Cotonou is the economic capital of Benin, as well as its largest city and houses many of its government and diplomatic services; thus, it is Benin's de facto capital, even though the official capital is Porto-Novo.
Cotonou is located on the coastal strip between Lake Nokoué and the Atlantic Ocean. The city is cut in two by a canal, the lagoon of Cotonou.
The climate is equatorial, alternating with two rainy seasons (April - July and September - October) and two dry seasons. From December to January, the city is affected by winds. The annual temperature varies between 18 and 35 °C.
The Autonomous Port of Cotonou is one of the largest ports in West Africa. Through Cotonou International Airport the capitals of the region, as well as the major cities of Benin are within reach: Parakou, Kandi, Natitingou, Djougou and Savé.
Because of these connections, Cotonou has become a crossroads of West African commerce.