The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:03 PM
Benin, a narrow, north-south strip of land in West Africa, lies
between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Benin is bordered by
Togo to the west, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Nigeria to
the east, and the Bight of Benin to the south.
With an area of 112,622 square kilometers, roughly the size of
Pennsylvania, Benin extends from the Niger River in the north to the
Atlantic Ocean in the south, a distance of 700 kilometers (about 500
miles). Although the coastline measures 121 kilometers (about 80
miles), the country measures about 325 kilometers (about 215 miles)
at its widest east-west point. It is one of the smaller countries in
West Africa: 8 times smaller than Nigeria, its neighbor to the east.
It is, however, twice as large as Togo, its neighbor to the west. A
relief map of Benin shows that it has little variation in elevation
(average elevation 200 meters). The country can be divided into four
main areas from the south to the north. The low-lying, sandy,
coastal plain (highest elevation 10 meters) is, at most, 10
kilometers wide. It is marshy and dotted with lakes and lagoons
communicating with the ocean. The plateaus of southern Benin —
between 20 and 200 meters in altitude — are split by valleys running
north to south along the Couffo, Zou, and Oueme Rivers. An area of
flat lands dotted with rocky hills whose altitude seldom reaches 400
meters extends around Nikki and Save. Finally, a range of mountains
extends along the northwest border and into Togo: this is the
Atacora, with the highest point, Mont Sokbaro, at 658 meters.
Two types of landscape predominate in the south. Benin has fields
of lying fallow, mangroves, and remnants of large sacred forests. In
the rest of the country, the savanna is covered with thorny scrubs
and dotted with huge baobab trees. Some forests line the banks of
rivers. In the north and the northwest of Benin the Reserve du W du
Niger and Pendjari National Park attract tourists eager to see
elephants, lions, antelopes, hippos, and monkeys. Benin's climate is
hot and humid.
Annual rainfall in the coastal area averages 36 centimeters (14
inches), not particularly high for coastal West Africa. Benin has
two rainy and two dry seasons. The principal rainy season is from
April to late July, with a shorter less intense rainy period from
late September to November. The main dry season is from December to
April with a short cooler dry season from late July to early
Temperatures and humidity are high along the tropical coast. In
Cotonou, the average maximum temperature is 31°C (89°F); the minimum
is 24°C (75°F). Variations in temperature increase when moving north
through a savanna and plateau toward the Sahel. A dry wind from the
Sahara called the harmattan blows from December to March. Grass
dries up, the vegetation turns reddish brown, and a veil of fine
dust hangs over the country, causing the skies to be overcast.
Population Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:04 PM
The majority of Benin’s 6.59 million people live in the south.
The population is young, with a life expectancy of 50 years.
About 42 ethnic groups live in this country: these various groups
settled in Benin at different times and also migrated within the
country. Ethnic groups include: the Yoruba in the southeast
(migrated from Nigeria in the 12th century); Dendi in the
north-central area (from Mali in the 16th century); Bariba and the
Fulbe (Peul) in the northeast; Betammaribe and the Somba in the
Atacora Range; Fon in the area around Abomey in the South Central
region; and Mina, Xuda, and Aja (who came from Togo) on the coast.
French, the official language, is spoken more in urban than in
rural areas. Benin’s literacy rate is 52.2% for adult males and
23.6% for adult females, and is slowly growing.
Recent migrations have brought other African Nationals to Benin:
Nigerians, Togolese, Malians, etc. The foreign community also
includes many Lebanese and Indians involved in trade. The personnel
of the many European Embassies and Foreign Aid Missions and of
non-governmental organizations and various missionary groups account
for a large number of the 5,500-person European population.
Several religions are practiced in Benin. Animism is widespread
(50%), and its practices vary from one ethnic group to the other.
Arab merchants introduced Islam in the north of Benin, and European
missionaries brought Christianity to the south and central regions.
Moslems account for about 20% of the population and Christians for
roughly 30%. Many Moslems and Christians continue also to practice
animistic traditions. It is believed that voodoo originated in Benin
and was introduced to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands by slaves
taken from this area of the Slave Coast.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:05 PM
Following independence in 1960, Benin (then Dahomey) passed
through a succession of governments that ended with a military
takeover in 1972. Marxism-Leninism was declared the official
ideology in 1974, and a single political party, which came to
dominate all aspects of Beninese public life, was established. Major
businesses, including banks, were nationalized. East bloc countries
became the focus of Benin’s foreign policy. The collapse of all
state-owned banks and an increasing economic crisis led to the
convening of a national conference in 1990.
That conference, which included representatives from all segments
of society, repudiated Marxism and created a transition government
with a mandate to draft a new constitution based on multiparty
democracy. The national conference was later imitated as an organ of
change in many African countries. After adoption of a new
constitution, multiparty democratic elections for the National
Assembly and the Presidency were held in 1991. Nicephore Soglo
defeated the incumbent, Mattieu Kerekou, in Presidential elections,
which were recognized as free and fair by international observers,
and Benin became the first African country to replace a leader
installed by coup d’etat by the power of the ballot box. President
Kerekou returned to power after the 1996 presidential elections and
was returned for a second, five-year mandate in March 2001.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:06 PM
Museums in Porto-Novo, Abomey, and Ouidah feature Beninese
culture and history. Porto-Novo has a small ethnographic museum
displaying artifacts, and the best collection of masks and statues
is found there. At the Honm Palace, the curator will brief you on
the history of the Porto-Novo kings and the colonial period. The
Portuguese slave fort in Ouidah has been restored and can be
visited. A visit of the palace grounds at Abomey, the capital of the
former Dahomean Kingdom, is highly informative. Artisans weave or
forge and sell their crafts within the courtyard.
