|General background: French Togoland
became Togo in 1960. General Gnassingbe EYADEMA, installed
as military ruler in 1967, is Africa's longest-serving
head of state. Despite the facade of multiparty elections
instituted in the early 1990s, the government continues
to be dominated by President EYADEMA, whose Rally of
the Togolese People (RPT) party has maintained power
almost continually since 1967. In addition, Togo has
come under fire from international organizations for
human rights abuses and is plagued by political unrest.
Most bilateral and multilateral aid to Togo remains
Area comparative: Slightly smaller
than West Virginia.
hot, humid in south; semiarid in north.
Gently rolling savanna in north; central hills; southern
plateau; low coastal plain with extensive lagoons and
Ethnic groups: Native African (37 tribes;
largest and most important are Ewe, Mina, and Kabre)
99%, European and Syrian-Lebanese less than 1%
Religions: Indigenous beliefs 51%, Christian
29%, Muslim 20%
Language: French (official and the language
of commerce), Ewe and Mina (the two major African
languages in the south), Kabye (sometimes spelled
Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages
in the north)
Government type: Republic under transition
to multiparty democratic rule.
Legal system: French-based court system.
Economic overview: This small sub-Saharan
economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and
subsistence agriculture, which provides employment
for 65% of the labor force. Some basic foodstuffs
must still be imported. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton
generate about 40% of export earnings, with cotton
being the most significant cash crop despite falling
prices on the world market. 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 XOF currency by
50% provided an important impetus to renewed structural
adjustment. In the industrial sector, phosphate mining
is by far the most important activity. Togo is the
world's fourth largest producer, and geological advantages
keep production costs low. The recently privatized
mining operation, Office Togolais des Phosphates (OTP),
is slowly recovering from a steep fall in prices in
the early 1990's, but continues to face the challenge
of tough foreign competition, exacerbated by weakening
demand. Togo serves as a regional commercial and trade
center. It continues to expand its duty-free export-processing
zone (EPZ), launched in 1989, which has attracted
enterprises from France, Italy, Scandinavia, the US,
India, and China and created jobs for Togolese nationals.
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.
Progress depends on following through on privatization,
increased openness in government financial operations,
progress towards legislative elections, and possible
downsizing of the military, on which the regime has
depended to stay in place. Lack of large-scale foreign
aid, deterioration of the financial sector, energy
shortages, and depressed commodity prices continue
to constrain economic growth. The takeover of the
national power company by a Franco-Canadian consortium
in 2000 should ease the energy crisis.
Communication/Telephone system: Fair system
based on a network of microwave radio relay routes
supplemented by open-wire lines and a mobile cellular
Places of interest: Its capital city, Lomé,
and the beaches that surround it are the big draws
for most vacationers.
Travel tips: Unrest in the recent past requires
you to be cautious and alert.