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(P 10.1 ... P 10.5)
The "Republic of Benin" with a surface of
112'600 km2 is about 3 times as large as Switzerland
(41'000 km2), but has however with 6 million persons
Map of Benin
somewhat less inhabitants than Switzerland.
The national borders take the form of a fist, which rises up from
the south into the north.
In the south the country borders the sea (Gulf of Guinea), in the west
is Togo , in the north Burkina Faso and Niger, and in the east, Nigeria.
The Mono, a large river flows in the west, coming from the Atakora,
the highest mountains (700 m) of the country, and marks the border
between Togo and Benin for a long distance (350 km).
In the east, the Ouemé (400 km) flows close to the Nigerian border.
From the south to the north of Benin is a length of about 700 km,
while the southern part is only about 130 km wide.
Benin City is a township in Nigeria and has nothing to do
of Benin is Porto Novo, while
Cotonou is the port and the metropolis.
You will find further information about it and some pictures under
Cotonou on this site.
Most Ministries, the residence of the president and all important diplomatic
representations reside in Cotonou.
The official language is French. It is one of the few
advantages of colonialism, that a a president hardly comes on the idea
to define the language of his ethnic groupe as the official language
thus frustrating all other groups of the country, as was the case in
However, beside French, very much Fon is spoken. The language
of the Fon, the largest ethnic group in the south of the country.
In the southwest, to the border of Togo live the Ewe, they speak
Mina; somewhat northern of them the Adja, in the southeast
are the Yorouba and Nagot (a Yoruba dialect).
In the north of the country at Djougou are the Batonou
(formerly Bariba), at Natitingou the Dindi and the Somba
(Tata Somba = naked humans), as well as at Malanville the Batonou;
furthermore in the whole north the Peul.
At Dassa and Savè (area of the Zou) live the Datcha, in Porto
Novo, the Goun, at Pobé and also at Bohicon live the Holli
(speak Rolli), a forest people migrated from Nigeria. In Ganvié, the
Toffi are resident.
In the whole country there exists about 50 - 70 (depending upon counting
method) different languages. But note, these are different languages, not
different dialects. Only a few of them are written languages.
Conditions of entry, visa regulations
The Embassy of Benin in Paris, (see
indicates on its website the visa
fees. Likewise a visa request form can be loaded there.
If you intend to visit neighbour states (Togo, Niger etc.),
then you require a
VTE (Visa Touristique d'Entente),
it is somewhat more expensive, but it saves you a visit to the local
In the last time, there was no more VTE visa for visitors given.
A visa for two days is provided at the entry of the
borders if you are arriving by road (Borders of Togo, Burkina Faso,
Niger and Nigeria, 2 photos and 10'000 FCFA), this has to be extended
the Immigration Office in Cotonou (7 - 15'000 FCFA), which can
take easily 7 ( !) days.
This is only recommended if you like to stay a longer time in Cotonou.
Something similar applies to the border going to Togo.
A visa valid for 7 days is given immediately (10'000 FCFA, without
photo). It can be extended to 30 days at the Securité in Lomé
(for free, but requires 4 passport photos).
We have assembled a page with the addresses and links of the most
important Institutes of Tropical Medicine
in Europe. On the same page you
will find further information about the health care.
Weather, climate conditions
Read in our
how the weather varies with the year in Benin (coastal region).
Currency (FCFA = XOF)
Like in many other French speaking countries
(Burkina Faso, Ivory coast, Mali, the Niger, Senegal, Togo),
the Franc CFA is used in Bénin.
(FCFA = Franc de la Communauté
Financière Africaine, in the international ISO code
designates as XOF ). The currency was bound to the francs Français,
and is today firmly bound to the Euro (1 EUR = 650 FCFA).
Coins circulate of 5, 10, 25, 50,
100, 200, 250 and 500 FCFA.
Coins of 1 FCFA are out of circulation.