Contemporary artists specialize in stylized cast-bronze figurines
and applique wall hangings. They are beautiful, inexpensive, and of
good quality. African art objects from Benin and neighboring
countries are sold at several ONATHO (Office National du Tourisme et
Hotellerie) shops in hotels. Outlets located at tourist attractions
and the Hall de l’Artisanat in Cotonou where craftsmen such as
weavers and metal smiths will also fill orders for you. Bargaining
The American Cultural Center has an Information Resource Center
(IRC) containing about 5,000 books, 55% in English and 45% in
French, and subscribes to many magazines and journals in English and
French. The IRC also has new sections such as the Commercial Library
for businesspersons and the Cyber Cafe for training and research
purposes. The American Cultural Center’s English-language program
has an enrollment of 667 students. “The Jim Lehrer Newshour” is
shown every Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. It
also hosts shows by international performers several times a year.
The French Cultural Center in Cotonou has a large French-language
library and offers a variety of classes for children and adults,
including French-language instruction, computer science, arts, and
sports. French and African artists exhibit their work regularly at
the Center. Musical and dramatic performances and French films are
shown in an outdoor theater and attract large crowds.
Benin has a total of four indoor movie theaters. Of these, three
are in Cotonou, and one is in Porto-Novo. They feature international
movies dubbed in French. Cotonou also boasts several video clubs
offering a wide variety of films mainly in French, with a few in
English with French subtitles. These are, however, in SECAM format
and require a SECAM or multisystem VCR.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:07 PM
Benin’s economy is chiefly based on agriculture. Cotton is the
principal cash crop, accounting for about 40 percent of GDP and 80
percent of official export earnings. Other export items include
textiles, palm products, and cocoa. Corn, beans, rice, peanuts,
cashews, pineapples, cassava, yams, and other various tubers are
grown for local subsistence. A modest fishing fleet provides fish
and shrimp for local subsistence and export to Europe. Benin began
producing a modest quantity of oil offshore in October 1982, but
subsequently shut down those fields. New offshore exploration is
ongoing. Several formerly government-owned enterprises have been
privatized. A French brewer, for example, acquired the former
state-run brewery. The Government of Benin is also considering
privatizing its electricity and telecommunication companies, as well
as the port of Cotonou. Smaller businesses are privately owned by
Beninese citizens, but some firms are foreign owned, primarily
French and Lebanese. The private commercial and agricultural sectors
remain the principal contributors to growth, including the
transshipment of used cars imported into the port of Cotonou and
re-exported, mainly to Nigeria.
Automobiles Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:08 PM
Shipment of a foreign-made, foreign-purchased vehicle is
authorized. Most Europeans and Americans drive small European or
Japanese cars. New or used vehicles can be purchased duty free
locally. Avoid bringing vehicles with fuel-injection engines or
computerized/digital controls, as such features are difficult to
repair. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are useful when traveling in the
country, especially to the game parks in the north, but not
essential to drive between major cities or within Cotonou. The
following dealers operate here: Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Toyota,
Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Mercedes-Benz.
U.S. Government employees can purchase duty-free leaded gasoline
at the Embassy’s gas station. All vehicles should be furnished with
two triangles (an early warning device, or EWD), one fire
extinguisher, and one first-aid case. An international driver’s
license, which must be renewed annually, can be obtained at AAA in
the U.S. and at some American insurance companies. All vehicles must
have third-party insurance purchased locally. Many personnel carry
an all-risk policy with an American insurance company. A Beninese
driver’s license is not necessary.
Ship your vehicle well in advance, as transit times can be
lengthy. At the end of your stay, and with the permission of the
Beninese Government, you may sell your car to another person with
duty-free status. Cars may be sold to non-diplomats, but the seller
must maintain control of the car until tax and custom formalities
Local Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:08 PM
With the exception of the road linking Cotonou in the south to
Malanville on the border with Niger in the north, roads in Benin are
generally in poor condition and are often impassable during the
rainy season. Most of the main streets in Cotonou are paved, but
side streets often consist of deeply potholed dirt. Cotonou has no
public transportation system. Most Beninese rely on bicycles,
mopeds, motorbikes, and zemi-jahns, which are moped taxis. All
official Americans are required to wear safety helmets when on a
motorcycle and are strongly discouraged from using zemi-jahns. Buses
and bush taxis offer service in-country. Traffic moves on the right,
as in the U.S. Driving in and around Cotonou can be hazardous. Local
cars and trucks lack proper lights and efficient brakes.
A railroad line connects Cotonou with Parakou, a large city in
the north, but train service is extremely slow and not recommended.
Bush taxis ply the roads throughout the country, but most Embassy
personnel drive their own personally owned vehicles or use Embassy
vehicles when traveling in the countryside.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:09 PM
Following the bankruptcies in late 2001 of Sabena (Belgium) and
Air Afrique, only Air France, at present, provides regular
international air service to Europe from Cotonou-although a restart
of service by Air Afrique and other carriers is possible. Automobile
roads to Lome, Accra, Lagos, and Niamey are serviceable.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:09
There are occasional telephone service interruptions during the
rainy seasons when water often seeps into underground lines and
switching equipment. Embassy personnel can direct dial from their
homes. The Embassy has two IVG lines that allow toll-free calls to
the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The local telephone company
currently does not allow use of a calling card from a separate
long-distance carrier. Long-distance charges to the U.S. are about
US$3 a minute.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:09 PM Cellular phones
are available in Cotonou from several operators and are often more
reliable than landlines. Benin uses the GSM 900 network. If planning
on using a cell phone at post, it is best to purchase the phone in
Benin, since most U.S. phones are incompatible with the local
Internet Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:10 PM
There are several internet service providers in Cotonou. Price is
12,500 cfa (about US$17) per month, plus any charges for local
calls. Connection is usually sluggish, and lines are often busy
during afternoon business hours. It is a good idea to purchase modem
surge protectors, electrical surge protectors, a voltage regulator,
and a separate transformer if bringing a personal computer to post.
The Embassy has several computers connected to the internet for
official use. Home internet users should note that local calls are
charged 66 cfa per minute between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Monday
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:10 PM
The Department of State dispatches air pouches to Cotonou several
times weekly. First-class mail from the U.S. takes about two weeks
to arrive. Outgoing first-class mail usually reaches its U.S.
destination in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the mail service
can be unpredictable.
Personnel should address their mail as follows:
(Name) Department of State 2120 Cotonou Place Washington, D.C.
