Benin

Benin is a country on the continent of Africa

Brief History

The history of Benin can be split into three categories: pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial. There isn’t any written history of pre-colonial Benin, but we do know that during the 900s the Edo people settled in the West African rainforests. These people grew a successful kingdom led by a wealthy leader called an Oba. During the mid-1600s, the English came to Benin, and during the early 1700s, the French came. Then in 1752, the Portuguese founded Porto-Novo, a port for the flourishing slave trade. Following wars and other problems, what is now Benin became a French colony (Colony of Dahomey). In 1904 Dahomey became a part of French West Africa. Benin finally gained its independence on August 1, 1960.

Benin Flag

National Flag

The national flag of Benin is made up of two horizontal stripes (yellow and red) on the right side and a vertical green band on the left side. The green represents hope and revival, yellow the country’s wealth, and red the courage of ancestors. The current flag design was adopted on November 16, 1959.

Geography

Benin is located in West Africa, and is a narrow north to south strip of land. It is bordered by Burkina Faso to the northwest, Nigeria to the east, Togo to the west, and the Bight of Benin to the south (in the Atlantic Ocean). It is one of the smallest countries in Africa and has sandy coastal areas, marshy land with lagoons, and wooded savannas.

World Land Mass Ranking: 102nd
Highest Mountain: Mount Sakbaro, 658 meters (2,159 ft)
Longest River: Niger, 2,597 miles

Main Languages

French, Yoruba, Fon

Benin Population: 11.5 million (as of 2018)
Capital City: Porto-Novo
Capital City Population: 264,320 (as of 2013)

Climate

The climate of Benin is tropical, hot, and humid. It has two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The rainy seasons are from May to mid-July and from September to December in the south (May to September in the north). Temperatures do not vary too much throughout the year, and it is quite humid year-round as well.

Key People

  • Cuisine

    Because of Benin’s unusual shape, the cuisine varies from the north to the south. Corn is considered the most important food in the south, while yams are the staple food in the north. Both of these starchy foods are cooked down to a mushy consistency and eaten with fingers. The national dish of Benin is Kuli-kuli, which is ground up peanuts that are made into balls and then deep-fried. Meat is usually quite expensive in Benin. Many people can’t afford it, so meals are usually high in vegetable fat. Along the coast, seafood is fairly common, especially crab and squid. The main crops in Benin (besides corn, yams, and peanuts) are cassava, rice, citrus fruits, and cashews.

    Left is a picture of Aloko, which is fried plantains.

  • Sports

    Being a small and poor country, Benin has not had much success with professional sports. Benin has participated in The Olympics several times, but has never won a medal. Sport is still a part of everyday life, and the people in Benin enjoy a variety of activities. The most popular sport is football, and other popular sports are tennis, rugby, and track and field.

    Left is a picture of the Benin national football team.

  • Culture

    Culture in Benin is very important as well as diverse. It is a blend of African culture with French influence. Music is an important part of everyday life in Benin and is also a big part of celebrations and religious purposes. Traditional clothing and textiles are also an important part of culture in Benin. Like most clothing in West Africa, these textiles are vibrant and ornately decorated. Along with these textiles, handcrafting decorative items such as jewelry is common in Benin. Storytelling has been a part of the culture in Benin throughout the ages. In Benin, voodoo (voudou) is a big part of the culture. The main religions in Benin are Christianity, Islam, and Vodun.

    Left is a picture of a traditional music group in Benin

    Benin is a beautiful country with wonderful people.

     

     

    Download questions about the Benin here: Benin (answers are on this page)

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10 facts about Benin

  1. The largest export from Benin is cotton.
  2. The national animal of Benin is a leopard.
  3. The largest city and chief port in Benin is Cotonou.
  4. The average lifespan in Benin is 61 years.
  5. There are two national parks in Benin.
  6. Benin has a coastline that is 121 km long.
  7. Over 30% of Benin is wooded.
  8. Only 4.8% of the population uses the internet.
  9. The Royal Python is worshiped in Benin.
  10. Benin has a literacy rate of 38.4%.

Q&A Corner

1. What is the capital city of Benin? +
2. What is the longest river in Benin? +
3. What colors make up the flag of Benin? +
4. Name a sport that is popular in Benin. +
5. In what part of Africa is Benin located? +
6. What ocean borders Benin? +
7. What is the tallest mountain in Benin? +
8. Name one of the main crops grown in Benin? +
9. What is the national dish of Benin? +
10. What is the population of Benin (as of 2018)? +