For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Area: 56,785 sq. km.; slightly smaller than West Virginia.
Cities: Capital (pop. 2004 est.) Lome--850,000.
Terrain: Savannah and hills and coastal plain.
Nationality: Noun and adjective (sing. and pl.)--Togolese.
Population (2003): 4,970,000.
Annual growth rate (2003): 2.4%.
Ethnic groups: Ewe, Mina, Kabye, Cotocoli, Moba.
Religions (est.): Animist 33%, Christian 47.1%, Muslim 13.7%, other 6.1%.
Languages: French (official), local (Ewe, Mina, Kabye).
Education: Attendance (2000)--62% of age group 5-19 enrolled. Literacy (2003)--male 75%, female 47%.
Health: Life expectancy (2003)--male 51 yrs, female 55 yrs.
Work force: (1999 est.) Total--2 million (43% of the total population); rural work force (est.)--1,350,000; urban work force (est.)--650,000.
Independence: April 27, 1960 (from French-administered UN trusteeship).
Constitution: Adopted 1992.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government). Legislative--National Assembly. Judicial--Supreme Court.
Subdivisions: 30 prefectures.
Political parties: Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT); Union des Forces de Changement (UFC); Comite d'action pour le Renouveau (CAR), Pan-African Patriotic Convergence Party (CPP) Suffrage: Universal adult.
National holiday: Independence Day, April 27.
GDP (2002 est.): $1.4 billion.
Per capita income (2002): $270.
Natural resources: Phosphates, limestone, marble.
Agriculture (40.1% of 2002 GDP): Products--yams, cassava, corn, millet, sorghum, cocoa, coffee, rice, cotton.
Industry (21.6% of 2002 GDP): Types--mining, manufacturing, construction, energy.
Services: 38.3% of 2002 GDP.
Trade: (2002): Exports--$438 million: phosphates, cocoa, coffee, cotton. Imports--$662 million: consumer goods, including foodstuffs, fabrics, clothes, vehicles, equipment. Major partners--Ghana, France, Cote d'Ivoire, Germany, Nigeria, Canada, People's Republic of China, Benin.
Togo is bounded by Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, and the Gulf of Guinea. It stretches 579 kilometers (360 mi.) north from the gulf and is only 160 kilometers (100 mi.) wide at the broadest point. The country consists primarily of two savanna plains regions separated by a southwest-northwest range of hills (the Chaine du Togo).
Togo's climate varies from tropical to savanna. The south is humid, with temperatures ranging from 23oC to 32oC (75oF to 90oF). In the north, temperature fluctuations are greater--from 18oC to more than 38oC (65oF to 100oF).
Togo's population of 4.97 million people (2003 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; nearly 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.
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. Eyadema 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 expired 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.
In May 2002 the government scrapped CENI, blaming the opposition for its inability to function. In its stead, the government appointed seven magistrates to oversee preparations for legislative elections. Not surprisingly, the opposition announced it would boycott them. Held in October, as a result of the opposition's boycott the government party won more than two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly. In December 2002, Eyadema's government used this rubber-stamp parliament to amend Togo's constitution, allowing President Eyadema to run for an "unlimited" number of terms. A further amendment stated that candidates must reside in the country for at least 12 months before an election, a provision that barred the participation in the upcoming presidential election of popular Union des Forces du Progres (UFC) candidate, Gilchrist Olympio, who had been in exile since 1992. The presidential election was held June 1, 2003. President Eyadema was re-elected with 57% of the votes, amid allegations of widespread vote rigging.
On April 14, 2004, the Government of Togo signed an agreement with the European Union that included 22 commitments the Government of Togo must honor as a precondition for resumption of EU aid. Among the most important of these commitments are a constructive national dialogue between the Government of Togo and the traditional opposition parties, and free and democratic legislative elections.
By November 2004, Togo had made modest progress on some commitments, releasing 500 prisoners, removing prison sentences from most provisions of the Press Code, and initiating a dialogue with the core opposition parties. Consultations were ongoing with the European Union with regard to when and how to resume development cooperation.
On Friday, February 4, 2005 President Gnassingbe Eyadema died. In an unconstitutional move, the military leadership swore in as President Faure Gnassingbe, the late President Eyadema's son. Immediate condemnation by African leaders followed by sanctions of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union combined with pressure from the international community led finally to a decision on February 25 for Faure Gnassingbe to step down. Protest efforts by the public included a large demonstration in Lom� that was permitted to proceed peacefully. Prior to stepping down, Gnassingbe was selected as leader of the ruling party and named as a candidate in the announced presidential elections to choose a successor to Eyadema. Abass Bonfoh, National Assembly Vice President, was selected to serve as Speaker of the National Assembly and therefore simultaneously became interim President. Real power apparently was retained by Gnassingbe as he continued to use the offices of the President while the interim President operated from the National Assembly.
