Ghana, a country on the West Coast of Africa, is one of the most thriving democracies on the continent. It has often been referred to as an “island of peace” in one of the most chaotic regions on earth. It shares boundaries with Togo to the east, la Cote d’Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and the Gulf of Guinea, to the south. A recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea could make Ghana an important oil producer and exporter in the next few years.
Ghana is located on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea only a few degrees north of the Equator. Half of the country lies less than 152 meters (500 ft.) above sea level, and the highest point is 883 meters (2,900 ft.). The 537-kilometer (334-mi.) coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and streams, most of which are navigable only by canoe. A tropical rain forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills and many streams and rivers, extends northward from the shore, near the Cote d’Ivoire frontier. This area, known as the “Ashanti,” produces most of the country’s cocoa, minerals, and timber. North of this belt, the country varies from 91 to 396 meters (300-1,300 ft.) above sea level and is covered by low bush, parklike savanna, and grassy plains.
The climate is tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and comparatively dry; the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north, hot and dry. There are two distinct rainy seasons in the south-May-June and August-September; in the north, the rainy seasons tend to merge. A dry, northeasterly wind, the Harmattan, blows in January and February. Annual rainfall in the coastal zone averages 83 centimeters (33 in.).
The man-made Volta Lake extends from the Akosombo Dam in southeastern Ghana to the town of Yapei, 520 kilometers (325 mi.) to the north. The lake generates electricity, provides inland transportation, and is a potentially valuable resource for irrigation and fish farming.
The country’s economy is dominated by agriculture, which employs about 40 percent of the working population. Ghana is one of the leading exporters of cocoa in the world. It is also a significant exporter of commodities such as gold and lumber. A country covering an area of 238,500 square kilometers
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo
Latitude: 5 degrees, 36 minutes north
Longitude: 0 degrees, 10 minutes east
Land boundaries: total 2,093 km, Burkina Faso 548 km, Cote d’Ivoire 668 km, Togo 877 km
Coastline: 539 km
Map references: Africa, Standard Time Zones of the World
Area -total area: 238,540 km2; land area: 230,020 km2 ; comparative area: slightly smaller than Oregon
- contiguous zone: 24 nm
- continental shelf: 200 nm
- exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
- territorial sea: 12 nm
- International disputes: none
Ghana has an estimated population of 25,199,609 (July 2013 est.), drawn from more than one hundred ethnic groups, each with its own unique language. English however, is the official language, a legacy of British colonial rule. The major ethnic groups in Ghana include the Akan, Ewe, Mole-Dagbane, Guan, and Ga-Adangbe. The subdivisions of each group share a common cultural heritage, history, language, and origin. These shared attributes were among the variables that contributed to state formation in the precolonial period. Competition to acquire land for cultivation, to control trade routes, or to form alliances for protection also promoted group solidarity and state formation. The creation of the union that became the Asante confederacy in the late seventeenth century is a good example of such processes at work in Ghana’s past.
Ethnic rivalries of the precolonial era, variance in the impact of colonialism upon different regions of the country, and the uneven distribution of social and economic amenities in post-independence Ghana have all contributed to present-day ethnic tensions. For example, in February 1994, more than 1,000 persons were killed and 150,000 others displaced in the northeastern part of Ghana in fighting between Konkomba on one side and Nanumba, Dagomba, and Gonja on the other. The clashes resulted from longstanding grievances over land ownership and the prerogatives of chiefs. A military task force restored order, but a state of emergency in the region remained in force until mid-August.
