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Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a West African kingdom that rose to prominence in about 1600 and over the next two and a half centuries became a regional power, largely based on its slave trade. Coastal areas of Dahomey began to be controlled by the French in the second half of the 19th century; the entire kingdom was conquered by 1894. French Dahomey achieved independence in 1960; it changed its name to the Republic of Benin in 1975.


Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo

Natural Resources

small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Population - distribution

the population is primarily located in the south, with the highest concentration of people residing in and around the cities on the Atlantic coast; most of the north remains sparsely populated with higher concentrations of residents in the west

French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
PORTO-NOVO (capital) 268,000 (2014); COTONOU (seat of government) 682,000; Abomey-Calavi 757,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Republic of Benin
Conventional short form
Local long form
Republique du Benin
Local short form
presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
6 29 N, 2 37 E
Time difference
UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
The free market economy of Benin has grown consecutively for three years, averaging about 5% annually since 2014, but its close trade links to Nigeria expose Benin to risks from volatile commodity prices. Cotton is a key export commodity; high prices supported export earnings, but prices have fallen. Inflation has subsided and remains just 1% over the past several years.
External debt stocks
US$ 2,179,153,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -744,720,833
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 3,403,657,825
Exports of goods and services
US$ 2,621,906,409
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 149,695,382
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 341,702,542
cotton, corn, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
India 25.1%, Gabon 14.4%, China 7.1%, Niger 5.9%, Bangladesh 4.9%, Nigeria 4.8%, Vietnam 4.2% (2015)
foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
China 42.2%, US 8.9%, India 5.7%, Malaysia 4.8%, Thailand 4.3%, France 4% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
Political and economic uncertainties and an occasionally difficult business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is appreciable.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is difficult. Corporate financial information is often unavailable and when available often unreliable. Debt collection is unpredictable. The institutional framework has many troublesome weaknesses. Intercompany transactions run major risks in the difficult environments rated C.
  • One of the most stable democracies in Africa
  • Significant financial support from donors (ODA, HIPC, and MDRI)
  • Strategic position (access to the sea for landlocked countries)
  • Narrow and volatile export base (dependent on fluctuations in cotton price)
  • Erratic electricity supply
  • Governance shortcomings
  • Impact on activity and tax revenues of Nigeria's economic policy decisions (33 times Benin's GDP)
  • Terrorist threat (Boko Haram) from neighboring Nigeria

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