Benin

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
8,791,832

Religion:

Christianity, Islam, Traditional beliefs.

Language:

The official language in Benin is French. Fon is the main indigenous language in the south, while Bariba and Dendi are spoken in the north. On the border between Nigeria and Benin the language of Yoruba is spoken.

Area (sq. km):
112,620 square meters

Time:

Time in Benin is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC +1)

When To Travel

April to mid-July and mid-September to late October are the two rainy seasons in south Benin. The rains in the north fall from June to early October. In the north temperatures can reach 46 degrees Celcius, while the coastal south has temperatures ranging from 18 – 35 degrees Celsius. Harmattan winds blow from the north from December to March. The hottest time of the year is February to April.

The cooler season of November to February is probably best for travelling to Benin. At other times of the year the heat and humidity can be overwhelming.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

The main airport is on the Western fringe of Cotonou, five kilometres from the city.

Telephone:

Country code +229

Electricity:

Electricity is 220 volts/50 hertz; electrical plugs are the French type, with two round prongs with ground pin.

Food:

The food in Benin is some of the best in West Africa.

Transport:

Public transport in Benin is not very reliable, however, the roads are in relatively good condition. During the dry season, tracks are passable but throughout the rainy season they are often unpassable. Traffic drives on the right hand side of the road. There are minibuses and bush taxis available on major road routes. Taxis are widely available in the main towns. Taxi fares should be agreed in advance.

Shopping:

You can find a variety of wood carvings, bronze sculptures, batiks, wall hangings, leather goods, jewellery and the famous Beninese appliqué banners.

Visa: We advise you to check current visa requirements with your nearest Embassy or Consulate. Australian & New Zealanders will need to apply through the Embassy in London.
Please note however that visas are valid for three months from date of issue. If you send your application by post or courier, it will be returned the same.
VISITORS WILL REQUIRE THE FOLLOWING:
1. Valid Passport
2. Valid Visa (See below)
3. Yellow Fever Certificate
4. Typhoid and Malaria Protection (Recommended)
VISAS: Visas may be applied for by post or personal application at the Consulate. Callers at the Consulate will normally be able to obtain visas while they wait.
All applications must be accompanied by the following:
a. Valid Passport
b. Complete application form
c. 2 Passport type photographs
d. Appropriate fee: 15 days =£50
Postal applications MUST be accompanied with a pre-paid registered or recorded envelope large enough to hold a passport for return.
OPENING HOURS
The Consulate is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from
10.30 am to 4.00 pm

You will need a letter of invitation to apply for the Benin visa. Please contact Peregrine for a copy of this invitation.
Please allow between 2 -3 weeks for the courier and visa issue time.

Useful Words & Phrases

French

Hello: Bonjour
Good Bye: Au revoir
Please: S’il-vous-plait
Thank You: Merci
You're Welcome: Je vous en prie
Yes: Oui
No: Non
Excuse me (request): Excusez-moi
Sorry: Pardon
How are you? (formal): Comment allez-vous
How are you? (informal): Ça va
Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas
What is your name?: Comment vous appelez vous?
My name is...: Je m’appelle...
Where is...: Où est...
I’d like...: Je voudrais...
How much is it?: Combien ça coûte?
Which way to...: Comment faire pour aller...
City centre: le centre-ville
Train station: la gare
Bank: la banque
Toilet: les toilettes
Exchange office: un bureau de change
1: un
2: deux
3: trois
4: quatre
5: cinq
6: six
7: sept
8: huit
9: neuf
10: dix
20: vingt
50: cinquante
100: cent

Further Reading

‘Benin: Lords of the River’ (The Kingdoms of Africa) by Philip Koslow

‘Wives of the Leopard’ by Edna G. Bay

‘Divine Inspiration: From Benin to Bahia’ by Phyllis Galembo