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Togo

Related subjects Africa; African Countries

République Togolaise
Togolese Republic
Flag of Togo Coat of Arms of Togo
Flag Coat of Arms
Motto: "Travail, Liberté, Patrie"  (French)
"Work, Liberty, Homeland"
Anthem:  Salut à toi, pays de nos aïeux  (French)
"Hail to thee, land of our forefathers"

Location of Togo
Capital
(and largest city)
Lomé
Official languages French
Demonym Togolese
Government Republic
 -  President Faure Gnassingbé
 -  Prime Minister Komlan Mally
Independence
 -  from France April 27, 1960 
Area
 -  Total 56,785 km² ( 125th)
21,925  sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 4.2
Population
 -  July 2005 estimate 5.7million ( 100th1)
 -  Density 108/km² ( 93rd²)
280/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 -  Total $8.945 billion ( 144th1)
 -  Per capita $1,700 ( 193rd1)
HDI (2007) 0.512 (medium) ( 152nd)
Currency CFA franc ( XOF)
Time zone GMT ( UTC+0)
Internet TLD .tg
Calling code +228
1 Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected. Rankings based on 2005 figures CIA World Factbook - Togo
² Rankings based on 2005 figures (source unknown)

Togo, officially the Togolese Republic, is a narrow country in West Africa bordering Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. The country extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. The official language is French; however, there are many other languages spoken there as well.

History

Western history does not record what happened in Togo before the Portuguese arrived in the late fifteenth century. During the period from the eleventh century to the sixteenth 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 earnest in the sixteenth century, the Mina benefited the most. For the next two hundred years, the coastal region was a major raiding centre for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name " The Slave Coast."

In an 1884 treaty signed at Togoville, Germany declared a protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended its control inland. This became the German colony Togoland in 1905. After the German defeat during World War I in August 1914 at the hands of British troops (coming from the Gold Coast) and the French troops (coming from Dahomey), Togoland became two League of Nations mandates, administered by the United Kingdom 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, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union. Independence came in 1960 under Sylvanus Olympio. Sylvanus Olympio was assassinated in a military coup on January 13, 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 January 13, 1967, Eyadema Gnassingbe overthrew Grunitzky in a bloodless coup and assumed the presidency, which he held from that date until his sudden death on February 5, 2005.

Eyadema Gnassingbe (many wrongly think Eyadema was his last name) died in early 2005 after thirty-eight years in power, as Africa's longest-sitting dictator. The military's immediate but short-lived installation of his son, Faure Gnassingbe, as president provoked widespread international condemnation, except from France. However, surprisingly, some democratically elected African leaders, such as Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, supported that move and created a rift within the African Union. Faure Gnassingbe 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 normalize 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.

Economy

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 30% of export earnings. Togo is self-sufficient in basic foodgoods 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).

Phosphate mining by SNPT company
Phosphate mining by SNPT company

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 military, 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 should rise.

Development and Environment

Geography

Satellite image of Togo, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Togo, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library

Togo is a small, thin sub-Saharan 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 savannah in contrast to the centre of the country, which is characterized by hills. The south of Togo is characterized by a plateau which reaches to a coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes. The land size is 21,925 square miles (56,785 km²), with an average population density of 253 people per square mile (98/km²). In 1914 it changed from Togoland to Togo.

Climate

The climate is generally tropical with average temperatures ranging from 27°C on the coast to about 30°C 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 October and November), even though the average rainfall is not very high (about 1,000 mm in mountainous areas, the most rainy).

Administrative divisions

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.

Demographics

Demographic evolution of Togo
Demographic evolution of Togo

With a population of 5,548,702 (as of 2006), 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 45 different ethnic groups, the most important and numerous are the Ewe in the south (46%), Kabyé in the north (22%). Another classification lists Uaci or Ouatchis (14%) as a separate ethnic group from the Ewe which brings the porportion of Ewe down to (32%). However, there are no historical and ethnical facts that justify the separation between Ewes and Ouatchis. 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 is inaccurate and has been contested for being politically biased; Mina, Mossi, and Aja (about 8%) are the remainder; and under 1% are European expatriates live in Togo as diplomats and for economic reasons.

