This West African nation on the Gulf of Guinea, between Togo on the west and Nigeria on the east, is about the size of Tennessee. It is bounded by Burkina Faso and Niger on the north. The land consists of a narrow coastal strip that rises to a swampy, forested plateau and then to highlands in the north. A hot and humid climate blankets the entire country.
The forest thins out considerably in the center and gives way lo grassland. Elsewhere, cultivated crops predominate, including the immense palmgroves of lower Benin and the coconut plantations on the 124 kilometers long coastline and along the lagoons.
Benin can be divided into five natural regions: A coastal area, low, sandy and about 2 to 5 kilometers wide, bounded by lagoons; A plateau zone called "La terre de barre" made of iron clay cut with marshy dips; A silica clayey plateau with wooded savannah extending North of Abomey to the foothills of the Atakora hills; - A hilly region in the Northwest, the Atakora, with elevation ranging from 500 to 800 metres and constituting the water reservoir for Benin and Niger Republics. Niger plains which are vast fertile silica-clay areas.
Benin is characterized by unusually dry conditions. This is due primarily to two very important factors. First, the situation of the coast which is rather well protected from the western winds; second, the Atakora Barrier in the West and North West which decreases the amount of rainfall.
The great part of the country is under the influence of transitional tropical conditions. Rainfall is not as abundant as found in areas with the same latitude thereby giving rise to tropical conditions known as the BENIN variant. These conditions are marked by a dry season from November to the beginning of April and a rainy season from the latter part of April to October.
The Southern portion of the Republic of Benin, i.e. the Coastal zone, is under the influence of a Northern transitional equatorial climate characterized by a long dry season from November to the end of March, a first rainy season from April to July, a small dry period in August and a second rainy season in September and October.
The Northern portion of the country is subject to a true tropical climate. A long dry season in winter can be observed with a long rainy season in the summer.
The mean temperature is between 77oF and 82oF (25o to 28oC).
The best time to visit the Southern area is from December to March and July/August while visiting period for the Northern part of the Country is between December and April.