Benin Overview


Official name of the state

Republic of Benin.


Porto Novo.
Seat of government: Cotonou.


As a country located in Africa according to ethnicityology, Benin borders Nigeria to the east, Niger and Burkina Faso to the north and Togo to the west. Benin extends over 700 km from the Bay of Benin to Niger. The coast consists of sandy beaches and is covered with coconut palms. Behind the lagoons of Porto Novo, Cotonou, Ouidah and Grand Popo is a plateau that rises towards the Atakora Mountains. In the south, the Ouémé flows into the Cotonou lagoon. The Mono flows into the sea at Grand Popo and forms the border with Togo.


Presidential republic since 1991. Constitution from 1990. Parliament (Assemblée Nationale) with 83 members, election every 4 years. Direct election of the head of state every 5 years (one-time re-election). Independent since 1960 (former French colony). In 1991 the country switched from a one-party system to parliamentary democracy.

Head of state

Patrice Talon, since April 2016.


220 V, 50 Hz.

Time zone

West Africa Time: CET +2

Benin Overview



1 CFA (Communauté Financiaire Africaine) Franc * = 100 Centimes. Currency abbreviation: CFA Fr, XOF (ISO code). Banknotes are in circulation to the value of 10,000, 5000, 2000, 1000 CFA Fr. Coins are available in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 CFA Fr.

Note: [*] The CFA Franc (XOF) is issued by the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO, State Bank of West African States) and used by the 8 members of the African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The CFA Franc (XAF) issued by the Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BEAC, State Bank of the Central African States) is not legal tender in Benin. The CFA Franc is pegged to the Euro.

Credit cards

MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Visa are accepted to a limited extent. At the BOA (Bank of Africa) and SGBBE in Porto-Novo, Cotonou and Bohicon you can withdraw money with the Visa card, otherwise the use of credit cards is not recommended. Details from the issuer of the credit card in question.


ec / Maestro card / Sparcard

Attention: Travelers who pay with their bank customer card abroad and want to withdraw money should find out about the options for using their card from their bank prior to departure.

Bank opening times

Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Foreign exchange regulations

The import of the local currency is not subject to any restrictions, its export is allowed up to 500,000 CFA Fr (outside the CFA zone, however, unfavorable exchange rates). The import of foreign currencies is unlimited, but must be declared. Their export is possible up to the amount declared, minus the exchange amounts (proof may be required).

Currency Exchange

Foreign currencies can be exchanged in banks, exchange offices and larger hotels.



The official language is French. Around 60 African languages are used as colloquial languages. In the south Fon / Yoruba is predominantly spoken, in the north tribal languages such as Bariba and Fulani.




The following articles can be imported into Benin duty-free (tourists from 15 years):

200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 25 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco;
1 bottle of wine and 1 bottle of spirits;
250 ml eau de toilette and 250 ml perfume.

Prohibited exports

Only processed gold jewelry up to 500 g can be exported without the approval of the Ministry of Finance and Economy.


Business etiquette

Business negotiations are usually conducted in French. Tropical suits are recommended. We value punctuality.

Business hours:
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6.30 p.m.


Ministère du Commerce et du Tourisme
(see addresses).

Business contacts

Ministère du Commerce et du Tourisme
(see addresses).



International direct dialing. Calls from phone booths are more expensive.


GSM 900. Network operators include Libercom, Spacetel-Benin (Internet: and Telecel Benin (Internet: The reception / transmission range for mobile communications is limited to the area around Porto-Novo and Cotonou and the coastal strip on the Bay of Benin. Cell phones can be rented on site. Further information from the Office de Postes et de Telecommunications du Benin (Internet:


The main provider is OPT (Internet: Internet / e-mail access is available in Cotonou.

Post Office

Airmail to Europe takes 3-5 days, by land it takes 6-8 weeks. Poste restante shipments are possible. Opening times: Mon-Sat 8 am-2pm.


Since the use of shortwave frequencies changes several times over the course of a year, it is advisable to contact Deutsche Welle customer service directly (Tel: (+49) (0228) 429 32 08. Internet: to request.



There are numerous souvenir stands at the Cotonou marina. The Dan Tokpa Market in Cotonou sells goods from Nigeria and other countries, as well as traditional medicines and handicrafts. Crafts and other local products can be found in markets across the country. There are also arts and crafts centers in Cotonou and Abomey. Wood carvings (masks and small statues), bronze work, tapestries and pottery (especially in Parakou and Porto Novo) are recommended. Shop opening times: Mon-Sat 9 am-1pm and 4-7pm.



There are several night clubs in Cotonou.




In larger cities and rural areas there are different types of accommodation in all price ranges. However, for the most part, good hotels can only be found in the capital. In Porga, near the Pendjari National Park, there are two accommodation options (campements) that are starting points for photo safaris.



50% followers of natural religions, 30% Christians (mainly Roman Catholic, Methodist minority) and 20% Muslims.

Social rules of conduct

The usual rules of courtesy apply. Shake hands to greet you. One should note that religion plays a not insignificant role in social interaction. Voodoo is the best known and probably the most unusual religion for western travelers. Casual clothing is accepted almost everywhere. Photography: Ministries, military facilities and other public institutions are not allowed to be photographed. Tip: 10%.


Best travel time

In the south there is an equatorial climate with two dry and two rainy seasons. From January to April as well as in August very warm and dry. The rainy seasons are from May to July and from September to December. In the north it is hot and dry from November to May, and cool with lots of rain from June to October.


Area code +229 Area (square km) 112 622 Population 10448647 Population density (per square km) 93 Population in 2015 Member of the EU No main emergency number 117