Parakou is located in the center of Benin at 407 km to Cotonou. Parakou is the capital of the Borgou Department. It is a city located on the principal road from South to North and lays on 441km2. The city is connected to Cotonou by the railway Benin-Niger.
The economy exists out of cotton and textile, brewing and peanut oil.
The name Parakou comes from a Dendi word which means: The city of all people in the world, or in French; “La ville de tout le monde”. There are many linguistics groups in this side of Benin. It is a big junction of many principal roads and the end of the railway from the economic capital, Cotonou.
Capital of an ancient kingdom, Parakou is a cosmopolite city reinforced by the transport. It is a city with good hospitality. The settlement of Parakou is formed by migration of Baatombu people from the North and Yoruba from the East.
With colonization, many administration and military camps installed. But the most important immigration is the Adja-Fon people, started in the 20th century. The Fon people immigration amplifies because of the inauguration of the railways station in 1937. Other people will come from Ivory Coast in 1985, Niger in 1963, Ghana in 1972, Gabon in 1978 and Nigeria in 1983. In 1970 there was many working migration with implantation of many industries. In 1992 the population was 103,577 and 149,819 in 2002.
Like this, Bariba, Baatombou, Dendi, Yoruba and Adja-fon are social and cultural group in Parakou. There are also a strong community of Zarma from Niger, Ibo from Nigeria, Ghaneans, Togolese, Indians and Lebanese. With this diversity of people Parakou stays a cosmopolite center and important economic center.
In Parakou you can visit the museum “Le Musee de Plein air”: it is a small museum which explains the Bariba and Peulh history.
Parakou, has its own University since2001, it is the second one of Benin.
Because of its location there are several markets to find, to mention some:
In the center of the city close to the station is Arzeke market “Grand Marché Arzeke”. There are between 1000 and 2000 sellers and is one of the biggest markets in Benin. You can find everything in this market, like cotton textiles, potteries, fruits and local spices.
Another market is the “Marché Kobo Kobo” where many second hand stuff can be bought, but also cattle.
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