Togo

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For other uses, see Togo (disambiguation).

The Togolese Republic is a country in West Africa, bordering Ghana in the west, Benin in the east and Burkina Faso in the north. In the south, it has a short Gulf of Guinea coast, on which the capital Lomé is located.

République Togolaise
Image:Togcoa.jpg
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: Travail, Liberté, Patrie
(French: Work, Liberty, Homeland)
image:LocationTogo.png
Official language French
Capital Lomé
President Faure Gnassingbé
Prime Minister Edem Kodjo
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 122nd
56,785 km²
4.2
Population
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 106th
5,556,812 (2002)
98/km²
Independence
 - Date
From France
April 27, 1960
Currency CFA franc
Time zone UTC
National anthem Salut à toi, pays de nos aïeux (Hail to thee, land of our forefathers)
Internet TLD .tg
Calling Code 228

Contents

History

Main Article: History of Togo

Before European settlement

No one is quite sure what was happening in Togo before the Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century. Various tribes moved into the country from all sides - the Ewé from Nigeria and Benin and the Mina and Guin from Ghana.

European Colony

1916 stamp
Enlarge
1916 stamp

When the slave trade began in earnest in the 16th century, several of the tribes - especially the Mina - became agents for the European traders, travelling inland to buy slaves from the Kabyé and other northern tribes. Denmark staked a claim on Togo in the 18th century, but in 1884, Germany signed a deal with a local king, Mlapa III, and Togoland became a German colony. The Germans brought scientific cultivation to the country's main export crops (cacao, coffee and cotton) and developed its infrastructure to the highest level in Africa. Still in 1914, Togo was occupied by French and British forces. Togo was split between the British and the French by League of Nations mandates after World War I ended in 1918. And all the surrounding countries.

Independence

During the colonial period, the Mina grew in political and economic influence by virtue of their coastal position and long association with Europeans. The Ewé, by contrast, were divided with the dissection of Togoland, and political groups on both sides began to agitate for reunification. Hopes for unity were dashed when British Togoland voted to be incorporated into Ghana, then on the brink of independence. After the expiration of the French-administered UN trusteeship on April 27, 1960, the French side declared its independence, with French Togoland becoming Togo.

Military Coup d'Etat

In 1963, Togo became the first country on the continent to experience a military coup following independence (Africa has averaged at least two a year since then, plus many more unsuccessful attempts). President Sylvanus Olympio, who took office as soon as Togo gained independence in 1960, was overthrown by 626 Togolese veterans of the French army. When Olympio refused to allow the veterans, many of whom had fought in Indochina and Algeria, to join Togo's army, they deposed him in a military coup on January 13, 1963. He was killed the next day, shot by Sgt. Étienne Eyadéma. Olympio's brother-in-law, Nicolas Grunitzky, returned from exile and was put in charge, but he too was deposed in January 1967 by then Lt Colonel (later General) Étienne Eyadéma who became president. Since then, despite the façade of multiparty rule instituted in the early 1990s, the government continues to be dominated by the military, which has maintained its power continuously since 1967 and is loyal to Eyadéma and his family.

Eyadéma set out to unify the country, insisting on one trade union confederation and one political party. After nearly losing his life in a plane crash that he (at least publicly) chalked up to an assassination attempt, Eyadéma nationalised the country's phosphate mines and ordered all Togolese to take an African name. He renamed himself Gnassingbé Eyadéma.

Economic expansion

It was, however, only a perfunctory strike against colonialism: Togo remained heavily dependent on the West. From the late 1960s to 1980, Togo experienced a booming economy, built largely on its phosphate reserves, and Eyadéma tried to mould the country into a traveller's and investor's paradise. His plans proved overly ambitious, and when the recession of the early 1980s hit and phosphate prices plummeted, Togo's economy fell into ruin. The government was plagued by numerous coup attempts. Eyadéma himself fired many of the shots that killed 13 attackers in a 1986 coup.

Fight for democracy

In the early 1990s, the international community began putting pressure on Eyadéma to democratize, a notion he resisted with a few waves of his trademark iron fist. Pro-democracy activists - mainly southern Mina and Ewé - were met with armed troops, killing scores of protesters in several clashes. The people of France and Togo were furious, and under their backlash Eyadéma gave in. He was summarily stripped of all powers and made president in name only. An interim prime minister was elected to take over command, but not four months later his residence was shelled with heavy artillery by Eyadéma's army. Their hardball tactics continued into 1993.

