Benin Travel Guide: Country & Destination Information for Visiting

Updated: 2019-08-18.

Republic of Benin / République du Bénin

Benin is a small western African country of just 11 million people. To its west is Togo, Burkina Faso is to the northeast, Niger to the north, and Nigeria is to the east.

As a former French colony until independence in 1960, the national language of Benin is French. Through the French ruling period and until 15 years after its independence, Benin was called Dahomey, a name it also was called centuries ago when the Kingdom of Dahomey existed. Its current name “Benin” comes from the Bight of Benin, the arched coastline and body of water which makes up Benin’s southern border.

If you visit, take in Pendjari National Park, which is one of the most important parks in all of West Africa for several large animal species, such as the West African lion. As voodoo, or Vodun, is a popularly-practiced religion in Benin, you’ll also be able to easily find plenty of voodoo markets and accessories, such as dead animals.

flag of Benin

Benin Travel Information & Key Points

General points to know about the country of Benin – demographics, important ages, phone numbers, key statistics, and more, whether you’re traveling there or not.

Capital: Porto-Novo

Largest City: Cotonou

Population: 11 million (2019 estimate)

Language(s): French, various regional

President: Patrice Talon

National Assembly President: Louis Vlavonou

Currency: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Area: 114,763 km2 (44,310 mi2)

Dialing Code: +229

Time Zone: West Africa Time (WAT, UTC+1)

Demonym: Beninese (what is a demonym?)

Endonym: Bénin (their name for their country)

Emergency Number: 117 for police, 112 for fire, 118 for ambulance

Drinking Age: No minimum age

Smoking Age: None (18 to purchase)

Age of Consent: 16 for females; 21 for homosexual acts

Drives on the: Right

Electricity & Adapter: 220 V, 50 Hz, Plug Type E (define)

ISO Country Code: BJ