Fun Facts About Benin
The Republic of Benin is a small West African country. It covers an area of 44,310 sqm and is home to about 11 million people.
- Benin was once called the Dahomey - it first acquired the name “Benin” in 1975.
- It derives its name from the large body of water at the southern end of the colony "the Bight of Benin."
- The capital city of Benin is Porto-Novo but the largest city is Cotonou which is also home to the government.
- It gained independence from the French on August 1, 1960 and celebrates independence day on August 1st every year.
- The people of Benin are known as Beninese or Beninois
- The capital city Porto-Novo was developed to promote slave trade in the 16th century
- Benin is home to Route d’Esclaves (Slave Route), a 2.5-mile stretch that was the last piece of African soil slaves stepped on before being transported to the Caribbean.
- The last ship to transport slaves left the present day Benin for Brazil in 1885.
- Unlike in most parts of the world, snakes in Benin are revered, particularly the Royal pythons. They even eat and sleep in people homes.
- The Temple of Pythons is home to 50 royal pythons. It measures 130 square feet.
- Voodoo is practiced by 17% of the population and is recognized as an official religion.
- Because of superstitious Voodoo, some communities believe that photography steals part of the soul.
- Despite being located in a turbulent region, Benin is among Africa’s most stable democracies.
- While other West African countries export oil and cocoa, Benin's largest export is cotton. It accounts for 80% of its exports.
- It is home to “The Venice of Africa”; a group of villages floating in a lake
- It is also home to the Benin Iya; the world’s largest archaeological structure.
- The country is home to the Royal Palaces of Abomey which is a group of 12 palaces spread across 40 hectares.
- The people of Benin refer to white people as "yovo" a word that white people find insulting but it is actually not.
- Angelique Kidjo, the famous artist who popularized African music in the West, hailed from Benin.
- The price of gas is high in west Africa, and petrol stations are rare to come by. People prefer cheap gas sold on the black market.
- The country is largely composed of young people and the median age is 17.9 years.
- The country’s fertility rate is high at about five children per woman.
- The literacy rate is low at 38.4% and the local languages are not written languages.
- Due to illiteracy levels, only 4.5% of the population can access and use the internet.
- Forest cover accounts for 40% of the land and agriculture accounts for 35%.
- It is a taboo to eat or greet someone using the left hand.
- When leaving or entering a room, it is considered respectful to shake everyone's hand.
- One of the largest collections of carved wood is found in Benin.
- People wear winter jackets during summer to avoid extreme heat.
- There are only two national parks in the country.
- There is only one international airport in the country and it is located in Cotonou.
This page was published on August 1, 2017.
This page was last modified on August 1, 2017.
By Victor Kiprop