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Benin:
Geography

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Benin Page


Background
Definition
Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI has begun a high profile fight against corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.
Location
Definition
Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo
Geographic coordinates
Definition
9 30 N, 2 15 E
Map references
Definition
Africa
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 112,620 sq km
land: 110,620 sq km
water: 2,000 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 1,989 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 306 km, Niger 266 km, Nigeria 773 km, Togo 644 km
Coastline
Definition
121 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 200 nm
Climate
Definition
tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
Terrain
Definition
mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Sokbaro 658 m
Natural resources
Definition
small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 23.53%
permanent crops: 2.37%
other: 74.1% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
120 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
25.8 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 0.13 cu km/yr (32%/23%/45%)
per capita: 15 cu m/yr (2001)
Natural hazards
Definition
hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March
Environment - current issues
Definition
inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching threatens wildlife populations; deforestation; desertification
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands


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