Terror strikes against the independent press and political assassination attempts became commonplace, while the promised 'transition' to democracy came to a standstill. The opposition continued to call general strikes, leading to further violence by the army and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of southerners to Ghana and Benin. Using intimidation tactics and clever political machinations that disqualified one opposition party and caused another to refuse to participate, Eyadéma won the 1993 presidential elections with more than 96% of the vote. In the years following, opposition parties have lost most of their steam and Eyadéma's control has become almost as firm as before the crisis began.

In August 1996, Prime Minister Edem Kodjo resigned, and the planning minister, Kwassi Klutse, was appointed prime minister. Eyadéma won another five-year term in June 1998 with 52% of the vote, nearly being defeated by Gilchrist Olympio, son of Sylvanus Olympio. Later investigations revealed widespread human rights abuses.

In 2002, in what critics called a 'constitutional coup', the national assembly voted unanimously to change the constitution and allow Eyadéma to 'sacrifice himself again' and run for a third term during the 2003 presidential elections. The constitutional change eliminated presidential term limits. Meanwhile, Gilchrist Olympio's attempts to beat the man who overthrew his father were scuppered yet again when he was banned from running on a tax-law technicality.

Despite allegations of electoral fraud, Eyadéma won 57% of the votes in the 2003 elections, which international observers from the African Union described as generally free and transparent. For many Togolese, there was little optimism for the future and a prevailing sense of déjà vu as Eyadéma extended his record as Africa's longest-serving ruler.

Current political situation

On February 5, 2005, Eyadéma died of a heart attack. Shortly afterwards, his son Faure Gnassingbé was named by Togo's military as the country's leader, raising numerous eyebrows. The constitution of Togo declared that in the case of the president's death, the speaker of Parliament takes his place, and has 60 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 African Union described the takeover as a military coup d'état. [1] International pressure came also from the United Nations. Within Togo, opposition to the takeover culminated in riots in which four people died. In response, Gnassingbé agreed to hold elections in April 2005. On February 25, Gnassingbé resigned as president, soon after accepting nomination to run for the office in April. Parliament designated Deputy Speaker Bonfoh Abbass as interim president until the inauguration of the election winner. [2] On May 3, 2005, Gnassingbé was sworn in as the new president garnering 60% of the vote according to official results. Disquiet 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. [3] 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, Olusegun Obasanjo, has sought to negotiate between the incumbent government and the opposition to establish a coalition government, but surpisingly rejected an AU Commission appointment of former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, as special AU envoy to Togo ([4] and [5]).

Geography

Main article: Geography of Togo

Togo is located in Western Africa. It is a small sub-Saharan nation. It borders the Bight of Benin in the south. Ghana lies to the west, Benin to the east. 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 a little bit smaller than West Virginia with 21 927 mi2, with a density of 232 people/mi2.

Regions

Main Article: Regions of Togo

Togo is divided into 5 regions. From north to south these regions are Savanes, Kara, Centrale, Plateaux, Maritime.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Togo

This small Sub-Saharan economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for 65% of the labor force. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton together generate about 30% of export earnings. Togo is self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs when harvests are normal, with occasional regional supply difficulties. In the industrial sector, phosphate mining is by far the most important activity, although it has suffered from the collapse of world phosphate prices and increased foreign competition.

Map of Togo
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Map of Togo

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, shrunk 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 following through on privatization, 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 to 5% a year in 2000 - 2001.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Togo

Togo's transition to democracy is stalled. Its democratic institutions remain nascent and fragile. President Eyadéma, who ruled Togo under a one-party system for nearly 25 of his 37 years in power, died February 5, 2005. Under the constitution, the speaker of parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, should have become president, pending a new election. Nevertheless, the army announced that Eyadéma's son Faure Gnassingbé, also known as Faure Eyadéma, who had been the communications minister, would succeed him. The stated justification was that Natchaba was out of the country. [6]. The government also moved to remove Natchaba as speaker [7] and replace him with Faure Gnassingbé, who was sworn in on February 7, 2005, despite the international criticism of the succession. [8]

Gnassingbé resigned on February 25 after controversy erupted over his succession, and ran as a candidate for the presidency. On April 24, 2005, Gnassingbé was elected president of Togo, receiving over 60% of the vote according to official results. See the History section of this article for details.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Togo

See also: Music of Togo, List of writers from Togo

See also

References

This article incorporates information from The World Factbook, which is in the public domain.

External links

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