Letters, personally recorded audiocassettes and videocassettes,
and items purchased at post weighing 2 pounds or less may be sent
from post. Envelopes containing items other than letters must be
clearly labeled. No boxes may be sent from post to the U.S., except
for prescription eyeglasses, orthopedic devices, and merchandise
from mail orders that is unsatisfactory. Employees must affix
postage to the returned mail-order item, and the original envelope
or box must be used and be clearly labeled as to the contents
Incoming surface-to-air packages are limited to 40 pounds and
cannot exceed 24 inches in length and 62 inches in length and girth
combined. No aerosols, alcoholic beverages, ammunition, controlled
or illegal substances, corrosives, currency, explosives, firearms,
flammable film, glass containers, incendiary materials, liquids or
magnetic materials can be sent to or from the U.S. through the mail
or pouch. The Department of State does not accept certified,
insured, registered or special delivery.
The international mailing address for Benin is:
(Name) Ambassade Americaine Rue Caporal Bernard Anani 01 B.P.
2012 Cotonou, Rep. du Benin
Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:11 PM
Benin has a wide variety of radio stations. Three are national
radio stations, one in Cotonou and the other in Parakou; the third
is the Atlantic FM. Also, six community radio and eight commercial
private radio stations are broadcast within Benin. The three
national stations are both owned and operated by the national
government. Beninese radio broadcasts a wide range of programs in
French and eight national languages. Golfe FM and Radio Carrefour
Bohicon are new Voice of America (VOA) partners and broadcast VOA
programming 5 hours a week. Some programs broadcast in English. The
broadcasts of Radio France International (RFI) can be received on
the FM band within a 50-mile radius of Cotonou (90.0). BBC
broadcasts in English and French on 101.7 FM. A short-wave radio is
useful for receiving VOA and other foreign broadcasts.
Benin has two TV stations. ORTB is owned by the national
government. It offers a wide variety of programs, some locally
produced and some originating from France. In 1990, a satellite
antenna was installed at Television Benin by CANAL France
International to enable French TV programs to be received live and
retransmitted. AFN is accessible to American Embassy employees, and
cable and satellite dish services are available as well. LC2 is a
second, privately owned television station that broadcasts 24 hours
The media has set the tone for the national reform movement in
Benin. Although the national government claims the right to censor
concerned materials when matters of national interest are involved,
in practice, there is little or no censorship. Beninese journalists
frequently engage in investigative reporting, although their efforts
to do so are limited by budgetary constraints. In Cotonou alone,
there are about a dozen daily newspapers. Journalistic standards
remain low, but overall the media does a good job of keeping the
populace informed and of conducting an ongoing debate on the
country’s political and economic future. The press does not hesitate
to criticize public figures, for example, including the President.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:13 PM
The ICASS-operated Medical Unit serves the official American
community. It is located in the Embassy Annex. The staff consists of
a Canadian-registered nurse and a Liberian medical doctor, both of
whose professional competency have been reviewed by the State
Department Regional Medical Officer in Lagos. The Medical Unit
treats day-to-day medical problems, provides immunizations, conducts
primary health education, refers and liaisons with local health
providers, arranges medevacs abroad, updates official employees with
current medical information, and conducts health inspections of the
Embassy’s cafeteria. Most laboratory work is done at the Peace Corps
medical unit in Cotonou.
Bring a good supply of first-aid items, sunscreen, and insect
repellants. If you are on any long-term maintenance medications (BCP,
Vitamins, Antihypertensive, etc.), bring enough to last your tour.
Ship liquid medications in your household effects (HHE), since the
pouch cannot be used for liquids. Bring your favorite brands of
over-the-counter medicines and basic health care products, as they
are usually not available here. Local patent medicines are usually
of French manufacture.
Specialists in Cotonou are available from time to time, but
English-speaking doctors are hard to find. Emergency dental care is
available in Cotonou or in Lome, but most restorative work must be
done in Europe. Have all your routine dental care done before coming
Bring your medical records from previous post or the U.S. and any
prescriptions and medication prescribed for special or chronic
Two small private clinics may be used for emergency surgery and
X-rays. Serious medical problems are medevaced to Europe.
Community Health Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:14 PM
The most common health problems in Benin include malaria,
dysentery, hepatitis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, skin diseases,
and various intestinal parasites. Observing proper precautionary
sanitary measures should prevent most of these diseases. Chloroquine-resistant
malaria prevails. Childhood diseases, such as measles, polio, and
strep infections, are common. Meningitis is seasonally reported;
vaccination is recommended.
Rabies is present in Benin, so avoid stray animals. Asthma and
respiratory infections might be exacerbated during the harmattan
season. Some local doctors are French-trained, and a variety of
specialists practice in Cotonou and Porto-Novo. Standards of medical
care are judged as not sufficient by American standards.
One of the greatest hazards in Cotonou is contaminated water.
Houses in modern residential quarters have septic tanks, but the
many impoverished neighborhoods have no sanitation facilities
whatsoever. The Embassy issues water distillers for drinking water.
Most cooks are trained in water sterilization and filtration
techniques; but periodic reminders help ensure their continued
compliance. Soak locally purchased fresh vegetables and fruits in a
solution of chlorine or iodine and rinse in boiled, filtered water.
Cook locally purchased meats thoroughly.
Ants, cockroaches, and termites are the greatest household pests.
Regular usage of off-the-shelf baits and traps, a clean house, and a
tidy garden keeps them under control. Most Embassy staff members
have a full- or part-time gardener. Keeping the lush tropical
foliage cut back prevents rodent problems. Although snakes,
including poisonous varieties, are occasionally found in residential
areas, they are not a significant hazard.
Take precaution against sun exposure, since Cotonou is only 6
degrees north of the Equator. Because of high temperatures and
humidity, extra precautions are required during outdoor exercise to
avoid sunstroke or heat exhaustion. High humidity and a dust-laden
wind during the harmattan can exacerbate respiratory problems.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:15 PM
A current yellow fever vaccination is required before arriving at
post. Also, typhoid fever, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and hepatitis
B, meningococcal meningitis, and rabies shots must be kept updated.
A yearly tuberculosis skin test will be given.
