Benin is a small country in West Africa. The country covers an area of 112,620km2. This is equivalent to 43483square miles. The country lies between the equator and the tropic of cancer. Benin borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. . The country is in the African continent. It lies on the latitude ranging from 6o 30’N to 12o30’N and its longitude of 1oE to 30’N and3o 40 E. Benin is located between the river Niger in the north east and Bight to the Bight of Benin to the southern part. The coast line measures 121km which is equivalent 75 miles. The country enjoys a tropical climate. The geographical location of the country is homogenous. Most o f the country’s population lives in the southern part of the country. The northern part of the country consists of semi arid highlands as well as savanna plains. Some cities in the country exist in the coastal areas. An example of this city is Cotonou. Queme River flows down through the middle of the country. The river drains to the coastal area of the Atlantic Ocean. Cotonou is the largest city in all of Benin. The coastal area has a number of physical features. Some of them are the lagoons, lakes and sandy beaches. The southern part of the country has valleys and hills. A mountain range lies along the North West boundary of the country. The relative terrain in Benin is scattered with baobab trees these trees grow in semi arid and arid areas. However, there are a few forests, which exist on the riverbanks. The forests attract tourists from all parts of the world. An example of a forest along the riverbanks is the Pendjari National Park. The country is not a land locked. It has an opening to the Atlantic Ocean.
The national flag of Benin consists of three stripes. The strips include a green vertical stripe on the left side, a yellow horizontal stripe on top and a red horizontal stripe below the yellow one. Both the yellow and red stripes are on the right side of the flag. The colors of the flag were adopted in 1959; a year before the country attained its independence. The flag was adopted to replace the French’s tri color. According to Whitney and Smith (2013), the national flag has undergone adjustments a couple of times. The flag was first adopted in 1959 but was abandoned in 1975. The colors in the flag are the ancient Pan- African colors. The green color on the national flag represents hope and revival. The yellow color represents the ongoing preservation of the country’s wealth. The red color stands for the strength and courage shown by the nation’s ancestors.
According to Population division (2010), the country has a population of Benin as at 2010 was 8,850,000. There has been an improvement as compared to demographic statistics of 1950. The population in 1950 was 2,255,000. The population growth rate (2011) is estimated at 2.911%. Life expectancy in the country is 59 years. The life expectancy rate for males is 57.83yrs and 60.23 for females. The median age in Benin is 17 years. This means that the country has many young people of 17 years and below. The country is a French speaking country. French is the official language in Benin. However, it is spoken more in the urban areas than in the rural areas. The literacy levels in the country are 52.2% in adult males and 23.6% in adult females. It is imperative to note that during the early years of elementary learning, the local languages are used for teaching the young children. The French language is introduced at the later years of learning. According to Patrick (1982), the sound is called a phoneme, rather than using diacritics as in French or digraphs as in English. This includes Beninese Yoruba, which in Nigeria is written with both diacritics and digraphs. For instance, the mid vowels. Many Benin is in the south of the country have Akan-based names. The names indicate the day of the week on which they were born. This is due to influence of the Akan people likely the Akwamu and others.
Tourism in Benin is roughly one of the smallest industries. According to Stephen (2002) Benin had approximately 150,000 vacationers. Benin has national parks, which are the main tourist attraction sites. The culture of the inhabitants of the country is also a breathtaking adventure. Some of the best wildlife areas in Benin and the whole of the West African region are the Pendjari and W national parks in Benin. According to Annie (2003), Abomey boasts as one of major tourist attraction sites in Benin. It has palaces, which are rich in historical knowledge. The capital of Benin- Porto Novo also has museums and ancient architecture, which are tourist attraction sites. In Pendjari National Park, the best time to see wildlife is towards the end of the dry season. This is because there is movement of animals into the park. W national park is located in the northern part of the country. The park extends across Burkina Faso and Niger. The park has vast wealth of flora and fauna. However, it is inaccessible when one is in Benin. The government of Benin views tourism as a method of spreading its wealth. Tourism has attracted more foreign investment over the years. It has however decreased the country’s dependence in agriculture. However, according to Stephen (2002), the Benin government has not made strong efforts to improve tourist facilities and to market the country as a tourist attraction site.
