This country, officially known as the “Republic of Benin,” is one of the numerous French-speaking countries on the African continent. The West African country has a population of about 13 million people.
Benin is famous for its remarkable historical history, which includes the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey. In addition, the country has fantastic art, a rich history, and an engaging culture.
Fascinating Benin facts
Slave Coast of Benin
It runs along the country’s south coast, and the shore was notorious. During the period, merchants fostered contacts with Europeans who came to buy ivory, gold, and pepper. It established a foundation for the slave trade.
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Africans sold into slavery had to pass through the Benin coast.
It has been suggested that the slave trade in Benin lasted over 100 years, accounting for the passage of over 1,000 enslaved people from Africa to Brazil, Cuba, the Caribbean, Haiti, and the United States.
Benin is ruled by the French
The fall of the slave trade reduced Dahomey’s position as a regional power. The French landed in the region in 1892 and attempted to take control.
In 1899, it was designated as “French Dahomey.” It was united with the vast French West Africa region.
After more than five decades, the French granted authority to French Dahomey in 1958. It acquired complete independence in 1969. Benin’s national day is August 1st.
Benin was formerly known as Dahomey
The country was renamed the Republic of Benin in 1975. Previously, the name was Dahomey. The king at the time buried Dan to demonstrate his strength and authority.
Dan was a rival monarch who was buried beneath the current Benin palace’s foundation.
Dahomey was a wealthy and strong kingdom. They had a well-organized economy based on slave labor. The kingdom’s influence began to dwindle in the 1840s due to attempts to abolish the slave trade.
Benin “The Bight of Benin”
Benin is located on a body of water and is named after it. Following independence, the country adopted the name Dahomey.
However, it was not an accurate reflection of the country because the Kingdom of Dahomey represented a small ethnic minority that comprised just a small portion of the total population.
It was changed from Dahomey to Benin fifteen years after independence. The country is located on an enormous body of water, so it was an unbiased conclusion.
Largest lion population
The most significant remaining population of lions in West Africa is found in Benin’s Pendjari national park.
It is no secret that most West African countries have seen a rapid fall in the region’s lion population. Human activities such as overgrazing and farming have contributed to grassland depletion.
The national park is one of the few lion and elephant refugees globally. This park is home to various big cats, including cheetahs and leopards.
It is known as the Africa’s venice
One of the most intriguing things about Benin is that it has its own version of Venice. Ganvie is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Benin.
It is Africa’s largest lake village, housing over 20,000 people. It is known as the “Venice of Africa,” and it is a renowned tourist destination in Benin.
Over 500 years ago, the village was erected on stilts in Lake Nokoue. Its original habitats were mostly runways where people were fleeing slavery.
There are various Benin beaches
It features some of West Africa’s most gorgeous beaches. Benin is noted for its beautiful beaches due to its proximity to the sea and 121km of coastline.
Fidjrosse Beach in Cotonou has white sand and crystal-clear water. Grand Popo Beach in Grand Popo boasts yellow sand and a beautiful blue sea.
People can sunbathe on some of these beaches, or surf and participate in other sports along the coast.
Abomey palaces is one of the famous palaces there
This is one of Benin’s numerous lovely sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Royal Palaces of Abomey were built in the 17th century as a colony of the kingdom of Dahomey.
It is an outstanding collection of ten palaces that housed the Dahomey Kingdom’s royals during its reign. A worthwhile visit to remember the glorious days of the past.
Kuli-kuli the national meal
Although other foods such as yam, rice, and vegetables are popular in various sections of the country, Kuli-Kuli is the national meal of Benin.
Kuli-Kuli provides nourishment, protein, and sustenance, particularly for the impoverished who cannot afford sumptuous meals.
Kuli-Kuli is created from groundnuts that have been mashed and formed into various shapes, such as balls, flutes, and biscuits. Then they are deep-fried in peanut oil.
Benin is where voodoo originated
The country boasts one of the highest populations of Voodoo practitioners worldwide. There is also a day when hundreds of Voodoo believers congregate at Ouidah to commemorate National Voodoo Day.
The Western interpretation of Voodoo entails poking pins into individuals. However, this is not the case in Benin. In Benin, voodoo is mainly about having a beneficial impact on others.
