Location of Togo
Map of Togo
Flag of Togo
The Togolese Republic, often known as Togo, is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately 57,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi) with a population of approximately 6.7 million. Togo is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that provides good growing seasons. While the official language is French, there are many other languages spoken in Togo, particularly those of the Gbe family. The largest religious group in Togo are those with indigenous beliefs, but there are significant Christian and Muslim minorities. Togo is a member of the United Nations, African Union, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, La Francophonie and Economic Community of West African States.
From the 11th to the 16th century, various tribes entered the region from all directions. From the 16th century to the 18th century, the coastal region was a major trading centre for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name "The Slave Coast". In 1884, Germany declared Togoland a protectorate. After World War I, rule over Togo was transferred to France. Togo gained its independence from France in 1960. In 1967, Gnassingbé Eyadéma led a successful military coup, after which he became president. At the time of his death in 2005, Eyadéma was the longest-serving leader in modern African history, after having been president for 38 years. In 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbé was elected president.
During the period from the 11th century to the 16th century, various tribes entered the region from all directions: the Ewé from Nigeria and Benin; and the Mina and Guin from Ghana. Most settled in coastal areas.
When the slave trade began in the 16th century, the Mina were the most victimized. For the next two hundred years, the coastal region was a major trading center for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name "The Slave Coast".
In an 1884 treaty signed at Togoville under the King Mlapa III, Germany declared a protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended its control inland. In 1905, this became the German colony of Togoland. After the German defeat during World War I in August 1914 at the hands of British troops (coming from the Gold Coast) and French troops (coming from Dahomey), Togoland became two League of Nations mandates, administered by the Britain and France. After World War II, these mandates became UN Trust Territories. The residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana in 1957, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union in 1959.
Independence came in 1960 under Sylvanus Olympio. He was assassinated in a military coup on 13 January 1963 by a group of soldiers under the direction of Sergeant Etienne Eyadema Gnassingbe. Opposition leader Nicolas Grunitzky was appointed president by the "Insurrection Committee", headed by Emmanuel Bodjollé. However, on 13 January 1967, Eyadema Gnassingbe overthrew Grunitzky in a bloodless coup and assumed the presidency, which he held from that date until his sudden death on 5 February 2005. Eyadema Gnassingbe died in early 2005 after 38 years in power, as Africa's longest-sitting dictator. The military's immediate but short-lived installation of his son, Faure Gnassingbé, as president provoked widespread international condemnation, except from France. However, some democratically elected African leaders such as Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, supported that move, thereby creating a rift within the African Union. Faure Gnassingbé stood down and called elections which he won two months later. The opposition claimed that the election was fraudulent. The developments of 2005 led to renewed questions about a commitment to democracy made by Togo in 2004 in a bid to normalise ties with the European Union, which cut off aid in 1993 over the country's human rights record. Moreover, up to 400 people were killed in the political violence surrounding the presidential poll, according to the United Nations. Around 40,000 Togolese fled to neighbouring countries.
Togo's small sub-Saharan economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for 65% of the labor force. Cotton, coffee and cocoa together generate about 40% of export earnings. Togo is self-sufficient in basic food goods when harvests are normal, with occasional regional supply difficulties. In the industrial sector, phosphate mining is no longer the most important activity, as cement and clinker export to neighbouring countries have taken over. It has suffered from the collapse of world phosphate prices, increased foreign competition and financial problems. Togo's GNI per capita is US$380 (World Bank, 2005).
Togo serves as a regional commercial and trade centre. The government's decade-long effort, supported by the World Bank and the IMF, to implement economic reform measures, encourage foreign investment, and bring revenues in line with expenditures, has stalled. Political unrest, including private and public sector strikes throughout 1992 and 1993, jeopardized the reform program, shrank the tax base, and disrupted vital economic activity. The 12 January 1994 devaluation of the currency by 50% provided an important impetus to renewed structural adjustment; these efforts were facilitated by the end of strife in 1994 and a return to overt political calm. Progress depends on increased openness in government financial operations (to accommodate increased social service outlays) and possible downsizing of the armed forces, on which the regime has depended to stay in place. Lack of aid, along with depressed cocoa prices, generated a 1% fall in GDP in 1998, with growth resuming in 1999. Assuming no deterioration of the political atmosphere, growth is expected to rise.
Togo is a small West African nation. It borders the Bight of Benin in the south; Ghana lies to the west; Benin to the east; and to the north Togo is bound by Burkina Faso.
In the north the land is characterized by a gently rolling savanna in contrast to the center of the country, which is characterized by hills. The south of Togo is characterized by a savanna and woodland plateau which reaches to a coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes. The land size is 21,925 sq mi (56,785 km2), with an average population density of 253 people per square mile (98/km²). In 1914 it changed from Togoland to Togo.
