Facts & Figures
President: Faure Gnassingbe (2005)
Prime Minister: Komi Sélom Klassou (2015)
Land area: 21,000 sq mi (54,390 sq km); total area: 21,925 sq mi (56,785 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 7,351,374 (growth rate: 2.71%); birth rate: 34.52/1000; infant mortality rate: 46.73/1000; life expectancy: 64.06; density per sq mi: 301.9
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Lomé, 1.524 million
Monetary unit: CFA Franc
Togo, twice the size of Maryland, is on the south coast of West Africa bordering on Ghana to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, and Benin to the east. The Gulf of Guinea coastline, only 32 mi long (51 km), is low and sandy. The only port is at Lomé. The Togo hills traverse the central section.
Republic transitioning to multiparty democratic rule.
The Voltaic peoples and the Kwa were the earliest known inhabitants. The Ewe followed in the 14th century and the Ane in the 18th century. The Danish claimed the land in the 18th century, but by 1884 it was established as a German colony (Togoland). The area was split between the British and the French under League of Nations mandates after World War I and subsequently administered as UN trusteeships. The British portion voted for incorporation with Ghana. The French portion became Togo, which declared its independence on April 27, 1960.
Togo's first democratically elected president, Sylvano Olympius, was overthrown in 1963. He was shot and killed by Sgt. Etienne Eyadema while he attempted to scale the walls of the American Embassy to seek asylum. The government of Nicolas Grunitzky was overthrown in a bloodless coup on Jan. 13, 1967, led by Lt. Col. Etienne Eyadema (now called Gen. Gnassingbé Eyadema). A National Reconciliation Committee was set up to rule the country, but in April, Eyadema dissolved the committee and took over as president. He suspended the constitution, banned political parties, and created a cult of personality around his presidency; his official biography describes him as a “force of nature.” Under pressure from the West, Eyadema legalized opposition parties in 1993, but the first multiparty presidential election in Aug. 1993 (which gave Eyadema more than 96% of the vote) was considered fraudulent, as was his 1998 reelection. In Feb. 2005, Eyadema died—he had been Africa's longest-serving ruler (38 years). A day after his death, the military installed his son, Faure Gnassingbe, to serve out his term. Gnassingbe took office on Feb. 7 amid strong international condemnation. Under internal and external pressure, Gnassingbe stepped down later that month and agreed to elections on April 24. Violent protests surrounded the elections, and these protests grew when the results were announced: Gnassingbe won 60% of the vote while main opposition candidate Bob Akitani received 38%. On May 4, Gnassingbe was sworn into office. In June, Gnassingbe appointed opposition leader Edem Kodjo as prime minister.
Opposition Parties Enter Political Fray
In Aug. 2006, the government and six political parties signed an agreement calling for the creation of a transitional government that would include opposition parties. Yawovi Agboyibo took office as the first prime minister in September. The Ruling Rally of the Togolese People party won 49 of 81 seats in Parliamentary elections in October 2007. It was the first time the opposition participated in elections in nearly 20 years. Agboyibo resigned in November 2007 and was replaced by Komlan Mally.
Gnassingbe was reelected in March 2010, taking 61% of the vote, and the primary opposition candidate, Jean-Pierre Fabre of the Union of Forces for Change (UFC), received 35%. The UFC accused the incumbent president of widespread fraud, rejected the election results, and launched several protests. Gnassingbe and the leader of the UFC negotiated a deal in which the UFC would join the government. The party, however, refused to accept the deal.
After weeks of anti-government demonstrations, Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo resigned in early July 2012. On July 19, Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu was named prime minister; on July 31 he named his 29-member government which included Col. Damehane Yark as security minister.
Gnassingbe Wins Third Term in 2015 Elections
President Gnassingbe won a third term in the April 2015 presidential election. Gnassingbe received 58.8% of the vote. His main challenger, National Alliance for Change Party President Jean-Pierre Fabre received 35%. Turnout was 60%.
Following his re-election, Gnassingbe appointed Komi Sélom Klassou as prime minister. Klassou previously served as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports as well as Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Klassou took office as prime minister on June 5, 2015.