Basic information about the territory
- System of governance and political tendencies in the country
- Foreign policy of the country
The system of governance and political tendencies in the country
The Republic of Benin (République du Bénin) is a coastal state in West Africa. It is bordered to the west by the Republic of Togo (651 km of common borders), to the north-west by the Republic of Burkina Faso (386 km of common borders), to the north by the Republic of Niger (277 km, the border mainly consists of the Niger River) and to the east by Nigeria (809 km of common borders borders). In the south, the country is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Benin of the Atlantic Ocean, the coast is 121 km long. The territory of the entire republic is flat, the average altitude is only about 100 m. The highest point of the country is Mont Sokbaro in the Atacora Mountains, reaching a height of 658 masl. The climate is typically tropical – hot and mostly humid, especially in the rainy season (April to October), when up to 1100 mm of rain falls on average. Check cancermatters to learn more about Benin political system.
Benin is currently a unitary republic, practicing a presidential system of power with the existence of multiple political parties. The presidential party “Force cauris pour un Benin émergent” has been in power since the April 2011 elections, but does not have a constitutional majority in parliament. The president is elected in direct elections for five years, but at most two electoral terms. The counterweight to the power of the president is a unicameral parliament consisting of 83 deputies elected for a four-year term. The president cannot dissolve the parliament. The last presidential elections were held in 2016, parliamentary elections on April 26, 2015. The Constitutional Court supervises the observance of constitutionality. It plays an important role in resolving frequent disputes between the president and parliament. In practice, he has proven to be independent in his decisions, his findings are respected by both parties. The High Court of Justice, established in February 2001, can impeach the president or his ministers on grounds of treason or conspiracy. The judicial system is further made up of the Supreme Court, regional and municipal courts and the Court of Appeal.
The head of government is the president. The government is appointed by the president and is responsible only to him. The President is elected in direct elections for five years, with a maximum of two terms. On 06.03.2016, after the second five-year term of the government of President Thomas Boni Yayi, businessman Patrice Talon was elected to the position of President. President Talon was re-elected by an 86% majority in the presidential election that would be held in April 2021. According to the new electoral law valid from 2019, each candidate must receive the support of at least 16 already elected political officials, with the fact that the opposition does not have a sufficient number of elected representatives among MPs and mayors (the municipal elections in May 2020 were won by the governing parties). According to President Talon, this measure was taken in order to heal the political life in the country.
Foreign policy of the country
The country is still clearly dominated by French influence, especially in numerous parastatals. However, the weakening of French economic influence in this country is slowly beginning to be seen, especially thanks to Chinese (and now also Turkish and Moroccan) competition. Benin is a member country of the ECOWAS/CEDEAO regional integration grouping. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was created in 1975 and currently has 15 member countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Cape Verde, Niger, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The seat of the ECOWAS Commission is Abuja. The main goal of ECOWAS is to create a customs, economic and monetary union, while the ultimate goal is to create a functional economic and monetary union, convergence of macroeconomic policy of member countries and mutual harmonization of sectoral economic policy, uniform external tariffs and removal of existing internal trade barriers. ECOWAS is also establishing a Court of Justice where entities and citizens will be able to address cases related to ECOWAS agendas. ECOWAS countries agreed at the end of 2000 to establish a common central bank and introduce a common currency from 2003, but this has not yet happened (and will not happen in the foreseeable future). Anglophone countries still use their national currency and show no willingness to give it up. At the same time, Benin is a member country of the WAEMU/UEMOA customs and monetary union of the majority of French-speaking countries in West Africa (with the exception of Guinea), which use a single currency – the West African franc, which is firmly tied to the Euro. Check prozipcodes for Benin defense and foreign policy.
- Population: 1million
- Population density: 9inhabitants/km 2
- Average annual population growth: 2.81%
Age structure: • 0-14 years: 43.8% • 15-64 years: 53.4% • over 65 years: 2.8%
There are 42 ethnic groups living in the country. The main ones are Fon (39%), Adja (15.2%), Yoruba (12.3%), Bariba (9.2%) and Peulh (7%). The Bariba ethnic group originates mainly from the northern regions of Nigeria. Other ethnicities are the Ottamari, Mina, Dendi, Somba, Mahi, Aizo, Watchi, Goun, as well as Brazilian Creoles, descendants of former slave traders. Several thousand French people live here permanently, the Lebanese have considerable economic power. A large number of Nigerians stay in Benin for a long time (often illegally).
Christianity is practiced by 42.8% of the population, Islam by approx. 24.4%. Vodun religion is practiced by 17.3% of the population, other animistic religions by 15.5%.