Togo-- Geography --
Official Name: The Togolese Republic
Capital City: Lome
Official Currency: CFA franc
Religions: christians, muslims, others
Land Area: 56, 785 sq km
Landforms: 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 plateau which reaches to a coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes.
Administrated divisions: 5 regions, subdivided into 30 prefectures and 1 commune.
Geographical location: Togo 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. 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.
Confessional structure: Christians – 29%, Muslims - 20%, others - 51%. City population – 34%.
Ethnical structure: Ewe - 46.2 %, Kabre - 24.3 %, Gourma - 10.7 %, Tem - 7.4 %, others - 11.4 %.
Togo -- History --
Western history does not record what happened in Togo before the Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century. During the period from the 11th century to the 16th century, various tribes entered the region from all directions: the Ewe 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 16th century, the Mina benefited the most. For the next two hundred years, the coastal region was a major raiding 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, 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 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 Bodjolle. 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 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.
Togo -- 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 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 neighboring 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 center. 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 is expected to rise.
Togo -- Culture --
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 Kabiye; 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 Lome.
Togo -- Political system, law and government --
Togo's transition to democracy is stalled. Its democratic institutions remain nascent and fragile. President Gnassingbe Eyadema, 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 but could not make it. He died over Tunisia. Under the Togolese Constitution, the President of the Parliament, Fambare 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 Armees 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 Eyadema's son Faure Gnassingbe, 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 Gnassingbe, 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'etat. 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 Aneho reports of a general civilian uprising followed by a large scale massacre by government troops went largely unreported. In response, Faure Gnassingbe agreed to hold elections and on 25 February, Gnassingbe resigned as president, but soon afterward accepted the nomination to run for the office in April. On 24 April 2005, Gnassingbe 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 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 President,Bonfoh Abbass, as interim president until the inauguration of the election (a clear violation of the constitution but a political compromise)