And maintenat des informations interessant sur le Benin( a traduire en Francais bientot)! 
          Flag of Benin                 Animated Flag of Benin                Animated Flag of Benin  

                  National Motto: Fraternite, Justice, Travail   

La constitution                               


Geography

Climate

Benin is located in West Africa and covers a land area Of 112,622 Sq. km. and constitutes a long stretch of hand perpendicular to the Coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered on the North by Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger, on the East by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and on the West by the Republic of Togo. With a 124 kilometers long coastline, it stretches North to South some 672 kilometers while its breath extends 324 kilometers at the evident point. It is above two third the Size of Portugal or slightly smaller than Pennsylvania.

Benin can be divided into 5 natural regions: A coastal area, low, sandy and about 2 to 5 kilometers wide, bounded by lagoons;
A plateau zone called "La terre de barre" made of iron clay cut with marshy dips;
A silica clayey plateau with wooded savannah extending North of Abomey to the foothills of the Atakora hills;
A hilly region in the Northwest, the Atakora, with elevation ranging from 500 to 800 meters and constituting the water reservoir for Benin and Niger Republics.
The forest thins out considerably in the center and gives way to grassland. Elsewhere, cultivated crops predominate, including the immense palmgroves of lower Benin and the coconut plantations on the 124 kilometers long coastline and along the lagoons.
Benin is characterized by unusually dry conditions. This is due primarily to two very important factors. First, the situation of the coast which is rather well protected from the western winds; second, the Atakora Barrier in the West and North West which decreases the amount of rainfall. The great part of the country is under the influence of transitional tropical conditions. Rainfall is not as abundant as found in areas with the same latitude thereby giving rise to tropical conditions known as the BENIN variant. These conditions are marked by a dry season from November to the beginning of April and a rainy season from the latter part of April to October. The Southern portion of the Republic of Benin, i.e. the Coastal zone, is under the influence of a Northern transitional equatorial climate characterized by a long dry season from November to the end of March, a first rainy season from April to July, a small dry period in August and a second rainy season in September and October. The Northern portion of the country is subject to a true tropical climate. A long dry season in winter can be observed with a long rainy season in the summer. The mean temperature is between 77oF and 82oF (25o to 28oC).The best time to visit the Southern area is from December to March and July/August while visiting period for the Northern part of the Country is between December and April.

Politics

People and Languages

Benin is a Multi-Party democratic country with a legislative(one body parliament), an executive (Goverment lead by the President/head of State) and the Judiciary (Supreme Court)


A one-man-one-vote suffrage to elect the Members of Parliament (MP). His 4-year mandate is renewable. There is one MP for 70,000 inhabitants. The vacancy (resignation, death...) at the speakership is filled by his successor elected within fifteen (15) days when the House is in session or at an immediate meeting held in compliance with its rules of procedure. The vacancy of an MP is filled by his substitute also elected in the same manner. There are two ordinary sessions starting within the first fortnight of April and the second fortnight of October respectively. Each session cannot exceed three (3) months. The decision is taken by a simple majority.


The National Flag  whose colors are green, red and yellow, was formally hoisted on August 1, 1960 to replace the French Flag.  As explained in the second verse of the National Anthem, the green denotes hope for renewal, the red evokes the ancestors' courage while the yellow calls to mind the country's richest treasures. But when the country went red in 1975 after a military coup on October 26,1972 the then one-party regime, with its Marxist-Leninist ideology, decided to change the National Flag. It became a plain green flag with a red star on its upper left part. Fed up with a centrally governed State whose ideology had but retarded the country's development in all fields, a National Conference in which all walks of life participated from February 19 to 28, 1990 decided among other things to re-establish the above-mentioned flag of August 1,1960.
The population of BENIN is estimated at 6,000,000 inhabitants largely concentrated in Southern coastal region near the major port city of Cotonou (800,000 inhabitants) the chief town of the Atlantic Department, the capital city of Porto Novo (400,000 inhabitants) in the OUEME Department as well as the "Royal City" of Abomey (130,000 inhabitants) in the Central Department of ZOU. The annual growth rate is 3.1%. Other important towns are Ouidah, Allada, Abomey, Grand Popo, Lokossa, Save, Savalou, Parakou(200,000), Djougou, Natitingou, Malanville, Kandi.
It is a vibrant, young population with 48% below 14 years of age, about 49% between 15 and 65 with a population growth of 3.33%, made up of African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500.
Over half the people speak Fon. Yoruba, Mina, Bariba and Dendi are the other important languages. French is the official language. Beside the French language, English is necessarily one of the two foreign languages taught in secondary school.. 
The population of Benin is made up of about 20-25% Christians, 20% Muslims and 55-60% atheist and traditional belief systems. There are a number of people who hold a mixture of belief systems( example Chistians who still hold some traditional beliefs).
Beninese are very hospitable people. the crime rate is quite low compare to most of the neighboring countries although some criminal activities such as mugging and thievery happen in the urban centers and the proximity of Nigeria which has a big criminal problem is a concern.
The unemployment rate is still high in Benin but the economy has being steadily growing with new constructions and bustling activities evident all over the country. The informal sector is a determinant aspect of the economy. This makes it harder to accurately evaluate the state of the economy
Greetings in Fon: 
How are you: AH-FON Ghan-Jee-Ah
Good Bye    :OH-Dah-Boh

