About Benin

  • Population: 10,340,000 (estimate 2018).
  • Surface area: 112,763 kmĀ².
  • Capital: Porto-Novo.
  • Languages: French, Fon (in the Centre and South), Yoruba (East), Mina (West), Dendi, Bariba, Goun, Tem, Adja, Peul.
  • Human Development Index: 163rd out of 189 countries.
  • Currency: the CFA franc; it will be replaced by the eco on 1 July 2020.
  • Type of state: presidential.
  • Head of state: Patrice Talon (since April 2016).
  • Unesco World Heritage site: the royal palaces of Abomey (inscribed in 1985).


Benin is committed to a market economy open to foreign investment. Domestic production is divided between an agricultural sector (35 percent), which employs about 70 percent of the population, a growing service sector (58 percent) and an industrial sector (6 percent) that is still fairly vegetative. A share of agricultural production is destined for export. Remittances from emigrants – about 100 billion CFA francs per year – contribute 3 per cent to GDP.

Cotton, which accounted for up to 80 per cent of exports, is in crisis because of low prices and unfair international competition, and now accounts for barely 60 per cent. However, this sector, which has recently been brought back under state control, still provides a direct or indirect livelihood for 3 million people.

Cereals are mainly intended for domestic consumption. Plans are under way to develop other products for export, such as pineapple, bananas, cashew nuts and shrimp. Rice cultivation is insufficient and much of it is imported, but the plan is to double production in the short term to cover 70% of domestic demand.

There are a few industries, mainly food, textiles and oil manufacturing.

The service sector is developing rapidly, especially with the advent of the Internet and new communications.

On the other hand, while the Ivorian crisis had revived the activities of the port of Cotonou, intensifying the traffic of goods with Sahelian countries with no maritime outlets (Niger, Burkina Faso), the machine then came to a standstill, as the weak port infrastructure struggled to absorb an ever-increasing flow of goods. Scalded by the many delays, the Sahel countries are now turning to Abidjan again.

The international financial crisis has not spared Benin either, leading to a decline in its commercial activity.