The majority of Benin’s 10.87 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 also migrated within the country. Ethnic groups include:
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. African Traditional Religion 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. Muslims account for 20% of the population and Christians for 30%. Many nominal Muslims and Christians continue to practice African Traditional 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 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects the total population was 10,872,298 in 2016, 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 (x 1000)||Population aged 0–14 (%)||Population aged 15–64 (%)||Population aged 65+ (%)|
Registration of vital events is in Benin not complete. The Population Departement of the United Nations 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|
|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 (5,3)|
|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)|
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|
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:
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.
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
English demonym and adjective:
French demonym and adjective:
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, and in the north there are at least six major languages, including Baatonum and Fulani.
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