Malaria suppressants must be taken beginning 1 week before
arrival and continued for 4 weeks after departure from endemic
areas. The Medical Unit provides vaccinations and malaria
suppressants for Embassy personnel. Current State Department
recommendation is Mefloquine 250mg/weekly, unless contraindicated.
Although Mefloquine has been associated with some adverse side
effects, all current published studies confirm that Mefloquine is
usually well tolerated when used as prophylaxis.
Alternative prophylactic drugs can be taken such as daily dosage
of Doxycycline in cases where Mefloquine is contraindicated: people
with history of epilepsy, those on beta-blockers or quinidine,
pregnant women, and children under 15 kg. Another alternative
regimen of daily Proguanil plus weekly Chloroquine is recommended
for people who are intolerant of Mefloquine and Doxycycline.
Whatever regimen is used, the drug(s) MUST be taken continually
while in the malaria-infested area and for 4 weeks after leaving.
In addition, there are some common-sense measures to protect
against mosquito bites and malaria: remain in well-screened areas;
use mosquito nets enclosing the beds while sleeping; wear clothes
that cover most of the body, especially at dusk; use flying insect
spray or mosquito repellants, especially during dawn and dusk hours
when mosquitoes are most active.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/28/2003
Opportunities for employment at the Embassy vary from year to
year. The English-language program at the American Cultural Center
provides some opportunities for teachers. Other opportunities for
employment include private tutoring or teaching at one of the
children’s schools. Positions with international organizations and
corporations are difficult to obtain; however, these should not be
overlooked when seeking employment in Cotonou.
American Embassy - Cotonou
Post City Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:16 PM
Cotonou, a rapidly growing Atlantic port city located on the Gulf
of Guinea, was founded in 1851 as a French trading post, and has a
population variously estimated at between 1.0–1.5 million
The World Bank is financing an extension of the port, which upon
completion will give it a freight-handling capacity of more than a
million tons of cargo annually. The Port of Cotonou is the transit
point for many goods destined for West Africa.
Porto-Novo, 32 kilometers to the east, is older and smaller than
Cotonou with 295,000 residents. Whereas Porto-Novo is the capital of
Benin, Cotonou’s economic predominance has made it the
administrative capital. Almost all ministries, all diplomatic
missions, and the President’s homes are located in Cotonou. Most
foreigners live in one of the several neighborhoods of
A lagoon connecting Lake Nokoue with the Atlantic Ocean separates
Cotonou from its eastern residential quarter, Akpakpa. Two bridges,
one financed by USAID, connect the city’s two sections. Lagos,
Nigeria is a 3-hour drive east of Cotonou. A two-lane highway
connects Cotonou with Lome, Togo, which is about a 2-hour drive
between the edges of both cities. Much of that route parallels the
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:18 PM
The post is headed by an Ambassador and is a Special Embassy
Program post. USAID and the Peace Corps are also represented in the
State Department staff at the Embassy includes a Deputy Chief of
Mission, the Ambassador’s office management specialist (OMS), a
consular/political officer (who may or may not share economic and
commercial responsibilities with the DCM), the public affairs
officer, an administrative officer, a regional security officer (RSO)
and his/her OMS, a general services officer, a regional financial
management officer, an information management office with two
communicators, and a community liaison officer.
The Chancery is a one-story former home that houses the executive
section, RSO and RSO/OMS, and the communicators as well as the
consular section. The complex is located a block away from the main
entrance to the city’s military Camp Guezo. The Embassy Annex houses
the Administration Section, General Services Office, and the Medical
Unit. The Public Affairs Section is in the Cultural Center located
about 1 mile from the Embassy. Chancery telephone numbers are (area
code 229) 30–06–50, 30–17–92, 30–05–13, 30–14–11, and fax number
The Mission has no Marine Guards. Security is contracted out to
Inter-Con, and they are responsible for guarding the Chancery,
Annex, and American Cultural Center at all times.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:18 PM
Cotonou offers several hotels with comfortable accommodations for
temporary personnel. Each room is equipped with air-conditioning,
TV/radio, and telephone. Facilities include a swimming pool, tennis
courts, sauna, disco, cafe, dining room, and giftshops. Given
advance notice, the Embassy will make reservations for all official
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:19 PM
Most new arrivals are moved directly into permanent quarters. All
housing is U.S.-Government leased and furnished. Construction is
solid, usually of cement block. Exteriors and interiors are white,
and most houses have small gardens. Tiles are used on floors,
patios, terraces, and balconies.
All Embassy-provided housing is furnished for the living, dining,
and bedroom areas. Houses have American appliances: refrigerator,
freezer, stove/oven, microwave oven, hot-water heaters, washer,
dryer, and water filters, as well as carpet, draperies, lamps, and
bookcases. Furniture can also be made locally. Upholstery, drapery,
and curtain materials in local stores are of good quality.
Air-conditioners and dehumidifiers are necessary and are provided by
Houses are within a 10-minute drive to the Embassy. Housing is
modern, comfortable, and spacious by most standards. Dust, insects,
and outside air enter houses easily, since weather stripping is not
used, but Embassy carpenters make screens to help alleviate the
Doors and windows are protected by decorative iron grillwork.
American-manufactured security locks protect doors, and walls
surround all yards. All Embassy housing is equipped with burglar
alarms and nighttime security guards. Homes are also equipped with
battery-operated smoke detectors.
Furnishings Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:20 PM
Kitchen equipment, dishes, glassware, linens, pictures, vases,
and other decorative items are not furnished. Kitchen utensils,
dishes, and glassware from France are available locally but are
expensive. Bring any small appliances that you may need. Keep in
mind that American appliances will only operate with transformers.
To operate on local current without a transformer, an appliance must
be 220v, 50 cycles, or have a DC motor. The Embassy has a few
step-down transformers, but new arrivals are advised to bring
Welcome Kits are available upon your arrival. They contain enough
dishes, glasses, silverware, cooking utensils, bath, and bed linens
to last until your airfreight is delivered. Pack accordingly, as
surface freight might take longer than the expected 2 months.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:20 PM
Electric power is 220v, 50-cycle, AC and is not always stable
(with spikes of up to 260v). The power is hydroelectrically
generated. Brief and infrequent outages are usually due to
distribution equipment problems. Bring flashlights for power
outages. A voltage regulator and surge protector are useful for home
computers and other electronics. As homes are equipped with
French-style wall sockets (two-round prongs), bring plug adapters.
