Benin

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 9, 2011
Flag of Benin
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Location of Benin
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Map of Benin
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Introduction

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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 has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.
 
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Geography

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Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
 
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9 30 N, 2 15 E
 
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total: 112,622 sq km
country comparison to the world: 102
land: 110,622 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
 
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total: 1,989 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km
 
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121 km
 
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territorial sea: 200 nm
 
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tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
 
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mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains
 
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m
 
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small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
 
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arable land: 23.53%
permanent crops: 2.37%
other: 74.1% (2005)
 
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120 sq km (2008)
 
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25.8 cu km (2001)
 
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total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)
 
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hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
 
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inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
 
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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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
 
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sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
 
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People and Society

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noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese
 
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Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Peulh and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, other 1.6% (includes Europeans), unspecified 2.9% (2002 census)
 
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French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
 
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Catholic 27.1%, Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, Protestant 10.4% (Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%), other Christian 5.3%, other 15.5% (2002 census)
 
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9,325,032 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
 
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0-14 years: 44.7% (male 2,126,973/female 2,042,340)
15-64 years: 52.6% (male 2,443,370/female 2,461,421)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 101,640/female 149,288) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 17.4 years
male: 17 years
female: 17.9 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.911% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
 
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38.11 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
 
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9 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
 
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0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
 
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urban population: 42% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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COTONOU (seat of government) 815,000; PORTO-NOVO (capital) 276,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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410 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 36
 
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total: 61.56 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 31
male: 64.89 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 58.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 59.84 years
country comparison to the world: 187
male: 58.61 years
female: 61.14 years (2011 est.)
 
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5.31 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
 
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4.2% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 157
 
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0.059 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 171
 
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0.5 beds/1,000 population (2005)
country comparison to the world: 170
 
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improved:
urban: 84% of population
rural: 69% of population
total: 75% of population
unimproved:
urban: 16% of population
rural: 31% of population
total: 25% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 24% of population
rural: 4% of population
total: 12% of population
unimproved:
urban: 76% of population
rural: 96% of population
total: 88% of population (2008)
 
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1.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
 
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60,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
 
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2,700 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
 
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degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
 
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20.2% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 37
 
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3.5% of GDP (2007)
country comparison to the world: 116
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 34.7%
male: 47.9%
female: 23.3% (2002 census)
 
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total: 9 years
male: 11 years
female: 8 years (2005)
 
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total: 0.8%
country comparison to the world: 130
male: 1.1%
female: 0.6% (2002)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of Benin
conventional short form: Benin
local long form: Republique du Benin
local short form: Benin
former: Dahomey
 
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republic
 
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name: Porto-Novo (official capital)
geographic coordinates: 6 29 N, 2 37 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
note: Cotonou (seat of government)
 
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12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou
 
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1 August 1960 (from France)
 
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National Day, 1 August (1960)
 
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adopted by referendum 2 December 1990
 
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civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Thomas YAYI Boni (since 6 April 2006); Prime Minister Pascal KOUPAKI (since 28 May 2011)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); last held on 13 March 2011 (next to be held in March 2016)
election results: Thomas YAYI Boni re-elected president; percent of vote - Thomas YAYI Boni 53.1%, Adrien HOUNGBEDJI 35.6%, Abdoulaye Bio TCHANE 6.1%, other 5.2%
 
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unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (83 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 30 April 2011 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - FCBE 41, UN 30, other 12
 
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Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle (7 members; 4 appointed by the National Assembly, 3 appointed by the President; appointed for a 5-year term for one term); Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (President of the Supreme Court appointed by the President for a 5-year term); High Court of Justice (composed of members of the Constitutional Court and 6 members appointed by the National Assembly)
 
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African Movement for Democracy and Progress or MADEP [Sefou FAGBOHOUN]; Alliance for Dynamic Democracy or ADD; Alliance of Progress Forces or AFP; Benin Renaissance or RB [Rosine SOGLO]; Democratic Renewal Party or PRD [Adrien HOUNGBEDJI]; Force Cowrie for an Emerging Benin or FCBE; Impulse for Progress and Democracy or IPD [Theophile NATA]; Key Force or FC [Lazare S�HOU�TO]; Movement for the People's Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Dominique HOUNGNINOU]; Social Democrat Party or PSD [Bruno AMOUSSOU]; Union for Democracy and National Solidarity or UDS [Sacca LAFIA]; Union for the Relief or UPR [Issa SALIFOU]
note: approximately 20 additional minor parties
 
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other: economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups
 
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ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MONUSCO, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WAEMU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Cyrille Segbe OGUIN
chancery: 2124 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6656
FAX: [1] (202) 265-1996
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador James A. KNIGHT
embassy: Rue Caporal Bernard Anani, Cotonou
mailing address: 01 B. P. 2012, Cotonou
telephone: [229] 21-30-06-50
FAX: [229] 21-30-03-84
 
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two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and red (bottom) with a vertical green band on the hoist side; green symbolizes hope and revival, yellow wealth, and red courage
note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia
 
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leopard
 
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name: "L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)
lyrics/music: Gilbert Jean DAGNON
note: adopted 1960
 
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Economy

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The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output had averaged about 4% before the global recession, but fell to 2.7% in 2009 and 3% in 2010. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. Specific projects to improve the business climate by reforms to the land tenure system, the commercial justice system, and the financial sector were included in Benin's $307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture. As result of these reforms, Benin has become the most competitive country in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, according to the World Economic Forum. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G-8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms. An insufficient electrical supply continues to adversely affect Benin's economic growth though the government recently has taken steps to increase domestic power production.
 
