BENIN TRAVEL GUIDE
Benin maybe just a slice of land in West Africa but it is the ‘cradle of voodoo’, the biggest centre of the slave trade (ages ago) and the only country in this part of the world to have embraced Marxism. Benin isn’t all about the supernatural though; it’s also a country of friendly people, quaint villages on stilts and exotic local handicrafts in colourful bazaars. Take your time in Benin and the secrets will gradually unfurl to give you a mystical holiday quite unlike any other place on this planet. And that too without having to worry about political skirmishes or ambushes.
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BENIN QUICK FACTS
Capital: Porto-Novo is the official capital; Cotonou is the seat of government
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF)
Area: total: 112,620 km2
Population: 11,49 million (2018)
Language: French (official), Fon, Yoruba, other tribal languages
Religion: Indigenous beliefs (Animism & Voodoo) 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%
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BENIN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
10 January, Traditional Religions Day (Vodoun Day)
1 May, Labor Day
1 August, Independence Day
15 August, Assumption
1 November, All Saints Day
Also, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Maulid an-Nabi, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.
BENIN WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Northern Benin has a dry season and a wet season that is controlled by the movement of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The rainy season lasts from May-November when the ITCZ is in its northern position. The dry season is from December-March when the ‘Harmattan’ winds blow in from the northeast bringing air from the Sahara Desert. Northern and central Benin receive between 200-300 mm of rainfall per month during the height of the rainy season (July-September). Southern Benin experiences two wet seasons differing in length and coinciding with the northern and southern passages of the ITCZ across the region. The longer rainy season occurs from March-July and the shorter one from September-November. Southern Benin experiences great variability in its seasonal rainfall from year to year and decade to decade.
HEALTH RISKS IN BENIN
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF BENIN
Explore the legendary craftsmanship of Benin at the Centre for Artistic Promotion in Cotonou or go fishing at Grand Popo. Take a trip to Abomey for an interesting lesson in history, or visit Ouidah for some voodoo experience. Visit the national parks to get a glimpse of popular wildlife of Africa or head to Club de Benin for a game of tennis or Yacht Club for sailing.
The beaches at Grand Popo and Ouidah are good for just relaxing, sunbathing and water sports. Savour the mouth-watering seafood that is readily available in Benin or partake in the popular Voodoo festival known as the National Voodoo Day!