Formerly the colony of French Togoland, the country gained its independence in 1960. It was initially ruled by a military strongman for 4 decades; only in 2007 were free and fair elections held. Since that time, the country has been tottering forward with more democratic reforms and economic development strategies. In Togo, however, nothing moves forward rapidly, especially the traffic. The population of Togo is 7,000,000 people with over a million and a half of them crowding into the capital city of Lome and its environs. Like Benin, Togo is a young country in many ways: median age is 19 here and average life expectancy is 63. The country is slightly smaller than West Virginia and has a coastline of 35 miles. The port at Lome is a very important part of Togo’s economy since it facilitates exports of cotton, copra, cacao, coffee and the products of a small oil refinery. Agriculture is still the major economic activity in the country and the amount of arable land is a surprising 44% of the total. The land itself is composed of gently rolling savannah with low hills and a very low coastline area with extensive lagoons and marshes. A large lagoon north of Lome almost bisects the narrow country.
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