Togo country profile

  • 7 January 2016
  • From the section Africa
Map of Togo

Togo, a narrow strip of land on Africa's west coast, has for years been the target of criticism over its human rights record and political governance.

Granted independence from France in 1960, Togo has struggled to build a stable country and economy.

The country has gained notoriety as a transit point for ivory poached elsewhere in the region. Poaching has risen in recent years across the continent, where well-armed criminal gangs kill elephants for tusks and rhino for their horns, before shipping them to Asia for use in ornaments and supposed medicine.

Togo is one of the world's top five producers of phosphates, which are used in fertilisers, but remains poor and dependent on foreign aid.


Togolese Republic

Capital: Lome

  • Population 6.3 million

  • Area 56,785 sq km (21,925 sq miles)

  • Languages French (official), local languages

  • Major religions Indigenous beliefs, Christianity, Islam

  • Life expectancy 56 years (men), 59 years (women)

  • Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc

Getty Images


President: Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema

Image copyright Getty Images

Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema succeeded his father, who died in 2005 after ruling the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

The military installed Faure Gnassingbe as president, but following intense domestic and international pressure he called elections. Hundreds died challenging his victory in those polls.

Gnassingbe has won two more elections, in 2010 and 2015. Both were decried by the opposition, but the European Union, Togo's leading nternational lender, said the 2015 election "went off calmly, confirming the Togolese people's attachment to democracy".

The African Union and regional bloc ECOWAS also said the vote was free and transparent.

Opposition groups have protested against changes to the electoral law which they said further favoured the governing coalition.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba in north-eastern Togo, is listed as a World Heritage Site

Impunity for crimes against journalists has created a "tense and illiberal" media environment, US-based Freedom House reports.

Radio is the most popular medium, particularly in rural areas. The main TV station is government-owned Television Togolaise. The government also operates Togo-Presse daily.

Private media have proliferated. There are dozens of commercial and community radios and weekly newspapers, as well as a handful of private TV stations.

But many private media firms suffer from shaky finances and lag behind state-owned rivals in attracting advertising revenue.


Some key events in Togo's history:

15-17th centuries - Ewe clans from Nigeria and the Ane from Ghana and Ivory Coast settle in region already occupied by Kwa and Voltaic peoples. In the 1700s, however, the coastal areas are occupied by Danes.

1884 - German protectorate of Togoland established, forced labour used to develop plantations. Germans lose Togoland to British and French forces in 1914, and in 1922 the western part of the country is handed to Britain while France is given the eastern area by a mandate from the League of Nations.

1960 - Independence.

1967 - Gnassingbe Eyadema seizes power in bloodless coup, political parties dissolved. A decade later Eyadema is elected as president as the sole candidate in the first parliamentary polls since 1967. He is re-elected in 1986, 1998 and 2003.

1992 - New constitution approved. In 1993 Eyadema dissolves government, sparking protests and fatal clashes with police. Thousands flee to neighbouring states. European Union breaks ties with government.

2004 - European Union restores partial diplomatic relations.

2005 - President Gnassingbe Eyadema dies, aged 69. The military appoints his son Faure as president in a move condemned as a coup. Under international pressure Faure stands down and agrees to hold presidential elections, which he wins although the opposition condemn it as rigged and it is followed by deadly street violence between rival supporters.

2006 - Government and opposition sign an accord providing for the participation of opposition parties in a transitional government. The next year, the European Union restores full economic cooperation after a 14-year suspension, citing Togo's successful multi-party elections.

2012 - Clashes as demonstrators gather in Lome to protest against reforms to the electoral code that favour the ruling party. The next year, the ruling party wins two-thirds of parliamentary seats in elections.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gnassingbe Eyadema seized power and ruled for almost four decades

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