French Togoland got independence and became Togo in 1960. The first Togo President, Sylvanus Olympio was assassinated in January 1993 in the streets of Lomé.
Nicolas Grunitzky was the second president of Togo. He was President from 1963 to 1967 following the 1963 coup which killed his nationalist political rival Sylvanus Olympio. Grunitzky was chosen by the military committee of coup leaders to be Togo’s second President. He was, however, toppled in a bloodless military coup led by then Lt. Col Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadema and was exiled to Paris.
Gnassingbe Eyadema was installed as a military ruler in 1967, he ruled Togo with a heavy hand for almost four decades. Despite the facade of multi-party elections instituted in the early 1990s, the government was largely dominated by President Eyadema, whose Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) party held power almost continually since 1967.
Its successor, the Union for the Republic party, currently maintains a majority of seats in today’s legislature. Upon Eyadema‘s death in February 2005, the military installed the president’s son, Faure Gnassingbe, and then engineered his formal election two months later. Democratic gains since then allowed Togo to hold its first relatively free and fair legislative elections in October 2007.
The country has gained notoriety as a transit point for ivory poached elsewhere in the region. Poaching has risen in recent years across the continent; gangs kill elephants for tusks and rhinos for their horns, before shipping them to Asia for use in ornaments and alleged medicinal remedies.
Togo is one of the world’s top five producers of phosphates, which are commonly used in fertilizers; however the country but remains largely poor and dependent on foreign aid.