Republic, western Africa.
Area: 21,925 sq mi (56,785 sq km). Population (2008 est.): 6,762,000.
Capital: Lomé. It has some 30 ethnic groups; the Ewe is the largest.
Languages: French (official), Ewe, other indigenous languages.
Religions: Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic), traditional beliefs,
Islam. Currency: CFA franc. Togo occupies a strip of land about 70 mi
(115 km) wide that extends about 320 mi (515 km) inland from the Gulf of
Guinea. Regions include a swampy coastal plain, a northern savanna, and
a central mountain range. The developing economy is based largely on
agriculture. Chief crops are cassava (manioc), yams, corn (maize),
cotton, coffee, and cacao. It is one of the world’s leading producers of
phosphates; food products, beverages, and cement are also important.
Togo is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the
president, supported by the military, and the head of government is the
prime minister. Until 1884 what is now Togo was an intermediate zone
between the states of Asante and Dahomey, and its various ethnic groups
lived in general isolation from each other. In 1884 it became part of
the Togoland German protectorate, which was occupied by British and
French forces in 1914. In 1922 the League of Nations assigned eastern
Togoland to France and the western portion to Britain. In 1946 the
British and French governments placed the territories under UN
trusteeship. Ten years later British Togoland was incorporated into the
Gold Coast, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the
French Union. Togo gained independence in 1960. It suspended its
constitution from 1967 to 1980. A constitution providing for multiparty
government was approved in 1992, but the political situation remained
Official name République Togolaise (Togolese Republic)
Form of government multiparty republic1 with one legislative body
(National Assembly )
Head of state and government President assisted by Prime Minister
Official language French
Official religion none
Monetary unit CFA franc (CFAF)
Population estimate (2008) 6,762,000
Total area (sq mi) 21,925
Total area (sq km) 56,785
1Transitional government ended with October 2007 elections.
country of western Africa. Lomé, the capital, is situated in the
southwest of the country and is the largest city and port.
Until 1884 what is now Togo was an intermediate zone between the
states of Asante and Dahomey, and its various ethnic groups lived in
general isolation from each other. In 1884 it became part of the
Togoland German protectorate, which was occupied by British and French
forces in 1914. In 1922 the League of Nations assigned eastern Togoland
to France and the western portion to Britain. In 1946 the British and
French governments placed the territories under United Nations
trusteeship (see Trusteeship Council). Ten years later British Togoland
was incorporated into the Gold Coast, and French Togoland became an
autonomous republic within the French Union. Togo gained independence in
1960. The economy rests largely on agriculture, although the country’s
extensive phosphate reserves are also significant.
From its 32-mile (51-km) coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, Togo
extends northward for about 320 miles (515 km) between Ghana to the west
and Benin to the east to its boundary with Burkina Faso in the north.
Relief, drainage, and soils
Togo consists of six geographic regions. The low-lying, sandy
beaches of the narrow coastal region are backed by tidal flats and
shallow lagoons, the largest of which is Lake Togo. Beyond the coast
lies the Ouatchi Plateau, which stretches about 20 miles (32 km) inland
at an elevation of some 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 metres). This is the
region of the so-called terre de barre, a lateritic (reddish, leached,
Northeast of the plateau is a tableland, the highest elevations
reaching 1,300 to 1,500 feet (400 to 460 metres). This region is drained
by the Mono River and its tributaries, including the Ogou, and other
smaller rivers. West and southwest of the tableland the terrain
gradually rises toward the Togo Mountains, which run across central Togo
from the south-southwest to the north-northeast. Part of a chain that
begins in the Atakora Mountains of Benin, the range ends in the Akwapim
Hills of Ghana (see Akwapim-Togo ranges). Mount Agou (Baumann Peak),
which rises to about 3,235 feet (986 metres), is the highest mountain in
Togo. Beyond the Togo Mountains to the north lies the Oti River
sandstone plateau. This is a savanna region drained by the Oti River,
one of the main tributaries of the Volta. To the far northwest is a
higher region of granite and gneiss; the cliffs of Dapaong (Dapango) are
located in this region.