Although this violence was certainly evidence of ethnic tension in the country, most observers agreed that the case in point was exceptional. As one prolific writer on modern Ghana, Naomi Chazan, has aptly observed, undifferentiated recourse to ethnic categories has obscured the essential fluidity that lies at the core of shared ties in the country. Evidence of this fluidity lies in the heterogeneous nature of all administrative regions, in rural-urban migration that results in inter-ethnic mixing, in the shared concerns of professionals and trade unionists that cut across ethnic lines, and in the multi-ethnic composition of secondary school and university classes. Ethnicity, nonetheless, continues to be one of the most potent factors affecting political behavior in Ghana. For this reason, ethnically based political parties are unconstitutional under the present Fourth Republic. Despite the cultural differences among Ghana’s various peoples, linguists have placed Ghanaian languages in one or the other of only two major linguistic subfamilies of the Niger-Congo language family, one of the large language groups in Africa. These are the Kwa and Gur groups, found to the south and north of the Volta River, respectively. The Kwa group, which comprises about 75 percent of the country’s population, includes the Akan, Ga-Adangbe, and Ewe. The Akan are further divided into the Asante, Fante, Akwapim, Akyem, Akwamu, Ahanta, Bono, Nzema, Kwahu, and Safwi. The Ga-Adangbe people and language group include the Ga, Adangbe, Ada, and Krobo or Kloli. Even the Ewe, who constitute a single linguistic group, are divided into the Nkonya, Tafi, Logba, Sontrokofi, Lolobi, and Likpe. North of the Volta River are the three subdivisions of the Gur-speaking people. These are the Gurma, Grusi, and Mole-Dagbane. Like the Kwa subfamilies, further divisions exist within the principal Gur groups.
Any one group may be distinguished from others in the same linguistically defined category or subcategory, even when the members of the category are characterized by essentially the same social institutions. Each has a historical tradition of group identity, if nothingelse, and, usually, of political autonomy. In some cases, however, what is considered a single unit for census and other purposes may have been divided into identifiable separate groups before and during much of the colonial period and, in some manner, may have continued to be separate after independence.
No part of Ghana, however, is ethnically homogeneous. Urban centers are the most ethnically mixed because of migration to towns and cities by those in search of employment. Rural areas, with the exception of cocoa-producing areas that have attracted migrant labor, tend to reflect more traditional population distributions. One overriding feature of the country’s ethnic population is that groups to the south who are closer to the Atlantic coast have long been influenced by the money economy, Western education, and Christianity, whereas Gur-speakers to the north, who have been less exposed to those influences, have came under Islamic influence. These influences were not pervasive in the respective regions, however, nor were they wholly restricted to them.
In 1957, Ghana (formerly known as the Gold Coast) became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence. After leading the country for nine years, the nation’s founding president Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup d’état in 1966. After Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana was ruled by a series of military despots with intermittent experiments with democratic rule, most of which were curtailed by military takeovers. The latest and most enduring democratic experiment started in 1992 and it is what has gained recognition for Ghana as a leading democracy in Africa.
Ghana has several tourist attractions such as the Forts and Castles, The forts and castles which are along the coast of Ghana date back to the 15th Century and were built and occupied at different times by the European traders and adventurers from Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany and Britain to safeguard trading posts.
Several of them have changed hands on numerous occasions in bloody battles or by treaty, and all have a fascinating history.
All over Ghana, vestiges of the past remain for the visitor to discover. Relics, historic sites, national monuments, and of course our castles.
Today some have been restored and have a variety of uses while some are in ruins. Most are however open to the public. Most of the major international airlines fly into and from the international airport in Accra. Domestic air travel is thriving and the country has a vibrant telecommunications sector, with six cellular phone operators and several internet service providers.
- Official Name: Republic of Ghana
- Population: 25,199,609 (July 2013 est.) Life expectancy 56 years.
- Official Language: English, Over 25 ethnic languages
- President is Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. (Sworn into Office Jan 7 2017)
- Parliament has 275 members
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Ghana was worth 37.54 billion US dollars in 2015
- The contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP has suffered decline since 2009 from 31.8% to about 12.8% as at September 2015.
- Export products are gold, cocoa, timber, bauxite manganese and electricity. Oil was found in 2007.
- Economy relies heavily on foreign assistance and remittances from Ghanaians abroad
- Currency is Ghana Cedi (GH¢)
- Popular tourist destination includes: The National Museum located in the Greater Accra region, Lake Bosomtwi in the Ashanti region, Kakum national park in the Central region, Boti Falls in the Eastern region, Wli Waterfalls and Mount Afadjato in the Volta region, Larabanga Mosque and Mole National Park in the Northern region, e.t.c
Edited and arranged