Country Description - Benin


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AIESEC help guide for Benin.

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Country Description - Benin

  1. 1. WEST AFRICA: BENIN Capital: Largest city: Languages: Demonym: Currency: Calling code: Porto-Novo Cotonou French Beninese West African CFA franc (XOF) +229 Benin officially the Republic of Benin is bordered by Togo to the west, by Nigeria to the east and by Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. A majority of the population lives on its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country's largest city. Benin covers an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi), with a population of approximately 9.05 million. Marked by influences from the Americas, Europe, and elsewhere in Africa, along with native voodoo practices, Benin is unlike any other place in the world. Indeed, although visitors often come for the northern region’s abundant wildlife, including elephants, cheetahs, lions, and more than 500 species of birds, they often leave happily enthralled by the nation’s untouched beaches, fascinating indigenous traditions, and the thrills and chaos of the main city, Cotonou. Flag Lac Ganvié Benin Mountains
  2. 2. WEST AFRICA: BENIN Benin's national parks and culture are among its main tourist attractions. Abomey is one of Benin's main tourist attractions, with palaces that became a World Heritage Site in 1982. The capital city Porto Novo's attractions include its museums and architecture Benin’s largest city, Cotonou, is characterized by the same kind of chaos and grit as other large West African metropolises, but it also has one of the finest cultural scenes in the region and a thriving nightlife. The Fondation Zinsou, a museum dedicated to contemporary African art, is superb. Possibly Benin’s most unusual attraction, the town of Ganvié is built entirely on stilts in the middle of a large lagoon. Its inhabitants are descended from the Tofinu people, who were captured and sold as slaves by the rival Abomey tribe. Because the Abomey were forbidden by a religious taboo to attack people on water, the Tonfinu constructed an entire town so that they would never have to go on land. Lions, elephants, and cheetahs are the popular animals here— and that’s to say nothing of the crocodiles, baboons, and hippos that also inhabit Pendjari National Park, in northern Benin. It has some of Benin’s best scenery, and the well-run park administration uses quality control measures, including a rating system, to ensure that you’ll get your money’s worth from guides. A highlight of the city of Ouidah (which itself is steeped in Beninese history and voodoo mythology), tourists can visit the Route des Esclaves and the snakes temple. The other attractions of the country are Royal Palaces of Abomey including a throne mounted on human skulls, Lake Ahémé and the Benin’s main holiday is the Voodoo Festival, or Fête du Vodoun, which is observed in mid-January with raucous celebrations, music, and drinking throughout the country.