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Parakou is the largest city in northern Benin, with an estimated population of around 206,667 people, and capital of the Borgou Department. The mayor as of 2008 was Samou Seidou Adambi and administratively the commune of Parakou makes up one of Benin's 77 communes. Since 2015, the mayor is Souradjou Adamou Karimou.

Parakou
City of Parakou.
City of Parakou.
Parakou is located in Benin
Parakou
Parakou
Location in Benin
Coordinates: 9°21′N 2°37′E / 9.350°N 2.617°E / 9.350; 2.617
Country Benin
DepartmentBorgou Department
Area
 • Total441 km2 (170 sq mi)
Elevation
324 m (1,063 ft)
Population
 (2012)[1]
 • Total206,667
 • Density470/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)

Contents

HistoryEdit

The foundation of the city dates back to the 16th century by wasangari traders. [2]

EconomyEdit

Parakou lies on the main north-south highway RNIE 2 and at the end of a railway to Cotonou. This has made it an important market town, with major industries in cotton and textiles, peanut oil manufacture and brewing. The town grew initially from revenue generated from passing merchants that took goods from the region across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Europe. It also served as an important stop over in the distribution of goods around Africa. As a result, Parakou became well known in the slave trade. Later traders concentrated on cotton and Parakou remains the hub of the Beninese cotton trade to this day, with considerable interest from Europe.[3]

 
"Grand Marché Azeke", the international market

There are several markets trading, notably the largest, "Grand Marché Azeke" which one of the largest in Benin, an international market spanning over a block.[4] The Grand Marché Azeke has a large covered hall overlapping onto the streets with stalls, with 500 and 1000 vendors. The market sells an enormous range of goods from items of pottery including vases and bowls, to cotton textiles, cassettes and CD's of local and international artists, local spices, fruits and Gasaru or wagasi (cow's milk cheese) and even food and kitchen utensils.[5] Another market, located several blocks north, is called the "Marché Kobo Kobo", which lies across the street from the French Cultural Centre. Marché Kobo Kobo is known for its clothing retailing, primarily second hand goods and in one section of it, sells livestock.[6] The Marché Depot is located near Parakou Railway Station around numerous hotels and sells mostly food but also calabashes and baskets. There is also the Marché Guema, located next to Guema Church on the northern road to Malanville in the Albarika quarter of the city. The market was founded by the Somba tribe of the Atacora, and takes place every Sunday at 10 am. The market consists of a collection of grass huts, and specialises in beef and pork and local millet beer known as choukachou or simply "chouk".[5]

DemographicsEdit

 
Parakou cyclist

The name, Parakou, is derived from a Dendi word meaning "the city of everyone", named for the city's diversity of ethnicities.[5] As a market town frequently attracting many people as a trading and stop off point, Parakou has a large mix of African ethnicities, including Dendi, Somba, Fon (of Gun dialect), Mina, Bariba, Djerma, Yoruba (of the Nago tribe), Hausa, Kabrais, Warma, Fula,[7] and Tuareg.[5]

In 1979 the city was reported as having 60,915 people and according to the official census of 1992, Parakou had a population of 103,577. In the last 15–20 years the population of Parakou has nearly doubled with 149,819 recorded in 2002 and with the most recent census in 2013, the population was 255,478.[8]

ClimateEdit

Climate data for Parakou (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36.6
(97.9)
38.3
(100.9)
38.9
(102.0)
38.4
(101.1)
35.9
(96.6)
33.7
(92.7)
32.1
(89.8)
31.6
(88.9)
32.2
(90.0)
33.9
(93.0)
35.5
(95.9)
35.8
(96.4)
38.9
(102.0)
Average high °C (°F) 34.1
(93.4)
36.0
(96.8)
36.2
(97.2)
34.9
(94.8)
32.8
(91.0)
30.7
(87.3)
29.2
(84.6)
28.6
(83.5)
29.5
(85.1)
31.5
(88.7)
33.6
(92.5)
33.6
(92.5)
32.6
(90.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.5
(79.7)
28.7
(83.7)
29.6
(85.3)
29.0
(84.2)
27.5
(81.5)
26.1
(79.0)
25.1
(77.2)
24.7
(76.5)
25.0
(77.0)
26.1
(79.0)
26.6
(79.9)
26.1
(79.0)
26.8
(80.2)
Average low °C (°F) 18.9
(66.0)
21.3
(70.3)
22.9
(73.2)
23.1
(73.6)
22.2
(72.0)
21.4
(70.5)
21.0
(69.8)
20.8
(69.4)
20.5
(68.9)
20.8
(69.4)
19.7
(67.5)
18.5
(65.3)
20.9
(69.6)
Record low °C (°F) 15.8
(60.4)
18.2
(64.8)
19.9
(67.8)
19.9
(67.8)
19.2
(66.6)
18.9
(66.0)
19.0
(66.2)
19.1
(66.4)
18.5
(65.3)
18.6
(65.5)
16.7
(62.1)
15.2
(59.4)
15.2
(59.4)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 3.8
(0.15)
9.2
(0.36)
39.4
(1.55)
85.5
(3.37)
130.8
(5.15)
172.0
(6.77)
189.9
(7.48)
208.8
(8.22)
205.6
(8.09)
91.1
(3.59)
6.3
(0.25)
6.6
(0.26)
1,149
(45.24)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 0 1 3 5 9 11 12 13 15 7 1 1 78
Source: NOAA[9]

CultureEdit

The city has a museum, the Musée en Plein Air de Parakou.[6]

AdministrationEdit

EducationEdit

The Université de Parakou was founded in 2001.

Places of worshipEdit

TransportEdit

 
The RNIE 6 road leading out of Parakou

Parakou Railway Station is the last railway station on the Parakou-Cotonou railway. Both the national highways RNIE 2 and RNIE 6 pass through Parakou. The city is also served by Parakou Airport. The government has proposed extending the railway to Dosso in Niger.[12]

SportEdit

The main football clubs are Dynamo Unacob FC de Parakou and Buffles du Borgou FC which play in the Benin Premier League, the highest division of Beninese football.

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "World Gazetteer". World Gazetteer. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Mathurin C. Houngnikpo, Samuel Decalo, Historical Dictionary of Benin, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2013, p. 281
  3. ^ Butler 2006, p. 187.
  4. ^ Butler 2006, p. 192.
  5. ^ a b c d "Parakou". Benintourism.com. Retrieved January 10, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Butler 2006, p. 188.
  7. ^ In Fula: Fulɓe; in French: Peul or Peulh.
  8. ^ "Benin: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population". World Gazeteer. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2009.
  9. ^ "Parakou Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  10. ^ "Parakou". Maplandia World Gazetteer. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  11. ^ J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann, ‘‘Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices’’, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2010, p. 338
  12. ^ "EXTENDING FROM BENIN TO NIGER". Railways Africa. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  13. ^ Matthews 1966, p. 139.

BibliographyEdit

Coordinates: 9°21′N 2°37′E / 9.350°N 2.617°E / 9.350; 2.617