Although it involves spiritual forces such as fire, earth, and water, another little-known fact about Benin is that they still do animal sacrifices.
Snakes are revered in Benin
If someone are terrified of snakes, should avoid particular areas of the country when visiting. Crossing paths with snakes is considered a good omen in Benin.
Here’s an odd truth about Benin: it’s possibly one of the world’s few, if not the only, countries with a full template dedicated to hundreds of snakes.
The template of snakes is an area in the palace where dozens of snakes twisted together can move freely. Many people visit to this temple to worship snakes as a spiritual conviction.
Various languages are spoken in Benin
Given that its colonial masters were French, it is unsurprising that French is the country’s official language.
Although additional languages like as Yoruba, Biber, Fon, and Fula are spoken in Benin, French is the official language. It is utilized in the media, government, and the legal system.
It is the Africa’s richest region
The Kingdom of Dahomey was once one of Africa’s wealthiest regions. Given that Benin is still a developing country, that may not be easy to imagine.
Because of how profitable the slave trade was in about 1750, it earned around £250,000 yearly. While that may not seem like much now, it was a significant sum in the 1700s.
The world’s most youthful population
Here’s something interesting about Benin. The country is thought to have the world’s youngest population.
It isn’t easy to believe, but the country’s median age is 17. Surprisingly, 65% of the population is either 25 or under 25 years old.
However, given the country’s high fertility rate, this young population is not unreasonable. The fertility rate in Benin is predicted to be five children per woman. It is also one of the countries with the lowest rates of contraceptive use.
Benin’s art is very pleasant and beautiful
This is one of Benin’s many cultural attractions. Beninese are well-known for their love of wood and artistic artwork.
One of the fascinating aspects of Benin culture is their appreciation of art. Wood-crafting tradition has been passed down from generation to generation for millennia.
Benin’s woodcarvings are well-known throughout Europe and North America. They are well-known in the global market. Aside from that, the Beninese are notable for their ivory and bronze sculptures.
Africa has the lowest crime rate
The crime rate in Africa is much greater than on other continents, owing to corruption and poverty in some African countries, bloodshed, and civil conflict in others.
It boasts one of the continent’s lowest crime rates. There is no civil war, fewer incidences of corruption, and the country is relatively stable.
Even though the government has a low crime rate, thievery is prevalent. To help prevent theft, most homeowners hire night security guards.
The Kingdom of Dahomey is not the same as the Kingdom of Benin
Here’s another frequently misunderstood fact about Benin. It is commonly confused with the Kingdom of Dahomey, but they are two distinct empires.
The Kingdom of Benin is a kingdom in present-day Edo state in southwest Nigeria. It is one of the few remaining West African Empires and has no ties to Benin or the Kingdom of Dahomey.
Because of the name similarities, many people confuse Benin for the Kingdom of Benin since it changed its name from dahomey.
Benin has a various terrain
Benin’s landscape is varied and can be classified into four significant sections from south to north. The verdant lagoons, marshes, and lakes dot the low-lying, sandy coastal plain.
Moving north, the plateaus of southern Benin along the Couffo, Zou, and Ouémé rivers have elevations ranging from 20 to 200 meters (65 to 650 feet).
North of this is a region of flat areas studded with rocky hills that extends surrounding the cities of Nikki and Savé and rarely tops 400 m (1,312 ft). Finally, Benin’s northernmost section is dominated by savanna and semi-arid mountains.
The national flag of Benin comes in three colors
Benin’s national flag comprises two horizontal bands of yellow and red extending from a vertical green bar on the hoist side.
The colors of the Benin flag are inspired by the Pan-Africanist movement, which played an essential part in the country’s independence movement.
The green band represents Benin’s characteristic palm tree groves, while the yellow bar represents the country’s savannas.
The red band represents those who have fought for the country, and the blood poured in its name.
The slave coast included Benin’s southern coast
From the early 16th century to the late 19th century, Benin’s southern coastal region was part of the ancient Slave Coast, a key source of Africans brought into slavery during the Atlantic slave trade.
Benin’s powerful monarchs seized and sold enslaved people to British, French, and Portuguese merchants for nearly three centuries.
Hundreds of men, women, and children from opposing tribes were destined towards Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, the Caribbean, and the United States.
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