Benin at a Glance
Moving to Benin
The Land and its People
Formerly known as Dahomey, Benin is a small, key-shaped country on the coast of West Africa that is situated in between Togo and Nigeria, and bordered by Niger and Burkina Faso to the north. It has a total territory of 114,763 square kilometers and is home to over 10 million people, although the vast majority of its population lives on Benin's southern coastline, which is known as the Bight of Benin.
Benin's population is made up of over 40 different African ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Fon and Adja peoples, who account for 39.2% and 15% of the population respectively. As a result of this ethnic diversity, although French is the official language of Benin, many people will also speak their indigenous language. In addition to the native population, there is also a large number of people of European ancestry, as a result of the French rule in Benin in the 20th century, as well as many European aid workers and missionaries.
The Climate in Benin
Expats moving to Benin will need to adjust to a hot and humid climate, which is characterized by two wet and two dry seasons. Although it still experiences heavy rainfall compared to most European countries even in the dry seasons, which run from December to April and July to September, Benin has a comparatively low average yearly rainfall (around 1,360 mm (53.5 in) in the coastal areas) when compared with similar West African nations.
The wet seasons run from April to July and September to November, and bring with them extreme rainfall, high winds, and high humidity. As Benin is a geographically diverse country, the average temperature varies according to where you are in the country, but at its hottest the average annual temperature in Benin is around 31°C (87.8°F).
Getting to Benin
At present Benin only has one international airport, Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport, which is located in Cotonou, the largest city; it has flights to many other African nations as well as regular services to Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul. Although there is currently a rail service in Benin, it is limited to a few cities across the country, so if you are travelling onward from Cotonou you will probably do so by road.
Cotonou is also the location of Benin's only seaport, to which many expatriates moving to Benin will ship their belongings and furniture. However, it is also just as easy to have it shipped elsewhere in Africa and brought to Benin by road. A new seaport at Porto Novo, the capital city, is also under construction; however, there are currently no plans for the construction of any new airports in Benin.