U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Togo, October 1997

Released by the Office of West African Affairs, Bureau of African 

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. 
Climate: Tropical.

Nationality: Noun and adjective-Togolese (sing. and pl.). 
Population (1994 est.): 3.9 million. 
Annual growth rate (1996 est.): 6%.
Ethnic groups: Ewe, Mina, Kabye, Cotocoli, Moba.
Religions: Animist 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%.
Languages: French (official), local (Ewe, Mina, Kabye). 
Education: Attendance (1987 est.)-70% of age group 5-19 enrolled. 
Literacy (1990 est.)-male 43%, female 31%. 
Health: Life expectancy (1992 est.)-male 53 yrs., female 57 yrs.
Work force: (160,000): Agriculture-65%. Commerce-29%. Industry-less than 

Type: Republic.
Independence: April 27, 1960.
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); Comite 
d'action pour le Renouveau (CAR), and Union Togolaise pour la Democratie 
Suffrage: Universal adult.
National holiday: April 27, Independence Day.

GDP: (1994 est.): $1.04 billion.
Per capita income (1994): $260.
Natural resources: Phosphates, limestone, marble.
Agriculture: (42% of 1994 GDP): Products-yams, cassava, corn, millet, 
sorghum, cocoa, coffee, rice, cotton.
Industry (21% of 1994 GDP): Types-mining, manufacturing, construction, 
energy. Trade: 1994): Exports-$249 million: phosphates, textiles, cocoa, 
coffee, cotton. Imports-$330 million: consumer goods, including 
foodstuffs, fabrics, clothes, vehicles, equipment. Major partners-
France, U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, 
People's Republic of China, U.S., Poland. 

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 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 from 23oC to 32oC (75oF to 90oF). In the 
north, temperature fluctuations are greater-from 18oC to more than 38oC 


Togo's population of 3.9 million people (1994 estimate) 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 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% 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% 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 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 
judicial ties with France, shed its UN trusteeship status, and became 
fully independent under a provisional constitution with Olympio as 

A new constitution in 1961 established an executive president, elected 
for seven 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 two 
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 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 a 
more 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 seven-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 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 during which President Eyadema gradually gained the 
upper hand. This period was marked by frequent political paralysis and 
intermittent violence.

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 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 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 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.

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 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 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 

On December 15, 1994, the National Assembly approved a general amnesty 
for political offenses, resulting in the release of more than 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 

With the adoption of the 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 prefectures, each 
having an appointed prefect.

Principal Government Officials 
President--Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema
Prime Minister--Kwassi Klutse
Minister of Foreign Affairs and 
Cooperation--Koffi Panou

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.

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% 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 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 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 
international financial institutions' programs in the late 1980s, 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% of projected government 
revenues (excluding bilateral and multilateral assistance).

Togo is one of 16 members of the Economic Community of West African 
States (ECOWAS). 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 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 
US$20 million annually.

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 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 

As of 1996, U.S. economic aid to Togo includes about 100 Peace Corps 
volunteers and health-related projects amounting to more than US$2 
million. There is an active cultural and information exchange program 
run by the USIS cultural center.

U.S.-Togolese relations have been somewhat strained as a result of human 
rights abuses and the halting progress of the democratic transition. 
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. The USAID office 
in Lome was closed in 1994.

Principal U.S. Officials
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 (tel: 
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). 

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel 
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate 
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of 
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by 
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information 
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:  
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the 
modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set 
terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop 
bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the 
password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries 
international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory 
Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs 
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on 
obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased 
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous 
areas, are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a 
country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this 
publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an 

Further Electronic Information: 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; Country Commercial Guides; 
daily press briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service 
posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at .
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis 
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or 
fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, 
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet () 
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more 

Return to Africa Background Notes Archive
Return to Background Notes Archive Homepage
Return to Electronic Research Collection Homepage