History of Lomé

Published on 23rd January 2007

With an estimated population of 700,000 (1998), Lome is the capital city of Togo. The city lies on the extreme south west of Togo, up against the Ghanaian border. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country's administrative and industrial centre and its chief port. Lome exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels and has an oil refinery. Neighborhoods in Lomé include Kodjoviakopé, Nyekonakopé, Amoutivé, Tokoin and Bé. The northern neighbors are almost separated from the centre by a lagoon.

The city was founded in the eighteenth century by the Ewe people. In 1882, the village, known then as Bey Beach, became a major trading centre with the arrival of Chico and Octaviano Olympio as agents for the British trading firm A. and F. Swanzy.

Bey Beach became the capital of Togo when the German rulers transferred capital status from Aneho in 1897. The city then grew quickly until it came under French control in 1919. A year after the country’s independence in 1960, Lome was confirmed as the capital of Togo.

A 1,380-foot (420-metre) jetty was built to facilitate the export of raw materials. Three railways fan out from Lomé to the hinterland: northwest to Palimé, north to Sokodé, and east along the coast to Aného. Modernization of the port was begun in the 1960s, and a deepwater harbour, completed in 1968, can handle some three million tons of goods annually. In 1978, the city's oil refinery began production.

In 1975 a trade agreement known as the Lomé Convention was reached, establishing economic cooperation between the European Economic Community (now the European Union) and 46 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. It was renewed in 1979, 1985, 1989, and 2000. The University of Benin was founded here in 1965 and the National School of Administration in 1958.  

Attractions in the city include Lomé Grand Market, the Togo National Museum in the Palais de Congrés, a fetish (voodoo) market, Lomé Cathedral, beaches and the former wharf. 

The city is also equipped with a jetty, railways, a deep water harbour, an international airport and universities. The former railway line to Blitta runs from the city. Tourism keeps on growing.  



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