Togo Kara region

(Photo: Volker Schumann )

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Togo is a tiny sliver of a country in the heart of West Africa. At the northernmost point of the country is the rarely visited Savanes region. This diverse area is home to a number of varying ethnic groups and is a worthy destination for the intrepid traveler.

Political Borders

Savanes is the northernmost of the five regions of Togo. Savanes shares an international boundary with three countries: Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. To the south lies the domestic border of the Kara region. The Savanes is divided into four prefectures, or counties: Oti, Tandjouare, Kpendjal and Tone. The largest populations are found in the towns of Dapaong, in the Tone prefecture, and Sansanne-Mango, located in the Oti prefecture. Both towns are the prefecture seats of government.

Terrain

The region takes its name from the French word Savane, which means savanna in English. The terrain throughout the region is characterized by gently rolling hills, grasslands, lack of forest cover and a semi-arid climate. The Savanes region is particularly affected by the harmattan, a dry desert wind that begins in the Sahara and blankets much of the area in dust during the winter.

History

Little is known of the region before the arrival of the Portuguese along the southern coasts during the 1600s. In the 1880s, the area became a protectorate of Germany during the European colonization of much of the coastal states of West Africa. Expanding their territory northwards, the Germans eventually created the colony of Togoland. This area remained in their possession until their defeat during World War I in 1914. British and French troops invaded shortly afterward, with the French eventually retaining possession. To this day, French is still spoken in larger urban areas. Togo gained its independence in 1960 but has seen much unrest at the hands of a dictatorship since.

Ethnic Groups

The largest ethnic group in the region is the Moba-Gourma. Other ethnic groups in the region include the Yanga, Mamprusi, Ngam, Konkomba, Natchab and Massi. The Moba-Gourma comprise over 70 percent of the region's population.

Economy

The economy of the Savanes region is supported largely by subsistence farming and animal husbandry. This area of Togo is known for its traditional artisan crafts and has shown some productivity in trade and tourism as a result.

Culture

The Savanes region is known for its unusual Sudanese architecture. Near the area of Namoudjoga, there are numerous cave paintings. Not far south of Dapaong is the Fosse aux Lions Reserve, which is home to populations of elephant, monkey, warthog and antelope.

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