Formerly called the Kingdom of Dahomey or Dahomey, the Republic of Benin is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, by Nigeria to the east, and by Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. It is a sceptre-shaped country atop the Gulf of Guinea, and is a part of the West African region. The capital of the country is Porto-Novo, but the largest city and economic capital serving as the seat of government is Cotonou.
Benin covers an area of approximately 115,000 square kilometres with a population of approximately 9.98 million. It is a sub-Saharan tropical country, and is highly dependent on its industries such as agriculture and subsistence farming.
What to see & do
The birthplace of voodoo is something to behold; an interesting country living with a rich and complex history and set in a rather naturally beautiful and lush surroundings. Although poverty is rampant and the government corrupt, Benin struggles to maintain its tourism afloat by promoting its forests, ecotours, and of course, its key cities – Porto-Novo and Cotonou.
Porto-Novo – Sitting by the shores of Lake Nokoue, Porto-Novo is Benin's unexpected capital. Leafy streets, wonderful colonial architecture, fast paced lifestyle, and interesting museums show that the city really is the country's star. Visit the Centre Songhai, the Musee Honme, and Musee Ethnographique de Porto Novo, before tasting the terrific and tempting meals at European inspired restaurants and breweries such as JPN and Java Promo.
Cotonou - Lively, vibrant, bustling and full-on, the city of Cotonou is the economic centre and powerhouse of Benin. From housing many of Benin's government and diplomatic services, Cotonou is a major port, and is a favorite tourist destination in the West African region. If going for some eclectic trip, pick a slice of each attraction in the city. Sample the localised French cuisine in restaurants such as Maman Aime and L'Atelier. Shop for unique finds in the 'seemingly endless' Grand Marche de Dantokpa, a labyrinthine bazaar at the heart of the city, and take a swig or two to cap the day off at Jammin Bar. Additionally, travellers may visit the Fondation Zinsou to get a glimpse of contemporary African art among the Beninese people.
How to get around within Benin
The main mode of transportation in Benin is through taxis. From the airport, zemi-john rides (taxi scooters) can take travellers to the city centres and to other destinations for a price. Be vigilant when travelling in crowded areas even in a private taxi as these are danger zones. If travelling by group, there are also regular (shared) taxis and minibuses going around the city, and is relatively cheaper as the fare is split to the number of passengers per shared ride.
How to get there
To get to Benin, the busiest airport will be the Cadjehoun Airport located in Cotonou. There are a handful of flights in and out of Benin from the airport, but are only limited to its neighbouring countries and other European destinations. If coming from countries outside the particular vicinities, it is best to fly down to European and African nations with direct flights to Benin via Cotonou and Cadjehoun Airport first.
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