1. It’s located in West Africa and is the 17th smallest country in Africa.
2. Porto Novo is its capital, but Cotonou is its largest city.
3. It is the birthplace of Vodun (voodoo). Voodoo temples, roadside fetishes, and fetish markets are found throughout the country, but the best known is the skull and skin fetish market in the Grande Marche du Dantopka in Cotonou.
4. Ouidah, a town on the central coast, is home to the Vodun Festival, held annually on January 10th.
5. Major languages: French, Fon, Bariba, Yoruba and Dendi
6. Ethnicity/Race: Fon (40%), Aja (15%), and Yoruba (12%) in the south and Bariba (9%), Somba (8%), and Fulbe (6%) in the north.
7. Major religions: Catholicism (27%), Islam (24%), Vodun (17%)
8. Benin gained independence from France in 1960.
9. Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century.
10. Abomey was the capital of the Dahomey kingdom. Today, its ruined temples and royal palaces are a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the country’s top tourist attractions.
11. The Dahomey Agodojie (also known as the Dahomey Amazons), an all-female military army, were known for their heroism and mercilessness, and were prominent slave catchers. (The Dora Milaje, from the Marvel movie Black Panther, were partially based upon the Agodojie)
12. Due to the prevalence of the transatlantic slave trade (more than 2 million slaves shipped to the Americas), the region became known as the Slave Coast.
13. The Slave Route (Route des Esclaves) in Ouidah, terminating at the beachside Point of No Return monument, is a memorial to those who were kidnapped, sold, and shipped to the Americas.
14. Tourism in Benin largely centers around its great beaches, wildlife, culture and history.