The constitution of Benin provides autonomy to worship. The government on the other hand respects the right and autonomy to worship. There has been no given information on abuses and discrimination of persons based on their religious beliefs. 27.1 % of the population in Benin are Roman Catholics 6% of the total population. Most of the devoted groups to traditional worship and religion are the Yoruba. The Muslim community, which comprises of 24.4%, is mostly represented in the north and southeast. The major group of the Muslim is the Sunni. The Christians are prevalent in the south. They are mostly in Cotonou, which is the economic capital of the country. Christianity first began in Benin in the 17th century. English Methodists arrived in the country in the 19th century. Hausa and Songhai traders introduced Islam in the country. Almost all Muslims are in the branch of Sunni, which is a branch of Islam. The government works hand in hand and closely with the religious leaders. An explicit example is that government officials and prominent leaders attend induction ceremonies. These ceremonies are officiated by the religious leaders. The president on the other hand also frequently meets with religious groups
According to Stokes (2009), there has been an improvement in the health sector. In the 1980’s, fewer than 30% of Benin’s population did not have access to primary health care. Consequently, it had the highest number of death rates for infants and toddlers under the age of 5 years. Only one woman in 3 women had access to a health care facility. The infant mortality rate then stood at 203 deaths in every 1000 live births. These results improved as at 2010. HIV/AIDS rate in 2012 is 1.10%. Malaria is a problem. This is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among young children under the age of five years. In 2004, the total expenditure in health was estimated at 3.3% of the total GDP.
The government of Benin has set targets and objectives for it to achieve the epoch development goals. Water and sanitation has been improved in the country. Wastewater treatment is extremely rare in Benin. Wastewater in most cases is not disposed appropriately. Water borne diseases in Benin are the most prevalent diseases. They kill a number of children and infants. The life expectation in Benin is estimated at 61.07years. The fertility rate is 16%. In June 2011a report by the United Nations Population Fund contained data on the midwifery and workforce policies. The 2011 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births was 410. This is an improvement compared to 468.9 per 100000 births in 2008 and 587.6 per 100000 in 1990. These improvements have been achieved by the increment of midwives in the country per 1000 live births. In addition, there is improvement of maternal health.
Education sector in Benin has undergone series of changes. In the year 1980, the quality of education was seriously eroded. The education was almost collapsing. There was a key element, which changed, and reformed education was a national conference in education. The conference proposed some amendments that tactically improved education. Primary improvement has been made in education, particularly in the areas of access and learning milieus. The enrollment rate for both boys and girls is on the increasing trend since 2004. Gender balances as well as geographic equity have shown significant improvements in unrefined numbers of girls as well as children from underprivileged areas joining primary schools. The school system in Benin ensures that the education is obligatory for children in the ages of six and eleven. The learning system in Benin operates on a 6-4-3-3-4 system. Primary school: 6 years, Junior high school for 4 years, senior high school for 3 years, bachelor's degree for 3 years, and master's degree for 4 years. The government has made the education compulsory for children between ages six and eleven.
Benin’s economy has remained dependent on subsistence agronomy, cotton farming, and local trade for numerous years. For instance, the cotton sector contributes 40 percent of GDP and approximately 80 percent of the official export proceeds. According to Stanley and Alphen (1998), the economy of Benin has been able to brace over for a long time. The GDP growth of this nation is approximated at 5.1 and 5.7 percent in 2008 and 2009, correspondingly; there has been increase in GDP thus improving the economy. The central propeller of growth in Benin is the agronomic sector. According to Lucy, Paul and Richard (2005), Benin’s topographical location facilitates trade, transportation, shipment and tourist activities by way of its neighboring states. Cotonou quays the nation's only harbor and transnational airport. This has disadvantaged the country so much since the ports are congested. However, a port is presently being constructed. It link Cotonou and Porto Novo. In addition, there are two-lane roads connecting it to the bordering nations such as Burkina Faso and Nigeria and Niger. On the aspect of mobile connectivity, diverse mobile operators offer communication services throughout the country. For instance, connection by means of ADSL is eminent in some sections of the nation. The satellites help in connecting various parts of the country with the internet. They connections have been in place from 1998 and with a single undersea cable. This has been in place since 2001. This has made the country to experience the high interest costs.
Caulfield, Annie, Show Me the Magic: Travels Round Benin by Taxi (2003), Print
Creevey, Lucy, Ngomo, Paul and Vengroff, Richard). Party Politics and Different Paths to Democratic Transitions, A Comparison of Benin and Senegal (2005)
Jamie Stokes. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East (2009), Print
Manning, Patrick Slavery, Colonialism and Economic Growth in Dahomey,. London: Cambridge University Press (1982), Print
Smith, Whitney. Gabon, flag of. Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2013, Print
Stanley B. Alpern. Amazons of Black Sparta: the women warriors of Dahomey, , (1998) ,Print
Williams, Stephen Benin: The belly of history, African History. (2002), Print