Living in Benin
A practical guide to the way of life in Benin
Benin with its diverse landscape, from seaside to rugged mountains, may not be a common expat destination, but living in Benin can be a unique experience! While it bears the scars of a complicated history, expats can look forward to getting to know the resulting multifaceted culture of modern Benin.
Life in Benin
Healthcare in Benin
Since 2004, the Beninese government has undertaken major work to revamp the public healthcare system by improving facilities, increasing health education, and introducing private sector care. However, despite this effort, the public healthcare system in Benin is poor, and expatriates living in Benin are advised to use the private medical system. However, the private system is usually only available in cities, and in some cases you are still recommended to travel outside the country for major treatments.
All expats living in Benin are advised to take out comprehensive private healthcare insurance that covers treatment in other countries, as this may be necessary. In addition, you are advised to stock up on any required prescription medicine before travelling to the country, as whilst living in Benin you will notice that the pharmacies are understocked with even the most common medicines.
Education in Benin
Benin has had a free public school system since 2007, when it abolished school fees and opened up enrolment to all citizens. However, as French is the language of instruction and the public system is underfunded and overcrowded, most foreigners living in Benin send their children to private international schools instead.
Benin currently has a handful of international schools, all of which are located in Cotonou, the largest city, including the International Christian School of Benin, QSI International School of Benin, and the Trinity Montessori School. Benin has one major university, the National University of Benin, which has ten different institutions spread out across the country, including The University of Parakou (UNIPAR) and The School of Applied Economics and Management (ENEAM).
Transportation in Benin
As a developing country, Benin does not have a transportation network of the same size or standard as many western nations. Benin’s road network has 6,787 km of highway, of which 1,357 km are paved, with the paved roads mainly located in the major cities and urban areas. If you are traveling to a remote rural location, expatriates are advised to drive a 4×4 as the roads can be treacherous; furthermore, in the wet seasons roads liable to flooding are sometimes unusable, even in the cities.
The railway network in Benin has 578 km (359 mi) of single track, 1,000 mm meter gauge railway. However, it does not have any direct links to other nations, even in the surrounding West African region. There is one international airport and one major seaport, both of which are located in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin.
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