Benin lives up to its reputation as Africa’s perfect point of entry. It is in West Africa. Both Burkina Faso and Niger are north. Nigeria is east, and Togo is west. The country is located on the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea, in the northernmost tropical edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the largest city and the economic center is Cotonou. The government of the country also seats there. After gaining full independence from France in 1960, Benin has been a communist country until 1991. Now it is a tropical country, highly dependent on agriculture.

The official language is French. English is studied in secondary schools, but it is not widely used. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, closely followed by Islam and Protestantism.

The official currency is CFA Frank. The approximate exchange rate is XOF656 for US$1. The currency exchange is available at banks and in major hotels. Credit cards are acceptable, but not widely. 

Taxis are widely available in main towns. Predominantly, those are motorbike taxis. They don’t have meters, so you should negotiate the price beforehand. If you want to hire a car, you can do it in Cotonou. It would be wiser to hire a car with a driver, however. Main roads are in a reasonable condition. But many tracks can be inaccessible during the rainy seasons. 

In Benin, they use electric sockets and plugs of types C and F, as in Europe. The standard voltage is 220V. So, bring an adapter, if you come from the USA

Benin contains a treasure-trove of both pristine beaches and wildlife. It is a land of cultural wealth. Visit the palm-fringed beaches along the Atlantic coastline. Immerse yourself in the Afro-Brazilian heritage of Ouidah. Trek through the Parc National de la Pendjari, where cheetahs, leopards, elephants, and lions abound.

The Beninese cuisine is widely known in Africa for its flavorful dishes and exotic ingredients. The most common ingredient of southern cuisine is corn, which is used to prepare dough, a national dish, served with peanut or tomato sauce. Fish and chicken are the most common kinds of meat in the south. In the north, the main staple is yams. People also use beef and pork to prepare dishes.

Meat is rather expensive in Benin, so meals are usually light on meat and rich in vegetable oils, mainly palm and peanut. Also, smoked fish is a common dish in Benin. Other popular foods are couscous, rice, beans, mangoes, avocados, oranges, kiwis, pineapples, and bananas. Many people in Benin still use outdoor mud stoves for cooking.

You may enjoy the parks and animals, however, also be sure to meet the locals! Tourists are welcome here. Popular destinations offer comfortable accommodations and the people here are also extremely hospitable.

July 22, 2016 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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