Togo has a tropical climate. In the south the rainy seasons occur
from mid-April through June and from mid-September through October. The
narrow coastal zone, which receives about 35 inches (890 mm) of
precipitation annually, is the driest region. The area near Palimé,
about 65 miles (100 km) inland, receives the highest amount of
precipitation—about 70 inches (1,800 mm) annually. The north has only
one rainy season, when precipitation averages about 45 inches (1,150
mm), mostly falling from June to the end of September; during the rest
of the year the warm, dry harmattan (a dust-laden wind) predominates.
Mean annual temperatures vary from the high 70s F (mid-20s C) along the
coast and in the mountains to the low 80s F (high 20s C) on the northern
plateau. Daily minimum temperatures reaching the high 60s F (low 20s C)
are recorded in the mountains in August. Daily maxima in the low 100s F
(high 30s C) occur in the north during March and April at the end of the
long dry season.
Plant and animal life
Savanna-type vegetation is predominant in Togo. On the southern
plateaus large trees, including the baobab, are common, but they are
rare in the north. The southwestern highland regions are covered with
tropical forests, also found along the river valleys. The coastal zone
is dotted with mangrove and reed swamps.
Wild animals are not found in great numbers, especially in the
southern and central regions. A few lions, leopards, and elephants can
be seen in the north. Monkeys, snakes, and lizards are numerous in many
areas, and crocodiles and hippopotamuses abound in the rivers. In the
Keran Forest Reserve near Sansanné-Mango in the north, there are wild
herds of buffalo, asses, warthogs, antelope, and deer. Numerous species
of birds and insects are found in the country. Fish caught off the coast
include mackerel, bass, seabream, red snapper, triggerfish, dorado, ray,
and sole, while crustaceans include shrimp and lobster.
Ethnic groups and languages
The population of Togo is made up of about 30 ethnic groups, many of
whom are immigrants from other parts of western Africa. The groups
indigenous to Togo live in the north and southwest. The northern groups
include the following Gur-speaking peoples: the Gurma; the Natimba, Dye,
and Konkomba; the Tamberma; the Basari; the Moba; the Losso (Naudem);
the Kabre and Logba; and the Lamba (Namba); a small number of
Atlantic-speaking Fulani; and the Kebu (Akebu). In the southwest the
indigenous Kwa peoples also belonging to the central Togo group are the
Kposo (Akposso), the Adele, and the Ahlo.
The Ewe, who emigrated from Nigeria between the 14th and 16th
century, form the major ethnic group. There are also some scattered
Yoruba, mainly Ana. Groups who emigrated from present-day Ghana and Côte
d’Ivoire since the 17th century include the Mina (Ga and Ané), the
Ga-Dangme, the Kpelle and the Anyama, the Chakosi, and the Dagomba. The
northern groups—the Kotokoli (or Temba), Gurma, and Mossi—entered mainly
from Burkina Faso.
Most of the country’s non-Africans—the majority of whom are
French—live in Lomé. Brazilians, or Portuguese of Brazilian birth,
constituted the original trading settlement in Togo, and today
African-Brazilians are closely associated with economic and political
The official language is French, although it is not widely spoken
outside of business and government. Widely spoken indigenous languages
belong to the Niger-Congo language family and include Ewe in the south
and Kabiye in the north.
Almost half of the population is Christian, many of whom are Roman
Catholic, although there are also substantial Protestant, independent,
and other Christian communities. Since independence, the Roman Catholic
Church in Togo has been headed by a Togolese archbishop. The main
Protestant (Calvinist) church has been governed for a long time by
About one-third of Togo’s population adhere to various ancestral
forms of belief, including Yoruba-based sects associated with vodou
(voodoo). More than one-tenth of the population is Muslim.
The majority of Togo’s population lives in small villages scattered
throughout the rural areas. Lomé, the largest urban centre, is spread
along the coast. At its centre, there is a mixture of old and new
commercial and administrative buildings. Aného (Anécho), another coastal
town, was once the country’s leading European trade centre but is now
declining. Other main towns include Tsévié and Tabligbo in the lowland
plateau; Kpalimé, Atakpamé, Sokodé, Bassar (Bassari), and Kara
(Lama-Kara) at the base of the Togo Mountains; and Sansanné-Mango
(Mango) and Dapaong in the far north.
