|Population growth rate
||35.00 births per 1,000 residents
|Overall life expectancy
|Men life expectancy
|Women life expectancy
|65 years and above
||1.01 M / F
||114.23 residents per km²
|Cotonou 679.012, Porto Novo 264.320,
Parakou 255.478, Godomey 253.262, Abomey-Calavi 117.824, Djougou 94.773
|approx. 60 ethnic groups: 46.2% Fon, 15.6% Adja, 12.1%
Yoruba, 8.6% Bariba, 3.3% Peul (Fulbe), 6.0% Otamari, 3.2% Dendi, 3, 0%
Yoa Lokpa et al
|Indigenous religions 50%, Christians 30%, Muslims 20%
|Human Development Index (HDI)
People in Benin
What do you actually call the people of Benin? "Beniner"
is rarely used, but that would be the correct name. Most
of the residents of Benin live in the south of the
country, on the coast.
There are many peoples who live in Benin. Most of
them belong to the Fon people, namely 39.2 percent.
They live mainly in the south. 15.2 percent are Adja and
12.3 percent belong to the Yoruba. The Yoruba live
mainly in the east of Benin. 9.2 percent of the
population belong to the Bariba. The Fulbe in the north
make up 7 percent. Many other peoples are represented in
Children in Benin
Each woman in Benin has an average of 4.8 children.
This is very much. With us, each woman has an average of
only 1.4 children. Children and young people in Benin
make up a large proportion of the population. Almost
half of the population is under 15 years old!
Infant mortality is 3.1 percent, child mortality 6.1
percent (as of 2018, ours: 0.2 and 0.3 percent). That
means: a little more than three out of 100 newborn
children die, a little more than six out of 100 do not
celebrate their first birthday. The numbers have even
risen slightly again in recent years.
Urban and countryside
More and more people are moving to the cities. This
is a typical phenomenon in West Africa (for example also
in the Ivory Coast). This is called rural exodus. The
more people come to cities, the more housing and jobs
are missing. In Benin, 48 percent of the people now live
in the city. In comparison with other countries, this is
still little, but the number is increasing from year to
Languages in Benin
The official language in Benin is French. That means
that you speak and write French in the offices, in
administration and also in school. But the peoples also
have their own languages. In total, more than 50
languages are spoken in Benin! Children in the
villages usually learn the language of their people
first and then French at school.
As the Fon people are the most widespread, especially
in the south, their language is one of the lingua franca
here. Like the people, her name is Fon. So you hear them
often in everyday life. The second most common language
Bariba is more common in the north. The languages Fon
and Yoruba belong to the Kwa languages, Bariba is a Gur
language. All again belong to the Niger-Congo languages.
All languages spoken in Benin belong to the
Niger-Congo languages (which includes a total of 1,400
languages). On the map you can see their main groups and
where the Kwa languages are spoken.
You have already read a word that comes from the Fon
on the previous page: Voodoo. It was derived from the
word "vodun", which in Fon means God.
In all Kwa languages, the pitch changes the meaning
of a word or phrase. They are therefore also called
tonal languages. For us this is quite complicated, as
you can see from an example from the Yoruba: ó bẹ́ means
"he jumped", but ó bẹ means "he is cheeky" and ó bẹ̀
means "he asks for excuse". Every syllable in Yoruba has
at least one pitch (high, medium or low), but it can
also have two pitches.
There is also a script for some languages of Benin,
for example for Yoruba. Missionaries wrote down what
they heard. The Latin alphabet is used, which we also
use, but without c, q, v, x and z. There are also
several other letters: gb and kp stand for sounds from
the Yoruba language, in which g and b or k and p are
spoken simultaneously and not one after the other. E, o
and s are also available with a small line or a point
below (ɛ, ɔ and sh), which means that eand o are spoken
openly and that s sounds like a shit. Then there are
accents that indicate whether a tone is pronounced high,
low or medium. Using the example of i: í, ì and ī are
possible! "I didn't go" is written in Yoruba: n̄ ò lọ.
Religions in Benin
It is estimated that 25 to 50 percent of Benin's
residents follow the ancient natural religions. Above
all, the belief in voodoo plays an important role in
42.3 percent of the population are
Christians. 23 percent of them belong to the Roman
Catholic Church. 5.1 percent of Christians profess to
the "Heavenly Church of Christ", which was founded in
1947 in Benin.
27.8 percent profess Islam. Almost all
of the Fulbe and Dendi peoples are Muslim, a little
more than half of the Yoruba people, the other Yoruba
are Christians. Belonging to a people does not
necessarily say anything about the religion practiced.
Muslims live all over the country, but they are more
represented in the north than in the south of Benin.