Capital city: Porto-Novo
Languages: French (official)
Population: Over 9 million
Area: 110,620 sq km
GDP per capita: 802 in 2011
GDP current US$: 7 in 2011
Ease of Business Ranking: 175 in 2013
Benin is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, by Nigeria to the east and by Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. A majority of the population live on its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country's largest city. Benin covers an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi), with a population of approximately 9.05 million. Benin is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with substantial employment and income arising from subsistence farming.
The official language of Benin is French. However, indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by Islam, Vodun and Protestantism. Benin is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Petroleum Producers Association and the Niger Basin Authority.
From the 17th to the 19th century, modern day Benin was ruled by the Kingdom of Dahomey. This region was referred to as the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century due to the large number of slaves shipped to the New World during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. After slavery was abolished, France took over the country and renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France, bringing in a democratic government for the next 12 years.
A Marxist-Leninist state called the People's Republic of Benin existed between 1972 and 1990. In 1991, it was replaced by the current multi-party Republic of Benin.