Lagoons and beaches lined with coconut palms in the south, gentle hills planted with wooded savannah in the centre, arid mountains in the north… Benin offers an astonishing compendium of African landscapes.
But its richness is above all its immense cultural heritage, its varied traditions (a good forty ethnic groups), its dense and tumultuous history, well before the colonial presence. Travellers know it well, and when they choose to visit this country, it is very often to look for something, to make a kind of pilgrimage, to return to the sources…
Benin is also the land of vodoun, an ever-present “animist” cult that has spread to Brazil, Haiti and Cuba. For the country was marked by the slave trade, millions of which were deported from its shores. Today we meet many African-Americans who have come to walk in the footsteps of their history.
At last, Benin vibrates with a real intellectual and artistic life. It was also nicknamed the Latin Quarter of Africa.
As for the lovers of big animals, they will be able to push to the north of the country, sheltering two animal parks (one of which is shared with Burkina Faso and Niger).
Also noteworthy: Benin is the only French-speaking West African country to have made political transitions without violence since independence.