There are notes of 1'000, 2'000, 5'000 and
10'000 FCFA, notes of 500 FCFA are out
• Currently only new issues of notes are valid and
available. The new ones are smaller than the old ones, have other
colours and have items against forgery.
(Beware of old notes and of forged notes, specially of 5'000 and
10'000 FCFA notes).
• The smaller notes (1'000 & 2'000) are partially
strongly worn out. Dirty, cut and repaired notes are not accepted at
all in the villages.
• For journeys to rural areas it is advisable to carry
notes in smaller amounts (1'000 & 2'000 FCFA). Small chaznge and
coins are everywhere in short supply.
• Notes of 2'500 FCFA are not any longer
• Notes in FCFA of the Central African Bank are
not accepted in West Africa, however they can be exchanged on the banks,
if they are genuine!
The currency table gives an overview of the rate of exchange conditions.
The average exchange rates of the indicated date is given. The CHF
and the USD depend on the current rate. Purchase and/or selling rates
usually deviates by 5 - 10% from the average value.
The banks charge different commissions (up to approx.. 2000 FCFA
per currency and change)
More exact values and conditions to other current currencies can be fond
in the FCFA Calculator (see above), where you can convert any given
amount from and into FCFA.
Some newly opened Bureaux d'echange offer slightly better
exchange rates than the official rate, but only for larger notes
(200 or 500 EUR)
In the exchange rate table
Exchange rates Euroland
you will find the defined conversion values for the
currencies taking part in the EURO to the FCFA
Credit cards are accepted only in the largest hotels
(Marina [ex. Sheraton], Novotel). A few banks are now also starting to
accep credit cards (VISA-Cards only by the time July 2005,
Bank checks are exchanged only by some Lebanese dealers.
Redeeming in the banks is difficult and time consuming (up to 14 days).
Traveller Checks are exchanged in Banks for a fee,
(up to 5%!) and only paid in local currency. A payment in Euro
is difficult and time consuming (have flight ticket with you).
Cash. We highly recommend the Euro, or Swiss Franc
as cash. US-Dollars can also be changed, but however are not so common.
We know, cash is always risky, however it can be changed everywhere
Internet (locally called Cybercafé, even if no
coffee is sold there!) :
There are dozens of cybercafés in the city, however not
all are equipped with sufficient powered workstations.
Currently the Café on the Place Quebec (Akpapa), east the
"Ancien Pont" and those at the Main Telecom Office and just
oposite in the building of the Philately (Poste Commerce)
in the centre of Cotonou, offers good transmission rates, at prices
of 500 FCFA per hour.
In the middle of May 2003 the connection to the Africa fibre
optic cable was finally activated. Apart from occasional
disturbances the connections are now good.
Also in Bohicon and Parakou and even in
Natitingou are Cybercafés available.
Via telephone, (max. 56 kbps).
Telephone : ( national pre selection : +229)
There are many places to use a telephone, there are everywhere small
telephone shops. The costs of a call to Europe are however about double
to three times as high as from Europe to here.
The quality of the transmission in Cotonou is very good, within the
country still leaves much to be desired.
At the telephone cabins (only with prepaid cards, not coins)
there is always someone who lets you use their card.
The unit costs then 100 FCFA instead of 60. There are cards everywhere to
buy for 5'000 and 10'000 FCFA.
Mobiles : There are different providers for SIM-Cards, Areeba (former
BeninCell) (SIM-card 6'000 FCFA, incl. 2'500 Credit),
TeleCel (24'000 FCFA).
Not all of them have a coverage for the whole country. Not all of
them like to answer your requests.
You may get the actual coverage here : ==>
(For Libercom we could not find a valid URL)
According to our knowledge, only via Areeba (BeninCel)
SMS may be sent from Europe to Benin and vice versa
(Actual date 04.2007).
See also :
Calls from Europe : Calls from Europe to Bénin with the usual providers may be very
expensive (up tp 1 EUR/min). But there are in different countries
new providers with very good conditions.
The prices may change at any time, please consult the provider.
Please send us information, if you know some URLs of providers
in other countries or some with better prices than shown.
