U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Togo, June 1996
Bureau of African Affairs
Prepared and released by the Bureau of African Affairs,
Office of West African Affairs
Official Name: Republic of Togo
Area: 56,600 sq. km. (21,853 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than West
Cities: Capital--Lome(Pop. 1989 est. 600,000).
Terrain: Savannah and hills and coastal plain.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Togolese (sing. and pl.).
Population (1994 est.): 3.9 million.
Annual growth rate (1994 est.): 3.1 percent.
Density: 68/sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Ewe, Mina, Kabye, Cotocoli, Moba.
Religions: Animist 50 percent, Christian 30 percent, Muslim 20
Languages: French (official), local (Ewe, Mina, Kabye).
Education: Attendance (1987 est.)--70 percent of age group 5-19
enrolled. Literacy (1990 est.)--male 43 percent, female 31 percent.
Health: Life Expectancy (1992 est.)--Male 53 yrs., Female 57 yrs.
Work force (160,000): Agriculture--65 percent, Commerce--29
percent, Industry--less than 5 percent.
Independence: April 27, 1960.
Constitution: Adopted 1992.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state); prime minister (head of
government). Legislative--National Assembly. Judicial--Supreme
Subdivisions: 30 Prefectures.
Political parties: Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT); Comite
d'action pour le Renouveau (CAR), and Union Togolaise pour la
Suffrage: universal adult.
Central government budget (1989): US$289 million.
National holiday: April 27, Independence day.
Flag: alternating horizontal stripes, three green and two yellow, with a
white star in a red field in upper left corner.
GDP (1994 est.): US$1.04 billion.
Per capita income (1994): US$260.
Natural Resources: phosphates, limestone, marble.
Agriculture (42 percent of 1994 GDP): Products--yams, cassava, corn,
millet, sorghum, cocoa, coffee, rice, cotton.
Industry (21 percent of 1994 GDP): Types--mining, manufacturing,
Trade (1994): Exports--US$249 million: phosphates, textiles, cocoa,
coffee, cotton. Imports--US$330 million: Consumer goods, including
foodstuffs, fabrics, clothes, vehicles, equipment.
Partners--France, U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Nigeria, Cote
D'Ivoire, People's Republic of China, U.S., Poland.
Official exchange rate (June 1996): Communaute Financiere Africaine
(CFA) Franc floats with French Franc (100 CFA equals lFf). Avg.
U.S.$ 1 equals 500 CFA.
Fiscal Year: calendar year.
Membership International Organizations
UN, Organization of African Unity (OAU), Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS), Entente Council, West African
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 (l00 mi.) wide at the broadest point. The country
consists primarily of two savannah plains regions separated by a
southwest-northwest range of hills (the Chaine du Togo).
Togo's climate varies from tropical to savannah. The South is humid,
with temperatures ranging between 23 degrees C and 32 degrees C (75
degrees F- 90 degrees F). In the North, temperature fluctuations are
greater--from 18 degrees C to more than 38 degrees C (65 degrees F-
100 degrees F).
Togo's population of 3.9 million people (1994 estimate) is composed of
about 21 ethnic groups. The two major ones 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 is also 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 25 percent 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 (15 percent of the
population) live on submarginal 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
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 a
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 judicial 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 percent of the vote and all 51 National Assembly seats, and he
became Togo's first elected president.
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
became 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 noncommissioned 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 multiparty 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
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 a
more civilian rule with a mixed civilian and military cabinet. He
garnered 99.97 percent 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 percent of the vote in an uncontested elections.
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 for handing out anti-
government tracts sparked riots in Lome. The months that followed
were marked by anti- government demonstrations and violent clashes
with the security forces. In April 1991, the government began
negotiations with newly-formed opposition groups and agreed to a
general amnesty which 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 one- year transitional regime tasked with organizing free elections
for a new government. The conference selected Kokou Joseph
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 three years in which President Eyadema gradually gained the
upper hand. This period was marked by frequent political paralysis and
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. Under duress, 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, and another opposition leader, Tavio
Amorin, was assassinated in July.
