Ghana facts for kids

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Republic of Ghana
Flag
Motto: "Freedom and Justice"
Anthem: "God Bless Our Homeland Ghana"
Capital
and largest city
Accra
Official languages English
Government-sponsored
languages
Akan, Ewe, Dagomba (Dagbani), Dangme, Dagaare, Ga, Nzema, Gonja, Kasem
Demonym Ghanaian
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
 -  President John Dramani Mahama
 -  Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur
Legislature Parliament
Independence from the United Kingdom
 -  Declared 6 March 1957 
 -  Republic 1 July 1960 
 -  Current Constitution 28 April 1992 
Area
 -  Total 238,535 km2 (81st)
92,098 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 3.5
Population
 -  2010 estimate 24,233,431
 -  Density 101.5/km2 (103rd)
258.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $82.571 billion
 -  Per capita $3,312.706
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $42.090 billion
 -  Per capita $1,688.619
HDI (2010) Increase 0.541
low · 135th
Currency Ghana cedi (GH₵) (GHS)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
Drives on the right
Calling code +233
Internet TLD .gh

The Republic of Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) is a country in West Africa. Twenty-three million people live there; its capital is Accra. It is in Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Côte d'Ivoire and Togo.

Since Ghana is near the Equator, the climate is very warm and tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and comparatively dry. South west corner is hot and humid. The north is hot and dry. Lake Volta (the world’s largest artificial lake) extends through eastern Ghana.

Most Ghanaians have access to primary and secondary education. Ghana has a 6-year primary school system. There are 6 public universities and 10 private universities.

Ghana has many natural resources. The main exports are gold, timber, cocoa, diamonds, and more. Ghana has one of the strongest economies in Africa.

Ghana used “Cedi” for their currency but in July 2007, “Ghana Cedi” became the new currency. 1 Ghana Cedi is equal to 1000 Cedi. 1 US dollar is currently exchanged at about 4 Ghana Cedi.

History

Prehistory

Archaeological evidence suggests that humans have lived in present-day Ghana since the Bronze Age.

Medieval kingdoms

Akan face
16th – 17th century Akan Terracotta, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ghana was inhabited in the Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery by a number of ancient predominantly Akan kingdoms in the Southern and Central territories. This included the Ashanti Empire, the Akwamu, the Bonoman, the Denkyira, and the Mankessim Kingdom.

Until the 11th century, the majority of modern Ghana's territorial area was largely unoccupied and uninhabited by humans. Although the area of present-day Ghana in West Africa has experienced many population movements, the Akans were firmly settled by the 5th century BC. By the early 11th century, the Akans were firmly established in the Akan state called Bonoman, for which the Brong-Ahafo Region is named.

From the 13th century, Akans emerged from what is believed to have been the Bonoman area, to create several Akan states of Ghana, mainly based on gold trading. These states included Bonoman (Brong-Ahafo Region), Ashanti (Ashanti Region), Denkyira (Central region), Mankessim Kingdom (Western region), and Akwamu (Eastern region and Greater Accra Region). By the 19th century; the territory of the southern part of Ghana was included in the Kingdom of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-saharan Africa prior to the onset of colonialism.

Guinea from Milner's Atlas
A 1850 map showing the Akan Kingdom of Ashanti within the Guinea region and surrounding regions in West Africa.

The Kingdom of Ashanti government operated first as a loose network, and eventually as a centralised kingdom with an advanced, highly specialised bureaucracy centred in the capital city of Kumasi. Prior to Akan contact with Europeans, the Akan Ashanti people created an advanced economy based on principally gold and gold bar commodities then traded with the states of Africa.

The earliest known kingdoms to emerge in modern Ghana were the Mole-Dagbani states. The Mole-Dagombas came on horse-backs from present day Burkina Faso under a single leader, Naa Gbewaa. With their advance weapons and the presence of a central authority they easily invaded and occupied the lands of the local people ruled by the Tendamba (land god priests), established themselves as rulers over them and made Gambaga their capital. The death of Naa Gbewaa caused civil war among his children, some of whom broke off and founded separate states including Dagbon, Mamprugu, Mossi, Nanumba and Wala.

