Geography of Benin


Terrain shapes and bedrock

The flat coastal area closest to the Gulf of Benin and the Atlantic Ocean is made up of sandy beaches and lagoons made up of streams with an easterly direction. Inside the coast are marshy marshlands and clay plains with red laterite clays. The Benin plateaus in the middle part of the country are about 100-250 m above sea level. and are made up of crystalline rocks covered by red soils. The Atakorama massif in the northwest is a continuation of the Togo Mountains, reaching a maximum of 640 m above sea level. The plain in northeastern Benin has a bedrock of sandstone and clay slate and is drained towards the Niger River. Otherwise, the country is drained mainly towards the Atlantic. The country’s longest river, Ouémé, flows in a north-south direction and flows into the Porto-Novolagun.


In northern Benin, there are clear temperature differences between the hot summer, when the average temperature can reach up to 35 °C, and the cooler season around the turn of the year with temperatures around 20-25 °C. According to BRIDGAT, the rainfall here falls almost exclusively during the summer. Southern Benin has smaller seasonal variations in both temperature and rainfall. The temperature normally varies between 25 and 30 °C and the annual rainfall between 800 and 1300 mm.

Plant-and animal life

Near the coast there are rainforests with, among other things. African mahogany (Khaʹya grandifoliʹola) and many palm species. However, much has been disrupted and replaced with secondary grasslands and oil palm cultivations. There are small mangrove lots on the coast and coastal lagoons. Further north there are tree and grass habitats with acacias and Isoberliʹnia (the pea family) as well as Holopteʹlea and Ceʹltis(family of almond plants). In total, there are about 2,000 species of flowering plants. There are almost 200 species of mammals and just over 300 species of nesting birds. In the rainforests there are, among other things. colobus monkeys, diving antelopes and forest pigs, and among the birds of turakos and rhino birds. In the savannahs farther north there are many of the typical large African mammals, including African elephant, lion and leopard as well as green markata and house monkey. Bird life is rich with, among other things, stairs, francolines and weavers. Puff adder and black and white lip cobra (Naʹja melanoleuca [-le u ʹka]) are relatively common in the savannah area and the nile crocodile is found in some rivers.

Nature conservation

According to COUNTRYAAH, Benin had two national parks in 2010; Pendjari in the northwest with gallery forests along the rivers and rainforest on the mountain sides as well as the Benin part of the large park “W” with one of the largest remaining elephant populations in West Africa.