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Togo is a narrow country in West Africa, sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east, with a small border with Burkina Faso to the north, and a 56km coastline on the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
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In an 1884 treaty signed at Togoville, Germany declared a protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended its control inland. This became the German colony Togoland in 1905. After the German defeat during World War I in August 1914 at the hands of British troops (coming from the Gold Coast) and the French troops (coming from Dahomey), Togoland became two League of Nations mandates, administered by the United Kingdom and France. After World War II, these mandates became UN Trust Territories. The residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union.
Togo's size is just less than 57,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi). It has a population of more than 6,600,000 people, which is dependent mainly on agriculture. The mild weather makes for good growing seasons. Togo is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation.
Togo gained its independence from France in 1960. In 1967, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, the former leader of the country, led a successful military coup, after which he became President. Eyadéma was the longest-serving leader in African history (after being president for 38 years) at the time of his death in 2005. In 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbé was elected president. About a third of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
The climate is generally tropical with average temperatures ranging from 27°C on the coast to about 30°C in the northernmost regions, with a dry climate and characteristics of a tropical savanna. To the south there are two seasons of rain (the first between April and July and the second between October and November).
Sports, especially football, are the main entertaining activity in Togo. You can watch the football (soccer) league games played in the weekends (check listings). Apart from football, there are several night clubs that can keep you awake at night, and the capital is full of them; the Chess BSBG is among the most popular. TV programs are not the best in the world, with movies and sitcoms that have been played for years. Plus, the beach offers another type of fun. Many activities and parties are organized there, with people coming from all over Lomé to enjoy the beautiful weather in the weekends. Despite those great things at the beach, you really have to choose a good spot, to avoid stepping or sitting on the unwanted.
Akume is made from corn flour. The "national" dish of West-Africa is Fufu. In Togo, it consists of white yams pounded into a doughy consistency. You will find plenty of Fufu Restaurants in the cities as well as roadside stands. Akume and Fufu are usually eaten with your hands and come with different sauces (from smoked fish to spicy tomato to peanut). Plantains can also be found in various forms; grilled, cooked, mashed or fried. In the season, Mangos, Papayas, and Pineapples are for sale everywhere.
Lemonade and Bissap juice are the most popular drinks. There are many bars almost around all corners in Lomé where you will be able to have a beer.
The most popular drinks you will find in common bars are beers and soda's. Here is a list of the beers you may find based on their popularity :
- Cocktail de fruit
- Coca Cola
- Pompom (apple based soda)
- XXL (red-bull-like soda)
- Schwepp's Tonic
- Pamplemousse (grapefruit based soda)
- Malta Guinness
Don't be surprise if most of the bars do not have what you ask. Togolese are not reknown for their organisation and tight management, except one small motel called "Auberge London" in the northern suburbs of Lomé called "Agoe" where you will have all the possible drink listed above.
The West African CFA franc (XOF) is used by Togo. It is also used by Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal. While strictly a separate currency from the Central African CFA franc (XAF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par throughout all CFA franc (XAF & XOF) using countries.
Both CFA francs are guaranteed by the French treasury and are pegged to the euro at 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.
Slow down there, tourist. Most goods are not supposed to have negotiable prices. Don't haggle with the poor woman trying to sell you a banana. If you are worried about Yovo (white person) surcharges, just ask anyone other than the person you intend to buy from what the price should be. You should, however, haggle over taxi rides, some items, such as clothes, in open markets, and always curios. Keep things in perspective, though. If you are being overcharged 50¢ for being white, that amount is not a big deal to you, but really would help the poor person sitting in the dust all day every day, trying to make ends meet.
A liter of gasoline will cost you around 600 CFA, a liter of water around 300 CFA. A baguette is around 175 CFA and half a pound of local coffee will cost 1,200 CFA. A beer in the supermarket will cost your around 350 CFA, at an expat restaurant this will be around 1,000 CFA. A coca-cola will cost you between 200 and 400 CFA in the supermarket. "Western food", mostly imported from France, can be found in supermarkets, but is more pricey than in Europe.
The most popular souvenirs from Togo tend to be something voodoo related, like a charm or mask. The obvious place to shop for these curios is Lomé's voodoo market, although you will be paying tourist trap-premium prices.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Togo on Wikivoyage.
Cities in Togo
Points of Interest in Togo
Togo is a charming country, but most of the charm comes from the charming people; this is a small country with a small number of small attractions. Lomé's markets, both general and voodoo, are the most popular stop in the country along the road between Ghana and Benin. The smaller towns of Togoville on Lake Togo and Aneho on the ocean are also popular stops for the former's voodoo shrines and historic sights and the latter's beaches.
Lately, the coffee growing region around Kpalimé has become popular with the errant tourist in Togo, with a good number of nice hikes, cooler weather, and pleasant views.
Perhaps the most alluring part of the country is the hardest to get to—the hilly and sparsely populated north. The best known destination is Tamberma Valley—the Koutammakou UNESCO World Heritage site, to the north of Kara. The local Batammariba people (known by colonists as the Tamberma) constructed and live in unique Takienta (a.k.a. Tata) "tower-houses" of mud and straw, which arguably have become the Togolese national symbol. It's a surreal dreamland of a place, and easily a highlight of a trip to Togo, although it is a journey to get there.
Togo's few parks/reserves are relatively rarely visited, but if you manage to make it out there on a safari, Fazao Mafakassa National Park in the center-west of the country is quite beautiful. In the far north of the country is Kéran National Park, with one of the larger elephant populations in West Africa. Aside from Kéran, the north also offers a ton of potential outdoor excursions, with nice hikes up mountains, out to waterfalls, etc.
Grand Marche - Lome
Keran National Park - Mango
Lome Beach - Lome
Independence Monument - Lome
Togo National Museum - Lome
Stade de Kegue - Lome