All houses have gas-powered generators. Ovens and stoves use bottled
natural gas that is supplied by the Embassy.
Telephone service is good but expensive. All officers are
furnished with two-way radios for communication with the Embassy
during emergencies. A radio check is conducted once a week.
Food Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:22 PM
Locally grown fruits and vegetables are abundant. Most vegetables
available in the U.S. can also be bought in Cotonou, with the
exception of corn on the cob (the local version is tough), yellow
squash, fresh greens, peas, and broccoli. Cabbages, cucumbers,
carrots, lettuce, radishes, green peppers, squash, pumpkins, leeks,
potatoes, parsnips, onions, eggplants, and string beans are
available year-round at variable prices. Fresh herbs like parsley,
basil, thyme, bay leaves, and mint are sold in local markets.
Mangoes, guavas, melons, and avocados are plentiful and inexpensive
when in season.
Throughout the year, the following fruits can be found at the
open-air markets: tomatoes, pineapples, grapefruits, bananas,
oranges, tangerines, papayas, lemons, limes, and plantains. Wash and
treat thoroughly all locally grown vegetables before eating. If you
want to start a flower or vegetable garden, bring seeds.
Local meats, beef, veal, lamb, and pork, of varying quality, as
well as eggs, can be purchased at supermarkets. Chicken, duck,
quail, and rabbit of varying quality are also available. Fish such
as capitaine and soles, shrimp, and crabs are plentiful.
Cotonou has several small, clean, well-stocked supermarkets.
Foodstuffs are imported from Belgium, France, Holland, Germany,
Lebanon, and South Africa. Cotonou stores carry imported canned and
frozen goods, flour, rice, dried spices, wines, juices, powdered
milk, sterilized long-life milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cereals,
baby food, and diapers.
Several have in-store delis where meats, cheese, and eggs are
available. Stores often stock imported fruits and vegetables such as
Valencia oranges, pears, apples, kiwis, artichokes, lettuce,
spinach, and cauliflower. They also sell cleaning products, insect
repellants, paper products and other various household goods.
Imported high-quality meat such as ham, salami, and luncheon meat
are available, but prices are very high. Good French-style bakeries
sell fresh bread, cakes, and pastries.
Locally produced beer (Castel, Eku, Beninoise), soft drinks
(Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fizzi, Fanta), tonic water, and mineral water
are bottled locally and are always available. They can be bought by
the case at several outlets. Liquor prices are high. Some American
wines are available, but most are French.
The various markets will leave a lasting impression, and Cotonou
boasts some good ones. The Dantokpa Market — the largest in Cotonou
— extends near the banks of the lagoon. With a noisy confusion of
zemi-jahns, traders, stalls, and merchandise, this market is opened
Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays. Everything can be bought
here, from locally grown tubers, cans of powdered milk, liquors,
Nigerian cosmetics, beautiful enamel bowls, and locally printed
colorful cloth of the Dutch wax batik design. The Ganhi market
located downtown is much smaller but bustles with activity every day
of the week. These markets are easily accessible, and parking nearby
is not difficult. Markets are a favorite spot for pickpockets, so
exercise caution when shopping.
American Government employees are allowed to bring consumables to
Benin. Some members of the community suggest shipping the following
food and supplies: raisins, snack chips, dips, peanut butter,
cereals, cake mixes, cooking oil, pancake mix and syrup,
American-style mustard and ketchup, baking powder, baking chocolate,
chocolate chips, snack food for kids (such as Granola Bars), canned
soups, canned mushrooms, canned vegetables you cannot find fresh
locally (corn, green peas), wild rice, American coffee, canned
fruits (apricots, peaches), cocktail needs (maraschino cherries,
cocktail onions, stuffed olives), and special diet food. This list
is not by any means exhaustive.
Remember that almost everything is available in Cotonou, but as
products are imported, prices are higher than in the U.S. The ease
of ordering groceries via the Internet is also expensive, so bring
what you and your family like and would miss. A shipment of
consumables in two installments within 12 months of arrival date is
preferable to one large one, so you can see how much storage space
you have. You can also adjust your second order and monitor
expiration dates on foodstuff more easily.
Clothing Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:23 PM
Cotonou’s climate requires lightweight, washable clothing. Bring
summer clothes and sandals. Also recommended are hiking boots for
in-country trekking. Local shops carry a limited selection of
European dresses, skirts, and blouses. Sizes vary, and prices are
high. Colorful 100% cotton African cloth is plentiful. Dress and
suit material can be purchased, and local tailors and dressmakers
can copy Western styles and are relatively inexpensive.
In the short dry season (August/September), temperatures are
sometimes cool enough at night for sweaters and shawls. Bring a few
clothes for cold weather, in case of a medical evacuation to Europe
or the U.S. Raincoats are not comfortable in the rainy season, as
they are too hot; large umbrellas and galoshes are the best
American staff may order clothing through mail-order catalogs.
Merchandise purchased by mail may be returned via airpouch if it is
not correct. A large used clothing market called “La Fripe” can be
found near the Dantokpa Market in Cotonou, and you can buy nice
secondhand shoes and clothes imported from Europe and the U.S.
Men Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:23 PM
Office dress is usually casual, an Oxford shirt or sport shirt
and slacks. Business suits are worn for official meetings and public
functions. Short-sleeved dress shirts are suitable for most evening
gatherings. A suit and tie or local costume is worn at formal
Women Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:24 PM
For the office, women favor cotton dresses, slacks and blouses.
Most entertaining is informal and simple; tailored washable dresses
are appropriate. The locally crafted African “booboo” is both
attractive and comfortable for eveningwear. Senior officers will
need formal evening dress. Stockings are not available locally.
