Porto-Novo (French pronunciation: [pɔʁtɔnɔvo]; also known as Hogbonu and Ajashe; Fon: Xɔ̀gbónù) is the capital of Benin, and was the capital of French Dahomey. The commune covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42 sq mi) and as of 2002 had a population of 223,552 people.
As the name suggests, Porto-Novo (Portuguese: new port, Portuguese pronunciation: [ˡpoɾtʊ ˡnovʊ]) was originally developed as a port for the slave trade led by the Portuguese Empire.
Porto-Novo is a port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, in the southeastern portion of the country. It is Benin's second-largest city, and although Porto-Novo is the official capital, where the national legislature sits, the larger city of Cotonou is the seat of government, where most of the government buildings are situated and government departments operate. The region around Porto-Novo produces palm oil, cotton and kapok. Petroleum was discovered off the coast of the city in the 1990s, and has since then become an important export.
Porto-Novo comprises two ethnic communities, the Yoruba and the Gun. Although historically the aboriginals of the area were Yoruba speaking, there seem to have been a wave of migration from the region of Allada further west, which brought Te-Agbanlin and his group to the region of Ajashe. This newcomer group brought with them their own language, and settled among the original inhabitants, their Yoruba hosts. It would appear that each ethnic group has since maintained their ethnic nationalities without one group being linguistically assimilated into the other. Towards the end of the 19th century, the city came under French imperialistic ambitions and sphere of influence. Consequently, a community that had previously exhibited endoglossic bilingualism now began to exhibit exoglossic bilingualism, with the addition of French to the language repertoire of the city's inhabitants. Unlike the city's earlier Gun migrants however the French sought to impose their language in all spheres of life and completely stamp out the use and proliferation of indigenous languages.
Under French colonial rule, flight across the border to British ruled Nigeria in order to avoid harsh taxation, military service and forced labor was perennial. Of note is the fact that the Nigeria-Benin southern border area arbitrarily cuts through contiguous areas of Yoruba and Egun speaking people. A combination of all the afore mentioned facts of history, coupled with the fact that the city itself lies within the sphere of Nigerian socio-economic influence have made Porto Novians develop an attitude and characteristics suggesting a preference for some measure of Bi-Nationality or dual citizenship, with the necessary linguistic consequences, for example, Nigerian home video films in Yoruba, with English subtitles have become extremely popular in Porto-Novo and its suburbs.
Ouémé is one of the twelve departments of Benin. It is subdivided into nine communes, each centered at one of the principal towns, namely, Adjarra, Adjohoun, Aguégués, Akpro-Missérété, Avrankou, Bonou, Dangbo, Porto-Novo and Sèmè-Kpodji. In 1999, the northern section of Ouémé was split off to form the department of Plateau.
Per 2013 census, the total population of the department was 1,100,404 with 534,814 males and 565,590 females. The proportion of women was 51.40 per cent. The total rural population was 37.20 percent, while the urban population was 62.80 per cent. The total labor force in the department was 383,716 out of which 49.50 per cent were women. The proportion of households with no level of education was 43.80 and the proportion of households with children attending school was 81.70.
In 1999, The department of Plateau was split off from Ouémé, reducing Ouémé's area to 1,865 sq. km. Ouémé is subdivided into nine communes, each centered at one of the principal towns, namely, Adjarra, Adjohoun, Aguégués, Akpro-Missérété, Avrankou, Bonou, Dangbo, Porto-Novo and Sèmè-Kpodji. Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, was a French colony till 1894. It gained independence during 1960 and was admitted to the United Nations. From 1960 to 1972, there was political instability with frequent change of leadership. Benin originally had six administrative divisions, but was further bifurcated to make it 12. Each de-concentrated administrative services, called directions départementales(DD) of the sectoral ministries, take care of two administrative regions. A law passed during 1999 empowered the territorial administration to local governments. Municipalities and communal councils have elected representatives who manage the administration of the regions. The latest elections of the municipal and communal councils were held during June 2015.
Benin's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of Benin is both head of state and head of government, within a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the legislature. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The political system is derived from the 1990 Constitution of Benin and the subsequent transition to democracy in 1991.
Benin scored highly in the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which comprehensively measures the state of governance across the continent. Benin was ranked 18th out of 52 African countries and scored best in the categories of Safety & Rule of Law and Participation & Human Rights.
In its 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Benin 53rd out of 169 countries.
Benin has been rated equal-88th out of 159 countries in a 2005 analysis of police, business, and political corruption.
The economy of Benin is dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Cotton accounts for 40% of the GDP and roughly 80% of official export receipts. Growth in real output has averaged around 5% in the past seven years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase.[when?] Inflation has subsided over the past several years. Benin uses the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro.
Benin's economy has continued to strengthen over the past years, with real GDP growth estimated at 5.1 and 5.7% in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The main driver of growth is the agricultural sector, with cotton being the country's main export, while services continue to contribute the largest part of GDP largely because of Benin's geographical location, enabling trade, transportation, transit and tourism activities with its neighboring states.
In order to raise growth still further, 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. Projects to improve the business climate by reforms to the land tenure system, the commercial justice system, and the financial sector were included in Benin's US$307 million Millennium Challenge Account grant signed in February 2006.
Transport in Benin includes road, rail, water and air transportation. Benin possesses a total of 6,787 km of highway, of which 1,357 km are paved. Of the paved highways in the country, there are 10 expressways. This leaves 5,430 km of unpaved road. The Trans-West African Coastal Highway crosses Benin, connecting it to Nigeria to the east, and Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast to the west. When construction in Liberia and Sierra Leone is finished, the highway will continue west to seven other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) nations. A paved highway also connects Benin northwards to Niger, and through that country to Burkina Faso and Mali to the north-west.
Rail transport in Benin consists of 578 km (359 mi) of single track, 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge railway. Benin does not, at this time, share railway links with adjacent countries, but construction work has commenced on international lines connecting Benin with Niger and Nigeria, with outline plans announced for further connections to Togo and Burkina Faso. Benin will be a participant in the AfricaRail project.
Cadjehoun Airport, located at Cotonou, has direct international jet service to Accra, Niamey, Monrovia, Lagos, Ouagadougou, Lomé, and Douala, as well as other cities in Africa. Direct services also link Cotonou to Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul.
Porto Novo | Benin