Christianity to the south and central areas of Benin.
Many nominal Muslims and Christians continue to practice animistic traditions. It is believed that voodoo originated in Benin and was introduced to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands by slaves taken from this particular area of the Slave Coast.

Calling code: 229