Women should avoid tight-fitting slacks and mini-skirts, as Benin is
a modestly dressed society. A wrap is useful to cover shorts when
shopping in villages.
Children Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:24 PM
Children’s clothing is expensive in Cotonou. Bring sandals,
tennis shoes, blue jeans, and other types of everyday clothing.
T-shirts are acceptable for everyday wear. School uniform varies
from year to year, so contact the appropriate school before classes
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:37 PM
Most household products are available but are much more expensive
than in the U.S. Toiletries, cosmetics, suntan lotions, medicines,
cleaning supplies, and household gadgets are all imported from
France. An initial supply of medicine cabinet items is useful. Bring
picnic coolers, Thermos jugs and bottles, paper plates, and plastic
glasses for entertaining. They are available locally but are
expensive. Also, bring holiday decorations and gift-wrappings. If
you have small children, bring a selection of birthday presents to
give friends. Locally produced cards suitable for invitations and
notes are available. Local prints make colorful tablecloths,
napkins, and curtains.
Basic Services Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:37 PM
Men’s tailoring is of good quality. The quality of women’s
dressmaking varies, but simple designs can be copied successfully.
Basic repairs for French-manufactured automobiles can be done, but
work involving electrical systems, wheel balancing, and alignment is
not always predictable or available. American parts can be ordered
from suppliers in the U.S. but are expensive and usually difficult
to attain, so bring filters, belts, points, spark plugs, condensers,
bulbs, and other common replacement items. Small appliance and radio
repair is available, but quality is poor and prices vary.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:38 PM
Most Embassy employees hire at least one cook, housekeeper,
nanny, or gardener. Cooks are especially valuable for shopping,
saving the employer from trips to the market and bargaining.
Standards of cleanliness must be maintained with strict supervision,
especially in the kitchen. A part-time gardener is useful, as
tropical flora requires constant care. Contributions to the Benin
Government social security fund are mandatory. The Embassy provides
hiring assistance and has an English translation of the labor code
regarding employment of domestic staff. The average monthly salary
of domestic help is between US$60 and US$100 depending on work
category and experience. Annual cost of domestic staff is raised
somewhat by payment of fringe benefits and social security
contributions. Most employers provide uniforms for staff who serves
at the table.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:38 PM
Cotonou has several Catholic churches. Assembly of God, Jehovah’s
Witness, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Methodist,
interdenominational churches, and mosques are available. Services
are usually in either French or Fon, Notre Dame Catholic Church
offers Sunday mass in English. American missionaries are present in
At Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:26 PM There are two
English-language schools and one French-language school in Cotonou
that Embassy families might find appropriate for their needs. Both
English-language schools deal with a small student body by combining
classes, e.g., 3rd to 5th grades in one case.
The British School of Cotonou is a member of the International
Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. The current headmistress is
Pauline Collins (229–30–32–65). The school opened in 1993 and
currently has a full-time faculty of five and seven part-time
teachers. All teachers must be certified. Current student enrollment
is 65. The school provides instruction for ages 4–16 and is one of
90 international schools using the International Schools Curriculum
Project. This ensures that pupils will be a part of a truly
international education system, will follow a rigorous and
progressive curriculum, and be assured some degree of continuity
when moving from one member school to another. The headmistress of
the BSC is a member of the steering committee and the Science
Coordinator for this project. The school also provides a nursery for
2- and 3-year olds, part-time. The school is located in the housing
community where the majority of Americans reside.
The International School of Benin offers a PK–12 program and uses
an American-based curriculum. The current principal and owner of the
school is Mrs. Edna Tounou (229–31–15–94). Some teachers are not
certified. Current enrollment is 85. The school is located 15
minutes from the primary housing area. This is the only
English-language school that offers grades 9 to 12; almost half of
the 85 students are in these grades. The school is up for evaluation
for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools this
November. Several graduates have been accepted into U.S.
Ecole Montaigne (229–30–17–28) offers a PK–12 program taught in
the French language. The school follows the national French
curriculum and is a classic French school. Most teachers are
certified. Current enrollment is 800, and application must be made
as soon as possible as they have waiting lists for some grades.
Non-French-speakers usually are readily accepted in preschool
through K or 1st grade. Older students (up to age 10) may be
accepted even if they are below grade level in French but may be
placed one or two grades below their academic grade level. High
school students are prepared for the French Baccalaureate;
average-to-good students graduating from a French high school can
usually get passing scores on a variety of AP tests.
There are two preschools (both French language) which Embassy and
other American families have used and recommend. ONU (United Nations
Club) is located between the main housing area and the Embassy, and
Les Lapins Bleus (preschool through age 6) is located in the middle
of the main housing area.
Away From Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:26 PM The
away-from-post allowance is US$31,050 for away-from-post education
per school year from grades K–12 and should be sufficient to cover
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:27 PM
No facilities exist for students with learning disabilities or
other handicaps. The CLO has materials and catalogs for ordering
study and teaching aids for exceptional children. The Embassy has
Foreign Service Institute French-instruction books and tapes. A
French-language program is conducted for staff members and for
dependents on a funds-available basis. Arrangements can be made for
individual tutoring, either with the post’s program, or at the
French Cultural Center, which also offers private instruction and
the added advantage of making new acquaintances.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:27 PM
The swimming pool at the EMR is open to staff members. Several
hotels in the city have swimming pools open to the public for a fee.
The entire coast of Benin is a long sandy beach. Unfortunately, it
is not safe to walk on the beach except in a few areas. Most
muggings occur on the beaches, and especially after dark. The water
is lovely but swimming is not recommended, as there is a treacherous
undertow and strong currents.
Tennis courts are available at several hotels and clubs. Bring
racquets, balls, shoes, and clothing. A squash court is in town and
is available to members. The larger hotels have small golf courses
(no grass greens), but many golfers go to Lagos or Lome to play.
Benin’s favorite spectator sport is soccer. Matches are frequently
played at stadiums in Cotonou.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:29 PM
Some Cotonou residents enjoy the weekend social life in Lome with
its good restaurants and hotels. In addition, Embassy Lagos has a
large commissary that Cotonou employees may join. Many weekend
excursions within Benin can be made from Cotonou.
