Demographics of Benin
The majority of Benin’s 11.49 million people live in the south. The population is young, with a life expectancy of 62 years.
About 42 African ethnic groups live in this country; these various groups settled in Benin at different times and have also migrated within the country. Ethnic groups include:
- the Yoruba in the southeast and centre (migrated from what is now Nigeria in the 12th century);
- the Dendi in the north-central area (they came from what is now Mali in the 16th century);
- the Bariba and the Fula (or Fulani) (Fula: Fulɓe; French: Peul) who entered the country as nomads from further west 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, Xweda, and Aja (who came from what is now Togo in the 12th century) on the coast.
French is the official language but is spoken more in urban than in rural areas. The literacy rate is 52.2% among adult males and 23.6% among adult females; these rates are slowly growing. Recent migrations have brought other African nationals to Benin, including Nigerians, Togolese and Malians. The foreign community also includes many Lebanese and Indians involved in trade and commerce. The personnel of the many European embassies, foreign aid missions, nongovernmental organizations and missionary groups account for much of the 5,500 European population.
Several religions are practiced in Benin. Traditional African religions are widespread (50%), and their 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 traditional African religion traditions. It is believed that West African Vodun originated in Benin and was introduced to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands by slaves taken from this particular area of the Slave Coast.
According to the 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects the total population of Benin was 11,485,044 in 2018, compared to only 2,255,000 in 1950. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 43.7%; 53.3% were between 15 and 65 years of age, while 3% were of 65 years or older.
|Total population||Population aged 0–14 (%)||Population aged 15–64 (%)||Population aged 65+ (%)|
|1950||2 255 000||35.2||57||7.8|
|1955||2 302 000||37.0||56.6||6.3|
|1960||2 420 000||38.4||56.1||5.5|
|1965||2 602 000||40.7||54.3||5|
|1970||2 850 000||42.7||52.7||4.6|
|1975||3 182 000||44.2||51.4||4.4|
|1980||3 611 000||45.2||50.7||4.0|
|1985||4 140 000||45.9||50.4||3.7|
|1990||4 773 000||46.2||50.4||3.4|
|1995||5 651 000||45.5||51.3||3.1|
|2000||6 518 000||45.6||51.4||3.0|
|2005||7 634 000||44.6||52.4||3.0|
|2010||8 850 000||43.7||53.3||3.0|
Benin's registration of vital events is incomplete. The Population Department of the United Nations has prepared the following estimates.
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR*||CDR*||NC*||TFR*||IMR*|
|1950–1955||93 000||79 000||14 000||41.0||34.8||6.1||5.86||210|
|1955–1960||103 000||75 000||28 000||43.6||31.7||11.9||6.13||195|
|1960–1965||116 000||74 000||41 000||46.2||29.7||16.5||6.42||184|
|1965–1970||129 000||75 000||54 000||47.5||27.6||19.9||6.65||173|
|1970–1975||144 000||73 000||71 000||47.8||24.1||23.7||6.84||152|
|1975–1980||163 000||73 000||90 000||47.9||21.5||26.4||7.00||136|
|1980–1985||185 000||77 000||108 000||47.7||19.8||27.9||7.01||126|
|1985–1990||210 000||82 000||128 000||47.2||18.4||28.8||6.88||120|
|1990–1995||240 000||85 000||155 000||46.0||16.3||29.7||6.56||108|
|1995–2000||268 000||89 000||179 000||44.0||14.6||29.5||6.16||98|
|2000–2005||298 000||95 000||203 000||42.2||13.4||28.7||5.79||91|
|2005–2010||336 000||103 000||233 000||40.7||12.4||28.3||5.49||85|
|* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)|
Births and deaths
|Year||Population||Live births||Deaths||Natural increase||Crude birth rate||Crude death rate||Rate of natural increase||TFR|
|2012*||376 439||79 116||297 323||40,2||8,4||31,8|
- Data are projections presented in Annuaire Statistique 2010.
Fertility and births
|Year||CBR (Total)||TFR (Total)||CBR (Urban)||TFR (Urban)||CBR (Rural)||TFR (Rural)|
|1996||42.2||6.32 (5.0)||37.8||5.24 (4.0)||44.8||7.02 (5.6)|
|2001||41.1||5.6 (4.6)||36.0||4.4 (3.6)||43.8||6.4 (53)|
|2006||41.5||5.7 (4.8)||38.7||4.9 (4.1)||43.0||6.3 (5.3)|
|2011–12||33.3||4.9 (4.0)||33.1||4.3 (3.6)||33.3||5.4 (4.4)|
|2017–18||40.5||5.7 (4.9)||39.1||5.2 (4.5)||41.6||6.1 (5.2)|
Fertility data as of 2011-2012 (DHS Program):
|Department||Total fertility rate||Percentage of women age 15-49 currently pregnant||Mean number of children ever born to women age 40-49|
|Period||Life expectancy in |
There are several dozen ethnolinguistic groups in Benin, representing three of Africa's language families: Niger–Congo, Nilo-Saharan, and Afroasiatic. The latter is represented by Hausa living mostly as merchants in the north, while Nilo-Saharan is represented by the Dɛndi, descending from the Songhai Empire. The Dɛndi language predominates along the Niger River in the far north, and is used as a lingua franca in Muslim areas throughout the north, in Alibori, Borgou, and Donga provinces. Of the Niger–Congo family, five branches are represented:
- Mande by the Boko or Busa, now in the far eastern corner (southern Alibori-northern Borgou), but previously more widely spread before being largely absorbed by the Bariba
- Senegambian by the nomadic Fulani scattered across the northeast
- Benue–Congo by the Yoruba such as those of the old kingdom of Sakete, and the capital city of Porto-Novo, having expanded west from the Yoruba cities of Oyo and Ife in the 12th to 19th centuries
- Gur (Voltaic) languages predominate in the four northern provinces, with the Batɔmbu (Bariba) of the old Borgou (Bariba) Kingdom occupying most of the countryside in its successor provinces of Borgou and Alibori, as well as the provincial capital of Parakou; the Yom throughout much of Donga province and its capital Djougou; and several groups in the Atakora, including the Bɛtamaribɛ of the Otammari country around the provincial capital of Natitingou, the Biali, the Waama of Tanguiéta, and the Gulmàceba.
