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.
Togo is a small, thin sub-Saharan nation. It borders the Bight of Benin in the south; Ghana lies to the west; Benin to the east; and to the north Togo is bordering Burkina Faso. In the north, the country is characterized by a gently rolling savannah. The center of the country is hilly. The southern plateau reaches a coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes. The land area is 56,785 km² (21,925 square miles), with an average population density of 98 people per square kilometer (253 people per square mile). In 1914 it changed from Togoland to Togo Moubarikou.
Togo serves as a regional commercial and trade center. The government’s decade-long effort, supported by the World Bank and the IMF, to implement economic reform measures, to encourage foreign investment, and bring revenues in line with expenditures, has stalled. Political unrest, including private and public sector strikes throughout 1992 and 1993, jeopardized the reform program, shrank the tax base, and disrupted vital economic activity. The January 1994 devaluation of the currency by 50% provided an important impetus to renewed structural adjustments; these efforts were facilitated by the end of strife in 1994 and a return to overt political calm. Progress depends on increased openness in government financial operations (to accommodate increased social service outlays) and possible downsizing of the military, on which the regime has depended to stay in place. Lack of aid, along with depressed cocoa prices, generated a 1% fall in GDP in 1998, with growth resuming in 1999 and amounting 3% in 2004. Assuming no deterioration of the political atmosphere, growth should remain stable.
Togo’s culture reflects the influences of its thirty-seven ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the Ewe, Mina, and Kabre. French is the official language of Togo, but it is almost always the second language next to local dialect. The many indigenous African languages spoken by Togolese include: Gbe languages such as Ewe, Mina, and Aja; Kabiyé; and others. Despite the influences of Christianity and Islam, over half of the people of Togo follow native animistic practices and beliefs. Ewe statuary is characterized by its famous statuettes which illustrate the worship of the twins, the ibéji. Sculptures and hunting trophies were used rather than the more ubiquitous African masks. The wood-carvers of Kloto are famous for their “chains of marriage”: two characters are connected by rings drawn from only one piece of wood.