Abomey, the capital of the Dahomean Empire until the late 19th
century, is a 2-hour drive north of Cotonou. Artifacts from the
royal period are on display, and efforts are underway to restore the
royal buildings to their original state. Weavers work in the
courtyard. Their artwork, as well as carvings and bronzes, are for
Ouidah, a 1-hour drive west of Cotonou, offers a Portuguese
castle and a temple displaying sacred pythons. Further west of
Ouidah, near the border with Togo, the beaches at Grand Popo attract
many foreigners. However, it is too dangerous to swim in the ocean
because of the undertow. Visitors can spend the weekend relaxing at
a nearby inn facing the sea. Visits to fishing villages on the coast
or by the lagoon provide an enjoyable outing.
Porto-Novo, a large city located about 30 kilometers east of
Cotonou sprawls over the hills surrounding the Gun people, and the
palace of the rulers has been restored. More recently, it served as
the capital of the French colony of Dahomey. The colonial buildings
are reminders of this period.
Ganvie, located 18 kilometers northwest of Cotonou, is said to be
Africa’s largest lake village. Ganvie is an extraordinary sight that
is only accessible by boat. Wooden houses with thatched roofs are
built on tall stilts rising above the gray surface of the waters.
Even the market is held on the water, with women selling their wares
from canoes. The entire town spreads across the shallow waters of
Lake Nokoue and has been dubbed the African Venice.
For the activity of the African markets, a rotating schedule of
large markets is available in Cotonou, Porto-Novo, and Adjarra, just
north of Porto-Novo. An adventuresome trader can buy “grigri”
charms, colorful enamelware from China, and interesting fabrics.
Travelers to northern Benin can visit self-help projects funded
by the Ambassador’s Special Fund, where a visitor is welcomed into a
village and enjoys a greeting by the entire community. Farther
north, the region is rich in wild game and the scenic beauty of
mountains and waterfalls.
Lome is a 2-hour drive to the west. Shopping and fine restaurants
are popular attractions. Lagos, a large bustling city, is to the
east. It has bookstores, with a large English-language selection, an
interesting museum of Yoruba and other tribal art, and a busy social
life within the large diplomatic and foreign communities. Other
points in Nigeria within weekend reach of Cotonou are Ibadan,
Nigeria’s second most populous city, and Ife, which has a museum
displaying many excellent 15th- and 16th-century bronze, terra cotta
busts, and effigies.
Entertainment Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:29 PM
Cotonou has three cinemas, none of which are air-conditioned.
Soundtracks are usually in French. The Embassy participates in the
AAFES motion picture film circuit. Nightclubs and discos are crowded
and lively with European and African music and atmosphere.
Restaurants and bars are plentiful and reasonably priced. Options
include Chinese, Italian, Thai, French, Indian, Lebanese, and even
standard American fare all served in air-conditioned dining rooms or
relaxed outdoor patios.
Among Americans Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:29 PM Despite the
small size of the Embassy staff and American community (about 300),
the social atmosphere is good. Small, informal get-togethers are
popular and are often combined with a viewing of videos or DVDs. As
both Lagos and Lome are within 3 hours of Cotonou, Americans from
both posts visit Cotonou for a day of shopping or sightseeing.
International Contacts Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:30 PM Chad,
China, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, France, Ghana, Germany, Holland, Libya,
Niger, Nigeria and Russia all have Embassies in Cotonou. Belgium,
Greece, Holland, and Switzerland have honorary consuls or trade
representatives in Cotonou. A large UN staff and several French
Canadians are also represented. Business cards or calling cards are
useful and can be procured in Cotonou. An officer will need about
200 cards for a 2-year tour.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:30 PM
National day receptions of the countries represented in Cotonou
are the most formal diplomatic functions. Dress for officers is a
dark business suit or appropriate dress. Senior officers attend some
host-government ceremonial functions, where the attire is a business
suit or a long or short dress. Other functions are informal with
slacks and open-neck shirts for men and informal dresses for women.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:30 PM
The major Embassy-sponsored representational function that all
Embassy staff members attend is the Fourth of July reception. Upon
arrival and after presentation of credentials, the Chief of Mission
calls on other Chiefs of Mission in Cotonou.
Special Information Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:31 PM
Post Orientation Program
Contact the community liaison officer for a Welcome Kit and
include any questions you have. The Welcome Kit narrative goes into
great detail on what to expect and includes a comprehensive pamphlet
on health precautions. The Bureau of African Affairs (AF/EX) has
some locally published tourist books.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:31 PM
Air France serves Cotonou from Paris, Abidjan, and Lagos.
Official travel must comply with the Fly America Act. Contact the
post for the latest travel information.
Temporary duty personnel, contractors, and other official
travelers should notify the Embassy in advance of their travel.
Obtain a visa before arriving in Benin. The Benin Embassy in
Washington, D.C. will issue visas, as will the Benin Embassies in
Abidjan and Lagos.
Ship HHE to Cotonou through the appropriate Despatch Agent,
European Logistical Support Office (ELSO), Antwerp, or if direct
service is possible, to:
American Ambassador American Embassy (employee’s initials)
Cotonou, Rep. du Benin
Write the post in advance if you plan to ship items that may
cause suspicion (anything with a possible military use, i.e.,
firearms, ammunition, two-way radios, or anything of an olive drab
color). Although the U.S. Government will cover certain losses, all
employees should take out marine insurance on HHE and automobiles.
The Embassy contracts out for packing services, and although these
companies have considerable skill, the administrative officer should
be informed of fragile items well in advance of packing.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:32 PM
Personnel with diplomatic status are accorded duty-free entry for
their entire tour. Since regulations are subject to change, check
with the Embassy for the latest information. Although customs’
officials reserve the right to search all luggage, recently
diplomats have been allowed to forego luggage inspection. Permanent
Embassy staff is issued diplomatic identification passes that
facilitate international travel and activity at the airport.
Passage Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:32 PM
Visas and health certificates with valid yellow fever
inoculations are required for entry into Benin. Obtain visas from
the Benin Embassy in Washington, D.C., or from the Benin Mission to
the UN in New York. If visas cannot be obtained, inform the Embassy
well in advance, so local entry arrangements can be made.
