Your guide to being an expatriate in Benin

Caffeinate Your Benin Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa, bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria and Niger to the east, and Burkina Faso to the north. With a wide coastline along the Bight of Benin, the country has access to the Atlantic Ocean via its long southern border with Togo. Benin has a rich and complex history, having been colonized by various European powers, including the Portuguese, Danish, English, and French. The country gained independence in 1960 and became a one-party state until democratic reforms were introduced in the 1990s. Today, Benin is a constitutional republic with a president as head of state and government.


Expat destinations in Benin

Demographics of Benin:

Ethnic groups

Bariba: 7%

Fulani: 6%

Gourma: 5%

Yoruba: 17%

Fon-Ewe: 52%


Fon: 35%

Bariba: 10%

Gourma: 7%

Yoruba: 15%

Fulfulde: 9%

Religion Overview

Benin is a predominantly Catholic country, with Catholicism accounting for around 30% of the population. Protestantism is the second-largest religion, with around 25% of the population. Islam is the third-largest religion, making up around 20% of the population. There are also small Muslim and Protestant minorities.

Major Religions


Benin has a tropical climate, with hot, rainy seasons and drier periods. The country can be divided into three main climatic zones: the coastal zone, the central plateau, and the northern savannah.

Economy Overview

Benin's economy is primarily based on agriculture, with over 80% of the population engaged in farming activities. The country is a major producer of cotton, cocoa, and palm oil, which make up a significant portion of its exports. However, deforestation, soil erosion, and water management issues are major challenges facing the agricultural sector. The country is also rich in mineral resources, including marble, limestone, and gold, which attract foreign investors. Benin has been implementing economic reforms aimed at reducing poverty and improving living standards. The country's main trading partners include Nigeria, France, and Gabon.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture
  • Marine resources
  • Textiles
  • Cocoa processing
  • Gold mining

Major Companies

  • Zephyr Logistics Services
  • Socfin Agricultural Company
  • Greaves Cotton (Benin) S.A.

Culture and Language Overview

Benin's culture is rich and diverse, reflecting its history of contact with various European and African cultures. Music, dance, and crafts are proud expressions of Beninese identity. The Fon and Yoruba ethnic groups are known for their elaborate mask-making and ceremonial performances, while the Bariba and Gourma peoples are known for their intricate metalwork. The country is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Royal Palaces of Abomey, which served as the capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey.

Cultural Highlights

  • Festivals: The Beninois celebrate several festivals throughout the year, including the Annual Fetish Festival, the Kpanlogo Festival, and the Ouidah International Jazz Festival.
  • Craftwork: Benin is renowned for its intricate crafts, including sculptures, masks, jewelry, and textiles.

Geography and Landmarks Overview

Benin's landscape is varied, with dense rainforests, savannahs, and coastal plains. The country's longest river, the Niger, runs through its northwestern borders, while the Ouémé River is the country's largest waterway, flowing through the central plateau. Benin's coastline is dotted with lagoons and estuaries, providing important ecosystems for marine life. The country's major landmarks include the Ancient Royal Palaces of Abomey, the Ganvié Stilt Village, and the memorial of the Slave Route.

Notable Landmarks

  • Ancient Royal Palaces of Abomey
  • Ganvié Stilt Village
  • Memorial of the Slave Route
  • W National Park
  • Nokoué Lagoon

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day: January 1
  • Republic Day: December 1
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • Labour Day: May 1
  • Assumption Day: August 15
  • Independence Day: August 1
  • All Saints' Day: November 1
  • All Souls' Day: November 2

Political Stability

Benin is considered a stable democracy, with periodic elections and a commitment to human rights. However, corruption and political instability have been identified as major challenges facing the country. The government has implemented measures aimed at combating corruption and promoting good governance.

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