Well known for its Ganvie – the Africa’s one of a kind floating villages constructed on stilts. It’s the fishing town. See the spectacular lake market. And experience the dugouts or motorboats that are available for journeys throughout the lake towards the Ganvie. Throughout the journey you will find Akadjas made from stakes as well as bushes in the form of open circles or perhaps triangles powered to the plant-less Lake bed. Enjoy catching fish for breeding!Feel the coolness of a natural waterfall called “The Tanougou Falls”, a famous Benin attraction. Relax and swim, and also enjoy the natural pools found at the waterfall base which are refreshing and free of charge. It is a natural treasure to be enjoyed.
Important and Interesting Facts about Benin
- Cotton is gold! It constitutes 80% of the country’s export. Others are cotton, palm oil products, coffee, crude oil and cocoa beans.
- Benin is characterized by unusually dry conditions. This is due primarily to two very important factors. First, the situation of the coast which is rather well protected from the western winds; second, the Atakora Barrier in the West and North West which decreases the amount of rainfall.
- Ganvie, known as “The Venice of Africa”-a lake village in Benin– is Africa’s unique floating villages built on stilts. A population of several thousand.
- In Benin, sandbanks create difficult access to a coast with no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands.
- Parc National de la Pendjari is a 275,000-hectare national park 45km (28 miles) north of Natitingou, Benin, is the wildlife park par excellence in this part of West Africa. Visitors may spot lions, leopards, elephants, baboons and hippos. The best viewing time is near the end of the dry season when the animals start to hover around the water holes.
- Lac Doukon is 109 km east of Cotonou in Benin. Here, visitors can see hippopotami, many species of birds and aquatic plants, and enjoy the daily life in an African village. Visitors will have the chance to explore the area by walking around the lake and taking traditional canoe.
- Although facilities for water sports on the coast of Benin are limited, there are good beaches at Grand Popo and Ouidah but visitors should note that tides and currents can render the sea very dangerous and only the strongest swimmers should venture in at certain places.
- Two climatic zones may be distinguished—a southern and a northern. The southern zone has an equatorial type of climate with four seasons—two wet and two dry. The principal rainy season occurs between mid-March and mid-July; the shorter dry season lasts to mid-September; the shorter rainy season lasts to mid-November; and the principal dry season lasts until the rains begin again in March.
- Finished in 1460 the Benin Iya or moat is a historic world defense wonder. Spanning 1,200 kilometers with walls as high as 18 meters, it is the world’s largest archeological structure.
- Benin Kingdom: The high quality and highly sophisticated bronze work of the Benin Kingdom dating as far back as the 13th century is a world wonder. Great works in iron, wood, ivory, and terra cotta products also highlight the empire’s history.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Benin
- Winter issue. People in Benin wear heavy winter coats in the summer. In August, temperature go as low as 22 degrees on plus and it is freaking cold and nobody goes out of the house if they do not have to!
- The Republic of Benin was the shortest-lived state in history. It was only independent for 7 hours in 1967.
- Though Benin looks like a tiny sliver of a country, it’s actually about the size of Pennsylvania.
- Fondation Zinsou of Benin is a contemporary gallery specializing in African arts and culture exhibitions. The bookshop has the best collection of books on African art and culture! Unfortunately they are all in French.
- In Benin you are a ‘yovo’. White person! But do not take it as an offense, this is how things are. You will hear it everywhere. You will be shouted at from far away to wave, to smile, to talk. Some kids may be scared of you because they will see white person first time in their lives.
- Porto-Novo, the capital city of Benin, is also known as the ‘City with three names’. This is basically because the city, apart from being known as Porto-Novo, is also known as Adjatche and Hogbonou.
- Angelique Kidjo, the African singer who popularized African music in Europe and the United States of America hailed from Benin. She was a Grammy-Award singer who was most noted for her songs, ‘Batonga’, ‘We We’, and ‘Lombo’ being key examples.
- The people of Benin were very clever. They invented many things including a thumb piano. A thumb piano is a musical instrument that produced beautiful sounds. It was made with metal strips fastened to a wooden box. The box had holes on top and on the sides. You could cover various holes to make different sounds when plucking the metal strips.
- Angélique Kidjo, the songwriter and singer from Benin, has kept African languages and an African sensibility at the core of her music.
- Oba – King of Benin. The African artist who made this brass plaque took care to make the man in the middle look bigger than the other people. Why? Because the man with the spiky head dress was an Oba, or king, of Benin in West Africa. This piece of art is called a ‘Benin bronze’, though it’s actually made of brass (a mixture or alloy of copper and zinc), not bronze (copper and tin).
- Actor Djimon Hounsou was born in Cotonou, Benin. He gained fame in Hollywood for his role in the 1997 film Amistad and in 2006, he was a lead character in Blood Diamond.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Benin
- This West African country is the cradle of ‘voodoo’. The locals call it ‘Vodun’ which means ‘spirits’. Voodoo followers believe that Earth is ruled by five divine elements. The religion was initiated back in the 13th century by its founder, ancestor of the kings of Allada. Voodoo came to Brazil and Caribbean with West African slaves ships.
- Photography Issue. People in Benin believe that photography steals a piece of the soul. This unfounded fear has its origin in Animism and Voodoo. Personal belongings such as nail clippings, pieces of clothing, hair or blood could be used to cast a spell or a course. It isn’t a far stretch to believe that a photographic image has similar powers. So portraits or close up pictures are very difficult to shoot.
- The people of Benin have the most unique way of expressing amazement. A very specific sound! The voice timbres are different. The accentuation is always the same.
- Benin was part of the Slave Coast during the colonial era and surly is not proud of this period of its history. Allada and Porto Novo played the main roles in the slave trade, while Ouidah was the main port of sending slaves to Brazil and the Caribbean.
- Benin was tucked into the forest region of Africa. It began in BCE times and was not conquered until the 1800s by the British. That’s a long time. The people developed some unique things as their civilization developed
- They wove cotton fabrics with stripes of color. Their carved wood masks are still world famous today. Art and fabric made by Benin artists were in high demand by other civilizations and tribes.
- If you were found guilty of stealing from someone in your village or another village, you could apologize and make things right by returning the goods or replacing them, and you would not be punished. Benin did have slaves, but slaves were treated very well. You could earn your way out of slavery.
- The people believed in many gods and goddesses. They believed their witchdoctors could talk to their gods, and had the power to cure and heal.
- They did not have a written language. Kids did not go to school. Instead, in the evening, the people in each village would collect around the evening campfire. That’s when the storytellers would weave their tales. There was no formal schooling, but education occurred during storytelling time.
- Beninese eats many varieties of tropical fruits. Traditionally palm wine was produced in the south, while millet beer was brewed and consumed by the northern peoples. Today alcoholic beverages are likely to be imported.