25 interesting facts about Togo

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The most interesting facts about Togo include once being known as the “The Slave Coast” and having its first president assassinated.

Interesting facts about Togo include the idyllic Lake Togo
Interesting facts about Togo include the idyllic Lake Togo (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Togolese Republic
Population: 8,608,444
Area: 56,785 sq km
Capital city: Lomé
Major languages: French, Ewe, Mina, Kabye, Dagomba
Major religions: Christian, Folk, Muslim
Time zone: UTC 0 (Greenwich Mean Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Togo

1. Togo is a narrow country located on the west coast of Africa. It borders Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso and has 51km (32mi) of coastline on the Gulf of Guinea
– Source: Britannica

2. During the 15 to 17th centuries, Togo was settled by Ewe clans from Nigeria and the Ane people from Ghana and Ivory Coast.
– Source: BBC News

3. The name Togo derives from the native Ewe language. It comes from the Ewe words “to” (river) and “godo” (on the other side) implying “on the other side of the river”.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

4. Originally, this was applied to the town of Togodo (now Togoville) on the northern shore of Lake Togo. However, the name was eventually applied to the entire country.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Map of Togo in West Africa
Togo is located in West Africa (Shutterstock)

5. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the coastal region of Togo, along with the surrounding region, was known as “The Slave Coast” as it was a major Atlantic slave-trading hub.
– Source: American Scientist

6. During the 1700s, Togo was occupied by Denmark before becoming the German protectorate of Togoland in 1884. Germany used forced labour to develop plantations in the region.
– Source: BBC News

7. During the First World War, Britain and France took control of Togoland from Germany and split the area between them.
– Source: BBC News

8. In a 1956 referendum, British Togoland voted to become part of the Gold Coast (now Ghana). French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union before voting for and then gaining full independence in 1960.
– Source: Britannica

The Independence Monument in Lomé
The Independence Monument in Lomé (Shutterstock)

9. Togo’s first president, Sylvanus Olympio, was assassinated during a military coup in 1963.
– Source: New York Times

10. It was widely assumed that Togo’s next president, Gnassingbe Eyadema, killed Olympio. Following Olympio’s death, Eyadema took power and served as President of Togo for 38 years until his death in 2005.
– Source: The Guardian

11. At the time of his death, Gnassingbe Eyadema was Africa’s longest-serving ruler.
– Source: BBC News

12. Togo’s flag has three horizontal green stripes, two yellow stripes and a red square containing a white star. The (five) stripes reflect the country’s five administrative regions, the land (green) and labour (yellow). The red square represents love, fidelity and charity, while the white star represents purity.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Togo
The flag of Togo (Shutterstock)

13. Togo’s capital city, Lomé, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in West Africa and used to be referred to as the ‘Paris of West Africa’ and the ‘pearl of West Africa’ due to its broad boulevards and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
– Source: Armstrong et al. (2010) Lonely Planet Africa. Lonely Planet: London, Lonely Planet

14. The city’s name derives from the Ewe word “alotime” which means “among the alo plants”– the trees that used to grow around the city’s original location.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

15. Togo performs very poorly in terms of gender equality. In the latest report, it ranked among the world’s worst 15 countries when measured by the relative gaps between women and men in health, education, economy and politics.
– Source: World Economic Forum

16. Togo only has one UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba. The site consists of mud tower houses – known as Takienta – which have come to be seen as a symbol of Togo.
– Source: UNESCO

Koutammakou in Togo
Koutammakou in Togo (Shutterstock)

17. Togo has a low life expectancy of just 60.8 – ranked 180th out of 195 countries and territories. The global average life expectancy is 72.6.
– Source: World Bank

18. Togo has gained a reputation as a major ivory-trade centre. Illegal elephant poaching cartels receive ivory from around the region and ship it to Asian destinations. However, recent arrests made by anti-trafficking squads have seen improvements in the situation.
– Source: BBC News, The Independent

19. In 2015 in Lomé, the biggest seizure of ivory in African history took place when over four tons of elephant tusks were apprehended – representing around 800 poached elephants.
– Source: National Geographic

20. Togo is home to one of the most diverse West African parks in terms of topography, the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park. The has an array of landscapes including forest, savannah, rocky cliffs and waterfalls as well as 203 species of mammals including birds, monkeys, antelopes and elephants.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Fazao-Malfakassa National Park
Fazao-Malfakassa National Park (Shutterstock)

21. Togo is one of the world’s top producers of phosphates, which are used in fertilisers. The industry was nationalised in 1974 which helped to increase state revenues. However, after an economic decline of the phosphate sector during the 1990s, Refined Petroleum is now the country’s largest export.
– Source: OEC, Britannica

22. One of Togo’s most popular cultural events is the Evala festival, an important initiation ritual in the maturity of young men. Every year, hundreds of young men from across Togo gather in the town of Kara and wrestle each other. The festival also includes eating dog meat.
– Source: Reuters

23. The voodoo religion is practised widely in Togo. Throughout the region, voodooism does not have the negative implications it has in the West. In Togo, voodooism is considered to be more than a belief system as it extends to culture, philosophy, language, art, dance, music and medicine.
– Source: BBC News

A voodoo market in Lomé
A voodoo market in Lomé (Shutterstock)

24. Togo’s historical centre of voodoo is the small town of Togoville on the shore of Lake Togo. The beauty spot is a popular swimming destination with Lomé residents.
– Source: Lonely Planet

25. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Togo with the national team known as the Sparrowhawks. In 2006, they qualified for their first World Cup but failed to progress, losing all three of their matches.
– Source: FIFA

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