Togo. State of West Africa, its southern coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, in the Gulf of Guinea. This country is one of the world’s leading phosphate exporters.
The territory of Togo forms a narrow strip limited to the west with Ghana, to the north with Burkina Faso and to the east with Benin.
The oldest residents of the region were the Altovolteños, speaking Gur, in the north and the Kua, in the southwest. From the fourteenth century, the ewe (split into more than 120 clans and sub-clans) arrived from Nigeria and from the seventeenth century the ane (or mine), coming from the current states of Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Portuguese also explored the Togolese coasts at that time. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the coastal region of Togo was known as the “Slave Coast”, where slave traders carried out their sordid activity.
In 1884, Germany declared the protectorate over Togo. In 1914, the territory was occupied by Anglo-French troops and, in 1919, divided between the two countries. In 1956, British Togo preferred to continue to integrate Ghana. French Togo became independent in 1960.
In 1969, the Togolese People’s Association (RTP) was founded. A referendum in 1972 nationalized the French phosphate mines. In 1976, a congress of the RTP determined the preeminence of political power over government. A year later the cabinet was reorganized and all the military was exonerated, except Eyadéma who proclaimed the Third Republic in 1908.
In 1982, a dispute arose with Ghana over customs issues and the borders were closed, leading to armed clashes between the two countries. Frangois Mitterrand, President of France, visited Togo in 1983, while Eyadéma traveled to Europe and the United States in search of investments for the country.
Despite some timid attempts at democratization by Eyadéma, in 1985 there were bombings in Lomé and other enclaves (including attacks on government buildings and RTP offices), unleashing a wave of repression, with hundreds of arrests and suspicious deaths. International human rights organizations denounced torture and abuses.
Togo accused Libya of conspiring against it. In 1986, Eyadéma was reelected for a new seven-year term with 99.95% of the votes. In 1987 the Human Rights League was formed, which succeeded in commuting the death sentences of thirteen political prisoners.
In 1991 the multiparty system was established. In 1993 Eyadéma was ratified as head of the country (re-elected in 1998 and 2003), until in 2005 Fauré Gnassingbé became president.
The Togolese territory can be divided into six geographical zones, from north to south. In the extreme northwest stands a mountainous region of gneiss and granite. The sandy plateau of the Oti River stretches across the northern section of the country. From south-west to north-west the mountain range of Togo unfolds. The highest peak in the country is Baumann Peak, 983 m above sea level. The northeastern highlands, settled on Precambrian gneiss, are crossed by the Mono Riverand its tributaries. The Ouatchi Plateau (60 to 90 m elevation) stands about 32 km from the coast. Muddy coves and lagoons give way to narrow, low and sandy Atlantic beaches.
Much of Togo’s soil (more than 50%) is arid, of the ferruginous tropical type. The most fertile soils are the jungle. Also common are red lateritics from the Mono River highlands and skeletal ones in the mountainous area.
The climate is tropical, highly humid in the south, with temperatures that vary between 23 and 32 ° C. In the north, the climatic variations are greater (from 18 to 38 ° C) and the rainfall is more abundant (1,800 mm per year, between April and July), while the arid south only receives between 600 and 900 mm per year, from October to November.
Savanna-type vegetation predominates in Togo, although the southern areas are covered by thick tropical forests and coastal lagoons surrounded by swamps.
The land is suitable for cultivation in 25% of its surface. Phosphate reserves, the largest mineral resource, were estimated in the early 1980s at 110 million tons.
The wild fauna is made up of elephants, lions, numerous specimens of monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and snakes.
Togo’s population is made up of more than 30 ethnic groups. Almost half of the population belongs to the Kua ethnic group, living in the southwest. The second Togolese ethnic group are the Gur, of Altovolteño origin, who live in the north and are divided into the Gurma, Konkomba, Basari, Moba and Mossi tribes. The Akpose, Adele and Aholo inhabit the central section of the country. The Fulani, nomads, usually live in the north, while the Hausa are found throughout the territory.
French is the official language, but 75% of Togolese speak Ewe.
Although Christianity is widespread among Togolese, more than 50% of the population practice traditional African rites (animists). Christians, mostly Catholics, represent 35% and Muslims, 15%.
There is a greater concentration of the population in the coastal strip, while it is decreasing towards the north. The population is young and half of the Togolese are under 20 years of age. Only one sixth of the population lives in urban centers. Birth and death rates are high, as is vegetative growth.
According to PAYHELPCENTER, the state health system administers most of the medical services in the country. The general state of public health is precarious. Health levels are low, health checks are minimal, and vaccination plans are almost non-existent.
The chronic malnutrition of the population makes it vulnerable to diseases that are endemic in this country: malaria, dysentery, meningitis, yellow fever and tuberculosis, among others. Infant mortality is high. In 1980 there were 139 doctors working (one for every 19,417 residents), and in 1981 there were 61 hospitals with 4,500 beds.
Education is theoretically compulsory between the ages of six and twelve, and is taught in the two official languages, Ewe and Kabiye. In 1987, total primary school enrollment was 73% of the school population. Mission schools educate almost half of the student body. In 1985, the University of Benin in Lomé had 4,192 students and scholarships were awarded to French universities. In 1981, adult literacy in Togo was 31.4%.
The two Togolese radio stations broadcast programming in French, English and African languages.
Capital and most important cities
Lomé: The capital of Togo is located in the extreme southwest of the country, on the Gulf of Guinea. It gained importance as a commercial, administrative and transport hub when, in 1897, it became the colonial capital of German Togoland.
Its modernization began with the installation of three railway branches: one to the north (Sokodé), another to the northeast (Kpalimé) and another to the east (along the coast, to Aného). The transformation of the port began in 1960, completed in 1968, when it was converted into a deep-water port. From there phosphates, cocoa, coffee, copra and cotton are exported. Its annual traffic is 1.5 million tons in merchandise.
In 1978 the construction of an oil refinery and a thermal power plant began in Lomé. In 1972 the headquarters of the RTP (the only Togolese political party), the House of the People, was built. The University of Lomé was founded in 1965. A few kilometers from the city center there is an international airport.
Sokodé: Second city of Togo, it is the commercial nucleus of the central region of the country. It is inhabited by the Tem (cotocoli) people. The city was an important enclave for merchants from the north, due to its strategic position (on a fault in the Togolese mountains). Its industries process cotton and sugar. It communicates with Kara, in the north, and with Lomé, in the south.
Palimé: Located about 110 km northwest of Lomé, it is the agricultural center of the plateau region, in southwestern Togo. The mountainous area produces coffee, cocoa and palm oil, which are transported to Lomé by train and road. Its population is mainly composed of the Ewe.
Starting in 1884, and for thirty years, Togo lived under German rule. The Germans made this African territory their model colony, which meant that Togo had excellent communication routes and a prosperous economy.
In 1914 it was conquered by Anglo-French troops, and later the League of Nations divided it into two parts, one ruled by France and the other by Great Britain. But even divided in two, Togo’s territory remained one.
This ceased to be the case in 1956, when the English part, assimilated to the Gold Coast, became part of Ghana through a plebiscite. The French part, what is now Togo, gained independence in 1960.