Map of Benin

Flag of Benin

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red with a vertical green band on the hoist side

Background: Dahomey gained its independence from France in 1960; the name was changed to Benin in 1975. From 1974 to 1989 the country was a socialist state; free elections were re-established in 1991.

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Nigeria and Togo

Geographic coordinates: 9 30 N, 2 15 E

Map references: Africa

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

Population: 6,395,919
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 2000 est.)

Ethnic groups: African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba)

Capital: Porto-Novo is the official capital; Cotonou is the seat of government

Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)

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.