European contact (15th century)

Chronicles of Pre−Republic of Ghana
Chronicles of Pre-Republicanism (c. 15th century–6 March 1957), including Gold Coast legislative election, 1956.

Akan trade with European states began after contact with Portuguese in the 15th century. Early European contact by the Portuguese people, who came to the Gold Coast region in the 15th century to trade then established the Portuguese Gold Coast (Costa do Ouro), focused on the extensive availability of gold. The Portuguese first landed at a south coastal city, and named the place Elmina as the Portuguese Gold Coast's capital city.

In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d'Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed in three years. By 1598, the Dutch people had joined the Portuguese people in gold trading, establishing the Dutch Gold Coast (Nederlandse Bezittingen ter Kuste van Guinea) and building forts at Komeda and Kormantsi. In 1617, the Dutch captured the Olnini Castle from the Portuguese, and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony).

Other European traders had joined in gold trading by the mid-17th century, most notably the Swedish people, establishing the Swedish Gold Coast (Svenska Guldkusten), and the Danish people, establishing the Danish Gold Coast (Danske Guldkyst or Dansk Guinea). Portuguese merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it Costa do Ouro or Gold Coast.

More than thirty forts and castles were built by the Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Dutch and German merchants; the latter German people establishing the German Gold Coast (Brandenburger Gold Coast or Groß Friedrichsburg). In 1874 Great Britain established control over some parts of the country assigning these areas the status of British Gold Coast. Many military engagements occurred between the British colonial powers and the various Akan nation-states and the Akan Kingdom of Ashanti defeated the British a few times in a warfare against the United Kingdom that lasted for 100 years, but eventually lost with the War of the Golden Stool in the early 1900s.

In 1947, the newly formed United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) by The Big Six called for "self-government within the shortest possible time" following the Gold Coast legislative election, 1946. Dr.h.c. Kwame Nkrumah is the first Prime Minister of Ghana and President of Ghana and formed the Convention People's Party (CPP) with the motto "self-government now".

The first Prime Minister of Ghana and President of Ghana Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah won a majority in the Gold Coast legislative election, 1951 for the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly in 1952, Nkrumah was appointed leader of the Gold Coast's government business. The Gold Coast region declared independence from the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957 and established the nation of Ghana.

Independence (1957)

1989 CPA 6101
Soviet postage stamp with Kwame Nkrumah's face on it.

On 6 March 1957 at 12 a.m Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana's establishment and autonomy as the first Prime Minister of Ghana and on 1 July 1960, following the Ghanaian constitutional referendum, 1960 and Ghanaian presidential election, 1960 Nkrumah declared Ghana as a republic as the first President of Ghana.

The flag of Ghana, consisting of the colours red, gold, green, and black star, became the new flag in 1957 when gold coast gained its name Ghana. Designed by Theodosia Salome Okoh, the red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the industrial minerals wealth of Ghana, the green symbolises the rich grasslands of Ghana, and the black star is the symbol of the Ghanaian people and African emancipation.

Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister of Ghana, and then President of Ghana, was the first African head of state to promote Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania in the United States, at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his "Back to Africa Movement". Nkrumah merged the teachings of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the naturalised Ghanaian scholar W. E. B. Du Bois into the formation of 1960s Ghana.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, as he became known, played an instrumental part in the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement and his life achievements were recognised by Ghanaians during his centenary birthday celebration, and the day was instituted as a public holiday in Ghana (Founder's Day).

Geography

Beach with palms Ghana
Beach in Ghana

Ghana is a country located on the Gulf of Guinea. It is only a few degrees north of the Equator. This gives it a warm climate. The country has an area of 238,500 km2 (92,085 sq mi). It is surrounded by Togo to the east, Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south.

