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SafetyTravel Safety: Africa: Togo

Togo: Togolese Republic
Capital: Freetown
Population: 5,285,501
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF)
Languages: French (official and the language of commerce), Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabye (sometimes spelled Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages in the north)
Religions: indigenous beliefs 51%, Christian 29%, Muslim 20%
Borders: Benin 644 km, Burkina Faso 126 km, Ghana 877 km

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Togo is a small, developing country in West Africa. French is the official language. Tourism facilities are limited, especially outside the capital city, Lome.

SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
U.S. citizens are urged to avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Togo has experienced periodic violence, strikes, and political tensions since 1990. These periods of unrest often lead to a clampdown by security forces, particularly in Lome. In the past, the government has been known to close Togo �s border with Ghana from time to time. Motorists should be prepared to stop at numerous police checkpoints in Lome and upcountry. When driving, keep car windows rolled up and doors locked. If possible, travelers should carry a working mobile phone in the car.

CRIME ^
Pick-pocketing and theft are common, especially along the beach and in the market areas of Lome. Residential burglary is becoming more common, as are carjackings. Because of violent crime, Americans should avoid the Grand March� area, as well as the beach road, during hours of darkness.

BUSINESS FRAUD ^
Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Togo. The scams pose a danger of both financial loss and physical harm. Recently, an increasing number of American citizens have been the targets of such scams.

Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction: for example, fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the �advance fees.� A common variation is a request for an American to pretend to be the next-of-kin to a recently deceased Togolese who left a fortune unclaimed in a Togolese bank. This variation generally includes requests for lawyers' fees and money to pay taxes to withdraw the money. Another common variation of this scheme involves individuals claiming to be refugees or other victims of various West African conflicts (notably Sierra Leone ) who contact U.S. citizens to request their help in transferring large sums of money out of Togo. Another typical ploy has persons claiming to be related to present or former political leaders who need assistance to transfer large sums of cash. Other variations include what appears to be a legitimate business deal requiring advance payments on contracts.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Any unsolicited business proposal originating from Togo should be carefully inspected before any funds are committed, any goods or services are provided, or any travel is undertaken. Please check the Embassy web site at http://lome.usembassy.gov for the most current information on fraud in Togo.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Togolese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Togo are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities in Togo are limited. There is no adequate emergency medical care. While some medicines are available through local pharmacies, travelers should carry any needed, properly labeled medicines and medications with them.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Togo is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor 
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance Poor 
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Urban roads are generally paved, but driving conditions are hazardous due to the presence of pedestrians and livestock on the roadways. Overland travel off the main network of roads generally requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Poorly marked, armed checkpoints, often manned by undisciplined soldiers, exist throughout the country. Nighttime travel on unfamiliar roads is dangerous. Banditry, including demands for bribes at checkpoints, has been reported on major inter-city highways, including the Lome-Cotonou coastal highway. The presence of many small motorbikes and poorly maintained vehicles adds to the danger of driving in Togo. Travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings, and drive defensively.

Americans should also be aware of the possibility of staged accidents when driving in Lome. Motorbikes have been known to cut in front of a vehicle, cause a collision, and draw a crowd, which can turn hostile if you attempt to leave the scene of the so-called accident. Such encounters appear designed to extort money from the vehicle driver. Pedestrians can also cause staged accidents. Travelers should drive with their car doors locked and windows closed, and have a radio or cell phone in the vehicle. If you are involved in this kind of accident and can drive away, please leave the scene, drive to a safe location, and alert both the police and the U.S. Embassy.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Togo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Togo 's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Togo 's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.intl.faa.gov. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the Department of Defense (DOD) policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

POWER SHORTAGES ^
Although Togo is taking measures to increase its energy-generating capacity, tourist facilities, especially those upcountry, often experience power outages.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS ^
Taking photographs of places affiliated with the government of Togo, including official government buildings, border crossings, checkpoints, police stations, military bases, utility buildings, airports, and government vehicles, is strictly prohibited. Government buildings may not always be clearly identifiable, as they vary from very well marked to not marked at all. In addition, taking pictures of government or military personnel is strictly prohibited. Cameras and film may be confiscated.

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Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

March 23, 2004

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