The Republic of Benin (formerly Dahomey) was mapped by the French Institut Géographique National (IGN) in three West African series in the 1950s and 1960s. The sheets in these series are all graticule-based with International map of the World (IMW) sheet numbering, and the projection is UTM, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid. The 1:200,000 scale series was compiled from aerial photography flown during the period 1949-1963, and all 19 sheets had been issued by 1972. The map is in four colours, with 40 m interval contours. The sheets are now very out-of-date, and a new series was planned in the 1980s on rationalized sheet lines which reduced the number of sheets to nine. Only one sheet, Abomey, has so far been published. 1:500,000 scale cover was completed in 1969.
The 1:50,000 scale map requires over 160 sheets for complete coverage, but only 77 have been published, mostly before 1980. These sheets are also in four colours, and the contours are at 20 m intervals.
Although Benin became fully independent in 1960, mapping continued to be carried out by the IGN from Paris and from its center at Dakar. In 1978, however, Institut National de Cartographie was created in Benin, and assumed responsibility for geodetic, topographic and cadastral survey and cartography. The organization is now called the Institut Géographique National du Bénin (IGNB), Cotonou. All recent mapping activity has been substantially dependent on overseas aid, principally from France, but there has also been technical assistance from Nigeria and World Bank support for large scale urban mapping.
A 48 sheet series of 1:25,000 scale maps of the coastal zone was initiated in 1991 as a joint project with IGN, Paris. The maps are in six colours with 5 m interval contours, and are on a UTM projection.
Soviet military topographic mapping for Benin exists at the the following scales; 1:1,000,000 (3 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1986); 1:500,000 (7 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1985) and 1:200,000 (27 sheets, complete coverage, published 1981-1982). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
The Office Beninois des Mines (OBEMINES), Cotonou, has been undertaking production of a 1:200,000 series of geological maps to cover the country, to which the former USSR, France and Italy have all contributed. The first sheet, published in 1984, covered the breadth of the country between 9° and 10° N. In 1989, four further sheets were published, covering the north of the country. It is also intended to map the sedimentary basin (between 6° and 7°N) at 1:50,000 scale. A summary map of the whole country at 1:500,000 is also planned. The best available complete coverage remains the 1:2,000,000 Carte géologique de l’Afrique Occidental, published by the French Bureau de Recherche Géologiques et Minières (BRGM) in the 1960s.
Soil mapping of Benin has been carried out by the Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM), and includes complete coverage with explanatory texts at 1:200,000 scale, some larger scale mapping of villages, and a single-sheet map of the country at 1:1,000,000 scale. ORSTOM has also compiled a bathymetric map of the continental shelf adjacent to Benin and Togo.
An important series of environmental maps is the Carte de végétation du Benin 1:100,000. This programme was initiated in 1993 and by 1997 was almost complete. It has been produced by the Centre National de Télédétection et de Surveillance du Couvert Forestier (CENATEL) using satellite image processing software and GIS.
The urban areas of Benin have grown enormously over recent decades, and French aid facilitated the production of urban plans at scales of 1:5,000 and 1:10,000 in the 1980s. In 1986, the Societé d’Etudes Regionales d’Habitat et d’Aménagement Urbain, Cotonou, was founded with technical and financial support from France. Its remit includes thematic atlas mapping for the Région Sud and the Région Nord, and the production of maps and development plans for towns and cities. Urban cadastral registers are being established for Parakou, Cotonou and Porto Novo, and an urban reconstruction and development project is being undertaken. In 1993, the organization became SERHAU-SEM (Société d’Economie Mixte), and the following year acquired MapInfo software. Since then, the organization has created a multi-thematic digital atlas as part of its Registre Foncicer Urbain de Cotonou. Similar digital atlases are in preparation for Parakou and Porto Novo.
A street map of Cotonou was published in 1995 by the Institut Géographique National (IGN), France in association with IGNB. It includes a grid-referenced index to numbered buildings and to communes, roads and quartiers. For the whole country, there is a general map published by IGN in its Pays et villes d’outre mer series.
The Institut National de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Economique (INSAE) was created in 1973 in preparation for the first population census, held in 1979. INSAE has produced census tract maps of the six provinces at scales of 1:100,000 and 1:200,000.