Togo is a country in West Africa and it is double the size of Maryland. Its official name is Togolese Republic and Lomé City is the capital. It is bordered by Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso and its name means “house of sea” in the Ewe language.
1. The official language is French
In Togo, the official language is French. However, it is not widely spoken outside of business and government. Languages that are widely spoken in the country are indigenous from the Niger-Congo language family. They also include Ewe and Kabiye in the north and south of the country, respectively.
2. Togo has six geographic regions
This African country has six different geographic regions, an interesting fact about Togo. One of those regions has sandy beaches in the coastal area. These beaches are backed by tidal flats and also shallow lagoons. The largest of these lagoons is Lake Togo. There is also the Ouatchi Plateau, which stretches 20 miles (or 32 kilometers) inland and reaches an elevation of 300 feet (about 90 meters).
3. In Togo, people enjoy a tropical climate
Togo’s climate is tropical and, in general, very pleasant. The south part of the territory has rains from mid-April through June and then from mid-September through October. Temperatures are usually very warm, about 20° Celsius or 70° Fahrenheit. The lowest temperatures occur in the mountain area and the warmest in the northern parts of the country.
4. There’s a small variety of wild animals
In Togo, there is not a great variety of wild animals. Some of those that can be found in small groups are leopards, lions and elephants in the north of the country. In the southern regions, there are snakes, monkeys and lizards, as well as hippopotamuses and crocodiles in the rivers.
The Keran Forest Reserve, located near Sansanné-Mango, has buffaloes, warthogs, asses, antelopes and deer. Birds and insects are also found all over the land. Some of the fish that can be caught off the coast are seabream, red snapper, dorado, sole, ray and mackerel, as well as shrimp and lobster.
5. The population is made up of 30 different ethnic groups
A fun fact about Togo is that it is made up of 30 ethnic groups. Some of them are immigrants from other African regions. There are also groups of people that are indigenous to Togo and live mostly in the north and southwest of the country. Other groups that are located in the north are the Gurma, the Dye, the Natimba and the Konkomba. Additionally, the Basari, the Tamberma, the Losso, the Kabre, the Logba, the Lamba and the Moba live in this region as well.
Other ethnic groups that are part of Togo are Atlantic-speaking Fulani. In the southwest, there are the Kwa, Kposo, the Adele and the Ahlo. The Ewe is another group who immigrated between the 14th and 16th century. Those people who are in Togo and are non-Africans are mostly French and live in Lomé.
6. Denmark, Germany, Great Britain and France have claimed this land before
The land that is known as Togo today was once claimed by the Danish in the 18th century. Before them, the people known as the Voltaic, the Ewe and the Ane inhabited this region. In 1884, after the Danish settled, Germany established a colony in Togo and called it Togoland. However, the area was later split between the British and the French after World War I under League of Nations. The British portion incorporated with Ghana and the French portion became Togo. It was on April 27, 1960, that Togo declared its independence from France.
7. Togo’s first President was shot while attempting to scale the walls of the Embassy of the United States
Sylvano Olympius became Togo’s first President to have been democratically-elected. However, he was overthrown in 1963 and was then shot and killed by Sargent Etienne Eyadema. This occurred while he was attempting to scale the walls of the United States Embassy to seek asylum.
After this violent episode, the country was immersed in political turmoil for several decades. Olympius was succeeded by Nicolas Grunitzky, who was also overthrown on a coup, led again by Eyadema. This event took place on January 13, 1967. The Sargent himself took over power, suspended the Constitution, banned political parties and also created a cult of personality around himself. He died in 2005, after ruling Togo for 38 years.
Eyadema’s son, Faure Gnassingbe, took over his father but he had to step down less than a month later and agree to elections. When elections arrived, they were surrounded by violent protests. Gnassingbe won the elections and was sworn into office on May 4, 2005.
8. Togolese can carry anything on their heads
An interesting Togo fact is that they can carry pretty much anything on their heads. From one banana to a fully-assembled ceiling fan. Some of the people of Togo have been seen carrying a five-gallon pan of water, 300 eggs, firewood and even a big basket of chickens. Nonetheless, if they see someone older carrying something on their heads, they are expected to take it from them, as a sign of respect.
9. In the markets, you are expected to bargain for everything
In the markets in Togo, people are expected to bargain for everything. The buyers should offer about half of the price the vendor has given them, a fun fact about Togo. Some of the markets sell Voodoo items, which is a popular religion in the country. Among other religious traditions are fetishism and idolatry to ask for protection against evil spirits and men. They also worship snakes, rainbows, trees and fire.
10. This country and its surroundings used to be called “the slave coast”
Togo and its surrounding regions used to be called “the slave coasts” between the 16th and 18th centuries. Many Europeans would come to this land in search of slaves. However, slavery was finally abolished in Togo in the 19th century.
Togo is a country where people enjoy a tropical climate and great cultural diversity. Even though they had a complicated political situation for almost half of the 20th century, they have overcome these circumstances and enjoy a stable condition today.
I hope that this article on Togo facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!