Deeply flawed elections were held in April 2005, marred by violence and widespread accusations of vote tampering, and causing tens of thousands of Togolese to flee to neighboring Benin and Ghana. Faure Gnassingbe was pronounced the winner, and was pressed by the international community--including regional heads of state--to form a government of national unity, including key opposition figures. After Gnassingbe failed to reach agreement with the opposition, he named as Prime Minister Edem Kodjo, a founder of the ruling RPT and former OAU Secretary-General and Togolese Prime Minister. Kodjo subsequently named a Cabinet that kept security-related ministries in the hands of the RPT and did not include any representatives from the genuine opposition.
President Gnassingbe now faces a significant challenge, treading lightly with entrenched ruling party interests while trying to implement democratic reforms and revive Togo's deteriorating economy. Togo's long-suffering population has seen its living standards decline precipitously since the 1980s, and that trend is unlikely to be reversed without a political accord on the way forward endorsed by the country's key political actors.
The Togolese judiciary is modeled on the French system. For administrative purposes, Togo is divided into 30 prefectures, each having an appointed prefect.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Edem Kodjo
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation--Zarifou Ayeva
Minister of Justice--Tchessa Abi
Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs--Kpatcha Gnassingbe
Minister of Security--Col. Pitalouna-Ani Laokpessi
Next Elections Scheduled
Presidential elections--Not scheduled.
Legislative elections--Not scheduled, but expected sometime in the middle of 2006.
Local elections--Not applicable.
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. After a disastrous harvest in 2001 (113,000 metric tons), production rebounded to 168,000 metric tons in 2002. 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 60 million metric tons of phosphate reserves. From a highpoint of 2.7 million tons in 1997, production dropped to approximately 1.3 million tons in 2002. The fall in production is partly the result of the depletion of easily accessible deposits and the lack of funds for new investment. The formerly state-run company appears to have benefited from private management, which took over in 2001. 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). In 2004, the IMF Staff Monitored Program designed to restore macroeconomic stability and financial discipline was in a suspended status. New IMF, World Bank and Africa Development Bank (ADB) lending must await the willingness of Togo's traditional donors -- the European Union, principally, but the U.S. also -- to resume aid flows. Togo's problematic legislative and presidential elections and the government's unwillingness to transition from an Eyadema-led autocracy to democracy deterred these donors from providing Togo with more aid. As of the fall 2002, Togo was $15 million in arrears to the World Bank and owed $3 million to the ADB.
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. Total U.S. trade with Togo amounts to about $16 million annually.
Although Togo's foreign policy is nonaligned, it has strong historical and cultural ties with western Europe, especially France and Germany. Togo recognizes the People's Republic of China, North Korea, and Cuba. It re-established relations with Israel in 1987.
Togo pursues an active foreign policy and participates in many international organizations. It is particularly active in West African regional affairs and in the African Union. Relations between Togo and neighboring states are generally good.
Togo is a pro-Western, market-oriented country, and the United States and Togo have had generally good relations since its independence, although the United States has never been one of Togo's major trade partners. The largest share of U.S. exports to Togo generally has been used clothing and scrap textiles. Other important U.S. exports include rice, wheat, shoes, and tobacco products, and U.S. personal computers and other office electronics are becoming more widely used.
The Government of Togo, with the support of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), established an export processing zone (EPZ) in Togo. The zone has attracted private investors interested in manufacturing, assembly, and food processing, primarily for the export market. USAID closed its local office in 1994 and runs local development programs from its office in Abidjan through nongovernmental organizations in Togo.
As of 2004, overall U.S. economic aid to Togo included 90 Peace Corps volunteers, health and nutrition programs, especially combating HIV/AIDS and child trafficking. U.S.-Togolese relations have been somewhat strained as a result of human rights abuses and the halting progress of the democratic transition.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--David B. Dunn
Deputy Chief of Mission--J.A. Diffily
Management Officer--Barbara Martin
Public Affairs Officer--Mary Daschbach
Consular Officer--Ian Hopper
Pol/Econ/Commercial Officer--Rona Rathod
Peace Corps Director--George Monagan
The U.S. Embassy is located at Rue Pelletier and Rue Vauban, Lome (tel: 221-2991/2/3/4). The mailing address is B.P. 852, Lome, Togo (international mail) and AmEmbassy Lome, 2300 Lome Place, Washington, DC 20521-2300 (by diplomatic pouch).