Pets Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:32 PM
Cats and dogs entering Benin must have a record of a valid rabies
vaccination and a veterinary certificate of health issued no more
than 10 days before arrival. To help speed entry procedures, inform
the post in advance if you plan to bring a pet.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:33 PM
Only the following nonautomatic firearms and ammunition may be
brought to Benin:
Rifle or shotgun One per adult family member plus 1,000 rounds
Firearms and ammunition can be shipped but not mailed. Personnel
must contact the Embassy before shipping so that an import permit
can be obtained. Firearms are consigned to U.S. personnel for their
personal use and are not for resale.
Register all firearms. In recent months, import permits or
licenses for weapons have been difficult to obtain, and some Embassy
employees have waited for extended periods and have not received the
necessary licenses. To bring additional firearms and ammunition into
the country, obtain permission from the Deputy Chief of Mission in
advance. In shipping additional firearms and ammunition from the
U.S., copies of the exchange of correspondence with the Deputy Chief
of Mission must be forwarded, along with a completed form DSP-5
(export application) to:
Office of Munitions Control (PM/MC) Department of State,
Washington, D.C. 20520
The application should include all firearms and ammunition to be
shipped. The export license issued by PM/MC must be given at the
time of shipment to the U.S. Despatch Agent who, in turn, will
surrender it and other shipping documents to U.S. Customs. Should
permission be received from the Chief of Mission to ship firearms
and ammunition exceeding those prescribed, and if they are shipped
between foreign countries only, no license is necessary from PM/MC.
No Department of State license is required for shotguns (with
barrels 18 inches and over in length) or less than 1,000 rounds of
shotgun ammunition. However, compliance with the Deputy Chief of
Mission's determination and with export regulations of the Office of
Export Control, U.S. Department of Commerce, is necessary.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
11/28/2003 3:33 PM
The official unit of currency is the CFA franc. The average
currency exchange rate for April 2002 is 727 CFA = US$1. The CFA
franc, supported by the French franc, is also legal tender in
several other West African countries (100 CFA = 1 French franc).
Beginning in 2002, the Euro will replace the French franc. As of
December 2002, 614.76 CFA = 1 Euro.
At least eight banks are available in Cotonou, some with various
locations. The metric system of weights and measures is used.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/28/2003
Restrictions Benin has no currency restrictions.
Facilities A Class B Embassy cashier may cash travelers and
personal dollar checks for official personnel if made payable to the
American Embassy Cotonou. The cashier offers cfa or dollars. A
limited supply of dollars is kept on hand for official personnel on
home leave or transfer orders. Pay and allowances checks can be
received at post or sent directly to a U.S. bank by FSC
Paris/Charleston. Pay periods are biweekly, and checks are usually
received at post 4 days before the pay period ends. Members of the
Embassy staff are not required to pay local tax.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:35 PM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Adam, Kolawole Sikirou. Le Benin. Sodimas, Edicef: Paris, 1983.
Cashiers d’Etudes et d’Analyses No.1. Propos et Position: La
Transition au Benin ou la Democratie en Gestation.
Cerd (Centre d’Etudes et Recherches pour le Developpement)
Garcia, Luc. Le Royaume du Dahome: Face e la Penetration
Coloniale: Affrontements et Incomprehension, 1875–1894. Karthala:
Huanou, Adrien. La Litterature Beninoise de Langue Franeaise.
Karthala-Acct: Paris, 1984.
Igue, O. John. Benin Etat-Entrepet. Karthala: Paris, 1992.
Medeiros, Francois. Peuples du Golfe du Benin (Aja-Ewe). ISBN
Pilya, Jean. La Fille Tetue: Contes et Recits Traditionnels du
Benin. Abijan: Nouvells Editions Africaines, 1982.
Pilya, Jean. Histoire de Mon Pays. La Republique du Benin. CNPMS,
Quenum, Maximilien: Au Pays des Fons: Us et Coutemes du Dahomey.
Paris, Maisonneuve Larose.
Argyle, W. J.: The Fon of Dahomey: A History and Ethnography of
the Old Kingdom. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1966.
Burton, Sir Richard. A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahomey.
Praeger: New York, 1966 (reprint).
Chatwin, Bruce. The Viceroy of Ouidah. Summit Books: New York,
Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Benin. Scarecrow Press:
Metuchen, New Jersey, 1987.
Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Dahomey. (African
Historical Series No.7). Scarecrow Press: Metuchen, New Jersey,
Duignan, Peter and Gann, L.H.: The United States and Africa: A
History. Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Hazoume, Paul. Doguicimi. Three Continents, 1980.
Herskovits, Melville. Dahomey. (2nd printing). Northwestern
University Press: Evanston, Illinois, 1958.
Manning, Patrick. Slavery, Colonialism, and Economic Growth in
Dahomey, 1940–1960. Cambridge University Press: New Rochelle, 1982.
Manning, Peter. Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa — 1880–1985.
Cam-bridge University Press, 1988.
Obichere, Boniface I. West African States and European Expansion:
The Dahomey-Niger Hinterland, 1885–1898. Yale University Press: New
Law, Robin. The Slave Coast of West Africa, 1550–1750: The Impact
of the Atlantic Slave Trade on an African Society. Oxford: Clarendon
Press: Oxford University Press: New York, 1991.
Else, David, et al. West Africa. Lonely Planet Publications:
Australia, 1999. ISBN 0864425694.
Polyani, Karl and Rotsfien, Abraham. Dahomey and the Slave Trade
(American Ethnographical Society Monographs #42), 1988.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/28/2003 3:36 PM
New Year’s Day January 1
Traditional Religions Day January 10 Ramadan** Labor Day May 1
Easter Monday* Ascension Day* Pentecost Monday* Id El Mulud (Tabaski,
Feast of the Sacrifice)** Memorial Day May 28 Whit Monday*
Independence Day August 1 Assumption Day August 15 Maouloud Day**
All Saints Day November 1 Christmas Day December 25
*Variable Christian holidays **Variable Muslim holidays