Mobile phone rent : At TeleCel "portables" can be rented. Sales office in
the centre, at the Avenue Steinmetz. Other providers are also starting
to offer a rent of mobile phones.
We recommend, bring your own mobile phone and buy only a SIM card here
(ca 20'000 FCFA). Must not be SIM locked!
Rentals Conditions :
Nov. 2004Nov. 2004
Bail (App. & SIM Card)
Basic charges 1 - 3 days rent
Rent per day, starting from 4. Day
Telephone assets *
Example of a 14 day rent
Basic charges 1 - 3 days rent
Rent 11 days
Telephone assets *
*) The unspent amount on the card purges.
Calling cards can be bought to 5'000 and 10'000 FCFA everywhere at the road.
Fax : Fax service is offered only in the large post offices.
Taxi : (Several different types)
Taxi brousse (Bush taxi)
(connections from city to city, quasi Intercity),
for example Cotonou - Bohicon, Cotonou - Parakou,
Cotonou - Porto Novo, Cotonou - Lomé (Togo) etc.
The prices are fixed to about 1'000 FCFA per 100 km for one seat.
There are vehicles with 6 - and 9 seats (plus driver!). The taxis drive off
from the Gare Routière, which lies on different places in town,
depending upon destination . (Zemidjans usually know where).
The Taxi brousse starts only, if it is fully occupied. If you wants
to start immediately, you can buy the remainder of the vacant places.
Taxi ville (City Cab),
operate only within the cities. These are painted in Cotonou
yellow-green and operate on important lines (regular taxi).
To call them, you must know exactly, where you would like to go. If one is
passing by, you call the destination and if this agrees with its
destination, the driver stops.
The prices are fix, for example Fidjrossè - Ganhito (City
Centre, Main Post Office, small vegetable market, about 10 km) one pays
150 FCFA . The same price applies for Fidjrossè - Dan Tokpa
(Big market). If you want to step out before, you can do this on request.
These taxis can also be rented (loué), then you pay
all places (usually 6, for the R4 four places) and you are individually
driven to the destination (rent for one hour 2'000, for one day
15 to 20'000 FCFA).
There are no regular taxis the
here you must rent.
Starting from Fidjrossè about 1000, starting from the centre 2'000
to 4'000 FCFA, depending upon starting location and negotiation fate.
Starting from airport 6'000 FCFA or more.
likewise within the cities.
Thousends of Zemidjan, also called Kékénon,
drives the roads, each having a yellow shirt on, with a number on
If you stand irresolutely at the roadside, immediately someone stops and
brings you to the desired target. You absolutely must negociate
the price before starting.
They are more expensive than the regular taxi, but bring you directly to
A travel Fidjrossè - Ganhito comes on about 200 - 300 FCFA,
depending upon negotiation fate. For the distance
Au Jardin Helvetia you pay about 500 FCFA.
It is not worthwhile to drive larger distances with a Zemidjan,
because with longer distances usually after some time you start having
back pain. They are fast, in addition, risky, since they are frequently
under way with bad brakes and at night have few or no lights.
Train : Only one line operates, this from Cotonou via Bohicon
to Parakou, usually once daily (Night Express twice a week).
A journey from Cotonou to Bohicon (about 120 km) or from Bohicon to
Cotonou takes about 3 hours following the timetable and is a unique
Attention (29. March 2007) :
The train has been SUSPENDED by the time, nobody knows
Price from Cotonou
Night express (Tu & Th)
= = =>
Parakou - Cotonou (daily)
Night express (We & Fr)
<= = =
- One must take delays into account
up to 4 hours !
- The night express stops officially nowhere and leads
Couchettes (against supplement faire).
- All data without guarantee !
Bus : Since recently also very comfortable coaches operate
between the larger cities, like
Cotonou-Parakou or Cotonou-Natitingou.
Reservation compulsory 12 h in advance.
For further information ask the Zemidjans.