Togo’s population is growing at a rate slightly higher than the
sub-Saharan African average and well above the global average. Like
other countries in the region, its birth rate is high; by contrast,
however, its death rate is relatively low. On the whole, the Togolese
population is quite young: more than two-fifths of the population are
younger than age 15, and some three-fourths of the population are age 29
or younger. Although well below the global average, the life expectancy
for both men and women is nevertheless higher than the average for
Among the smallest countries in Africa, Togo enjoys one of the
highest standards of living on the continent owing to its valuable
phosphate deposits and a well-developed export sector based on
agricultural products such as coffee, cocoa beans, and peanuts
(groundnuts). Low market prices for Togo’s major export commodities,
however, coupled with the volatile political situation of the 1990s and
early 2000s, had a negative effect on the economy.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
The variety of soils and climates enables Togo to grow a wide range
of products. A large proportion of the population is engaged in
agricultural pursuits, many of which are subsistence-based; agricultural
products also factor prominently in the Togolese foreign exchange
income. Staple crops include corn (maize), cassava (manioc), rice, yams,
sorghum, millet, and peanuts; export crops include cocoa beans
(harvested from cacao trees), coffee, shea nuts, cotton, and palm
kernels. Prior to 1996 a government agency, the Office of Agricultural
Products of Togo, held a monopoly on the foreign sale of Togolese
products. Since then government policy has shifted toward encouraging
increased cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Cattle, sheep, and pigs are raised in the plateau region and the
north. Fishing is carried out on the coast and in the well-stocked
inland rivers and ponds. Most of the catch is consumed locally. Forests
cover less than one-tenth of Togo’s total area; heavy rates of
deforestation—due in large part to slash-and-burn agriculture and the
need for wood fuel—have greatly diminished the proportion of Togo’s
wooded area, particularly in the early 2000s.
Resources and power
Mining and quarrying dominate industry in Togo. Phosphate is the
major mineral resource and one of the country’s leading export items.
Deposits include those at Hahoetoé and Kpogamé, directly northeast of
Lomé in the south of the country. Togo is one of the world’s largest
phosphate producers. Togo’s considerable limestone reserves, also mined
near Lomé, are utilized primarily for cement production. Togo also has
substantial marble deposits.
Other mineral resources with commercial potential include iron ore,
bauxite, uranium, chromite (an oxide of iron and chromium), gold,
diamonds, rutile (titanium dioxide), manganese oxide, and kaolin (china
clay). While the iron ore reserves are large, the metal content is only
slightly more than 50 percent. The bauxite has a low mineral content.
More than three-fifths of the electricity generated in Togo is
hydroelectric, although petroleum is also an important source of energy.
In addition to electricity from domestic sources, Togo imports energy
from neighbouring countries to meet demand.
The Togolese manufacturing sector is relatively small. Manufacturing
in the past centred on the processing of agricultural commodities and
the import substitution of consumer goods (textiles, footwear,
beverages, and tires). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, major
investments in heavy industrial schemes included a cement plant, a
petroleum refinery, a steelworks, and a phosphoric acid plant, but some
of these have since closed down. Several industrial free zones have been
established in Togo, including that at Lomé.
Finance and trade
Togo’s currency is the CFA franc, which has been officially pegged
to the euro since 2002. Currency is issued by the Central Bank of West
African States, an agency of the West African Economic and Monetary
Union, consisting of eight countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte
d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) that were once
French colonies in Africa.
Imports include mineral fuels, food, construction materials,
machinery, transport equipment, pharmaceuticals, and paper products. Low
customs duties have encouraged significant smuggling of imported
consumer goods to neighbouring countries with higher tariffs, especially
Ghana. Aside from phosphate and agricultural products, which account for
a large proportion of Togolese export earnings, some iron and steel and
cement are exported. Togo’s main trading partners are France, China,
Côte d’Ivoire, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.