The climate is generally tropical with average temperatures ranging from 27.5 °C (81.5 °F) on the coast to about 30 °C (86 °F) in the northernmost regions, with a dry climate and characteristics of a tropical savanna. To the south there are two seasons of rain (the first between April and July and the second between (September and November), even though the average rainfall is not very high.
Togo is divided into 5 regions, which are subdivided in turn into 30 prefectures and 1 commune. From north to south the regions are Savanes, Kara, Centrale, Plateaux and Maritime.
With an estimated population of 6,619,000 (as of 2009), Togo is the 107th largest country by population. Most of the population (65%) live in rural villages dedicated to agriculture or pastures. The population of Togo shows a strong growth: from 1961 (the year after independence) to 2003 it quintupled.
In Togo, there are about 40 different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Ewe in the south (46%) (Although along the southern coastline they account for 21% of the population), Kotokoli and Tchamba in the center, Kabyé in the north (22%). Another classification lists Uaci or Ouatchis (14%) as a separate ethnic group from the Ewe which brings the proportion of Ewe down to (32%). The division between Ewes and Ouatchis was first made by the French government in 1955. On the contrary, the term Ouatchi relates to a subgroup of Ewes which migrated south during the 16th century from Notse the ancient Ewe Kingdom capital. This classification has been contested for being inaccurate and politically biased; the Ouatchis are a sub-group of the Ewe just as the Anlo in the Republic of Ghana are a subgroup of the Ewe ethnic group. Mina, Mossi, and Aja (about 8%) are the remainder; under 1% are European expatriates who live in Togo as diplomats and for economic reasons.
Approximately 51% of the population has indigenous beliefs, 29% is Christian, and 20% Muslim.
French (official and the language of commerce), Ewe and Gen (the two major African languages in the south), Kabiyé and Kotokoli or Tem (the two major African languages in the north)
Health expenditure was at US$ 63 (PPP) per capita in 2004. Infant mortality was at 78 per 1,000 live births in 2005. Male life expectancy at birth was at 56 in 2005, whereas it was at 59.6 for females. There were 4 physicians per 100,000 people in the early 2000s. Approximately one half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
Education in Togo is compulsory for six years. In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 119.6 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 81.3 percent. The education system has suffered from teacher shortages, lower educational quality in rural areas, and high repetition and dropout rates.
Togo's transition to democracy is stalled. Its democratic institutions remain nascent and fragile. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled Togo under a one-party system for nearly twenty-five of his thirty-seven years in power, died of a heart attack on 5 February 2005. Gravelly ill, he was being transported by plane to a foreign country for care. He died in transit, whilst over Tunisia. Under the Togolese Constitution, the President of the Parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, should have become President of the country, pending a new presidential election to be called within sixty days. Natchaba was out of the country, returning on an Air France plane from Paris. The Togolese army, known as Forces Armées Togolaises (FAT) - [or Togolese Armed Forces] closed the nation's borders, forcing the plane to land in nearby Benin. With an engineered power vacuum, the army announced that Eyadéma's son Faure Gnassingbé, who had been the communications minister, would succeed him. However, on 6 February 2005, the Parliament retroactively changed the Constitution, declaring that Faure would hold office for the rest of his father's term, with elections deferred until 2008. The stated justification was that Natchaba was out of the country. The parliament also moved to remove Natchaba as president  and replaced him with Faure Gnassingbé, who was sworn in on 7 February 2005, despite international criticism of the succession.
The African Union described the takeover as a military coup d'état. International pressure came also from the United Nations. Within Togo, opposition to the takeover culminated in riots in which several hundred died. There were uprisings in many cities and towns, mainly located in the southern part of the country. In the town of Aného reports of a general civilian uprising followed by a large scale massacre by government troops went largely unreported. In response, Faure Gnassingbé agreed to hold elections and on 25 February, Gnassingbé resigned as president, but soon afterward accepted the nomination to run for the office in April. On 24 April 2005, Gnassingbé was elected President of Togo, receiving over 60% of the vote according to official results. His main rival in the race had been Robert (Bob) Akitani from the Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) [or Union of Forces for Change]. However electoral fraud was suspected, due to a lack of European Union or other independent oversight. Parliament designated Deputy President, Bonfoh Abbass, as interim president until the inauguration.
Current Political Situation
On 3 May 2005, Faure Gnassingbé was sworn in as the new president, after winning 60% of the vote, according to official results. The opposition again alleged electoral fraud, claiming the military stole ballot boxes from various polling stations in the south, and that telecommunications shutdowns were deliberately imposed to affect the results. The European Union suspended aid to Togo in support of the opposition claims, unlike the African Union and the United States which declared the vote "reasonably fair." The Nigerian president and Chair of the AU, Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, sought to negotiate between the incumbent government and the opposition to establish a coalition government, but rejected an AU Commission appointment of former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, as special AU envoy to Togo. In June, President Gnassingbé named opposition leader Edem Kodjo as the prime Minister.
