Departments of Benin

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Update 18 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2014-12-31. It changes the spellings of two departments, from Atakora to Atacora and from Kouffo to Couffo.

Update 10 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2012-12-31. It changes the status of the divisions from provinces to departments.

I've found sources for the 2002 census data for Benin, and used them to update the populations shown here.

FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 9, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2004-10-01. It assigns FIPS codes to the twelve departments, supplanting the codes for the former six provinces. They are shown in the table below.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It adds the six departments created on 1999-01-15. The French Embassy published a chronology which includes these dates:
1993-01: The Estates General of the territorial administration announce a plan to increase the number of departments by dividing each of the existing ones in two (12 in place of 6).
1998-07-24: Final adoption of the five decentralization laws. The choice of the future departmental capitals will be left to the government.

Country overview: 

Short nameBENIN
ISO codeBJ
LanguageFrench (fr)
Time zone+1


Benin began the 20th century under the name of Dahomey, as a French colony. On 1960-08-01, it became an independent member of the French Community. It has retained its borders virtually unchanged throughout the 20th century, bearing in mind that its northern (inland) borders were ill-defined in the early years.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Benin
  2. Dutch: Benin, Republiek Benin (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Benin (formal), Dahomey (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Benin
  5. French: Bénin m, République f du Bénin (formal)
  6. German: Benin n
  7. Icelandic: Benín
  8. Italian: Benin m
  9. Norwegian: Benin, Republikken Benin (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Benim n (m in Brazil), República f do Benim m (formal), Daomé (obsolete)
  11. Russian: Республика Бенин (formal)
  12. Spanish: Benín, República f Popular de Benín (formal), Dahomey (obsolete)
  13. Swedish: Benin
  14. Turkish: Benin Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Named for Bini, an ancient kingdom on the Gulf of Guinea

Primary subdivisions: 

Benin is divided into twelve départements (departments).

AliboriBJ.ALALBN07521,09325,6839,916Kandi ?
AtlantiqueBJ.AQAQBN09801,6833,2331,248Ouidah ?
CollinesBJ.CLCOBN11535,92313,5615,236Savalou ?
CouffoBJ.CFKOBN12524,5862,404928Dogbo ?
DongaBJ.DODOBN13350,06210,6914,128Djougou ?
PlateauBJ.PLPLBN17407,1161,865720Sakété ?
12 departments6,769,914112,62243,484
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Department codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a
    global context, prefix "BJ-" to the code (ex: BJ-LI represents Littoral).
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 2002-02-11 census (source [1]).
  • Area: Data provided by Jose Gavinha.
  • Capital: The capitals of six departments have not yet been designated.
    Jose Gavinha reports that the cities with question marks have begun
    providing department-level government services.

Further subdivisions:

See the Communes of Benin page.

Benin now consists of twelve départements (departments), subdivided into 77 communes, which in turn are divided into arrondissements and finally into villages or city districts. Before the reorganization of 1999, it had six provinces, further divided into 84 districts, which were categorized as urban or rural. Before independence, the six provinces were subdivided into 29 préfectures.

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Benin lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Atacora: from Atacora mountain range
  2. Atlantique: from Atlantic Ocean
  3. Collines: French for hills
  4. Littoral: French for coast

Change history: 

  1. 1904: French colony of Dahomey incorporated into French West Africa as a territory.
  2. 1920: In the aftermath of World War I, the former German colony of Togo was split from north to south. The western third was mandated to Great Britain, and the eastern two-thirds to France. For part of the period between the wars, Dahomey and the French mandate of Togo were combined under the name Dahomey for administrative purposes.
  3. ~1923: Capital moved from Abomey to Porto-Novo.
  4. 1975-11-30: Country name changed from Dahomey to People's Republic of Benin. These were the provinces of Benin at that time.
6 provinces3,338,240112,62243,484
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1979-03-20 census (source [3]).
  1. 1999-01-15: Alibori department split from Borgou; Collines department split from Zou; Couffo department split from Mono; Donga department split from Atacora; Littoral department split from Atlantique; Plateau department split from Ouémé. The divisions were sometimes called departments before this date, but the designation seems to have changed officially at this time.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Alibori: Département de l'Alibori (formal)
  2. Atacora: Atakora (variant); Département de l'Atacora (formal); Nord-Ouest (obsolete)
  3. Atlantique: Département de l'Atlantique (formal); Sud (obsolete)
  4. Borgou: Département du Borgou (formal); Nord-Est (obsolete)
  5. Collines: Département des Collines (formal)
  6. Couffo: Département du Couffo (formal); Kouffo (variant)
  7. Donga: Département de la Donga (formal)
  8. Littoral: Département du Littoral (formal)
  9. Mono: Département du Mono (formal); Sud-Ouest (obsolete)
  10. Ouémé: Département de l'Ouémé (formal); Sud-Est (obsolete)
  11. Plateau: Département du Plateau (formal)
  12. Zou: Centre (obsolete); Département du Zou (formal)

Population history:

Source is [1]. Presumably, figures for the first two censuses were found by totaling the populations of communes that belong to those departments in the present configuration; six of the departments didn't exist until 1999.



  1. [1] "Synthèse des Résultats , Troisième Recensement General de la Population et de l’Habitation", INSAE, Cotonou 2003. Page 13 has populations by department from the three censuses.
  2. [2] Afrikinfo  has a summary of the 1992 census results. This was the first source I found for those figures. It uses the pre-1999 divisions. I tried to calculate the populations of the new departments by summing the populations of their constituent communes. In doing so, I found that about six of the commune populations had an incorrect digit, but couldn't tell which communes or which digit.
  3. [3] "The Statesman's Year-Book 1988-1989", John Paxton (ed.). St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988. Some of these figures are inconsistent with source [1]. Specifically, the total population is 7,030 too high (by comparison with the total of the individual department figures), and 116,506 people were transferred from Mono to Atlantique (by comparison with source [1]).
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