A little background on Togo

One of the first questions several people have asked me after watching the movie is “where is Togo?” — so, here’s a tiny primer: (Borrowing from wikipedia and the U.S. State Department)

map of TogoTogo is a tiny country in West Africa bordering Ghana in the west, Benin in the east and Burkina Faso in the north. It’s a little smaller than West Virginia. Per capita income in 2006 was $350 (ouch!). Politically the country has seen assassinations and coups all the way back to 1963, but mostly ending in 2005 with a stable government and aid pouring in from many foreign nations. Currently the government is elected and has settled decades-long power struggles. The people of Togo have not benefited just yet from this new peace, although things are beginning to change. Lome, the capital (on the Southern coast), was long a major regional trading center in West Africa; now, it is beginning to regain some of that status — although aid and development lay dormant for decades because of the political unrest. Depressed pricing for many of Togo’s main crops (cocoa, coffee, etc.) as well as seasonal issues (drought, flooding) make it difficult for Togo’s economy to grow and thrive.

Togo has somewhere around 37 different ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Ewe, Mina, and Kabre. About half of its people practice a local, animist religion; roughly 25% are Christian, and another quarter are Muslim.

Like Tamara, many westerners find it difficult to get used to the extreme travel conditions in Togo, where there are not many paved roads, and no public transportation (some other blogs about traveling in Togo — and the taxis and buses of the sort that Tamara describes in the movie, may be found here and here). But the country and the people are beautiful (see pictures on this blog), and, as Tamara found in the movie, brave in the face of many grim realities.

One Response to “A little background on Togo”

  1. Tamara says:

    Makes me feel like I am there again!