The services sector accounts for more than two-fifths of the gross
domestic product. Conflict in the 1990s and early 2000s disrupted the
service industry, including tourism, which was a significant source of
foreign revenue before that time.
Labour and taxation
More than half the labour force works in the agricultural sector,
which meets the majority of the population’s food requirements and
produces agricultural commodities, such as cotton, for export. Most
Togolese workers are permitted to participate in union activity and to
strike; government health workers may not strike, and security forces
may neither strike nor form unions.
Indirect taxes, almost entirely on imports and exports, account for
most of the government’s ordinary budget revenues. Direct taxes consist
of an income tax, a progressive tax on all profits, taxes on wages paid
by employers, a tax on rental values and land, and head taxes.
Three main road systems include the scenic coastal road between
Ghana and Benin; the road from Lomé north to Burkina Faso; and roads
serving the cacao- and coffee-producing area of Kpalimé, Badou, and
Atakpamé. Some one-third of the country’s roadways are paved.
The national railway provides service on a number of lines that
emanate from Lomé. One line connects Kpalimé with the capital; other
lines run to Aného, Tabligbo, and Blitta.
Lomé is Togo’s principal port and has been an important transit point
for a number of Togo’s landlocked neighbours. Its artificial harbour was
inaugurated in 1968. A second port is located at Kpémé, about 22 miles
(35 km) northeast of Lomé, and is used to handle phosphate shipments.
The international airport at Tokoin (near Lomé) links Togo with
European and other African countries. A second international airport is
located at Niamtougou in the north. Local airports include those at
Atakpamé, Sokodé, Sansanné-Mango, and Dapaong.
Government and society
The military coup d’état of 1967 abolished the constitution of 1963
and dissolved the National Assembly. A new constitution in 1992
established the president as head of state and a directly elected
multiparty National Assembly, members of which serve five-year terms.
The president, who is elected by direct universal suffrage for a term
that also lasts five years, appoints the prime minister from the
parliament majority. In 2002 a two-term limit on the presidency was
The country is divided into five régions—Maritime, Plateaux,
Centrale, Kara, and Savanes—for the purposes of economic planning. The
five régions are subdivided into préfectures, each of which is headed by
a district chief assisted by a district council.
The local administrative apparatus is complemented by traditional
authorities, which include traditional ethnic kings or chiefs, village
chiefs, and heads of family groups. These traditional authorities play a
role in the judicial system, dealing with certain questions of customary
law. The judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and consists of a
number of law courts in which civil, commercial, administrative, and
criminal cases are heard.
Suffrage is universal. Various ethnic groups participate in the
government, and political parties often have distinct ethnic
affiliations. Women hold some senior government positions and seats in
the National Assembly, though they are not widely represented. Togo had
been ruled since 1969 by the Rally of the Togolese People, which was the
sole political party until 1991 when parties were legalized. Since that
time, numerous political parties have been formed. Important among these
are the Union of Forces of Change and the Action Committee for Renewal.
The Togolese armed forces are composed of ground forces, a navy, an
air force, and a gendarmerie. Individuals are eligible for selective
compulsory and voluntary military service at age 18, and obligations
last for two years.
In urban areas such as Lomé, the traditional housing unit is a big
walled compound composed of a group of isolated rooms, each opening onto
a courtyard. Rural housing differs throughout the country. A common
sight along the coast is the rectangular houses built either of clay and
timber or of coconut or palm branches and topped by double-eaved
thatched roofs. Scattered throughout the coconut plantations, they are
not far from the beaches. Inland in the south, thatched rectangular huts
made of adobe are clustered around big trees and surrounded by earthen
walls or fences made of palm branches. In the north, the traditional
adobe or stone huts are circular and are topped by conical roofs or
thatched turrets. They are usually gathered in units corresponding to
family groups; often enclosed by earthen walls, they are sometimes
interlinked. The houses of the Koutammakou region in the northeast,
inhabited by the Batammariba, are one such example; they have been
recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for their cultural value.
Distinctive of the northern Kara region is the high density of villages
that stretch along the highway or climb up the slopes of the many hills.
