Benin is a West African country, having Porto-Novo as the capital city. It is located in the former Kingdom of Dahomey with the capital city Edo. Benin is a French-speaking country and a stronghold of traditional culture, of course, you can see the tools that have been used for hundreds of years. French colonial rule and subsequent close ties with France have left a deep impact on all aspects of cultural life, especially among the educated segments of the population and in the southern cities. Each ethnic group also has its own centuries-old tradition, which itself often mixes with the French influence. These cultural traditions are clustered in two distinct regions, the largely Muslim north, and the largely animist and Christian south.

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Photo Credit: Loic Pinseel

In Cotonou one finds many kinds of commercial enterprises, often with a French flavor, such as restaurants, cafés, and discotheques. There are several movie theaters and several hotels that provide entertainment. Most other towns have modern sections on a smaller scale. In other sections of the towns, however, tradition dominates cultural life. Extended families live in family compounds in distinct neighborhoods, where they practice religious rites and celebrate festivals with music and dance. Markets where foodstuffs, clothing, and traditional medicines and arts are sold are important centers of daily life. Artistic traditions in Benin are very old and are represented in practically every village. Plastic art is the most prominent, as carved wooden masks representing images and spirits of the departed are made and used in traditional ceremonies. Other artistic items are bronze statuettes, pottery, appliquéd tapestries recounting the history of the Dahomey precolonial kings, and fire engraving on wooden bowls, which often have religious significance. Probably the best-known art objects are the Yoruba wooden masks called guelede from the region of Porto-Novo. Street musicians are found in various neighborhoods, and modern dance ensembles perform at clubs.

Palais de Congres Cotonou
Photo Credit: Loic Pinseel

Benin has a lot of lakes such as Lake Aziri,Lake Nokoue, Lake  Porto Novo, Lake Sele and many more. Benin, as a major cultural country, has many museums such as ArtisanalCenter, Da Silva Museum, Ethnographic Museum of Porto Novo, Ouidah Museum of History, Palaisde rois d’Abomey (Palace of Abomey Kingdom). When you visit Benin don’t go hungry because there are some great restaurants like La Cabane du Pecheur, Livingstone, Boca del Rio, Le Prive, Pili Pili, Les Nouveaux Alize, Restaurant Ya-Hala and many more.

Grand Popo
Photo Credit: Loic Pinseel

When visiting Benin don’t forget to go for the best beaches like Fidjrosse, Obama and La Bouche Du Roy. Don’t forget to get yourself traditional jewelry made in Benin for your inhouse decoration.