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Introduction

Togo has several attractive beaches and a varied landscape that includes hills and plateaus. Visitors can sunbathe, hike or search for butterflies in the north of the country, or visit museums in the capital, Lome.

Togo was once on the edge of several empires, including the Akan-Ashanti and the Benin. Portuguese were among the first Europeans to arrive in the region. Germany acquired the territory in 1884. They lost it in World War I when the British and French drove them out ? achieving the first allied victory in the war. A League of Nations mandate divided Togo in two. British Togoland became part of Ghana. French Togoland became independent as Togo in 1960.

Togo was the first African country to sustain a coup following independence. Lt. Colonel Gnassingbe Eyadťma overthrew Sylvanus Olympio. Eyadema remained head of state until his death early in 2005. His son, Faure Gnassingbe, was installed as the new head of state, but after considerable international pressure, he stepped down and called for elections. Although some international observers disputed the fairness of the polls, Gnassingbe was declared the winner ? an outcome endorsed by African leaders. Togo has suffered spasms of violence surrounding elections in recent years, most recently during the 2005 presidential election. Thousands of people fled across the borders to Ghana and Benin.

Togo is home to 5.7 million people, the overwhelming majority of whom practice indigenous beliefs while a small few practice either Christianity or Islam. The official language is French, although Ewť and Kabyť are also widely spoken. The two major ethnic groups in Togo are the Ewť and Kabyť. Togolese food features rice with sauces made of peanuts, fish, eggplant and spinach. Other dishes include smoked goat, grilled chicken, and abobo, which is snails cooked brochette style.

There are many opportunities for hiking in Togo. One of the best places to visit on foot is the northern town of Kpalime, which is known for its abundant butterflies. It has thick vegetation and hilly terrain. It is also comparatively cooler. North of Kpalime are the waterfalls of Kpime. It is possible to hike to the top of the falls for a good view. For water sports, Lake Togo offers windsurfing and water-skiing. In the south, the Parc National de Fazao-Malfakassa is located in the Malfakassa Mountains. The range is full of waterfalls and cliffs. There are few animals, but there are several old animal trails to follow for hiking.

There are several African and European airlines that arrive in Lome. If flying from Africa, it is cheaper to arrange a flight from Accra or Cotonou. Renting cars in Togo is possible but far more expensive than travel by taxi. There is a large network of mini-buses in Togo and is relatively cheap to travel in one. Another option for the explorers is to travel by bicycle, which are available for rental.

There are a few resorts available in Togo, including the five-star Corinthia Two Fevrier. It offers a good selection of restaurants and bars, an internet cafť, two tennis courts, a swimming pool and spacious guest rooms with splendid views of the city. Another resort worth checking is the Mecure Lome Sarakawa Hotel, which has an Olympic-sized swimming pool.