Education is modeled after the French system. Primary education,
which begins at six years of age and lasts for six years, is technically
compulsory. Secondary education begins at 12 years of age and is made up
of two cycles of four and three years, respectively. Both primary and
secondary education are provided by public or parochial schools.
The University of Lomé (founded in 1970) provides French-language
instruction and has schools of humanities and science and a university
institute of technology. The University of Kara (founded in 1974) offers
instruction in a range of faculties, including arts and humanities and
law and politics. A school of architecture and town planning, also at
Lomé, was founded in 1975 by the African and Mauritian Common
Like other African peoples, the Togolese have a strong oral
tradition. Little has been done, however, to promote vernacular
literature. Before independence there were a few Togolese writers using
French. Since independence, regional (especially Ewe) literature emerged
with the works of several novelists and playwrights. Founded in 1967,
the African Ballet of Togo has aimed at popularizing the finest
traditional dances. The country’s national archives and national library
are centred in Lomé.
Holidays observed in Togo include those celebrated by the Christian
population, such as Easter, Assumption, Whitmonday, All Saints’ Day, and
Christmas. The country’s Muslim community observes ʿĪd al-Fiṭr, which
marks the end of Ramadan, and ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā, which marks the culmination
of the hajj rites. Other holidays include Liberation Day (January 13),
which commemorates the anniversary of the coup of 1967; Independence Day
(April 27); and the anniversary of the failed attack by dissidents on
Lomé in 1986, observed on September 23.
Sports and recreation
Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Togo, and the country
has enjoyed international success. Togolese also enjoy boxing. In the
late 1990s super middleweight Zafrou Balloqou was ranked in the world’s
top 10, and Yacoubou Moutakilou and Abdoukerin Hamidou also have found
success in the ring. The country competes internationally in tennis and
in African Traditional Wrestling as well. Standout tennis players
include Komi and Gérard Loglo, who represented the country at the 1999
Davis Cup. Togo has largely been represented only by men in
international sporting events, and in 1998 a seminar was held on the
promotion of women in Togolese sports.
In 1963 Togo founded an Olympic committee, which was recognized by
the International Olympic Committee two years later. The country made
its Olympic debut at the 1972 Munich Games. The country claimed its
first Olympic medal at the 2008 Beijing Games when Benjamin Boukpeti
placed third in the men’s kayak event.
Media and publishing
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, in
practice that right is restricted, and journalists often exercise
self-censorship. Radio is a popular media format, particularly in rural
areas. In addition to state-controlled stations, a variety of private
stations are in operation, with broadcasts in English, French, and a
number of local languages. Television broadcasts are limited and are
Notable publications include Togo-Presse, the state publication, and
a variety of pro-opposition weeklies, including Carrefour, Le Combat du
Peuple, Le Crocodile, Motion d’Information, and Le Regard, all of which
were founded in the 1990s.
Macaire K. Pedanou
This discussion focuses on the history of Togo since the 19th
century. For a more complete treatment of the country in its regional
context, see western Africa, history of.
Until 1884 Togoland was an indeterminate buffer zone between the
warring states of Asante and Dahomey. The only port was Petit Popo
(Anécho, or Aného). Throughout the 18th century the Togo portion of the
Slave Coast was held by the Danes.
German missionaries arrived in Ewe territory in 1847, and German
traders were soon established at Anécho. In 1884 Gustav Nachtigal, sent
by the German government, induced a number of coastal chiefs to accept
German protection. The protectorate was recognized in 1885, and its
coastal frontiers with Dahomey and the Gold Coast were defined by
treaties with France and Great Britain. German military expeditions
(1888–97) met with little resistance, securing a hinterland the
boundaries of which also were determined by treaties with France (1897)
and Great Britain (1899).
Lomé, at the western end of the coast, was selected as the colonial
capital in 1897, a modern town was laid out, and in 1904 a jetty was
built. Three railways were constructed to open up the interior.