Places of Interest

History

Benin has a lot to offer tourists:
-Ouidah:
Spelt "WHYDAH" in history books written in English, it is the "Museum City". It is evocative of European penetration with its ancient Portuguese, English, Danish and French trading posts or strongholds. There can be seen the remains of the ancient port from which slaves were boarded and shipped to the Americas.  

  

   
-Abomey:
Referred to as the "Royal City", it is the capital of Dan-Home, the ancient Kingdom. It has one of the most impressive museums of Africa. Its artists and craftsmen, be they weavers, jewelers, woodcarvers, iron and brass workers are famous far beyond the boundaries of the Republic of BENIN 
 

-Allada:
It is the city, the cradle of "voodoos" in vogue in the Americas, namely in Brazil, West Indies, the Caribbean countries, with Ouidah.
-Porto Novo: 
The "City with three Names" (Porto Novo,Hogbonou,Adjatche) . It is Benin's administrative capital, right in the middle of the Yoruba land.

-Nikki:
The historic capital of the Baatonu people, also known as Bariba. The baatonu are great horsemen, traders and farmers. The "Gani" celebration is a wonderful event to see and involves groups from Benin, Niger and Nigeria in Nikki

It may be recalled that Benin, former Dahomey, is perhaps the "most beaten track by Europeans of any Africa". The history of Benin is a succession of kingdoms.The most famous one is the Kingdom of Danhome whose capital is Abomey.
It is the Kingdom of the Fon(Danmenou),with powerful kings such as Ghezo "le Grand", meaning Ghezo the Mighty who expanded his territory all the way to the coastal area of Cotonou-Ouidah and up to the outskirts of the Mahis kingdom in Central Benin and had a standing army of  fierce female warriors known as the Amazones of Danhomey, Glele a remarkable leader, Behanzin(better known as Kondo "le Requin", meaning Kondo the Shark) who fought a bitter battle against the French colonization and  finally surrendered only when betrayed by his half-brother  and on promises that the exactions being committed against his people by French conquering troops and the sackings of cities will stop with his surrender. He was exiled and died in captivity in Algeria.
The kingdom of Danhomey, which use to trade cotton, palm oil, etc.. under King Guezo resorted more and more to the slave trade with Europeans . Ouidah was one of the busiest Slave trading ports off the coast of West Africa.      The vestiges are still there to be found today and an annual event called "La route de L'esclave" commemorate the memories of the millions sold and shipped off to a cruel life in American plantations.
There were occasional wars between the Kingdom of Abomey and the kingdom of Oyo in today's Nigeria with victories and defeat on both sides.   The kingdom of Porto-Novo, an arch-rival of the kingdom of Danhomey, prospered under remarkable kings such as Toffa 1er. However, these conflicts and the subsequent protectorate status given to Porto-Novo by France will be one of the excuses the latter will use to conquer the kingdom of Danhomey.
The Northern part of Benin was ruled by the Bariba( Baatonu) with the Kingdoms of Nikki and Kouande. They are closely linked to kin in Northern Nigeria. FThe Baatonu society was mainly made of commoners-farmers and the upper class fierce Horsemen-warriors. Some of them fought bitterly against the French colonization: Bio Guerra who fought a guerilla warfare against the french troops till he was captured and decapitated as a warning to others rebels.
In 1704, France received permission to erect a port at Ouidah, and in 1752 the Portuguese founded Porto Novo. On June 22, 1894, the territory was named by decree the "Colony of Dahomey and its dependences" and was granted autonomy which it retained until October 18, 1904 when it became part of French West Africa. On December 4, 1958 the Republic was proclaimed. Dahomey became independent on August 1, 1960 and is a UN member country.

