Demographics of Benin

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Benin, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The majority of Benin’s 6.59 million people live in the south. The population is young, with a life expectancy of 50 years.

About 42 African ethnic groups live in this country; these various groups settled in Benin at different times and also migrated within the country. Ethnic groups include:

French is the official language but is spoken more in urban than in rural areas. The literacy rate is 52.2% adult males and 23.6% adult females, and slowly growing. Recent migrations have brought other African Nationals to Benin: Nigerians, Togolese, Malians, etc. The foreign community also includes many Lebanese and Indians involved in trade and commerce. The personnel of the many European Embassies and Foreign Aid Missions and of nongovernmental organizations and various missionary groups account for a large number of the 5,500 European population.

Several religions are practiced in Benin. Animism is widespread (50%), and its practices vary from one ethnic group to the other. Arab merchants introduced Islam in the north and among the Yoruba. European missionaries brought Christianity to the south and central areas of Benin. Muslims account for 20% of the population and Christians for 30%. Many nominal Muslims and Christians continue to practice animistic traditions. It is believed that voodoo originated in Benin and was introduced to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands by slaves taken from this particular area of the Slave Coast.

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