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Togo country profile

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Togo, a narrow strip of land on Africa's west coast, has for years been the target of criticism over its human rights record and political governance.

Granted independence from France in 1960, Togo has struggled to build a stable country and economy.

The country has gained notoriety as a transit point for ivory poached elsewhere in the region. Poaching has risen in recent years across the continent, where well-armed criminal gangs kill elephants for tusks and rhino for their horns, before shipping them to Asia for use in ornaments and supposed medicine.

Togo is one of the world's top five producers of phosphates, which are used in fertilisers, but remains poor and dependent on foreign aid.

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Togolese Republic

Capital: Lome

  • Population 7.6 million

  • Area 56,785 sq km (21,925 sq miles)

  • Languages French (official), local languages

  • Major religions Indigenous beliefs, Christianity, Islam

  • Life expectancy 59 years (men), 61 years (women)

  • Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc

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President: Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema

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Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema succeeded his father, who died in 2005 after ruling the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

The military installed Faure Gnassingbe as president, but following intense domestic and international pressure he called elections. Hundreds died challenging his victory in those polls.

Gnassingbe has won three more elections, in 2010, 2015 and 2020. All were criticised by the opposition.

Constitutional changes in 2019 allowed President Gnassingbe to seek re-election and potentially stay in office until 2030 - an issue that sparked huge protests in 2017-18.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionKoutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba in north-eastern Togo, is listed as a World Heritage Site

Radio is the most popular medium, particularly in rural areas. The main TV station is government-owned Television Togolaise. The government also operates Togo-Presse daily.

Private media have proliferated. There are dozens of commercial and community radios and weekly newspapers, as well as a handful of private TV stations.

A penal code criminalising media offences was introduced in 2015, raising media freedom concerns.

Some key events in Togo's history:

15-17th centuries - Ewe clans from Nigeria and the Ane from Ghana and Ivory Coast settle in region already occupied by Kwa and Voltaic peoples. In the 1700s, however, the coastal areas are occupied by Danes.

1884 - German protectorate of Togoland established, forced labour used to develop plantations. Germans lose Togoland to British and French forces in 1914, and in 1922 the western part of the country is handed to Britain while France is given the eastern area by a mandate from the League of Nations.

1960 - Independence.

1967 - Gnassingbe Eyadema seizes power in bloodless coup, political parties dissolved.

1992 - New constitution approved. In 1993 President Eyadema dissolves government, sparking protests and fatal clashes with police. Thousands flee to neighbouring states.

2005 - President Eyadema dies, aged 69. The military appoints his son Faure as president, and he goes on to win elections that year and again in 2010, 2015 and 2020. Opposition parties denounce the results as fraudulent.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionGnassingbe Eyadema seized power and ruled for almost four decades

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