Benin (officially called the Republic of Benin) is a country in Africa. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo. The seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s largest city. Most people live on the small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin.
The official language of Benin is French. Languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism. This is followed closely by Islam, Vodun, and Protestantism.
From the 17th to the 19th century, Benin was ruled by the Kingdom of Dahomey. It was called the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century. This is because of the large number of slaves shipped to the New World. After slavery ended, France took over the country. They renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France.
From 1972 to 1990 a Marxist–Leninist state called the People’s Republic of Benin existed. The current Republic of Benin was formed in 1991.
Benin is a narrow country in west Africa. The country measures about 325 km (202 mi) at its widest point. It is between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Benin is bordered by Togo to the west, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Nigeria to the east, and the Bight of Benin to the south.
The highest point is Mont Sokbaro at 658 m (2,159 ft).
Reserve du W du Niger and Pendjari National Park attract tourists who want to see elephants, lions, antelopes, hippos, and monkeys. Historically Benin has been a home for the endangered Painted Hunting Dog, Lycaon pictus.
Benin’s climate is hot and humid. Yearly rainfall in the coastal area averages 1300 mm or about 51 inches. Benin has two rainy and two dry seasons per year. The main rainy season is from April to late July, with a shorter less strong rainy period from late September to November. The main dry season is from December to April, with a short cooler dry season from late July to early September. In Cotonou, the average maximum temperature is 31 °C (87.8 °F); the minimum is 24 °C (75.2 °F).
In the 2010 census, 27.2% of the population of Benin were Christian, 24.4% were Muslim, 17.3% practiced Vodun, 6% other traditional local religious groups, 1.9% other religious groups, and 6.5% have no religious affiliation.
Beninese cuisine is known in Africa for its exotic ingredients and flavorful dishes. Beninese cuisine has lots of fresh meals with a variety of sauces. In southern Benin cuisine, the most common ingredient is corn. It is often used to prepare dough which is mainly eaten with peanut- or tomato-based sauces. Fish and chicken are the most common meats used in southern Beninese cuisine however Beef, goat, and bush rat are also eaten. The main food in northern Benin is yams. Many people have outdoor mud stoves for cooking.
Adapted from: Benin Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.