About Your Tour of Benin
Start your tour of BENIN by way of the capital city, main seaport and commercial center COTONOU. Formally an independent state dominated by the larger Kingdom of DAHOMEY, COTONOU is now the hub of this small French speaking country. Unlike most West African countries it is not necessary for the traveler to overnight outside COTONOU in order to have a comprehensive tour. Most sites of interest are within a couple hours drive of lively COTONOU. Nearby COTONOU is the picturesque fishing village of GANVIE, built entirely on stilts on a great LAGOON. All daily life is conducted on water. An hour’s drive from COTONOU is OUIDAH, once a prominent exporter of slaves to the America’s including Haiti, Brazil, Cuba and New Orleans, before falling to the Kingdom of DAHOMEY. The slave trade is long gone but artifacts and museums including the “GATE OF NO RETURN” stand as stark reminders of OUIDAH’S past. Of significance is ABOMEY in the north which has close affinity with the YORUBAS of western Nigeria; ALLADA, the birthplace of TOUSSAINT L’OVERTURE, the liberator and first president of Haiti whose direct descendant is now the king of ALLADA. It is easy to understand the varied cultural and artistic traditions of BENIN, after all, this small place is a collection of once independent kingdoms that eventually formed the Kingdom of DAHOMEY, now BENIN.
Full country name: Republic of Benin
Area: 110,620 sq km (43,140 sq mi)
Population: 8.29 million
Capital city: Porto Novo (Administrative Capital(pop. 238,000) / Cotonou is the politic Capital (828 000) 2008 census
People: Fon and Adja (40%), Yoruba (12%), Bariba (9%), Betamaribé, Fulani (6%), and 37 smaller ethnic groups
Language: French (official), Fon, Yoruba and almost fifty other tribal languages
Religion: Animism (Voodoo) (65%), Muslim (15%), Christian (20%)
Government: Democratic Republic
President: Dr. Yayi Boni
Visas: 15 and 30-day visas are available. Many west and central African nationals don’t require a visa. For applications or extensions, be sure to have a fist full of photos.
Electricity: 220 V Weights & measures: Metric