Exploitation was confined to the coastal and central areas and was
exclusively agricultural. Plantations were established both by the
government and by private German corporations, but crop development was
left mainly to the Togolese, assisted by agriculturists trained at a
college in Nuatja (Notsé). Upwardly mobile Ewe were recruited into what
was supposed to be Germany’s Musterkolonie (model colony). Trade was
chiefly in palm products, rubber, cotton, and cocoa beans. German
administration was efficient but marred by its harsh treatment of
Africans and use of forced labour.
On Aug. 7, 1914, at the outset of World War I, British and French
colonial troops from the Gold Coast and Dahomey invaded Togoland and on
August 26 secured the unconditional surrender of the Germans. Thereafter
the western part of the colony was administered by Britain, the eastern
part by France. By an Anglo-French agreement of July 10, 1919, France
secured the railway system and the whole coastline. After Germany
renounced its sovereignty in the Treaty of Versailles, the League of
Nations in 1922 issued mandates to Britain and France for the
administration of their spheres.
League of Nations mandate
The northern part of the British-mandated territory was
administered with the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, the
southern part with the Gold Coast Colony. Although the British
administration built roads connecting its sphere with the road system of
the Gold Coast, the bulk of the territory’s external trade passed over
the railways of French Togo.
French Togo was administered by a commissioner assisted by a
consultative executive council. When British Togo was attached to the
Gold Coast, French Togo was formed into a distinct unit until 1934, when
a kind of economic union was established with Dahomey; this was replaced
in 1936 by a qualified integration with French West Africa that lasted
10 years. Agricultural development was pursued, and a planned settlement
of the interior by the Kabre and other peoples was carried out. Peanut
(groundnut) cultivation was introduced in the northern areas, and
energetic action was taken against trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).
After World War II French Togo sent a deputy to the French National
Assembly, a counselor to the Assembly of the French Union, and two
senators to the Council of the Republic. A representative assembly was
concerned with internal affairs.
United Nations trusteeship
In 1946 the British and French governments placed their spheres
of Togoland under United Nations (UN) trusteeship. After 1947 the Ewe
people in southern Togoland represented to the Trusteeship Council that
either their territories or the whole of Togoland should be brought
under a common administration. These proposals were difficult to
implement because Ewe also inhabited the southeastern part of the Gold
Coast Colony and because not all the people of southern Togoland were
Ewe. The British colony was also rapidly advancing toward
self-government, and the incorporation of the northern part of the
British sphere with the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast had
reunited the Dagomba and Mamprusi kingdoms, both of which had been cut
in two by the pre-1914 boundary. Following a plebiscite held under UN
auspices on May 9, 1956, the British trust territory of Togoland was on
December 13 incorporated into the Gold Coast (although in the southern
districts of Ho and Kpandu the Ewe vote showed a two-to-one majority in
favour of continued British trusteeship). The Gold Coast and Togoland
together were renamed Ghana and achieved independence in 1957.
French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French
Union on Aug. 30, 1956. This status was confirmed (despite Ewe
opposition) by a plebiscite held in October under French auspices.
Nicolas Grunitzky was appointed premier. Following UN representations,
elections in April 1958 favoured complete independence and rejected
Grunitzky’s Togolese Progress Party in favour of Sylvanus Olympio’s
Togolese National Unity Party. Togo became independent on April 27,
After the 1961 elections, which established a presidential form of
government, Olympio became the first president. He maintained economic
cooperation with France. Togo became a member of the Organization of
African Unity (OAU, now the African Union) in 1963 and in 1965
subscribed to the renewed Joint African and Malagasy Organization, which
provided for economic, political, and social cooperation among
French-speaking African states.
Hubert Jules Deschamps
Ghanaian pressure for the integration of Togo with Ghana was resisted
by the Togolese and led to strained relations between the two republics,
including a trade embargo imposed by Ghana. Olympio’s increasingly harsh
rule and policy of fiscal austerity came to an end on Jan. 13, 1963.
