Top Ten Beninese Attractions

Top Ten Beninese Attractions

       Benin is a country in West Africa bordered by Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Niger. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is located in the country’s largest city of Cotonou. Benin covers an area of approximately 110,000 square km (42,000 sq mi), with a population of approximately 9.05 million. Benin is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with substantial employment and income arising from subsistence farming. The official language of Benin is French, however, indigenous languages such as Fon and Yoruba are commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by Muslims, Vodun, and Protestants. From the 17th century to the 19th century, the land of current-day Benin was ruled by the Kingdom of Dahomey. The region became known as the Slave Coast during the early 17th century due to the prevalence of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In 1892, with the slave trade banned and regional power diminishing,France took over the area and renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960,Dahomey gained full independence from France, bringing in a democratic government for the next 12 years. Between 1972 and 1990, a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist dictatorship called the People’s Republic of Benin existed, ushering in a period of repression which ultimately led to an economic collapse. Formation of the Republic of Benin occurred in 1991, bringing in multiparty elections.

  1. Pendjari National Park

    The Pendjari National Park lies in north western Benin, adjoining the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso. Named for the Pendjari River, the national park is known for its wildlife and his home to some of the last populations of big game like elephants, lions, hippopotamuses, buffalo and various antelopes in West Africa. The Park is also famous for its richness in birds. The Pendjari National Park is an area of 2,755 square kilometers in the far north-west of Benin. The park is part of the WAP complex (W-Arli-Pendjari) which is a vast protected area in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. The hills and cliffs of the Atakora range make the north-west one the most scenic areas of Benin. They provide a wonderful backdrop to the Pendjari National Park, which, in its isolation, remains one of the most interesting in West Africa.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten African National Parks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pendjari_National_Park,
  2. Royal Palaces of Abomey

    The 12 Royal Palaces of Abomey are spread over a 99 acre area at the heart of the Abomey town in Benin, formerly the capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. The Kingdom was founded in 1625 by the Fon people who developed it into a powerful military and commercial empire, which dominated trade with European slave traders on the Slave Coast until the late 19th century, to whom they sold their prisoners of war. At its peak the palaces could accommodate up to 8,000 people. The King’s palace included a two-story building known as the “cowrie house” or akuehue.
    Links: Palaces,
  3. Cotonou

    Cotonou is the economic capital of Benin, as well as its largest city. Its official population was 761,137 (2006); however, some estimates indicate its population may be as high as 1.2 million. The urban area continues to expand, notably towards the west. The city lies in the southeast of the country, between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Nokoué. In addition to being Benin’s largest city, it houses many of its government and diplomatic services; thus, it is Benin’s de facto capital, even though the official capital is Porto-Novo. The city is a major port, and is also home to an airport and a railway that links to Parakou. Other features of Cotonou include Cotonou Friendship Stadium, Cotonou Cathedral, Cotonou Central Mosque, the Ancien Pont Bridge and the 20-hectare Dantokpa Market, which has a commercial turnover of over a billion CFA Francs a day. The National University of Benin is located in Cotonou. Another familiar feature of the city is the motorcycle–taxis known as Zémidjans.
    Links: Top 100 Masks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotonou,
  4. Porto-Novo

    Porto-Novo, also known as Hogbonou and Adjacé, is the official capital of the West African nation of Benin and was the capital of French Dahomey. The commune covers an area of 110 square km and had a population of 223,552 (2002). Porto-Novo is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern portion of the country. It is Benin’s 2nd largest city, and although the official capital, the city of Cotonou is more important, culturally and politically. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Petroleum was discovered off the coast of the city in the 1990’s, and has become an important export.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porto-Novo,
  5. Tata Somba Houses

    The Tammari people, or Batammariba, also known as Somba, are an Oti–Volta-speaking people of the Atakora Department of Benin and neighboring areas of Togo, where they go by the name of Taberma. They are famous for their two-story fortified houses, known as Tata Somba, “Somba house,” in which the ground floor is used for housing livestock at night, internal alcoves are used for cooking, and the upper floor contains a rooftop courtyard and is used for drying grain, sleeping quarters, and granaries. These evolved by adding an enclosing roof to the clusters of huts joined by a connecting wall that are typical of Gur-speaking areas of West Africa. The Tammari are mostly animist by religion.
    Links:
  6. Links: Attractions, African Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin,