Facts About Togo
Background: French Togoland became Togo in 1960. General Gnassingbe EYADEMA, installed as military ruler in 1967, is Africa’s longest-serving head of state. Despite the facade of multiparty elections that resulted in EYADEMA’s victory in 1993, the government continues to be dominated by the military. In addition, Togo has come under fire from international organizations for human rights abuses and is plagued by political unrest. Most bilateral and multilateral aid to Togo remains frozen.
Government type: republic under transition to multiparty democratic rule
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF) = 100 centimes
Geography of Togo
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Benin, between Benin and Ghana
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 1 10 E
total: 56,785 sq km
land: 54,385 sq km
water: 2,400 sq km
total: 1,647 km
border countries: Benin 644 km, Burkina Faso 126 km, Ghana 877 km
Coastline: 56 km
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 30 nm
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north
Terrain: gently rolling savanna in north; central hills; southern plateau; low coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Agou 986 m
Natural resources: phosphates, limestone, marble, arable land
arable land: 38%
permanent crops: 7%
permanent pastures: 4%
forests and woodland: 17%
other: 34% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 70 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: hot, dry harmattan wind can reduce visibility in north during winter; periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: deforestation attributable to slash-and-burn agriculture and the use of wood for fuel; recent droughts affecting agriculture
Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the country’s length allows it to stretch through six distinct geographic regions; climate varies from tropical to savanna.
People of Togo
Togo’s population of 5.2 million people (2001 est.) is composed of about 21 ethnic groups. The two major groups are the Ewe in the South and the Kabye in the North. Population distribution is very uneven due to soil and terrain variations. The population is generally concentrated in the south and along the major north-south highway connecting the coast to the Sahel. Age distribution also is uneven; more than one-half of the Togolese are less than 15 years of age. The ethnic groups of the coastal region, particularly the Ewes (about 21% of the population), constitute the bulk of the civil servants, professionals, and merchants, due in part to the former colonial administrations which provided greater infrastructure development in the south. The Kabye (12% of the population) live on marginal land and traditionally have emigrated south from their home area in the Kara region to seek employment. Their historical means of social advancement has been through the military and law enforcement forces, and they continue to dominate these services.
Most of the southern peoples use the Ewe or Mina languages, which are closely related and spoken in commercial sectors throughout Togo. French, the official language, is used in administration and documentation. The public primary schools combine French with Ewe or Kabye as languages of instruction, depending on the region. English is spoken in neighboring Ghana and is taught in Togolese secondary schools. As a result, many Togolese, especially in the south and along the Ghana border, speak some English.
Population: 5,681,519 (July 2005 est.)
0-14 years: 46%
15-64 years: 51%
65 years and over: 3%
Population growth rate: 2.7%
Birth rate: 38.02 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 11.18 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: 0.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 71.55 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.69 years
male: 52.75 years
female: 56.7 years
Total fertility rate: 5.5 children born/woman
noun: Togolese (singular and plural)
Ethnic groups: native African (37 tribes; largest and most important are Ewe, Mina, and Kabre) 99%, European and Syrian-Lebanese less than 1%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 70%, Christian 20%, Muslim 10%
Languages: French (official and the language of commerce), Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabye (sometimes spelled Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages in the north)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 51.7%
female: 37% (1995 est.)
History of Togo
The Ewes moved into the area which is now Togo from the Niger River valley between the 12th and 14th centuries. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese explorers and traders visited the coast. For the next 200 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. Because it became Germany’s only self-supporting colony, Togoland was known as its model possession. In 1914, Togoland was invaded by French and British forces and fell after brief resistance. Following the war, Togoland became a League of Nations mandate divided for administrative purposes between France and the United Kingdom.
After World War II, the mandate became a UN trust territory administered by the United Kingdom and France. During the mandate and trusteeship periods, western Togo was administered as part of the British Gold Coast. In 1957, the residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana.
By statute in 1955, French Togo became an autonomous republic within the French union, although it retained its UN trusteeship status. A legislative assembly elected by universal adult suffrage had considerable power over internal affairs, with an elected executive body headed by a prime minister responsible to the legislature. These changes were embodied in a constitution approved in a 1956 referendum. On September 10, 1956, Nicholas Grunitzky became prime minister of the Republic of Togo. However, due to irregularities in the plebiscite, an unsupervised general election was held in 1958 and won by Sylvanus Olympio. On April 27, 1960, in a smooth transition, Togo severed its constitutional ties with France, shed its UN trusteeship status, and became fully independent under a provisional constitution with Olympio as president.
A new constitution in 1961 established an executive president, elected for 7 years by universal suffrage and a weak National Assembly. The president was empowered to appoint ministers and dissolve the assembly, holding a monopoly of executive power. In elections that year, from which Grunitzky’s party was disqualified, Olympio’s party won 90% of the vote and all 51 National Assembly seats, and he became Togo’s first elected president.
During this period, four principal political parties existed in Togo: the leftist Juvento (Togolese youth movement); the Union Democratique des Populations Togolaises (IDPT); the Parti Togolais Du Progres (PTP), founded by Grunitzky but having limited support; and the Unite Togolaise (UT), the party of President Olympio. Rivalries between elements of these parties had begun as early as the 1940s, and they came to a head with Olympio dissolving the opposition parties in January 1962 ostensibly because of plots against the majority party government. Many opposition members, including Grunitzky, fled to avoid arrest.
On January 13, 1963, President Olympio was assassinated in an uprising of army non-commissioned officers dissatisfied with conditions following their discharge from the French army. Grunitzky returned from exile 2 days later to head a provisional government with the title of prime minister. On May 5, 1963, the Togolese adopted a new constitution which reinstated a multi-party system, chose deputies from all political parties for the National Assembly, and elected Grunitzky as president and Antoine Meatchi as vice president. Nine days later, President Grunitzky formed a government in which all parties were represented.
During the next several years, the Grunitzky government’s power became insecure. On November 21, 1966, an attempt to overthrow Grunitzky, inspired principally by civilian political opponents in the UT party, was unsuccessful. Grunitzky then tried to lessen his reliance on the army, but on January 13, 1967, Lt. Col. Etienne Eyadema (later Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema) ousted President Grunitzky in a bloodless military coup. Political parties were banned, and all constitutional processes were suspended. The committee of national reconciliation ruled the country until April 14, when Eyadema assumed the presidency. In late 1969, a single national political party, the Assembly of the Togolese People (RPT), was created, and President Eyadema was elected party president on November 29, 1969. In 1972, a national referendum, in which Eyadema ran unopposed, confirmed his role as the country’s president.
In late 1979, Eyadema declared a third republic and a transition to greater civilian rule with a mixed civilian and military cabinet. He garnered 99.97% of the vote in uncontested presidential elections held in late 1979 and early 1980. A new constitution also provided for a national assembly to serve primarily as a consultative body. Eyadema was reelected to a third consecutive 7-year term in December 1986 with 99.5% of the vote in an uncontested election. On September 23, 1986, a group of some 70 armed Togolese dissidents crossed into Lome from Ghana in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Eyadema government.
In 1989 and 1990, Togo, like many other countries, was affected by the winds of democratic change sweeping eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. On October 5, 1990, the trial of students who handed out antigovernment tracts sparked riots in Lome. Antigovernment demonstrations and violent clashes with the security forces marked the months that followed. In April 1991, the government began negotiations with newly formed opposition groups and agreed to a general amnesty that permitted exiled political opponents to return to Togo. After a general strike and further demonstrations, the government and opposition signed an agreement to hold a “national forum” on June 12, 1991.
The national forum, dominated by opponents of President Eyadema, opened in July 1991 and immediately declared itself to be a sovereign “National Conference.” Although subjected to severe harassment from the government, the conference drafted an interim constitution calling for a 1-year transitional regime tasked with organizing free elections for a new government. The conference selected Joseph Kokou Koffigoh, a lawyer and human rights group head, as transitional prime minister but kept President Eyadema as chief of state for the transition, although with limited powers.
A test of wills between the president and his opponents followed over the next 3 years during which President Eyadema gradually gained the upper hand. Frequent political paralysis and intermittent violence marked this period. Following a vote by the transitional legislature (High Council of the Republic) to dissolve the President’s political party–the RPT–in November 1991, the army attacked the prime minister’s office on December 3 and captured the prime minister. Koffigoh then formed a second transition government in January 1992 with substantial participation by ministers from the President’s party. Opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio, son of the slain president Sylvanus Olympio, was ambushed and seriously wounded apparently by soldiers on May 5, 1992.
In July and August 1992, a commission composed of presidential and opposition representatives negotiated a new political agreement. On September 27, the public overwhelmingly approved the text of a new, democratic constitution, formally initiating Togo’s fourth republic.
The democratic process was set back in October 1992, when elements of the army held the interim legislature hostage for 24 hours. This effectively put an end to the interim legislature. In retaliation, on November 16, opposition political parties and labor unions declared a general strike intended to force President Eyadema to agree to satisfactory conditions for elections. The general strike largely shut down Lome for months and resulted in severe damage to the economy.
In January 1993, President Eyadema declared the transition at an end and reappointed Koffigoh as prime minister under Eyadema’s authority. This set off public demonstrations, and, on January 25, members of the security forces fired on peaceful demonstrators, killing at least 19. In the ensuing days, several security force members were waylaid and injured or killed by civilian oppositionists. On January 30, 1994, elements of the military went on an 8-hour rampage throughout Lome, firing indiscriminately and killing at least 12 people. This incident provoked more than 300,000 Togolese to flee Lome for Benin, Ghana, or the interior of Togo. Although most had returned by early 1996, some still remain abroad.