The country has flat plains, low hills and a few rivers. Ghana can be divided into five different geographical regions. The coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub. It is crossed by several rivers and streams. The northern part of the country has high plains. Southwest and south central Ghana is made up of a forested plateau region with the Ashanti uplands and the Kwahu Plateau. The hilly Akuapim-Togo ranges are found along the country's eastern border.

The Volta Basin also takes up most of central Ghana. Ghana's highest point is Mount Afadjato. It is 885 m (2,904 ft) and is found in the Akwapim-Togo Ranges.

There are two main seasons in Ghana: the wet and the dry seasons. Northern Ghana has its rainy season from March to November. The south, including the capital Accra, has the season from April to mid-November.

Climate

The climate of Ghana is tropical and there are two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

Rivers

Ghana has a vast river system with an array of tributaries.

Panorama and landscape view of Lake Volta in Volta Basin and Eastern Region of Ghana. Lake Volta by artificial surface area is the largest reservoir in the world. Lake Volta drains into the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. Volta River has three main tributaries—the Black Volta, White Volta and Red Volta.
Ceratogymna elata -Hong Kong Zoo-8a
Yellow-casqued wattled hornbill
Kobus ellipsiprymnus in Lake Nakuru
Kobus ellipsiprymnus

Wildlife

Ghana has a vast array of fauna and they are of great significance, as some of Ghana's fauna have attained conservation status because of the current rate of decline in their number and distribution. The fauna of the Ghanaian terrestrial ecosystem, comprise a diverse array of species including several of conservation concern. Ghanaian records show that there is as many as 221 species of amphibians and reptiles, 724 species of birds, 225 mammalian species inhabiting Ghana; with 93 recorded to be inhabiting the Ghanaian savanna ecological zone. As with floral diversity, prime locations for faunal diversity is located in the Ghanaian high forest uplands; accounting for 83% of the total number of butterfly species recorded in Ghana, where canopy stratification and micro-climatic differentiation have provided habitats and niches for specific faunal organisms.

Endemism among Ghanaian terrestrial fauna has been observed in three species of frogs; Hyperolius baumanni; Hyperolius fusciventris; and Hyperolius sylvaticus; and the lizards; and Agama sylvanus found in the Ghanaian Bia Forest Reserve and the Atwema Range Forest Reserve. Ghana has a high degree of butterfly endemism where more than 20 species are classified endemic or near-endemic. Ghana is home to 84 known amphibian species: 78 frogs, 5 toads and caecilians. Threatened species recorded in Ghana include four species of marine turtles and three species of crocodiles. Bird species of conservation concern include seven threatened species, including four species endemic to the Upper Guinea forest block and seven near-threatened species.

Keystone species such as hornbills, parrots and birds of prey (eagles) are well represented in Ghana. Of the 728 birds species confirmed to be occurring in Ghana; 408 are non-passerines and 320 passerines, of which 498 are known or thought to be resident and 176 are regular seasonal bird migrants, including 100 from the Palaearctic ecozone. Of the total number of species occurring; 180 restricted to the Guinea-Congo forests biome and 37 restricted to the Sudan-Guinea savanna biome have been recorded in Ghana. Eleven of the 15 endemic bird species within the Upper Guinea forest occur in Ghana. Six of the total species are considered threatened and 12 are near-threatened.

Ghana is an important country for dozens of vulnerable, threatened, endangered, critically endangered or near-extinct mammalian species including primates such as the Pan troglodytes and Procolobus kirkii; big cats such as the Panthera leo and Panthera pardus; elephants such as the Loxodonta africana; and water-birds; being located on the boundary of the east Atlantic Ocean Flyway and Mediterranean Flyway. There are also several rare terrestrial birds, such as the Yellow-Necked Picarthes.