When visiting Benin....

Industry and Trading

Visa Requirements from non ECOWAS  (Economic Community of West African States) Nationals
1/ Two (2) application forms in legible writing.
2/ Two (2) passport size photos.
3/ International certificate of vaccination (yellow fever and cholera).
4/ Visa is issued for fifteen (15) days or longer: Entry and transit within 3 months. Extensions may be obtained at the Immigration Office.
5/ A $ 20.00 (twenty dollars) fee for each applicant (cash, money order of certified cheque only. No personal cheque please.)
6/ A letter of guarantee from employer of travel agency or Xerox of round trip ticket or a Bank letter of guarantee.
- Join your passport to the forms.
- Please allow 48 hours for issuance of visa.
- Passport must be valid for at least six (6) months and if it is to be sent back by mail, please enclose self addressed certified envelope or an express mail envelope.

You can use traveler cheques or even have money sent by Western Union. Some of the Banks will take Visa and Mastercard and provide you with Cash and most Banks Have Partners in Europe and the US. The following banks are available:
Central Bank of West Africa(BCEAO),Bank of Africa, Financial Bank, International Bank of Benin (B.I.B.),ECO-BANK,etc.

The Currency is the CFA which is in a fix parity with the French Francs 1FF=100FCFA. Depending on how Strong the Dollar is, the parity can be as much as $1=730FCFA

 

 

 

 

Industry accounts for only a small percentage of the gross domestic product. Fishing industry meets only local consumption, so does textile industry although Benin does import a significant amount of Cotton. Palm processing facility needs improving; a sugar complex and a cement factory are jointly owned with Nigeria. Breweries, soap unit... meet only local demand. Possotome village is, however, known for its internationally recognized mineral water.

Apart from limestone found in open quarry at ONIGBOLO, deposits of gold, phosphates, iron ore, marble, clay... are yet to be explored. The development of off- shore fields at SEME and elsewhere are underway. A Benin/Togo hydroelectric power has just been completed on the Mono river (the NANGBETO dam). There are attractive industrial projects and feasibility studies are available for some of them. The Beninese code of investment has been reviewed to insert, among other things, more incentives for investors. Benin is the natural gateway to Togo and Nigeria and to such landlocked countries as Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

Direct investments by American companies are promoted and strongly encouraged by the Benin Government. There can be joint ventures between Benin private sector and American companies to carry out such industrial undertakings as canning, paper processing units, glass manufacturing, salt processing units, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, clothing, palm oil, building materials, chemicals and any other items reflective of an industrial developing nation.

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

Business hours 
Monday - Friday:8a.m.-12:30am
3:30 p.m. to 7pm
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 pm
Government offices
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. to 12:30 pm
3 p.m. to 6:30 pm
TIME: GMT + 1
ELECTRICITY: 220 volts AC,50Hz.
Phone: Country code: 229. International code: 00
Mobile phones are in use. They can be hired locally 
Voice of America, BBC, Africa N1 and RFI can be received  there. As well as many international channels if you have a satellite receiver. There are two TV Stations and a large number of Radio stations and Newspapers
Internet Access: available through ISP or Cybercafe
Official Holidays (Notice the numerous religious holidays)
January 1: New Year's Day
Easter Monday
Ascension Day
May 1: May Day
August 1: National Day
August 15: Assumption Day
November 1: All Saints' Day&
December 25: Christmas Day
Ramadan :Moslem Celebration
Tabaski: Moslem Celebration
Animist Day
Most Popular Sport: Soccer
Entertainments

Night-Clubs: Crystal Palace, VIP, New York-NY...
Restaurants:Le Berlin, etc.......
Movies: le Benin, Concorde, Okpe-Oluwa
Les grandes dates depuis l'indépendance 1960-1979 Les grandes dates depuis l'indépendance 1980-2001
- Le Bénin, où une élection présidentielle se déroule dimanche, est un des rares pays africains
à avoir pratiqué à plusieurs reprises l'alternance politique democratique malgre un passé tumultueux.