In July and August 1992, a commission composed of presidential and
opposition representatives negotiated a new political agreement. This
agreement extended the transition period until the end of 1992 and
restored substantial power to President Eyadema. A new, third
transition government was formed by Prime Minister Koffigoh with
considerable participation by supporters of President Eyadema. The
government was mandated to hold elections in the near future. 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 on October 22-23, 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 the capital of Lome for months and resulted in severe damage to
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 in the presence of the
French Cooperation Minister and German Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs, 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 eight-hour
rampage throughout Lome, firing indiscriminately and killing at least
twelve persons. This incident provoked over 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, causing significant casualties and setting 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 Yaovi
Agboyibor, to drop out of the race before election day and to call for a
boycott. President Eyadema won the elections by a 96.42 percent vote
against token opposition. About 36 percent of the voters went to the
polls; the others boycotted.
A new commando attack on military sites in Lome was launched by
Ghana-based armed dissidents on January 5-7, 1994. Although
President Eyadema was unscathed, the attack and subsequent reaction
by the Togolese armed forces resulted in hundreds of deaths, mostly
The government went ahead with legislative elections on February 6
and 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 Yaovi
Agboyibor, whose CAR party had far more seats. Kodjo's acceptance
of the prime ministership 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. The National
Assembly approved the new government, about half of whose cabinet
members were associated with the RPT, on June 24. Kodjo's
announced program 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
nine-month boycott of the National Assembly. By late 1995, however,
Kodjo was forced to reshuffle his government, strengthening the
representation by Eyadema's RPT party. Since the beginning of 1996 it
has been increasingly clear that Eyadema has resumed control of most
aspects of government.
On December 15, 1994, the National Assembly approved a general
amnesty for political offenses, resulting in the release of over two
dozen prisoners. In August, 1995, the government signed an accord
with the UNHCR on the repatriation of Togolese refugees who
remained in Ghana and Benin.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
With the adoption of a new constitution in 1992, presidential and
legislative elections in 1993 and 1994, and the installation of a freely-
elected National Assembly and formation of a new government based
on the legislative results in 1994, Togo has acquired nascent
democratic institutions, but these remain fragile and only partially
developed. President Eyadema, who ruled under a one-party system for
nearly 25 years, remains the dominant political figure and retains
effective control of the security forces.
The Togolese judiciary is modeled on the French system. For
administrative purposes, Togo is divided into 30 perfectures, each
having an appointed prefect.
Principal Government Officials
President--General Gnassingbe Eyadema
Prime Minister--Edem Kodjo
Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation--Barry
Minister of State, Minister of Economy and Finance--Elom Emile
Minister of Defense--Bitokotipou Yaginim
Minister of Interior and Security--Col. Seyi Memene
Minister of Justice, Attorney General--Elliot Latevi-Atebo Lawson
Minister of Industry and State Enterprises--Payadowa Boukpessi
Minister of Rural Development and Hydraulic Resources--Yao Do
Minister charged with relations with the National Assembly--Atsutse
Minister of Equipment, Mines and Energy--Tchamdja Andjo
Minister of National Education and Scientific Research--Date Fodjo
Minister of Technical Education and Professional Training--Bamouni
Somolou Stanislas Baba
Minister of Plan and Territorial Management--Kwassi Klutse
Minister of Youth and Sports--Kouami Agbogboli Ihou
Minister of Communication and Culture--Solitoki Esso
Minister of Public Health--Etse Jean-Pierre Amedon
Minister of Environment and Tourism--Ayitou Singo
Minister of Commerce, Prices and Transport--Kodzo Mensah Joffre
Minister of Employment, Labor and Civil Service--Liwoibe Sambiani
Minister for Women's Promotion and Social Welfare--Mrs. Kissem
Minister of Human Rights and Rehabilitation--Ephrem Seth Dorkenoo
Minister-Delegate to the Minister of Interior, in charge of
decentralization--Kossivi Victor Ayassou
Although Togo's foreign policy is non-aligned, it has strong historical
and cultural ties with Western Europe, especially France and Germany.
Togo recognizes the People's Republic of China and North Korea. It
reestablished 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 Organization of African Unity. Relations
between Togo and neighboring states are generally good. Ties to
Ghana and Benin have been strained due to armed incursions by
Togolese dissidents residing in Ghana and the flow of Togolese
refugees into these two countries.
