BENIN

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BENIN ; a kingdom in the west of Africa, the limits of which are not well ascertained ; but the name may be applied to that part of the coast extending from the river Lagos, the eastern limit of the Slave coast, to the Formosa, about 180 miles. The interior limit is unknown. The whole coast presents a succession of estuaries, some of them very broad, and their origin never explored. Between the Lagos and Cross rivers, the number of rivers flowing into the gulf of Guinea is said to exceed 20, some of them very broad and deep. This tract, called the Delta of Benin^ is about 260 miles in extent. The aspect of the coast, and the great body of water flowing into the gulf, have led to the supposition that the waters of the Niger here find an entrance into the ocean. This region has been but little explored, and is little known. The country is low and flat, the soil on the banks of the rivers very fertile, but the climate unhealthy. The inhabitants are of a mild disposition ; polygamy is practised ; almost all labor is performed by females; the government is despotic. Chief towns, Benin, Agatton, Bododa, Ozebo and Meiberg, which are situated on the Formosa, the principal river. Benin; capital of the above kingdom, on the Formosa; lon. 5° & E ; lat. 6° W N. This town, according to some, is 18 miles in circuit, the largest street 3 miles long, and others nearly equal; according to other statements, it is only 4 miles in circuit. The streets are filled with various articles of merchandise, and present the appearance of a crowded market, though always clean. The houses are large, and, though their walls are of clay, the reeds and leaves, with which they are covered, give them a pleasing appearance. The king's palace consists of a great number of square enclosures.