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Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI, who won a second five-year term in March 2011, has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.


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Geography

Location
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo

Geographic coordinates
9 30 N, 2 15 E

Map references
Africa

Area World Ranking: 102
Total 112,622 sq km
Land 110,622 sq km
Water 2,000 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Land boundaries
Total 1,989 km
Border countries
Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km

Coastline
121 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 200 nm

Climate
Tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north

Terrain
Mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point Mont Sokbaro 658 m

Natural resources
Small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

Land use
Arable land 23.53%
Permanent crops 2.37%
Other 74.1% (2005)

Irrigated land
120 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
25.8 cu km (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
Per capita 15 cu m/yr (2001)

Natural hazards
Hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March

Environment - current issues
Inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
Sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands


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  Benin (Porto-novo):


  GPS points from Benin (Porto-novo)

Ayou Benin (general)

Kenou Benin (general)

Kokobega Benin (general)

Bokossererou Benin (general)

Kpererou Benin (general)

Gigogon Departement Du Zou

Yakrigourou Benin (general)

Karanba Benin (general)




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