There is little knowledge of the early history of Togo and even the arrival of the Portuguese along the coastline in the late 15th Century seems to have had little impact.
The history of the country starts with the arrival of German missionaries in 1847 and traders following in their wake by setting up a trading post on the coast at Anécho. By 1884 the Germans had signed a treaty at Togoville which made the country a protectorate and in 1897 a new town was built at Lomé which subsequently became the capital.
The Germans went to with their usual efficiency and turned the country into an economic powerhouse producing rubber, palm, cocoa and cotton.
With the start of the First World War the German garrisons in Togo were attacked by the French and British and by 1916 Togo, along with the other German colony, Cameroon was taken by the Allies. In the 1919 Treaty of Versailles Germany renounced sovereignty and Togo (a much larger geographical area than today) was given to a dual mandate with the French and British. This situation continued until after the Second World when Togo became a UN trust territory administered by the British and French as Togoland.
In 1956 British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of Ghana and the same year a referendum in French Togoland resulted in an executive and prime minister answering to a Territorial Assembly. By 1958 the French had announced that they would be granting full independence and on 27th April 1960 Togo became an independent state.
A new constitution in 1961 established an executive president and a National Assembly. The same year elections were held and Sylvanus Olympio was elected president unopposed along with the Party of Togolese Unity taking all 52 seats in the National Assembly. Olympio decided to dissolve all opposition parties in 1962 and in January 1963 he was overthrown and killed in a coup d’état.
Nicolas Grunitzky, an earlier leader, returned from exile after the coup and headed up a provisional government and in 1963 a new constitution reinstated multi-party rule. Nicolas Grunitzky was elected as president and he formed a multi-party government.
On 13th January 1967 there was another coup and President Grunitzky was ousted, political parties were banned and Kléber Dadjo became chairman of a committee of national reconciliation. Subsequently coup leader, Lt. Col. Gnassingbé Eyadéma, became president and a single party, the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) was created. A referendum in 1972 confirmed Eyadéma as president and he went on to rule until his death in 2005.
In 1979 Eyadéma declared a third republic, was uncontested in the presidential election that year and the RPT won all 67 seats in the National Assembly. The RPT held all seats in the 1985 and 1990 elections and Eyadéma won the 1986, 1993, 1998 and 2003 elections, although more narrowly in later elections.
By 1989 anti-government clashes were taking place in the capital and in June 1991 a national forum was held. In July 1991 a National Conference drafted an interim constitution which was to lead to new ‘free and fair’ elections.
After a period of intrigue, violence and further political turmoil fresh elections were held on 6th and 20th February 1994 and the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) won 36 of the 81 seats in the national Assembly to become the largest party. The RPT with 35 seats, however, did a deal with smaller parties and continued in government.
The RPT comfortably won the 1999 and 2002 elections, taking 79 and 72 seats respectively of the 81 available seats, largely as a result of a boycott of the elections by the largest opposition parties.
On 5th February 2005 President Gnassingbé Eyadéma died as a result of a plane crash in Tunisia and his son Faure Gnassingbé immediately replaced him in the role of acting president.
It appears that Faure Gnassingbé intended to serve out his father’s term of office, but national and international pressure forced him to stand for election on 24th April 2005. He won, taking 60.15% of the vote.
Although the Rally of the Togolese People won 50 of the 81 seats in the 2007 general election with 39.36% of the vote, this time the opposition Union of Forces for Change (UFC) took 27 seats with 37.01% of the vote and the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) won four seats with 8.22% of the vote in the 81 seat National Assembly.
In 2010 Faure Gnassingbé won the Presidential election with 60.9% of the vote and in 2012 his Rally of the Togolese People (RTP) was dissolved and was replaced by the Union for the Republic (UNIR).
Largely a cosmetic change, the new [UNIR] party won the 2013 general election, taking 62 of the 91 seats in the National Assembly of Togo (expanded from 81 seats in 2013). The only other party to get double numbers was the Save Togo Collective which won 19 seats.
In 2015 Faure Gnassingbé won the Presidential election with 58.75% of the vote. This time his main opponent, Jean-Pierre Fabre of the National Alliance for Change, called the election fraudulent but refused to challenge the result in the Constitutional Court saying that the court did the bidding of the President. Gnassingbé was sworn in for his fourth term on 4th May 2015.
The President is elected for a five year term with no term limits.
The unicameral National Assembly has 91 members elected by popular vote to serve five year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Togo at joint 116th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 32 (where 100 is least corrupt).