Fauna of Ghana
Procolobus kirkii
Cercopithecus mona

Economy

Key sectors

Medium close up image of David Kebu Jnr holding cocoa beans drying in the sun. (10703178735)
Cocoa beans drying in the sun

Ghana is an average natural resource enriched country possessing industrial minerals, hydrocarbons and precious metals. It is an emerging designated digital economy with mixed economy hybridisation and an emerging market with 8.7% GDP growth in 2012. It has an economic plan target known as the "Ghana Vision 2020". This plan envisions Ghana as the first African country to become a developed country between 2020 and 2029 and a newly industrialised country between 2030 and 2039. This excludes fellow Group of 24 member and Sub-Saharan African country South Africa, which is a newly industrialised country. The economy of Ghana also has ties to the Chinese Yuan Renminbi along with Ghana's vast gold reserves. In 2013, the Bank of Ghana began circulating the Renminbi throughout Ghanaian state-owned banks and to the Ghana public as hard currency along with the national Ghana cedi for second national trade currency.

The state-owned Volta River Authority and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation are the two major electricity producers. The Akosombo Dam, built on the Volta River in 1965, along with Bui Dam, Kpong Dam, and several other hydroelectric dams provide hydropower. In addition, the Government of Ghana has sought to build the second nuclear power plant in Africa.

Ghana also produces high quality cocoa, is the 2nd largest producer of cocoa globally, and is projected to become the largest producer of cocoa in the world in 2015.

Ghana is classified as a middle income country. Services account for 50% of GDP, followed by manufacturing (24.1%), extractive industries (5%), and taxes (20.9%).

Population

Accra Market (3106526668)
Accra market scene

In 2010, most of the 24.2 million inhabitants were predominantly citizens of the Ashanti (Akan) territories or Ashantiland (Kingdom of Ashanti) (4.7 million in Ashanti, 2.3 million in Brong-Ahafo, 2.2 million in Central, 2.6 million in Eastern, 2.3 million in Western, and 4 million in the seat of government in Greater Accra geographically and legally part of Eastern then administered separately on 23 July 1982). As of 2010, 4.1 million persons reside in the Dagbani territories or Kingdom of Dagbon (2.4 million in Northern, 1 million in Upper East, and 0.7 million in Upper West).

As of 2010, 2.1 million persons reside in Ewe territory Volta.

Language

Akan Greetings (Akwaba – Welcome; Ete sen – Hello)
Akan greeting phrases; "akɔaba" (welcome) and "ɛte sɛn" (how are you) in Ashanti Twi.

There are eleven languages that have the status of government-sponsored languages: four are Akan ethnic languages (Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi, Mfantse and Nzema), two are Mole-Dagbani ethnic languages (Dagaare and Dagbanli). The rest are Ewe, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, and Kasem.

English is the language of the state and is widely used as a lingua franca.

Culture

Akan dancers
Girls synchronized dancing

Ghanaian culture is a diverse mixture of the practices and beliefs of all the different Ghanaian people groups.

Food and drink

Ghanaian Delicacy- Etor
Etor is a popular dish in south Ghana, prepared with plantain and/or with yam boiled and mashed, and mixed with palm oil. Groundnuts (peanuts) and eggs are used to garnish the dish.

Ghanaian cuisine and gastronomy is diverse, and includes an assortment of soups and stews with varied seafoods and most Ghanaian soups are prepared with vegetables, meat, poultry or fish. Fish is important in the Ghanaian diet with tilapia, roasted and fried whitebait, smoked fish and crayfish all being common components of Ghanaian dishes.

Banku is a common Ghanaian starchy food made from ground corn (maize), and cornmeal based staples, dokonu (kenkey) and banku are usually accompanied by some form of fried fish (chinam) or grilled tilapia and a very spicy condiment made from raw red and green chillies, onions and tomatoes (pepper sauce). Banku and tilapia is a combo served in most Ghanaian restaurants. Fufu is the most common exported Ghanaian dish in that it is a delicacy aross the African diaspora.

