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THE REPUBLIC OF Benin covers 43,483 sq. mi. (112,620 sq. km.) on the West African coast, equivalent to the size of Pennsylvania. Benin has a population of 7,460,025 people (2005 est.), with nearly three million inhabitants living in the coastal stretch that links Cotonou, the economic capital, with Porto-Novo, the political capital. Benin's economy is dominated by agriculture, including the commercial production and export of cotton and palm oil. Most of the rural population earns its livelihood through subsistence farming of corn, beans, cassava, peanuts, and yams. The per capita Gross Domestic Product is $1,200 (2004 est.) and 33 percent of the population lives in poverty.

A coastal belt of lagoons, rolling hills in the central part of the country, rocky plateaus in the northwest, and ...

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