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$13.99 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139
$13.66 billion (2009 est.)
$13.3 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$6.649 billion (2010 est.)
 
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2.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
2.7% (2009 est.)
5% (2008 est.)
 
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$1,500 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 201
$1,600 (2009 est.)
$1,600 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 35.8%
industry: 6.1%
services: 58.1% (2010 est.)
 
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3.662 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
 
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NA%
 
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37.4% (2007 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 3.1%
highest 10%: 29% (2003)
 
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36.5 (2003)
country comparison to the world: 86
 
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22% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
 
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revenues: $1.218 billion
expenditures: $1.418 billion (2010 est.)
 
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18.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
 
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-3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
 
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2.3% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
2.2% (2009 est.)
 
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4.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
4.25% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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NA%
NA%
 
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$1.619 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
$1.679 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$2.389 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
$2.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.204 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
$1.316 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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cotton, corn, cassava (tapioca), yams, beans, palm oil, peanuts, cashews; livestock
 
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textiles, food processing, construction materials, cement
 
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3% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
 
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128 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
 
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653 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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651 million kWh (2008 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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25,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
 
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10,840 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
 
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33,410 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
 
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8 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
 
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1.133 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
 
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-$485.1 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
-$523.4 million (2009 est.)
 
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$1.254 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
$1.13 billion (2009 est.)
 
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cotton, cashews, shea butter, textiles, palm products, seafood
 
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India 26.4%, China 21.4%, Niger 6.5%, Nigeria 5.6%, Indonesia 4.4% (2010)
 
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$1.781 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
$1.646 billion (2009 est.)
 
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foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products
 
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China 35.2%, France 8%, US 7.2%, Malaysia 5.9%, UK 4.8%, Netherlands 4.3%, India 4.1%, Thailand 4% (2010)
 
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$953 million (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
$1.23 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$2.894 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
 
 
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Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
495.28 (2010)
472.19 (2009)
447.81 (2008)
493.51 (2007)
522.59 (2006)
 
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Communications

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133,400 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 141
 
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7.075 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 89
 
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general assessment: inadequate system of open-wire, microwave radio relay, and cellular connections; fixed-line network characterized by aging, deteriorating equipment
domestic: fixed-line teledensity only about 2 per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular providers, cellular telephone subscribership has been increasing rapidly
international: country code - 229; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; long distance fiber-optic links with Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria; satellite earth stations - 7 (Intelsat-Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
 
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state-run Office de Radiodiffusion et de Television du Benin (ORTB) operates a TV station with multiple channels giving it a wide broadcast reach; several privately-owned TV stations broadcast from Cotonou; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio, under ORTB control, includes a national station supplemented by a number of regional stations; substantial number of privately-owned radio broadcast stations; transmissions of a few international broadcasters are available on FM in Cotonou (2007)
 
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.bj
 
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1,286 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 165
 
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200,100 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 139
 
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Transportation

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5 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 183
 
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total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)
 
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total: 438 km
country comparison to the world: 113
narrow gauge: 438 km 1.000-m gauge (2010)
 
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total: 16,000 km
country comparison to the world: 119
paved: 1,400 km
unpaved: 14,600 km (2006)
 
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150 km (seasonal navigation on River Niger along northern border) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 102
 
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Cotonou
 
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Military

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Benin Armed Forces (Forces Armees Beninoises, FAB): Army (l'Arme de Terre), Benin Navy (Forces Navales Beninois, FNB), Benin Air Force (Force Aerienne du Benin, FAB) (2011)
 
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18-35 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service; a higher education diploma is required; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript tour of duty - 18 months (2011)
 
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males age 16-49: 2,095,373
females age 16-49: 2,038,351 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 1,385,065
females age 16-49: 1,400,045 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 108,496
female: 104,526 (2010 est.)
 
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1% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 127
 
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Transnational Issues

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talks continue between Benin and Togo on funding the Adjrala hydroelectric dam on the Mona River; Benin retains a border dispute with Burkina Faso around the town of Koualou; location of Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint is unresolved
 
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refugees (country of origin): 9,444 (Togo) (2007)
 
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transshipment point used by traffickers for cocaine destined for Western Europe; vulnerable to money laundering due to poorly enforced financial regulations (2008)
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