Having rejected petitions to integrate into the national army Togolese
noncommissioned officers recently demobilized from France’s colonial
armies, Olympio was shot at the gates of the U.S. embassy (while seeking
sanctuary) by Sgt. Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma (later called Gnassingbé
Eyadéma). Grunitzky was invited to return from exile and assume the
presidency, and he was confirmed in office in subsequent elections that
also created a new constitution and legislature. Most of the
noncommissioned officers were integrated into an expanded army—many as
Cabinet infighting, aggravated in the south by Ewe feelings that with
Olympio’s assassination they had lost power to Grunitzky’s largely
pro-northern administration, led to chronic instability. On Jan. 13,
1967, Eyadéma, then a lieutenant colonel and chief of staff, once again
seized power and dissolved all political parties. Though relying
primarily on the support of his kinsmen in the north and the largely
northern-staffed army, Eyadéma’s rule was stabilized by a number of
other factors. Phosphate exports dramatically improved the economic
picture, allowing the regime to satisfy regional and ethnic interests
and to begin the first serious effort at transforming the countryside.
Meticulous ethnic balancing of the cabinet and an open-door economic
policy further attracted support from prospering traders (and smugglers
into Ghana), and by 1972 Eyadéma felt secure enough to seek popular
legitimation via a presidential plebiscite. In 1974 the phosphate
industry was nationalized, generating increased state revenues. On Dec.
30, 1979, the first legislative elections since 1967 were held under a
new constitution that formally placed Togo under civilian, one-party
rule headed by President Eyadéma and the Rally of the Togolese People.
Legislative elections were held again in 1985.
Eyadéma’s power was overtly challenged on Sept. 23, 1986, when a
group of armed dissidents entered the country from Ghana. The ensuing
violent confrontation between the dissidents and Togolese authorities,
largely centred in Lomé, ended after several hours and resulted in the
deaths or arrests of most dissidents. Later that year, Eyadéma was
elected to a second seven-year term with almost 100 percent of the vote.
A commission was established in 1990 to draft a new constitution, which
prompted the legalization of political parties in 1991 and the adoption
of a democratic constitution in 1992. However, in the first multiparty
elections in August 1993, Eyadéma was reelected president amid
allegations of electoral fraud, and the same charges were leveled in
1998. Protests over the 1998 elections continued into 1999, affecting
the legislative elections held that year, and instigated an independent
inquiry by the UN and the OAU. Their joint report, issued in 2001, found
that the government had systematically violated human rights during the
1998 presidential election. Eyadéma’s reelection in 2003 was again
clouded by accusations of fraud; however, these claims were refuted by
Despite his long tenure, Eyadéma’s regime was not without its
opponents. Most of these were Ewe from the south (including the
self-exiled sons of Olympio) rebelling against the northerner Eyadéma
and the cult of personality that progressively surrounded him. The
opposition sponsored conspiracies to topple Eyadéma and was held
responsible for a number of bombings in Lomé. Civil unrest, in the form
of strikes and sometimes-violent demonstrations, plagued Eyadéma as
well. The regime’s patronage base—and, by extension, its stability—was
also undermined in the 1980s and ’90s by an economic downturn. Falling
global prices for phosphates led to sharply lower state revenues, while
growing corruption and massive expenditures on the bloated civil service
and inefficient public enterprises strained the fiscal resources of the
state. Togo’s costly government-owned industries were dismantled or
privatized, and the country’s heavy national debt was often rescheduled.
In 2004 the European Union agreed to resume the flow of monetary aid to
Togo, which had been halted in 1993 as a protest against the poor
governance and lack of democracy in the country, if Togo met specified
criteria addressing such issues as election reform and the repeal of
controversial press laws.
After Eyadéma’s unexpected death in February 2005, his son, Faure
Gnassingbé, was hastily installed as president by the military—an action
critics characterized as a coup. After weeks of international
condemnation, Gnassingbé stepped down and a presidential election was
held in April. He was declared the winner of that election, which was
initially certified by some international observers as free and fair but
later marred as reports of considerable fraud emerged. The opposition
refused to immediately concede defeat, and hundreds of people were
killed and thousands fled from the country in the violent post-election
Dialogue between the government and the opposition—which had lapsed
following the death of Eyadéma the previous year—resumed in 2006 and
led, with opposition participation, to the formation of a transitional
government. Legislative elections late the following year, in which the
ruling party was victorious, were characterized as free and fair by