Lome, Togo

Like much of West Africa, Togo is a result of European colonial disruption of long-standing African kingdoms. Togo’s long, thin territory reflects its history as a trade franchise for Germany, which controlled the coastline and plundered the interior. The country’s citizenry is made up of 40 ethnic groups. Blessed with broad golden beaches and a sunny, warm climate, Togo is a favorite of European vacationers. The huge Grand Market distributes everything required for life in the city. The picturesque and fragrant Akodessewa fetish market dispenses all sorts of botanicals and mummified animal parts to the 51 percent of Togo’s population who are practitioners of Vodun or other native animist religions. It is the largest such market in Africa and draws devotees from all over the continent. The smaller Centre Artisanal offers handcrafts. The National Museum is a good place to learn more about the history and cultures of Togo, with displays of traditional jewelry, clothing, pottery, sculpture and musical instruments.  Modernist monuments around town include the Independence Memorial and the Peace Dove Monument, while the tall steeples of the red-and-white Cathedral are a memorial of German colonial occupation. The city’s pace is slower and more relaxed than other West African capitals, and the golden sands of Lomé and Aneho beaches invite you to admire the rolling sapphire surf from the Gulf of Guinea.