Benin has the hottest attractions in all of West Africa - the stilted fishing villages in the lagoon near Porto Novo. The towns however - and even Cotonou, the biggest - may seem unremarkable to the short-term visitor. It's the kind of place that hides its best features.
You need to be patient and observant to glimpse many of its cultural highlights. Beninese food is possibly the best in the region. There's also the fascinating cultures associated with Voodooism and fetishism, and their strangely attractive artefacts.
Benin might be small and obscure, but when it does something, it does it in a big way. The people in the area established the biggest slave trade in West Africa, were members of the most powerful kingdom, have had the third-highest number of coups in Africa (and that means a lot!) and was the only country in West Africa to wholeheartedly adopt Marxism. While it shares many of the problems of its neighbours, such as bad roads and infrastructure, poor water and health conditions and institutionalised corruption, it is comparatively violence-free, is richer and economically stronger than most of its neighbours and has the best beaches and landscapes.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track