Fast Facts

Porto-Novo; 238,000
112,622 square kilometers (43,484 square miles)
French, Fon, Yoruba, tribal langauges
Indigenous beliefs, Christian, Muslim
CFA franc
Life Expectancy:
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $1,100
Literacy Percent:
Flag: Benin
Map: Benin

Countless slaves were shipped to the New World from this West African state during the 18th and 19th centuries. After independence from France in 1960, the country—then called Dahomey—was plagued by many coups; in 1975 a Marxist military government renamed the nation Benin. About 42 African ethnic groups live in Benin, with most people living in the south. In 1989 the government renounced Marxism—since then it has held numerous free elections. The agricultural economy is based largely on cotton.


  • Industry: Textiles, food processing, chemical production, construction materials
  • Agriculture: Cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams; livestock
  • Exports: Cotton, crude oil, palm products, cacao

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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