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Departement du Borgou
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Parakou is the largest city in eastern Benin, with an estimated population of around 188,853 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.

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.

There are several markets trading, notably the largest, "Grand Marche Azeke" which one of the largest in Benin, an international market spanning over a block.The Grand Marche 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 wagasi (cow's milk cheese) and even food and kitchen utensils.

Another market, located several blocks north, is called the "Marche Kobo Kobo", which lies across the street from the French Cultural Centre. Marche Kobo Kobo is known for its clothing retailing, primarily second hand goods and in one section of it, sells livestock.The Marche Depot is located near Parakou Railway Station around numerous hotels and sells mostly food but also calabashes and baskets.There is also the smaller 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 10am.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".

The name, Parakou, is derived from a Dendi word meaning "La Ville de Tout le Monde" which literally means "the city of everyone", named for the city's diversity of ethnicities.As a market town frequently attracting many people as a stop off point in trading Parakou is by far the most ethnically diverse city in Benin including Bariba, Dendi, Somba, Fon, Gun, Mina, Dita Mari, Berba,Djerma, Ibo, Yoruba, Nagot, Hausa, Kabrais, Warma, Fula,and Tuareg.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 148,451 recorded in 2002 and with current estimates of 188,853 as of 2009.

How to Reach

By Train

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.

By Air

Parakou Airport (IATA: PKO, ICAO: DBBP) is an airport serving Parakou in Benin.

By Road

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.

Key places to visit
Plein Air de Parakou Museum, Parakou Mosque, National University of Benin


Places to Visit

Plein Air de Parakou Museum

Is a museum located approximately 1.5 kilometres south of the centre of the city Parakou, Benin in the suburbs. The museum consists of five circular complexes represnting the traditional housing of the local Batanou peoples.The museum as of 2006 was in difficulty given that it lacks the funds and maintenance to allow it to fulfill its potential as a showcase.The museum charges a CFA franc 1500 entrance fee.

Parakou Mosque

The mosque is noted for its fortress-like structure and turrets with dark red window panels.A significant number of the population are Roman Catholic, about a third of the inhabitants, and the city lies within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Parakou.It was established on May 13, 1948 as the Apostolic Prefecture of Parakou from the Apostolic Prefecture of Niamey, Niger and from February 10, 1964 promoted as Diocese of Parakou.On October 16, 1997 it formally became the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Parakou.The principal church is the Cathedrale Saints Pierre et Paul.The current archbishop is Fidele Agbatchi, who was appointed on April 14, 2004.

National University of Benin

Is the principal university in the country of Benin.The university was founded in 1970 as the Universite du Dahomey.In 1975 the name was changed to Universite Nationale du Benin.Its name is abbreviated UNB.The school is composed of 19 institutions and six campuses.The main campus is the Universite d'Abomey-Calavi (UAC).Enrollment at UAC was over 16,000 in 1999, including over 3,300 women.

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