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 employ the majority of the
labor force and contribute about 42 percent to the gross domestic
product (GDP). Coffee and cocoa are traditionally the major cash crops
for export, but cotton cultivation increased rapidly in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, with 84,500 metric tons produced in 1994. Despite
insufficient rainfall in some areas, the Togolese government largely has
achieved its goal of self-sufficiency in food crops-- corn, cassava,
yams, sorghum, millet, and groundnut. Food crop production is
controlled by small - and medium-sized farms; average farm size is 1-3
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 clothing 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 2.4 million metric
tons of phosphates in 1994, 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 IFI programs in the late 1980's, but movement on
reforms ended with the onset of political instability in 1990-1991. With
a new, elected government in place, Togo negotiated new three-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 percent of projected
government revenues (excluding bilateral and multilateral assistance).
Togo is a member of the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS), a grouping of 16 West African countries. The ECOWAS
development fund is based in Lome. Togo is also 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 1990's. 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 US$20 million annually.
The Togolese military is one of the most important institutions in the
country. It serves as the ultimate power base for the president. The
Togolese armed forces total about 10,000, with most personnel in the
land forces, including armored, paratroop, and rapid intervention
divisions, as well as the presidential guard. Togo also has a small navy
with two coastal patrol craft, and a small air force with fighter and
transport aircraft. Historically, the Togolese armed forces have
obtained equipment form Eastern and Western sources. A number of
French military officers serve in advisory and technical capacities.
Many Togolese officers are trained in France; some also are trained in
other foreign countries. The U.S. government has provided training to
Togolese officers in the United States under the international military
education and training program.
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 fall in the dollar/CFA exchange rate in recent years has
helped make U.S. goods a little more competitive. The largest U.S.
exports to Togo generally have been used clothing and scrap textiles.
Other important U.S. exports include rice, wheat, shoes, 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 Agency for International
Development (AID), 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
As of 1996 U.S. economic aid to Togo includes about 90 Peace Corps
volunteers and health related projects amounting to over US$2 million.
There is an active cultural and information exchange program run by
USIS's cultural center.
U.S.-Togolese relations underwent strains during the turbulent
democratic transition period. U.S. military assistance was suspended in
the wake of political violence by members of the security forces
In 1991 and most economic assistance was suspended after further
army violence in late 1992 and early 1993. The USAID office in Lome
was closed in 1994.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador-- Johnny Young
Deputy Chief of Mission--Terence P. McCulley
Public Affairs officer (USIS)-- Theodore A. Boyd
Peace Corps Director-- James F. Bell
The U.S. embassy is located at Rue Pelletier and Rue Vauban, Lome
(telephone: 21-29-91/94). The mailing address is B.P. 852, Lome,
Togo (international mail) and Lome, Department of State, Washington,
D.C. 20521-2300 (by diplomatic pouch).
Climate and Clothing: Bring warm weather clothing. a light wrap is
useful in July and August.
Customs: U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter the country for stays
of under 3 months. Inoculation against yellow fever is required unless
the traveler is arriving from a noninfected area and is staying in Togo
less than 2 weeks. Malaria is a risk. As health requirements change,
please check latest information.
Currency: The CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine - African
Financial Community) franc is legal tender and no ceiling is imposed
on the number of CFA francs which may be brought into the country.
However, for conversion into U.S. dollars, obtain permission from the
government agency handling foreign exchange. Dollars and travelers
checks can be exchanged in Lome.
Health: Avoid tap water and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Local
medical services are limited.
Telecommunications: Voice and fax telecommunications improved
dramatically when a new satellite ground station came into service in
1981. It is now possible to directly dial many countries (including the
United States) from Togo. The embassy also recently contracted with a
U.S. company to provide a direct dial voice communications link to the
United States which has greatly reduced the costs of official
international telephone calls. The capability has also been extended to
embassy personnel in their homes at their expense. E-mail capability
was established in may 1994 for embassy users here in Lome.
Transportation: Air travel is the best way to get to Lome, which has
daily international flights to and from Europe and major West African
cities. Uncertain road conditions or frontier difficulties can complicate
automobile travel to Benin other than via the direct road from Lome to
Cotonou. Accra is an easy 3 hours drive from Lome, but the border has
been closed occasionally. Lagos is about 5 hours by road, depending on
border crossing formalities. Taxis are available in Lome and other
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