Togo is one of the smallest African States that stretches for about 700km from the North to the South with the width that does not exceed 100km.
There are 6.643 million inhabitants (figures of 2012). The population is young and 60% of the Togolese are under 25 years old.
The country is mainly rural. Only 38% of its population lives in urban centers, mostly in Lomé, the capital that counts more than one million people alone, which means 1/6th of the entire population.
Recent history of Togo
Togo gets its independence in 1960. The first political years of this young country can be summed up in the President’s assassination and coups d’états. In 1967, Eyadéma Gnassingbé takes power and reigns till 2005.
As soon as he comes to power, Gnassingbé muzzles the opposition and installs the climate of terror that pushes more than 25’000 Togolese to exodus. At the economic level, the first years of the regime are prosperous. The country’s subsoil is rich in phosphate and its price triples in 1970s; the Lomé Port is strategic for export towards the countries situated in the North of Togo and not having access to the sea.
However, during this period of time, the government takes out numerous loans in order to supposedly industrialize the country. A big part of the country’s receipts are actually embezzled by the dictatorial regime.
In the 1980s, the decrease of the raw material prices and the increasing country’s debts push Togo to structural adjustments coordinated by the IMF. Fiscal austerity and privatization are of the essence.
In the beginning of the 1990s, authorities are more and more contested and social unrest rumble. Several rebellions are severely suppressed. This violence leads to a new massive exodus to Ghana and Benin (140 000 people).
On February 5th, 2005, President Eyadéma Gnassingbé passes away at the age of 69 after having ruled the country for 38 years. In 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbé is brought to power by the army.
Following violent and bloody protests and under the international pressure that denounces the coup d’Etat, Faure Gnassingbé resigns from the presidency and announces his decision to stand as a candidate for the new presidential elections.
Faure Gnassingbé wins the elections with more than 60% of the votes. Even if the opposition denounces massive fraud, France and its President Jacques Chirac, who has been Eyadéma’s family’s friend for many years, considers the elections satisfactory. Gnassingé is still in power today.
After 15 years of economic stagnation (1990-2005) Togo succeeds at improving its situation after 2007. Togolese economy remains dominated by the agricultural sector (38.1% of GDP in 2012). However, the low productivity of agricultural activities slows down the sector’s development, especially because of the small quantity of the crops, low mechanization of the means of production, poor control of irrigation systems, the shut in of the rural zones or the obstacles to the land ownership. Thus 73% of the rural population lives below the poverty line (2011 figures).