About Benin

Background:

Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI, who won a second five-year term in March 2011, has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin’s economic growth.

Location:

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

Area:

total: 112,622 sq km (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania)                                               country comparison to the world: 102                                                                                      land: 110,622 sq km                                                                                                                 water: 2,000 sq km                                                                                                                  border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km

Climate:

tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Terrain:

mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m                                                                                           highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m (2159 ft)

Natural resources:

small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Land use:

arable land: 23.53%                                                                                                          permanent crops: 2.37%                                                                                                           other: 74.1% (2005)

Environment – current issues:

inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Environment – international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

Geography:

sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands

*Information taken directly from the CIA World Factbook

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