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Lose yourself in the exotic wonders of Benin. Uncover a world of diverse landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush forests, and ancient Dahomey traditions.
Benin is a beautiful country in West Africa with a rich history, vibrant culture, protected wildlife, and pristine beaches.
It is a destination worth exploring for those interested in African history, culture and natural heritage.
Porto-Novo is the capital of Benin.
Benin, officially known as the Republic of Benin, is a West African country located in the Gulf of Guinea.
Benin gained full independence as the Republic of Dahomey, in 1960, and changed its name to Benin in 1975.
The country has a population of approximately 13 million people and covers an area of 114,763 square kilometers.
Benin has a diverse cultural heritage, with over 60 ethnic groups living within its borders.
The Republic of Benin is one of Africa's smallest countries; formerly known as Dahomey.
Abomey was the centre of the early kingdom of Dahomey, with a rival state at Porto-Novo.
The official language of the country is French, but many indigenous languages are also spoken.
Benin is known for its vibrant music and dance scene, as well as its rich cultural traditions.
The country is also home to several national parks and wildlife reserves, including the Pendjari National Park, which is known for its population of elephants, lions, and other wildlife.
The country has a tropical climate, with two distinct seasons: a rainy season from April to October, and a dry season from November to March.
The southern part of the country is characterized by lush vegetation, while the north is drier and more arid.
Benin gained independence from France in 1960, and has since made significant progress in terms of economic and social development.
Benin was a major center of the West African slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century, and as a result, its history is closely linked to that of the transatlantic slave trade.
Travel in Benin
Benin has been something of a closely kept secret since a group of young army officers, led by Major Kerekou, put a halt to twelve years of repeated coups by taking control of the country themselves, in 1972.
Even now, after the relaxing of the Major's Marxist-Leninist line that turned colonial Dahomey into the People's Republic of Benin - and earned it a somewhat naive title of The Cuba of West Africa - the Gulf of Guinea's least known nation is still not on most travellers' list of destinations.
Enjoy a visit to this West African country known for its rich cultural heritage and history, which includes the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey.
The former palace of the kings of Dahomey, this UNESCO World Heritage site houses a museum with artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the kingdom.
This unique village built on stilts in the middle of Lake Nokoué is sometimes called the 'Venice of Africa'.
You can take a boat tour to see the daily life of the village.
This charming fishing village on the coast is a great place to relax and enjoy the beach.
You can even take a boat tour on the Mono River, to see the mangroves and wildlife.
This coastal town is known for its role in the transatlantic slave trade, and has several museums and monuments dedicated to this history.
It's also home to the Temple of Pythons, where voodoo worshippers gather to honor the snakes.
This protected area in the north of the country is home to elephants, lions, buffalo, and many other species of wildlife.
It's a great place for a safari or nature walk.
To visit Benin, you'll need a passport that's valid for at least six months after your planned departure date, as well as a visa.
You can apply for a visa at the nearest Benin embassy or consulate.
The best time to visit Benin is during the dry season, which runs from November to February.
The weather is hot and humid year-round, but this is the time when there is the least amount of rain.
Getting to Benin
An account of travel through Benin by shared taxi; the easiest way to get around Benin, but not always the safest.
There's not really that much to do in Cotonou, except get out; unless you like the idea of paying to join the French around the pool at the Sheraton.
International representation may be lodged in Benin's characterless coastal town of Cotonou, but it is not the country's capital.
Principal status is reserved for a town with a more pleasant setting, and a proper place in history; Porto Novo.
If all routes lead to Cotonou, then once official business is seen to, diversions and ways out of the sandy grid are sought.
The Capital of Benin
Located in the southeastern part of the country, Porto-Novo is the official capital of Benin.
Porto-Novo was originally established as a small fishing village by the Aja people in the 16th century.
The city later became an important center of the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the powerful pre-colonial African states in the region.
Porto-Novo served as the capital of Dahomey until 1894 when the French colonial authorities moved the capital to Cotonou.
One of the prominent landmarks in Porto-Novo is the Musée Honmè; the former royal palace of King Toffa, who ruled the Kingdom of Dahomey in the late 19th century.
The palace showcases traditional royal artifacts, including thrones, statues, and ceremonial objects.
The official Tourisme Bénin website is only available in French.
Revealing Benin is a transformative large-scale investment programme that is hoped will revitalise Benin's economy.
The Action Programme is based on 45 major projects across nine key sectors; including Tourism.
There is no British embassy or consulate in Benin, although there is a British High Comission in Ghana.
Australians may need to visit Nigeria.
US Embassy in Benin:
01BP 2012, Cotonou, Benin. Close to the Ibis and Novotel hotels, off the Route de l'Aeroport.
A two-hour drive from Cotonou takes you back to the former capital of one of the great West African kingdoms in pre-colonial times.
The most accessible attraction to Cotonou, is the lake dwellings at Ganvie.
Birdwatching in Benin.
Important bird areas in Benin are Lake Nokoue, and the Lake Aheme and Aho complex.
W du Benin National Park lies in the Niger border region.
Benin Travel Tips
You really should visit Pendjari National Park, the best game park in West Africa, on Natitingou and the Atacora region with its many waterfalls, caves, and the famous 'Tata Sombas'.
When in Natitingou, travellers looking for good food and a good clean room should stay at the Hotel Bourgogne.
By John Conry.
Most people visiting Benin will be looking for Hotels in Cotonou, on the coast.
Benin Maps and Travel Guides
Weather in Africa:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around Africa.
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