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Demographics of Benin

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 the Yoruba in the southeast (migrated from Nigeria in the 12th century); the Dendi[?] in the north-central area (they came from Mali in the 16th century); the Bariba[?] and the Fulbe (Peul) in the northeast; the Betammaribe[?] and the Somba[?] in the Atacora Range[?]; the Fon[?] in the area around Abomey in the South Central and the Mina[?], Xueda[?], and Aja (who came from Togo) on the coast.

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. Moslems account for 20% of the population and Christians for 30%. Many nominal Moslems 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.

Population: 6,395,919
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 47% (male 1,531,636; female 1,503,552)
15-64 years: 50% (male 1,551,867; female 1,660,845)
65 years and over: 3% (male 63,717; female 84,302) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.03% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 44.81 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 14.51 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 90.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 50.18 years
male: 49.24 years
female: 51.16 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.32 children born/woman (2000 est.)

noun: Beninese (singular and plural)
adjective: Beninese

Ethnic groups: African 99% (42 ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500

Religions: indigenous beliefs 70%, Muslim 15%, Christian 15%

Languages: French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 37%
male: 48.7%
female: 25.8% (1995 est.)

Reference Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

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