Traveling Luck for Benin

Benin is located in Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Nigeria and Togo.

Benin has borders with Burkina Faso for 306km, Niger for 266km, Nigeria for 773km and Togo for 644km.

Land in Benin is mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains.

Beninese land covers an area of 112620 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

As for the Beninese climate; tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north.

Beninese (singular and plural) speak French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north).

Beninese National Map

Beninese Map

Regions of Benin

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.


Benin Country Profile

The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged around 5% in the past six years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years. In order to raise growth still further, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. Many of these proposals are included in Benin's application to receive Millennium Challenge Account funding - for which it was a finalist in 2004-05. The 2001 privatization policy continues in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture in spite of government reluctance. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, with Benin benefiting from a G8 debt reduction announced in July 2005, while pressing for more rapid structural reforms. Benin continues to be hurt by Nigerian trade protection that bans imports of a growing list of products from Benin and elsewhere, which has resulted in increased smuggling and criminality in the border region.

Beninese natural resources include small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, timber

sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands

Beninese religion is indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%.

Natural hazards in Benin include hot, dry, dusty harmattan wind may affect north from December to March.

Travel Advice on Benin

Benin

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment Crime section (increase in reported incidents of mugging).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is no formal British representation in Benin.

  • You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • We are not aware of any British nationals who have required consular assistance in Benin in the past year.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
There has been an increase in reported incidents of mugging, personal assault and car jacking in Cotonou and armed robberies have been reported in other areas, notably the border area with Nigeria. Highway bandits are known to operate in Benin. The high level of banditry has resulted in the vehicle-jackings in the capital resulting in two deaths and some injuries.
You should take sensible personal security precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance in public places especially at Dantokpa market in Cotonou and around large hotels and other tourist areas.  Avoid unlit side streets.
It is advisable to have a legalised copy of your passport and visa in case your passport is lost or stolen.
 
Political Situation

Benin Country Profile.

Road Safety
Cotonou has no reliable public transportation.
You should avoid driving out of the main towns at night as roads are poorly lit.
In the past few years, major work has been done on the roads in Benin.  Plans exist for a new international airport with associated roads, and other projects are underway in the North of Benin to improve conditions in the more rural areas.
In general, when you leave the main roads, conditions become more difficult, particularly in the rainy season (March-July and September-November) when some of the smaller unpaved roads become impassable.
Air Safety

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel:  http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour.  You should respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

Do not take pictures of military zones, airports or government offices.
Homosexuality is not accepted in Benin and sexual relations between members of the same sex are illegal.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British passport holders require visas prior to their entry into Benin.  Benin is represented in the UK by an Honorary Consul, Mr Lawrence Landau.  Visas can be obtained from the Honorary Consulate: Millenium House, Humber Road, Near Staples Corner, London, NW2 6DW; Tel: +44 (0) 20 8830 8612; Fax:  +44 (0) 20 7435 0665; E-mail:  l.landau@btinternet.com
The Honorary Consulate is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only, from 10:30-16:30.
The nearest Embassy is in Paris:
Embassy of the Republic of Benin, 87 Avenue Victor Hugo, 742116 Paris, Tel:  +331 145 009882, +33 142 223191 Fax:  +33 145 –18202
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Benin Embassy in Paris.


HEALTH

You should ensure that you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance, which covers a provision for medical evacuation.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

Medical facilities are poor in Benin, particularly in rural areas.

Waterborne diseases (including cholera), HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, meningitis and malaria are prevalent.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in country or in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in the Benin.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
We recommend that if you intend to stay in Benin for three months or more you should register with the Community Liaison Officer in Cotonou, Mrs Pauline Collins.
As many crimes involve the theft of British passports, we advise you to keep a photocopy of your passport separately from your passport.  This will speed up the process of issuing a new one.
Ocean currents are very strong along the coast.  Many drownings occur each year.
You are advised to reconfirm flights 48 hours prior to departure.
There is no UK representation in Benin.  In case of an emergency you should contact the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos (see contact details below).
There is a Community Liaison Officer for consular emergencies only.  Her name is Mrs Pauline Collins, address:  The British School of Cotonou, Haie Vive, 08 BP 0352, Cotonou, Benin. Tel:  (+229 30 32 65); (Fax:  +229 30 61 95); Mobile phone (tel:  +229 85 38 73) e-mail address:  bis@firstnet1.com
Other contacts:  French Consulate, Avenue Generale de Gaulle, 01 BP 605 Recette Principale Cotonou (tel:  +229 31 26 38/80) or US Embassy, Rue Caporal Anani, 01 BP 2021, Cotonou (Tel:  +229 30 06 50).