Togo

Introduction

Introduction

Togo , officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Fasoto the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, where its capital Lomé is located. Togo covers 57,000 square kilometres (22,008 square miles), making it one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population of approximately 7.5 million.

Togo is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that provides good growing seasons. The official language is French, with many other languages spoken in Togo, particularly those of the Gbe family. The largest religious group in Togo consists of those with indigenous beliefs, and there are significant Christian and Muslim minorities. Togo is a member of the United Nations, African Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, 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 center 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 d'état after which he became president. At the time of his death in 2005, Gnassingbé 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. Togo is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.


People

In Togo, there are about 40 different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Ewe in the south (46%, although along the south coastline they account for 21% of the population), Kotokoli and Tchamba in the center, and Kabyé in the north (22%). Another classification lists the Uaci or Ouatchis (14%) as a separate ethnic group from the Ewe, which brings the proportion of Ewe down to 32%. However, there are no historic or ethnic facts that justify the separation between Ewes and Ouatchis. The term Ouatchi may refer to a subgroup of Ewes which migrated south during the 16th century from Notse the ancient Ewe Kingdom capital, although this classification has been contested for being politically biased (it would designate the Ouatchis as a subgroup of the Ewe just as the Anlo in the Republic of Ghana are a subgroup of the Ewe ethnic group). Mina, Mossi, and Aja make up roughly 8% of the population, with under 1% being European expatriates who live in Togo as diplomats and for economic reasons.


Geography

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. Togo lies mostly between latitudes 6° and 11°N, and longitudes 0° and 2°E.

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 56,785 km2 (21,925 sq mi), with an average population density of 98/km2 (253/sq mi).

Climate

The climate is generally tropical with average temperatures ranging from 23 °C (73 °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.


Demographics

New figures from the November, 2010 census gave Togo a population of 6,191,155, more than double the total counted in the last census. That census, taken in 1981, showed the nation had a population of 2,719,567. The capital and largest city, Lomé, grew from 375,499 in 1981 to 837,437 in 2010. When the urban population of surrounding Golfe prefecture is added, the Lomé Agglomeration contained 1,477,660 residents in 2010.

Other large cities in Togo according to the new census were Sokodé (95,070), Kara (94,878), Kpalimé (75,084), Atakpamé (69,261), Dapaong (58,071) and Tsévié (54,474). 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.

Ethnic groups

In Togo, there are about 40 different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Ewe in the south who make up 32% of the population. Along the southern coastline they account for 21% of the population. Also found are Kotokoli or Tem and Tchamba in the center and the Kabye people in the north (22%). The Ouatchis are 14% of the population. Sometimes the Ewes and Ouatchis are considered the same, but the French who studied both groups considered them different people. Other Ethnic groups include the Mina, Mossi, and Aja people (about 8%). There is also a European population who make up less than 1%.

Religion

According to the CIA Factbook, approximately 29% of the population is Christian, 20% are Muslim, and 51% hold indigenous beliefs.

Economy

Among the smallest countries in Africa, Togo enjoys one of the highest standards of living on the continent owing to its valuable phosphate deposits and a well-developed export sector based on agricultural products such as coffee, cocoa beans, and peanuts(groundnuts). Low market prices for Togo’s major export commodities, however, coupled with the volatile political situation of the 1990s and early 2000s, had a negative effect on the economy.

Togo serves as a regional commercial and trade center. The government's decade-long effort, supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (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.

Togo is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa(OHADA).

 

Togo - Travel guide

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