Capital: -Porto-Novo (pop. 295,000). Political and economic capital–Cotonou (pop. 2 million).


Population: (2010): 9.05 million 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, NGOs and various missionary groups account for a large number of the 5,500 European population.


People Groups: : African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Xwla, Fon, Adja, Yoruba, and Bariba),

Languages: French (official), Fon, Mina, Goun, and Yoruba in the south; Nagot, Bariba, and Dendi in the north.


Religions: Indigenous beliefs (animist) 35%, Christian 35%, Muslim 20%, others 10%,

Animism is widespread (35%), and its practices vary from one ethnic group to the other. Arab merchants introduced Islam in the north and among the Yoruba. European missionaries brought Christianity to the south and central areas of Benin. Many nominal Muslims and Christians continue to practice animistic traditions. Voodoo originated in Benin and was introduced to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands by African slaves taken from this particular area of the Slave Coast.

Government: Type: Republic under multiparty democratic rule.
Branches: Executive–President, elected by popular vote for 5-year term, renewable once, appoints the Cabinet.

Legislative–Unicameral, 83-seat National Assembly directly elected by popular vote for 4-year term.

Judicial–Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, High Court of Justice.


Living Conditions: Literacy–total population 44%; men 48%, women 23%.
Health (2010): Infant mortality rate–61/1,000. Life expectancy–59 yrs. Per capita GDP (2009): $1,500. Work force: The labor market is characterized by an increased reliance on informal employment, family helpers, and the use of apprentices. Training and job opportunities are not well matched.

History: Benin was the seat of one of the great medieval African kingdoms called Dahomey. Europeans began arriving in the area in the 18th century, as the kingdom of Dahomey was expanding its territory. The Portuguese, the French, and the Dutch established trading posts along the coast and traded weapons for slaves. Slave trade ended in 1848. As of 1900, the territory became a French colony ruled by a French Governor. December 4, 1958, it became the Republique du Dahomey, self-governing within the French community, and on August 1, 1960, the Republic of Benin gained full independence from France.

Between 1960 and 1972, a succession of military coups brought about many changes of government. The last of these brought to power Major Mathieu Kerekou as the head of a regime professing strict Marxist-Leninist principles. Kerekou’s principal opponent at the 1991 presidential poll, and the ultimate victor, was Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo but Kerekou was reelected in 2001. At the end of his second term in 2006, Kerekou successfully handed power over to Boni Yayi, elected with 75% of the votes cast and reelected in 2011.


Pray for:


  • Victory over syncretistic practices of nominal Christians.

  • Conversion of animists.

  • Entry into Muslim groups.

  • Expansion of the church planting movement already in existence.

  • Andy Swatton as he takes training sessions.

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