- 1er août 1960: Indépendance de la République du Dahomey. Hubert Maga est élu président de la République en
décembre.

- 28 oct 1963: Premier coup d'Etat militaire dirigé par le colonel Christophe Soglo. Le président Maga démissionne.

- 20 jan 1964: Retour des civils au pouvoir. Sourou Migan Apithy est élu président et Justin Ahomadegbé vice-président.

- 22 déc 1965: Le général Christophe Soglo reprend le pouvoir. Il est chassé deux ans plus tard par un coup d'Etat mené par des jeunes cadres de
l'armée avec à leur tête le colonel Alphonse Alley.

- 17 juil 1968: Les militaires remettent de nouveau le pouvoir aux civils et le Dr. Emile Derlin Zinsou est investi à la présidence. Il est écarté du
pouvoir en décembre 1969, lors d'un nouveau coup d'Etat dirigé par le commandant Maurice Kouandété.

- 7 mai 1970: Les militaires remettent le pouvoir à un Conseil présidentiel de trois membres, MM. Apithy, Maga et Ahomadegbé, avec une
présidence tournante.

- 26 oct 1972: Un nouveau coup d'Etat, le cinquième du pays, porte au pouvoir le chef d'état-major adjoint, le commandant Mathieu Kérékou, qui
crée un Gouvernement Militaire Révolutionnaire (GMR). Il fera face à plusieurs tentatives de coups d'Etat.

- 30 nov 1974: Le président Kérékou proclame le "socialisme scientifique comme voie de développement" et déclare s'appuyer sur le
marxisme-léninisme.

- 30 nov 1975: Proclamation de la République populaire du Bénin, qui deviendra fin 1990 République du Bénin. Création du Parti de la révolution
populaire du Bénin (PRPB).

- 16 jan 1977: Un groupe de 90 mercenaires menés par Bob Denard débarque à Cotonou pour tenter de renverser le président Kérékou.
L'opération, qui échoue, fait une vingtaine de morts côté béninois.

 - 6 fév 1980: Mathieu Kérékou est "élu", etant candidate unique à la présidence par l'Assemblée nationale révolutionnaire. Il sera "réélu" en 1984, puis en 1989.

- 16 juin 1989: Le Bénin, confronté à une crise financière, adopte un Programme d'ajustement structurel. Le pays connaît depuis 1988 une
contestation sociale, avec des manifestations et des grèves notamment dans la fonction publique et chez les étudiants, qui vont progressivement se
durcir .

- 7 déc 1989: Le gouvernement renonce officiellement au marxisme-léninisme qui réglementait la vie politique, économique et administrative depuis 1974.

 - 19-28 fév 1990: Une conférence nationale, la première organisée en Afrique, réunit quelque 500 personnes représentant toutes les "forces vives"
du pays. Elle ouvre la voie à un processus de démocratisation et permet une transition pacifique, avec la mise en place de nouvelles institutions,
notamment un Haut conseil de la République (HCR).

En décembre, une nouvelle Constitution est adoptée, instaurant le multipartisme intégral et mettant un terme à 17 années de régime
militaro-marxiste.

- 24 mars 1991: Le Premier ministre de la transition Nicéphore Soglo remporte la première présidentielle démocratique face à Mathieu Kérékou.

- 18 mars 1996: Mathieu Kérékou revient au pouvoir par les urnes, l'emportant avec 52,49% des suffrages, contre 47,51% à Nicéphore Soglo.

- 30 mars 1999: Elections législatives remportées de justesse par l'opposition.

- 4 déc 2000: Le secrétaire général de l'ONU, Kofi Annan, en visite au Bénin dans le cadre d'une tournée africaine, ouvre la quatrième
"Conférence des démocraties nouvelles ou rétablies". "Ici, l'alternance s'est produite sans heurts, par le jeu des urnes, faisant du Bénin non
seulement un modèle pour l'Afrique mais aussi pour les autres continents", souligne-t-il.

- 13 fév 2001: La Cour constitutionnnelle retient 17 candidats pour la présidentielle. Cette élection, la dernière à laquelle participeront MM.
Kérékou et Soglo, marquera la fin d'une époque.