- Kwa, especially the Gbe languages spoken by the Tado peoples in the southern and central provinces: the Aja who established themselves in Kouffo province from neighboring Togo and gave rise to the other Tado peoples of Benin, except for the Mina of Mono province, who arrived separately from Togo or Ghana: The Fɔn culture centered in Zou province around the old Fɔn capital of Abomey, but also dominant in Cotonou and southern Atlantique areas such as Ouidah; the Maxi in central Collines, especially around Savalou; the Ayizɔ of central Atlantique (Allada); the Xwla and Xueda in the lagoons of the coast; the Tɔfin of Ouémé; and the Gun. Other Kwa languages are spoken by the Anii in southern Donga in the region of Bassila, and the Fooɖo in western Donga near the town of Ouaké.
The largest ethnic group are the Fon, with 1.7 million speakers of the Fon language (2001), followed by the various Yoruba groups (1.2 million), the Aja (600,000), the Bariba (460,000), the Ayizo (330,000), the Fulani (310,000), and the Gun (240,000). Near the ports in the south can be found many people who are descended from returned Brazilian slaves. There are also small numbers of Europeans, principally French, and people from the western Asia, mainly Lebanese, and East Asia, chiefly Indians.
White Beninese people are people who are of French, Portuguese, Dutch, British, African American, Italian, German, Latin American, Russian, and Scandinavian descent. Notable Europeans include:
Other demographic statistics
Demographic statistics according to the World Population Review in 2019.
- One birth every 1 minute
- One death every 5 minutes
- One net migrant every 288 minutes
- Net gain of one person every 2 minutes
- 11,340,504 (July 2018 est.)
- 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 2017 est.)
- 0-14 years: 42.26% (male 2,445,265 / female 2,347,091)
- 15-24 years: 20.53% (male 1,184,977 / female 1,143,605)
- 25-54 years: 30.66% (male 1,759,834 / female 1,717,467)
- 55-64 years: 3.65% (male 184,453 / female 229,945)
- 65 years and over: 2.89% (male 128,920 / female 198,947) (2018 est.)
- 0-14 years: 44.7% (male 2,126,973 / female 2,042,340)
- 15-64 years: 52.6% (male 2,443,370 / female 2,461,421)
- 65 years and over: 2.7% (male 101,640 / female 149,288) (2011 est.)
- 4.67 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 22nd
- Total: 18.4 years. Country comparison to the world: 209th
- Male: 18.1 years
- Female: 18.7 years (2018 est.)
- Total: 18.2 years
- Male: 17.9 years
- Female: 18.6 years (2017 est.)
Population growth rate
- 2.68% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 16th
- 2.71% (2017 est.)
- 34.5 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 22nd
- 35 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
- 7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 99th
- 7.9 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Net migration rate
- 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.) Country comparison to the world: 74th
Mother's mean age at first birth
- 20.3 years (2011/12 est.)
- Note: median age at first birth among women 25-29
Contraceptive prevalence rate
- 17.9% (2014)
- Urban population: 47.3% of total population (2018)
- Rate of urbanization: 3.89% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
- At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.70 male(s)/female
- Total population: 1.0 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- Total population: 62.7 years (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 198th
- Male: 61.2 years (2018 est.)
- Female: 64.2 years (2018 est.)
- Total population: 62.3 years
- Male: 60.9 years
- Female: 63.8 years (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
- 18% (2014)
- Adult prevalence rate: 1% (2017 est.)
- People living with HIV/AIDS: 70,000 (2017 est.)
- Deaths: 2,500 (2017 est.)
Major infectious diseases
- Degree of risk: very high
- Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
- Vectorborne diseases: malaria, yellow fever, and others are high risks in some locations
- Respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
- Animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
English demonym and adjective:
- Beninese (singular and plural)
French demonym and adjective:
- Béninois (masculine, singular and plural)
- Béninoise (feminine, singular)
- Béninoises (feminine, plural)
- Fon and related 39.2%, Adja and related 15.2%, Yoruba and related 12.3%, Bariba and related 9.2%, Fulani and related 7%, Ottamari and related 6.1%, Yoa-Lokpa and related 4%, Dendi and related 2.5%, Other 1.6%, Unspecified 2.9% (2002 est.) 
- Islam 27.7%, Roman Catholic 25.5%, Protestant 13.5% (Celestial 6.7%, Methodist 3.4%, other Protestant 3.4%), Vodoun 11.6%, other Christian 9.5%, other traditional religions 2.6%, Other 2.6%, None 5.8%, (2013 est.) 
- Pew Forum estimated that, in 2010, that Roman Catholics constituted 30% of the country, Protestants 23.2%, and other Christians 0.3%, with all Christians making up 53.4% of the population.
Over 50 languages are spoken in Benin. The official language is French. Of the many indigenous African languages, Fon and Yoruba are the most important in southern Benin. In the north there are at least six major languages, including Baatonum and Fulani.
- Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- Total population: 38.4%
- Male: 49.9%
- Female: 27.3% (2015 est.)
- 4.4% of total GDP
- Country comparison to the world: 91
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Demographics of Benin.|
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