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Honeymoon in Togo

Togo, Africa's smile!

From the smile of a child at a waterfall in the heart of the forest, Togo reveals itself as the land of little miracles, a sparkling gem on the shores of the azure waters of the Gulf of Benin in West Africa.

This is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but make no mistake, Togo is proof that small is better. The Togolese bind quite easily friendship and let visitors easily participate in their daily lives. The visitor always knows he is welcome.

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.

History

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.

By PhReym (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

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.

People

In Togo, there are about 40 different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Ewe in the south (46%) (Although along the south coastline they account for 21% of the population), Kotokoli and Tchamba in the center, Kabyé in the north (22%). Another classification lists Uaci or Ouatchis (14%) as a separate ethnic group from the Ewe which brings the proportion of Ewe down to (32%). However, there are no historic or ethnic facts that justify the separation between Ewes and Ouatchis. On the contrary, the term Ouatchi relates to a subgroup of Ewes which migrated south during the 16th century from Notse the ancient Ewe Kingdom capital. This classification is inaccurate and has been contested for being politically biased; Mina, Mossi, and Aja (about 8%) are the remainder; and under 1% are European expatriates who live in Togo as diplomats and for economic reasons. The Ouatchis are a sub-group of the Ewe just as the Anlo in the Republic of Ghana are a subgroup of the Ewe ethnic group.

Climate

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).

By Godaften (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Landscape

Highly variable stretching from north to south. Gently rolling savanna in north; central hills; southern plateau; low coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes.

What to do

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.

What to buy

There are of course, Yovo (white person) surcharges, but prices can be and should be negotiated. The general rule of thumb is that when you haggle, start with a quarter or a third of the original asking price, you will usually meet at 50%. Be consistent! I have found that this does not necessarily apply to food purchases at the fruits and vegetable stands. Ask around how much you would expect to pay for a mango, an avocado or a pineapple.

Costs

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 you 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.

Food

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 plent of Fufu Restaurants in the cities as well as roadside stands. Akume and Fufu is 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.

Drink

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.

Source: Wikitravel.org

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