On March 25, 1993, armed Togolese dissident commandos based in Ghana attacked Lome’s main military camp and tried unsuccessfully to kill President Eyadema. They inflicted significant casualties, however, which set off lethal reprisals by the military against soldiers thought to be associated with the attackers.
Under substantial domestic and foreign pressure and the burden of the general strike, the presidential faction entered negotiations with the opposition in early 1993. Four rounds of talks led to the July 11 Ouagadougou agreement setting forth conditions for upcoming presidential and legislative elections and ending the general strike as of August 3, 1993. The presidential elections were set for August 25, but hasty and inadequate technical preparations, concerns about fraud, and the lack of effective campaign organization by the opposition led the chief opposition candidates–former minister and Organization of African Unity Secretary General Edem Kodjo and lawyer Yawovi Agboyibo–to drop out of the race before election day and to call for a boycott. President Eyadema won the elections by a 96.42% vote against token opposition. About 36% of the voters went to the polls; the others boycotted.
Ghana-based armed dissidents launched a new commando attack on military sites in Lome in January 1994. President Eyadema was unhurt, and the attack and subsequent reaction by the Togolese armed forces resulted in hundreds of deaths, mostly civilian. The government went ahead with legislative elections on February 6 and February 20, 1994. In generally free and fair polls as witnessed by international observers, the allied opposition parties UTD and CAR together won a narrow majority in the National Assembly. On April 22, President Eyadema named Edem Kodjo, the head of the smaller opposition party, the UTD, as prime minister instead of Yawovi Agboyibo, whose CAR party had far more seats. Kodjo’s acceptance of the post of prime minister provoked the CAR to break the opposition alliance and refuse to join the Kodjo government.
Kodjo was then forced to form a governing coalition with the RPT. Kodjo’s government emphasized economic recovery, building democratic institutions and the rule of law and the return of Togolese refugees abroad. In early 1995, the government made slow progress toward its goals, aided by the CAR’s August 1995 decision to end a 9-month boycott of the National Assembly. However, Kodjo was forced to reshuffle his government in late 1995, strengthening the representation by Eyadema’s RPT party, and he resigned in August 1996. Since then, Eyadema has reemerged with a sure grip on power, controlling most aspects of government.
In the June 1998 presidential election, the government prevented citizens from effectively exercising the right to vote. The Interior Ministry declared Eyadema the winner with 52% of the vote in the 1998 election; however, serious irregularities in the government’s conduct of the election strongly favored the incumbent and appear to have affected the outcome materially. Although the government did not obstruct the functioning of political opponents openly, the President used the strength of the military and his government allies to intimidate and harass citizens and opposition groups. The government and the state remained highly centralized: President Eyadema’s national government appointed the officials and controlled the budgets of all subnational government entities, including prefectures and municipalities, and influenced the selection of traditional chiefs.
The second multi-party legislative elections of Eyadema’s 33-year rule were held on March 21, 1999. However, the opposition boycotted the election, in which the ruling party won 79 of the 81 seats in the National Assembly. Those two seats went to candidates from little-known independent parties. Procedural problems and significant fraud, particularly misrepresentation of voter turnout marred the legislative elections.
After the legislative election, the government announced that it would continue to pursue dialog with the opposition. In June 1999, the RPT and opposition parties met in Paris, in the presence of facilitators representing France, Germany, the European Union, and La Francophonie (an international organization of French-speaking countries), to agree on security measures for formal negotiations in Lome. In July 1999, the government and the opposition began discussions, and on July 29, 1999, all sides signed an accord called the “Lome Framework Agreement,” which included a pledge by President Eyadema that he would respect the constitution and not seek another term as president after his current one expires in 2003. The accord also called for the negotiation of a legal status for opposition leaders, as well as for former heads of state (such as their immunity from prosecution for acts in office). In addition, the accord addressed the rights and duties of political parties and the media, the safe return of refugees, and the security of all citizens. The accord also contained a provision for compensating victims of political violence. The President also agreed to dissolve the National Assembly in March and hold new legislative elections, which would be supervised by an independent national election commission (CENI) and which would use the single-ballot method to protect against some of the abuses of past elections. However, the March 2000 date passed without presidential action, and new legislative elections were ultimately rescheduled for October 2001. Because of funding problems and disagreements between the government and opposition, the elections were again delayed, this time until March 2002.
