Market day on Lake Nakoue

Discovering Benin

door of no returnBenin is situated in West Africa on the northern coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered in the north by Niger and Burkina Faso, in the east by Nigeria, in the west by Togo, and in the south by the Atlantic Ocean. Benin is one of the more stable countries in Africa and occupies a narrow strip of land that stretches approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,000 sq mi), from the Bight of Benin to the Niger River with a population of approximately 9.05 million.

The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country's largest city.

Benin has four geographical regions. A flat narrow strip runs along the gulf coast. Further north, flat lowlands turn into a network of swamps and lagoons. In the country’s north, dense vegetation covers flat lands that gradually rise into broad plateaus and small groups of hills. In the northwest, Benin is dominated by the Atakora Mountains, which rises as high as 3,000 feet. The northeast, meanwhile, consists of fertile plains.

The coastal strip is sandy with coconut palms. Beyond the lagoons of Porto Novo, Nokoue, Ouidah and Grand Popo is a plateau rising gradually to the heights of the Atakora Mountains. From the highlands run two tributaries of the Niger, while southwards the Ouémé flows down to Nokoue lagoon. Mono River flows into the sea at Grand Popo and forms a frontier with Togo.