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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
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
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
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
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,
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information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
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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
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