As called for in the Lome Framework Agreement, a joint implementation committee (JIC) began meeting on August 10, 1999, to implement the agreement’s provisions. In December 1999, the JIC sent new Electoral Code legislation to the government establishing the new CENI. On April 5, 2000, the President signed into law a new Electoral Code that established the CENI, which is composed of 10 members of the President’s RPT party and 10 members of the opposition. Most opposition parties accepted the new Electoral Code. In July 2000, the CENI elected Artheme Ahoomey-Zunu, a member of the opposition Pan-African Patriotic Convergence Party (CPP), to be its president.
Subsistence agriculture and commerce are the main economic activities in Togo; the majority of the population depends on subsistence agriculture. Food and cash crop production employs the majority of the labor force and contributes about 42% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Coffee and cocoa are traditionally the major cash crops for export, but cotton cultivation increased rapidly in the 1990s, with 173,000 metric tons produced in 1999. Despite insufficient rainfall in some areas, the Togolese Government has achieved its goal of self-sufficiency in food crops–corn, cassava, yams, sorghum, millet, and groundnut. Small and medium-sized farms produce most of the food crop; average farm size is one to three hectares.
Commerce is the most important economic activity in Togo after agriculture, and Lome is an important regional trading center. Its port operates 24 hours a day, mainly transporting goods to the inland countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Lome’s “Grand Marche” is known for its entrepreneurial market women, who have a stronghold over many areas of trade, particularly in African cloth. In addition to textiles, Togo is an important center for re-export of alcohol, cigarettes, perfume, and used automobiles to neighboring countries. Recent years of political instability have, however, eroded Togo’s position as a trading center.
In the industrial sector, phosphates are Togo’s most important commodity, and the country has an estimated 130 million metric tons of phosphate reserves. Togo exported 1.7 million metric tons of phosphates in 1999, mainly to South Africa, Canada, and the Philippines. Togo also has substantial limestone and marble deposits.
Encouraged by the commodity boom of the mid-1970s, which resulted in a four-fold increase in phosphate prices and sharply increased government revenues, Togo embarked on an overly ambitious program of large investments in infrastructure while pursuing industrialization and development of state enterprises in manufacturing, textiles, and beverages. However, following declines in world prices for commodities, its economy became burdened with fiscal imbalances, heavy borrowing, and unprofitable state enterprises.
Togo turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in 1979, while simultaneously implementing a stringent adjustment effort with the help of a series of IMF standby programs, World Bank loans, and Paris Club debt rescheduling. Under these programs, the Togolese Government introduced a series of austerity measures and major restructuring goals for the state enterprise and rural development sectors. These reforms were aimed at eliminating most state monopolies, simplifying taxes and customs duties, curtailing public employment, and privatizing major state enterprises. Togo made good progress under the international financial institutions’ programs in the late 1980s, but movement on reforms ended with the onset of political instability in 1990. With a new, elected government in place, Togo negotiated new 3-year programs with the World Bank and IMF in 1994.
Togo returned to the Paris Club in 1995 and received Naples terms, the club’s most concessionary rates. With the economic downturn associated with Togo’s political problems, scheduled external debt service obligations for 1994 were greater than 100% of projected government revenues (excluding bilateral and multilateral assistance). By 2001, Togo was embarked on an IMF Staff Monitored Program designed to restore macroeconomic stability and financial discipline but without any new IMF resources pending new legislative elections.
Togo is one of 16 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The ECOWAS development fund is based in Lome. Togo also is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), which groups seven West African countries using the CFA franc. The West African Development Bank (BOAD), which is associated with UEMOA, is based in Lome. Togo long served as a regional banking center, but that position has been eroded by the political instability and economic downturn of the early 1990s. Historically, France has been Togo’s principal trading partner, although other European Union countries are important to Togo’s economy.
GDP: purchasing power parity – $7.3 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4% (1999 est.), 3.4% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $1,500 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
services: 37% (1997)
Population below poverty line: 32% (1987-89 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (1999 est.)
Labor force: 1.538 million (1993 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry 5%, services 30% (1998 est.)
revenues: $232 million
expenditures: $252 million (1997 est.)
Industries: phosphate mining, agricultural processing, cement; handicrafts, textiles, beverages
Electricity – production: 90 million kWh (1998)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel: 93.33%
other: 0% (1998)
Electricity – consumption: 434 million kWh (1998)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (1998)
Electricity – imports: 350 million kWh (1998)
note: imports electricity from Ghana
Agriculture – products: coffee, cocoa, cotton, yams, cassava (tapioca), corn, beans, rice, millet, sorghum; livestock; fish
Exports: $400 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Exports – commodities: cotton, phosphates, coffee, cocoa
Exports – partners: Canada, Philippines, Ghana, France (1998)
Imports: $450 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports – commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products
Imports – partners: Ghana, France, Cote d’Ivoire, China (1998)
Debt – external: $1.3 billion (1997)
Economic aid – recipient: $201.1 million (1995)
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note – responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States