The fuel supply is not fully ensured in the entire country. In
smaller villages there may be occasionally bottlenecks.
Therefore it is recommended always to carry sufficient reserves.
Prices of Petrol of March 2012
The prices are due to the increase of 50% in Nigeria on a high level
The largest community in the south are probably the Catholics, while
in the north the Muslims are in the majority. Animism's is present in
parallel to all religions. In each village you find at least three to five
different places of worship.
The numbers the members are disputed, there are no exact
statistics, each religious community claims more members for
itself, than they possess in reality.
Here an incomplete list (in alphabetical order) of the most churches
and sects to be found in Benin
Adventiste du 7ème Jour,
Assamblée de Dieu,
Les Apôtres du 7ème Jour,
Holidays, Opening hours
In Benin there are very many official holidays. At these in the
public offices and large enterprises (post office, companies, sales
offices etc.) it will not be working.
Supermarkets are open Sundays up to 13:00.
Small shop's hours are individual and they are nearly always open.
On building sites one sees the people working all days and at all times.
Generally applies still the 6-day week
Holidays in Benin
Variable Data 2012
1st January, New Year 10th January, Fête of Voudoun 14th February, Valentine day 1st May, Labour day 1st August, National day - Benin (1960) - Switzerland (1291) 15th August, Mariae Ascension Day (Assumption) 1st November, all-holy 25th December, Christmas 31th December, Sylvester
Aid el kbir, Big Holiday Tabaski, env. 24.11. * Easter, 08.04 Easter Friday, 06.04 Easter Monday, 08.04 Mouloud, env. 05.02. * Birth of the prophet Mohammed Ascension, 17.05 Whitsunday, 27.05 Whit Monday, 28.05 Ramadan, begin of ramadan, ca. 20.07. * Aid es srer, (small celebration) End of Ramadan, ca. 19.08. *
* The Islamic holidays depend as well known on the moon conditions and are briefly defined before beginning by a local Imam. Moslem-Calender
The store opening times are very individual. The largebusiness and the administration are open usually from
09:00 to 12:30 and from 15:30 to 18:00.
Fax & telephone service of the Main Post Office in the
centre from 07:00 to 22:00 o'clock.
The small shops at the road are always open from 08:00 to
approximately 20:00 or 22:00.
Restaurants and Night Clubs in Cotonou (selection)
Au Jardin Helvetia, very good
kitchen, Swiss specialities. Route des Pêcheurs (km 11).
Route des Pêcheurs (km 4).
with its terrace on the roof Titanic, in the Xanadou Centre,
in the west of the "Ancien Pont"
Route des Pêcheurs (km 6).
Bvd. Saint Michel, in the Artisanat (Handcraft articles are sold
Chinese Restaurant, close to the water tower, Cadjehoun.
here one meets many Yovo's, the German development aid workers and
Americans. Haie Vive, Cadjehoun.
local kitchen, Ground floor rustically, First floor somewhat more
Smaller "Von", behind the cinema Le Bénin, parallel (north) to
the Bvd. Saint Michel, several further restaurants (with local
kitchen) beside it.
Pili Pili, very good eating place, in pleasant atmosphere.
"Von" parallel (south) to the Bvd. Saint Michel.
Bvd. Saint Michel, should be very good, most expensive restaurant
Lebanese kitchen and very good Pizzas.
Haie Vive, Cadjehoun, somewhat further on than the Livingstone.
Night Clubs & Bars
in Jonquet (Quartier rouge)
Bar Moustache, in the building Xanadou, at the
in the centre (close to Marché Ganhi)
New York, New York
at Bvd. Saint Michel, close to Sorrento, nearby the cinema
in Jonquet (Quartier rouge)
in Jonquet (Quartier rouge)
We try to keep this page updated, but there are always some changes.
Did you find some errors (also translation errors or misspellings) or did
you miss some information on our Benin-Information page ?
Please don't hesitate and send a mail to
Info @ AJH.biz
by mentioning in the subject :
"Error/Missing information on the page Benin Information" :