Reconciliation talks between government and opposition continued until Gnassingbé Eyadema's death in February 2005. In August both parties signed the Ouagadougou agreement calling for a transitional government to organize parliamentary elections. On 16 September, the president nominated Yaovi Agboyibor of the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) prime minister, snubbing the major opposition party Union of the Forces of Change (UFC) which in reaction refused to join the government. Professor Léopold Gnininvi of the Democratic Convention of African Peoples (CDPA) was appointed on 20 September 2006.
In October 2007, after several postponements, elections were held under proportional representation. This allowed the less populated north to seat as many MPs as the more populated south. The president-backed party Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) won outright majority with the UFC coming second and the other parties claiming inconsequential representation. Again vote rigging accusations were leveled at the RPT supported by the civil and military security apparatus. Despite the presence of an EU observer mission, cancelled ballots and illegal voting took place, the majority of which in RPT strongholds. The election was declared fair by the international community and praised as a model with little intimidation and few violent acts for the first time since a multiparty system was reinstated. On 3 December 2007 Komlan Mally of the RPT was appointed to prime minister succeeding Agboyibor. However, on 5 September 2008, after only 10 months in office, Mally resigned as prime minister of Togo.
However, the presidential election of 2010 presents a different challenge with no proportional representation effect to balance for geographic location. The executive power is mainly presidential and this showdown fallout will really determine how far the country has come in terms of democratic rules.
Togo's culture reflects the influences of its many ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the Ewe, Mina, Tem, Tchamba and Kabre.
French is the official language of Togo. The many indigenous African languages spoken by Togolese include: Gbe languages such as Ewe, Mina, and Aja; Kotokoli, Akessele, Bassar, Losso Kabiyé; and others. Despite the influences of Christianity and Islam, over half of the people of Togo follow native animistic practices and beliefs.
Ewe statuary is characterized by its famous statuettes which illustrate the worship of the ibeji. Sculptures and hunting trophies were used rather than the more ubiquitous African masks. The wood-carvers of Kloto are famous for their "chains of marriage": two characters are connected by rings drawn from only one piece of wood.
The dyed fabric batiks of the artisanal center of Kloto represent stylized and coloured scenes of ancient everyday life. The loincloths used in the ceremonies of the weavers of Assahoun are famous. Works of the painter Sokey Edorh are inspired by the immense arid extents, swept by the harmattan, and where the laterite keeps the prints of the men and the animals. The plastics technician Paul Ahyi is internationally recognized today. He practices the "zota", a kind of pyroengraving, and his monumental achievements decorate Lomé.
At the Olympics
On 12 August 2008, Benjamin Boukpeti (born to a Togolese father and a French mother) won a bronze medal in the Men's K1 Kayak Slalom, the first medal ever won by a member of the Togolese team at the Olympics.
As in much of Africa, football is the most popular sporting pursuit. Until 2006, Togo was very much a minor force in world football, but like fellow West African nations such as Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon before them, the Togolese national team finally qualified for the World Cup. Emmanuel Adebayor was the force behind that unexpected qualification.
Although Togo's qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany was historic, its participation was marred by incidents and headlines. There were internal problems within the Togolese Football Association (Fédération Togolaise de Football - FTF) as well as between players and the Football Association. The culmination of that conflict led to the resignation of the national team coach, Otto Pfister, and the threat made by the players not to play their game against Switzerland on 16 June 2006. Ultimately, the FIFA stepped in to satisfy the players' requirements and the first boycott of a FIFA World Cup game never happened.
Until his dismissal from the team over a long-standing bonus dispute, Adebayor was largely considered the side's star player. He currently plays for English Premiership club Manchester City. Togo was knocked out of the tournament in the group stage after losing to South Korea, Switzerland and France.
Togo's 2006 World Cup appearance was marred by a dispute over financial bonuses, a situation that almost led to the team boycotting their match against Switzerland. Eventually, Togo did fulfill all three fixtures, failing to qualify for the second round of the competition. Over the following months, the stalemate continued to mar Togolese football, and eventually resulted in the dismissal of strike pair and Kader Coubadja-Touré, and defender Daré Nibombé in March 2007, ostensibly for "indecent remarks concerning the FTF management."
After their outings as World Cup underdogs, Togo gained support throughout the world. For example, Togo has a "Supporters Club" in Levenmouth in Scotland, whilst the Newry Togo Supporters Club has its own bar as a venue in Newry, Northern Ireland.
On the 8th January 2010, The Togo National Football team's bus was fired upon in Angola whilst attending the African Nations Cup being held there. The bus driver, assistant coach and team spokesman died, and two players were also injured. This led to Togo withdrawing from the tournament at the behest of the Togolese government.
On the 12th April 2010, Emmanuel Adebayor retired from duty with the Togo National team.
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