Religion

About half the population adheres to indigenous, animist beliefs . Christianity is the second largest religious group, to which 29% of the country's population belong. The remaining 21% of Togolese follow Islam.

Politics

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 February 5, 2005. Under the constitution, the speaker of parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, should have become president, pending a new election. Natchaba was out of the country, returning on an Air France plane from Paris. The Togolese army 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, also known as Faure Eyadéma, who had been the communications minister, would succeed him. The constitution of Togo declared that in the case of the president's death, the speaker of Parliament takes his place, and has sixty days to call new elections. However, on February 6th, 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 government also moved to remove Natchaba as speaker and replaced him with Faure Gnassingbé, who was sworn in on February 7, 2005, despite the 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. In the village of Aného reports of a general civilian uprising followed by a large scale massacre by government troops went largely unreported. In response, Gnassingbé agreed to hold elections and on February 25, Gnassingbé resigned as president, but soon afterwards accepted the nomination to run for the office in April. On April 24, 2005, Gnassingbé was elected president of Togo, receiving over 60% of the vote according to official results. However fraud was suspected as cause of his election, due to a lack of presence of the European Union or other such oversight. See the History section of this article for details. Parliament designated Deputy Speaker Bonfoh Abbass as interim president until the inauguration of the election a clear violation of the constitution but a political compromise. winner.

Current political situation

On May 3, 2006, Faure Gnassingbe was sworn in as the new president, garnering 60% of the vote according to official results. Discontent has continued however, with the opposition declaring the voting rigged, claiming the military stole ballot boxes from various polling stations in the South, as well as other election irregularities, such as telecommunication shutdown. The European Union has suspended aid in support of the opposition claims, while the African Union and the United States have declared the vote "reasonably fair" and accepted the outcome. The Nigerian president and Chair of the AU, Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, has 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 ( and ). Later in June, President Gnassingbe named opposition leader Edem Kodjo as the prime Minister.

In April 2006 reconciliation talks between government and opposition progressed; said talks were suspended after Gnassingbé Eyadema's death in 2005. In August both parties signed the Ouagadougou agreement calling for a transitional unity government to organize parliamentary elections. On September 16th, the president nominated Yaovi Agboyibor of the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) prime minister snubing 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 the 20th. From the beginning, opposition's weakness was manifest. The president had the final say on who would be cabinet minister from a list of names proposed by the prime minister. Second, disunity was rife within opposition ranks after the failure to get UFC representation in the transitional government.

In October 2007, after several postponements, elections were held under proportional representation. This allowed the less populated north to seat as many MPs the more populated south. The president backed party Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) won outright majority with the UFC coming second with 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 elections was declared fair by the international community and praised as a model with few intimidation and violent acts for the first time since multipartism was reinstated. On December 3rd Komlan Mally of the RPT was appointed to prime minister succeeding Agboyibor.

However presidential elections 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 rule.

Culture

Traditional Taberma houses
Traditional Taberma houses

Togo's culture reflects the influences of its thirty-seven ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the Ewe, Mina, 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; 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 centre 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 Lome.

Sport

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. Until his dismissal from the team over a long-standing bonus dispute , Emmanuel Adebayor was largely considered the side's star player. He currently plays for English Premiership club, Arsenal. Togo was knocked out of the tournament in the group stage after losing to South Korea, Switzerland and France. Photo of the team

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 fulfil all three fixtures, failing to qualify for the second round of the competition. Over the following months, the stalemate has continued to mar Togolese football, and eventually resulted in the dismissal of strike pair Emmanuel Adebayor and Kader Cougbadja, and defender Nibombe Dare 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.

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