Togo is the artificial segment of a large landscape and the predominant landscape is the wet savannah. With an area of 56,785 km², Togo ranks 41st of the 54 independent states in Africa and with around 8 million residents, Togo is one of the most densely populated countries in West Africa.
Founded in 1884 as a German protected area, Togo was under German rule for 30 years and was administered as a mandate area by France and England after the First World War. On April 27, Togo was one of the first of 17 African countries to achieve independence in 1960. The recent history of Togo is shaped by the 38-year rule (1967-2005) of President Eyadéma.
Apart from the phosphate deposits, Togo is a tropical, rain-dependent agricultural country with few raw materials. Around two thirds of the population works in agriculture. Trade and not least the informal sector are important economic sectors. The legendary Nana Benz, the fabric wholesalers in Lomé are one of the ‘landmarks’ of the city.
According to a2zgov, Togo is a ‘young country’: over 60% of the population is under 25 years old. The small multiethnic country has an extraordinary cultural wealth. Some of the modern artists, painters, sculptors, designers, musicians and writers achieved international recognition.
The impressive friendliness and warmth of the population really make Togo a “Le Togo, le sourire de l’Afrique!”, As the state tourism authority presents the country in an advertising slogan. Wo̍ézɔn! Soyez les bienvenus!
Official name: Republic of Togo
Area: 56,785 km²
Residents: 8.2 million (2019, estimated)
Growth of population: 2.4% (2018, estimated)
Seat of government: Lomé
Official language: French
Regional languages: Ewé, Kabyé
The Republic of Togo is located on the Guinea coast of West Africa (56 km coast) between Ghana (877 km common border) in the west, Benin (644 km) in the east and Burkina Faso (126 km) in the north. The area is 56,785 km² (world rank 124) and Togo is 41st of the 54 independent states in Africa. That corresponds to the size of Baden-Württemberg and Hesse combined. This means that Togo is exactly half the size of the neighboring state of Benin. The population has more than doubled from just under 4 million in 1990 to 8.2 million in 2019 in just 20 years.
Basic data and brief descriptions
Country portraits and tables of Togo can be found at the Foreign Office, in the CIA World Factbook, at the country profile of the BBC and the French Foreign Ministry. The World Bank, the UN Statistical Department and the Togolese Institute National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques et Demographiques (INSEED) provide additional basic data.
The ARTE contribution ‘With open cards’ presents Togo in a short film and the Federal Agency for Civic Education has put together a short portrait of Togo for children and young people with ‘Hanisauland – Politics for You’. The GIGA Information Center in Hamburg has numerous titles on Togo in its online catalog on international relations and area studies, some with access to full online texts. The French ‘Cour Nationale du Droit d’Asile’ published a detailed collection of links on Togo, sorted by topic.
The residents of Togo are not called Togolese, but Togoers. The corresponding adjective is Togolese.
Landscapes and vegetation zones
Togo is the artificial segment of a large scenic area. The sandy coast has no natural harbors; the strong surf causes erosion problems and spits and lagoons formed (Lac Togo and the lagoon in Lomé). After the lagoon belt, which is only a few kilometers wide, there is a gently undulating hilly country (Terre de barre) and a sandstone plateau rising up to 500 m, which in the central region is crossed diagonally from southwest to northeast by the Togo-Atakora mountain range. The highest point of Togo is the Mont Agouat 986 m. In the north the mountains drop to the Oti plain and in the southeast to the Mono plain. In the area of today’s states of Togo, Benin and parts of Ghana there was a gap in the tropical rainforest belt of West Africa, the so-called Dahomey Gap, over a thousand years ago. The landscape of the savannah (wet savannah) is predominant throughout Togo. A tree that is characteristic of this region is the baobab (baobab). Only in the mountainous region along the Ghana border (e.g. in the Kpalimé – Badou – Atakpamé triangle and in Adélé to the north) are remains of forests and the vegetation differs from the other regions of Togo.
There are protected forests and parks, but they are exposed to very high pressure from anthropogenic use. The abundance of game was reduced drastically during the political unrest of the 1990’s, especially in the Keran Park, while the Swiss Fondation Franz Weber was able to preserve most of the abundance of game with its commitment in the Fazao Park. After the 25-year contract with the foundation expired at the end of 2015, the Togolese state took over management of the park again. Like other protected areas in the country, Fazao Park is on UNESCO’s list of proposals for a World Heritage Site. A cross-border biosphere reserve is being created on the lower reaches and in the mouth of the Mono between Togo and Benin, which is also supported by GIZ.
The FAO provides a brief geographical description of Togo and further information on the nature of the country. The French research organization IRD – Institut de recherche pour le Développement (Ex-ORSTOM) has a large collection of detailed maps on soil and agricultural topics of all regions of Togo for viewing and as PDF downloads.
One of the largest phosphate deposits in the world is located in Togo. There are also significant deposits of marble, limestone and iron, and to a lesser extent bauxite, gold and diamonds.