Fun Facts About Benin

By Victor Kiprop on August 1 2017 in Travel

The lake of Ganvie, Benin.
The lake of Ganvie, Benin.

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.

More in Travel