|A huge poster of President Eyadéma dominating the Place de la Paix in Lomé. The slogan reads: "Experience in service of the future"|
The history of Togo goes back to the 11th and 14th centuries, when the Ewé people moved into the area from the Niger River Valley. During the 14th and 15th centuries Portuguese explorers and traders visited the area, and because of its central position on what was then called the Slave Coast, Togo became a trading centre for slaves.
During the 18th century the area that would become Togo was under pressure from the Akwamu Confederacy and the Ashanti Kingdom to the west, and from the Kingdom of Dahomey to the east. However, powers from Europe also wanted control.
In 1884, a German Diplomat, Gustav Nachtigal, arrived at the village of Togo (modern Togoville). On July 4th-5th the chief of Togoville, Mlapa III, signed a treaty with Nachtigal that led to the creation of German Togoland. Between 1887 and 1889, Germany, Great Britain, and France decided the boundaries of Togoland. The Germans created the port of Lomé and developed the region.
Following the defeat of Germany in the First World War, Togoland was divided in two between Britain and France. Western Togo came under British rule, and now forms part of modern Ghana. French Togo became modern-day Togo, and gained independence in 1960.
The first years of independence saw power struggles between various political groups. In 1963, President Olympio was assassinated, and Grunitzky became the new head of state, voted in by the army. He was deposed by the army four years later, to be replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Eyadéma, the army chief of staff.
President Eyadéma has dominated Togo's political scene ever since.
Photo by Mike Rimmer
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