Geographic and Governmental Profile of 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
Geographic coordinates
9 30 N, 2 15 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Africa
Area
total:
112,622 sq km
rank:
102
land:
110,622 sq km
water:
2,000 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries
total:
1,989 km
border countries:
Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km
Coastline
121 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
200 nm
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
Natural resources
small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
Land use
arable land:
23.53%
permanent crops:
2.37%
other:
74.1% (2005)
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Irrigated land
120 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
25.8 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita:
15 cu m/yr (2001)
Natural hazards
hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
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
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands
Country name
conventional long form:
Republic of Benin
conventional short form:
Benin
local long form:
Republique du Benin
local short form:
Benin
former:
Dahomey
Government type
republic
Capital
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)
Cotonou (seat of government)
Administrative divisions
12 departments; Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, Zou
Independence
1 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday
National Day, 1 August (1960)
Constitution
adopted by referendum 2 December 1990
Legal system
civil law system modeled largely on the French system and some customary law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
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
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%
Legislative branch
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
Judicial branch
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)
Political parties and leaders
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 SÈHOUÉTO]; Movement for the People's Alternative or MAP [Olivier CAPO-CHICHI]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or PRD [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]; Union Makes the Nation or UN
approximately 20 additional minor parties
Political pressure groups and leaders
other:
economic groups; environmentalists; political groups; teachers' unions and other educational groups
International organization participation
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
Diplomatic representation in the US
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
Diplomatic representation from the US
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
Flag description
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
uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia
National symbol(s)
leopard
National anthem
name:
"L'Aube Nouvelle" (The Dawn of a New Day)
lyrics/music:
Gilbert Jean DAGNON
adopted 1960
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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