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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

COUNTRY #200: Benin

I've reached what I thought was an impossible milestone (however, the GOOGLE universe has 246 entities, including Antarctica).  Welcome country #200:


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Present day Benin was the site of Dahomey, a prominent West African kingdom that rose in the 15th century. The territory became a French Colony in 1872 and achieved independence on 1 August 1960, as the Republic of Benin. A succession of military governments ended in 1972 with the rise to power of Mathieu KEREKOU and the establishment of a government based on Marxist-Leninist principles. A move to representative government began in 1989. Two years later, free elections ushered in former Prime Minister Nicephore SOGLO as president, marking the first successful transfer of power in Africa from a dictatorship to a democracy. KEREKOU was returned to power by elections held in 1996 and 2001, though some irregularities were alleged. KEREKOU stepped down at the end of his second term in 2006 and was succeeded by Thomas YAYI Boni, a political outsider and independent. YAYI has attempted to stem corruption and has strongly promoted accelerating Benin's economic growth.

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Bet you thought Benin was somewhere near Russia.  

President Boni Yayi had a financial scandal, in the form of a Ponzi scheme. Big deal, he got re-elected last year, but disputedly so.  So what else is new?  Well, the Catholic Church also has to contend with a scandal, drawing a visit from Pope Benedict XVI.  Even the University of Benin has a sex scandal.

Click to see the top ten reasons for visiting Benin.  The Voodoo Festival seems particularly interesting, although you will need to wait until next January, for you just missed it.  Here is a clip. This is an approved religion (Christianity is the most prevalent) in Benin, and 60% of the population are followers, sort of like in Japan where both Buddhism and Shinto are practiced by a good number.

Apparently, she is available for a date...if you actually believe in the Great African Dating Boom.  However, the State Department warns not to walk on the beach at any time, and assorted other alerts.


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