Togo (officially the Togolese Republic) is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately 57,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi) with a population of approximately 6.7 million.
Togo is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that provides good growing seasons. The official language is French; however, there are many other languages spoken in Togo. Approximately one half of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
Togo gained its independence from France in 1960. In 1967, Gnassingbé Eyadéma led a successful military coup, after which he became president. At the time of his death in 2005, Eyadéma was the longest-serving leader in African history, after having been president for 38 years. In 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbé was elected president.
The Gbe languages (IPA: [ɡbè]) form a cluster of about twenty related languages stretching across the area between eastern Ghana and western Nigeria. The total number of speakers of Gbe languages is between four and eight million. The most widely spoken Gbe language is Ewe (3 million speakers in Ghana and Togo), followed by Fon (1.7 million, mainly in Benin). The Gbe languages were traditionally placed in the Kwa branch of the Niger-Congo languages, but more recently have been classified as Volta-Niger. They include five major dialect clusters: Ewe, Fon, Aja, Gen, and Phla-Pherá.
Most of the Gbe peoples have come from the east to their present dwelling-places in several migrations between the tenth and the fifteenth century. Some of the Phla-Pherá peoples however are thought to be the original inhabitants of the area who have intermingled with the Gbe immigrants, and the Gen people probably are immigrants from the north of Ga or Fante origin. In the late eighteenth century, many speakers of Gbe were enslaved and transported to the New World, causing Gbe languages to play a role in the genesis of several Caribbeancreole languages.
Around 1840, German missionaries started linguistic research into the Gbe languages. In the first half of the twentieth century, the Africanist Diedrich Hermann Westermann was one of the most prolific contributors to the study of Gbe. The first internal classification of the Gbe languages was published in 1988 by H.B. Capo, followed by a comparative phonology in 1991. The Gbe languages are tonal, isolating languages and the basic word order is Subject Verb Object.
General Gnassingbé Eyadéma (born Étienne Eyadéma, December 26, 1935 – February 5, 2005), was the President of Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005. He participated in two successful military coups, in January 1963 and January 1967, and became President on April 14, 1967. As President, he created a political party, the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT), and headed a single-party regime until the early 1990s, when reforms leading to multiparty elections began. Although his power was seriously challenged by the events of the early 1990s, he ultimately consolidated power again and won multiparty presidential elections in 1993, 1998, and 2003; the opposition boycotted the 1993 election and denounced the 1998 and 2003 election results as fraudulent. At the time of his death, Eyadéma was the longest-serving ruler in Africa.