During the period from the 11th century to the 16th century, various tribes entered the region from all directions: the Ewé from the east, and the Mina and Guin from the west. Most settled in coastal areas.
The slave trade began in the 16th century, and for the next two hundred years 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, a treaty was signed at Togoville with the King Mlapa III, whereby Germany claimed 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. During World War I, this German territory was invaded by British troops from the neighboring Gold Coastcolony and French troops coming from Dahomey.
After the end of World War I, there was discussion of having the colony administered by Czechoslovakia. However, this did not happen. Togoland was separated into two League of Nations mandates, administered by 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 for French Togoland 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 Eyadéma Gnassingbé. Opposition leader Nicolas Grunitzky was appointed president by the "Insurrection Committee", headed by Emmanuel Bodjollé.
Exactly four years later, on 13 January 1967, Eyadéma Gnassingbé overthrew Grunitzky in a bloodless coup and assumed the presidency, which he held from that date until his sudden death on 5 February 2005 after 38 years in power, the longest occupation of any dictator in Africa. The military's immediate installation of his son, Faure Gnassingbé, as president provoked widespread international condemnation, except from France. Some democratically elected African leaders such as Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria supported the move, thereby creating a rift within the African Union.