Learn More about the Republic of Benin


The Republic of Benin as the country is officially known is sandwiched between Nigeria to the east, and Togo to the west. Benin’s neighbors are landlocked Burkina Faso to its northwest and Niger to its northeast. Additionally, it has a coastline in its southern part. The coastline is along the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the 16 West African countries.

Benin has an area of 114,763 square kilometers of 44,310 square miles, this makes it the world’s 100th largest nation, Africa’s – nation, and West Africa’s—- largest country. This small West Africa country’s capital city is in Port Novo, though its largest city is Cotonou. Cotonou is a seaport along the Atlantic Ocean.

Benin People, Population and Demographics

Benin last carried a population census in 2013, which back then put its population at 10,008,749,

According to United Nations, in Mid-2020 population estimates, Benin has a population of 12,123,200 making it the World’s 77th most populous. Besides, its population only accounts for 0.16% of the entire world’s population. Additionally, it is Africa’s 27th most populous. According to the same data, the country has a population density of 108 persons per square kilometer or 278 people per square mile, making Africa’s 14th most densely populated.

In 2020 it is estimated that the country’s 5,869,303 people were urban dwellers accounting for 48.4 % of the population. The country has a very young population with a median age of 18.8 years.

Major Urban Areas

The population of Port Novo is 264,320 based on the 2013 census, while that of Cotonou is slightly less than 1 million inhabitants. Porto Novo is inland but not far from the sea and it is the seat of most of the government’s offices and functions. On the other hand, Cotonou is the country’s commercial hub and it’s the home of the country’s International airport; Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport which also happens to be the largest in West Africa. Furthermore, Cotonou has the country’s largest seaport.

See the table below about Benin’s ethnicity and religion.

Benin's Major Ethnic Groups
Benin’s Major Ethnic Groups

The country was a French Colony and gained its independence on the 1st of August 1960. Consequently, its official language is French. 

The Economy of the Republic of Benin

The country’s economy is mainly based in Agriculture and fishing. It main exports are cotton and palm oil

According to 2019 estimates Benin’s GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity or PPP stood at $29.918 billion making 137th world’s largest economy, Africa and West Africa’s — and — respectively. Its per capita based on its GDP (PPP) by 2019 was estimated to be $2,552 making the world’s 163rd, Africa’s –, and West Africa’s —. The 2019 estimates for Benin’s GDP (nominal) was $11.386 billion, this made it the world’s 141st largest economy, Africa’s — and West Africa’s —.

Geography of Republic of Benin

Benin is located along the Bight of Benin, part of the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf of Guinea. It lies west of Nigeria, east of Togo, and southeast and southwest of landlocked Niger and Burkina Faso, respectively. The country is long and shaped like a club. Its southern part adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean is narrow, while its northern end towards its boundary with Niger and Burkina Faso is wider. Its the longest from north to south.

Learn more about the geography of Benin.

History of Benin

The current West Africa nation known as Benin sits in the same location that was the former Kingdom of Dahomey. The kingdom was founded in about 1600 and existed until 1904. The end of this last great African Kingdom was after its eleventh and last King; Béhanzin was defeated by the French who after this historical defeat annexed it and added it to the West African French colonial empire. The Kingdom of Dahomey was a Fon people kingdom that was first established on the Abomey Plateau. During its heydays, Dahomey was one of the West African powers to reckon with.