Benin, officially the Republic of Benin and formerly Dahomey, is a West African country bordered by Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Togo.
Benin has a young population with a life expectancy of just 59 years. There are 42 different African ethnic groups, the ancestors of a number of groups who have settled in the area over centuries and migrated to the country. Major ethnic groups include the Yoruba in the southeast (who migrated from Nigeria), the Dendi in the north-central region (who originated from Mali), the Bariba and Fula in the northeast, the Betammaribe and Somba, the Fon near Abomey, and the Aja, Xueda, and Mina.
In 2002, the composition of the country was 39% Fon, 15% Adja, 12% Yoruba, 9% Bariba, 7% Fula, 6% Ottamari, 4% Kabye and 2.5% Dendi.
A wave of recent migration has brought many other African nationals to the country, including Togolese and Ingerians. There is also a group of Indians and Lebanese in the region for commerce and trade. There is a European population of about 5,500, most of which include personnel of embassies, foreign aid missions, and missionary groups.
Benin has one of the world's highest death rates for children under five with little access to healthcare. Benin also has one of the world's lowest literacy rates at about 43%.
Benin Religion, Economy and Politics
The country of Benin is relatively divided in terms of religion. Christianity is the largest religion, with 48.5% of the population practicing one denomination or another. An additional 27.7% practice Islam, 12.2% of people have an uncommon religion or no religion at all, and 11.6% of the people follow Vodun. Vodun is a traditional African religion that believes in many gods.
Benin is one of the largest cotton producers in Africa, and this industry alone accounts for 40% of the national GDP, and 80& of their exports. Other common exports from Benin include textiles, cocoa beans, maize, beans, rice, nuts, and various tubers. Without any other major industries, it has been difficult for the economy in Benin to thrive. However, Patrice Talon- the president elected in 2016, is working on expanding private exports which are expected to encourage growth by allowing Benin to export to more countries.
Benin Population History
Became its own nation, free from France and accepted into the UN, in 1960. The growth rate of the country saw a sharp increase at that time, going from 0.43% to 1.09% in 1960. The population continued to expand significantly as they began navigating their way as an independent country. Drawing many immigrants, the rate of growth got to 2.31% by 1975 and over 3% annually by 1990. The population has more than quadrupled since its independence in 1960.