Togo - Facts and Factoids

  • If you put Togo into Google you’ll get information on a Disney film about an epidemic in Alaska. But Togo is, more importantly, a country in West Africa. In the north, the land is characterized by a gently rolling savanna. This contrasts with the centre of the country, which is dominated by hills. The south of Togo is a savanna and woodland plateau, which reaches to a coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes.
  • Most of my visit is in the coastal area; this tiny country is only 53 kilometres wide, the road running between the sea and vast Lake Togo to the north. The country got its name when the Germans inquired where the peoples they had met on their last visit had gone and were told ‘Togodo’ - the other side of the lake. It was later shortened to Togo.
  • The official language is French.
  • The currency is the CFA (Communauté Financière d'Afrique)
  • Togo and Benin are the home of Voodoo

Who Colonised Togo?

Togo is the only African country to have been colonised by the Germans, the English and the French (in that order). Guide Noah explains that the English and Germans were hardworking (Pull, pull!). However, the French just dress stylishly and give lots of orders. If you act in this way you are being French.

Is Togo a Safe Country?

According to the FCO it is safe to travel to all parts of Togo, except the very northern border (with Burkina Faso), There have been terrorist incursions here. There are the usual warnings about travelling in Africa: scams, political unrest, violent crime, theft and pick-pocketing, especially in Lomé, along the beach and in the markets. I don't have any problems. But I don't go out on my own after dark and I've stayed in Lomé and along the coast.

Is Togo a Poor Country?

Although Togo is among the smallest countries in Africa it is reported to enjoy one of the highest standards of living on the continent. This is because of its valuable phosphate deposits and a well-developed export sector based on agricultural products such as coffeecocoa beans and peanuts. Hence it is sometimes known as The Lighthouse of West Africa, the base for the West African Economic and Monetary Union and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), guiding the way in promoting 'peace, stability and progress'. Despite this, a whopping 80 percent of the population still live below the poverty line. Literacy rates are low and most children are forced to work the land.

(Togo is also known as The Pearl of West Africa, but so is Cote D'Ivoire.)

Getting into Togo

I’ve flown in from Abidjan, hopping over Ghana as I’ve been there before. The visa on arrival is very straightforward - I have American dollars. I’m met by Gabriele, who manages the company who’ve organised most of my trip for me, Noah my new guide and Kofi, the driver. Guide Noah is larger than life, very entertaining and informative. Kofi means born on a Friday, if you’re a boy. I was born on a Friday, but the female African name would be Afi.

I'm going to Lomé and along the coast to see the Voodoo Ceremonies

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