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The country of Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged.
Business and Economy
The economy of Benin remains quite underdeveloped and dependent on agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged a stable 5% in the past six years, but rapid population rise has offset much of this increase. Inflation has decreased over the past several years. In order to grow faster, Benin plans to attract more foreign investment, place more emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. The 2001 privatization policy should continue in telecommunications, water, electricity, and agriculture in spite of initial government reluctance. The Paris Club and bilateral creditors have eased the external debt situation, while pressing for speeded-up structural reforms.
The major cities of Benin havent been able to attract foreign investors and that is the reason why this country hasnt been able to grow at a fast pace. Only because of the fact that this country is also not a very tourist friendly country, there is dirth of foreign investment.Primarily this country is a under-developed country and due to this reason, neither does funds come in nor do tourists.The liberalization of the economy, has of late been able to draw some amount of foreign investments to this country.The major cities of this country are Cotonou, Port Novo, Parakou. There are good sight seeing paces in this country and mainly in these cities. But these places do need some amount of publicity to attract foreign tourists. The growth of this country is only sure if the policies and the reforms do change and change for the betterment of the country.
GDP - real growth rate: 5.5% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line: 37% (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.3% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate: NA% (October 2000)
Exports: $485 million f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities: cotton, crude oil, palm products, cocoa
Imports: $726 million f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, capital goods, petroleum products