Traditional clothing

Kent wove
Akan Kente cloth color and pattern variations.

Along with the Adinkra cloth Ghanaians use many different cloth fabrics for their traditional attire. The different ethnic groups have their own individual cloth. The most well known is the Kente cloth. Kente is a very important Ghanaian national costume and clothing and these cloths are used to make traditional and modern Ghanaian Kente attire.

Different symbols and different colours mean different things. Kente is the most famous of all the Ghanaian cloths. Kente is a ceremonial cloth hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom and strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths. Cloths come in various colours, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions.

In a cultural context, kente is more important than just a cloth and it is a visual representation of history and also a form of written language through weaving. The term kente has its roots in the Akan word kɛntɛn which means a basket and the first kente weavers used raffia fibres to weave cloths that looked like kenten (a basket); and thus were referred to as kenten ntoma; meaning basket cloth. The original Akan name of the cloth was nsaduaso or nwontoma, meaning "a cloth hand-woven on a loom"; however, "kente" is the most frequently used term today.

Music and dance

Brit Mus 13sept10 brooches etc 062
Akan Drum

The music of Ghana is diverse and varies between different ethnic groups and regions. Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments such as the talking drum ensembles, Akan Drum, goje fiddle and koloko lute, court music, including the Akan Seperewa, the Akan atumpan, the Ga kpanlogo styles, and log xylophones used in asonko music. The most well known genres to have come from Ghana are African jazz which was created by Ghanaian artist Kofi Ghanaba. and its earliest form of secular music is called highlife. Highlife originated in the late 19th century and early 20th century and spread throughout West Africa. In the 1990s a new genre of music was created by the youth incorporating the influences of highlife, Afro-reggae, dancehall and hiphop. This hybrid was called Hiplife. Ghanaian artists such as R&B and soul singer Rhian Benson and Sarkodie have had international success.

Ghanaian dance is as diverse as its music, and there are traditional dances and different dances for different occasions. The most known Ghanaian dances are those for celebrations. Some of these dances include Adowa, Kpanlogo, Azonto, Klama, and Bamaya.

National Symbols

Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) 1
Tawny eagle on the coat of arms of Ghana
Blackstar
Flag of Ghana

The coat of arms depicts two animals: the tawny eagle (Aquila rapax, a very large bird that lives in the savannas and deserts ; 35% of Ghana's landmass is desert, 35% is forest, 30% is savanna) and the lion (Panthera leo, a big cat); a ceremonial sword, an heraldic castle on an heraldic sea, a cocoa tree and a mine shaft representing the industrial mineral wealth of Ghana, and a five-pointed black star rimmed with gold representing the mineral gold wealth of Ghana and the lodestar of the Ghanaian people. It also has the legend Freedom and Justice.

The flag of Ghana consists of three horizontal bands (strips) of red (top), gold (middle) and green (bottom); the three bands are the same height and width; the middle band bears a five-pointed black star in the centre of the gold band, the colour red band stands for the blood spilled to achieve the nation's independence: gold stands for Ghana's industrial mineral wealth, and the color green symbolises the rich tropical rainforests and natural resources of Ghana.

Tourism

In 2011, 1,087,000 tourists visited Ghana.

Tourist arrivals to Ghana include: South Americans, Asians, Europeans, and North Americans. Ghana's all year round tropical warm climate along with its many wildlifes; exotic waterfalls such as Kintampo Waterfalls and the largest waterfall in west Africa, Tagbo Falls; Ghana's coastal palm-lined sandy beaches; caves; mountains, rivers; meteorite impact crater and reservoirs and lakes such as Lake Bosumtwi or Bosumtwi meteorite crater and the largest lake in the world by surface area, Lake Volta; dozens of castles and forts; UNESCO World Heritage Sites; nature reserves and national parks are major tourist destinations in Ghana.

The World Economic Forum statistics in 2010 showed that Ghana was 108th out of 139 countries as world's favourite tourism destinations. The country had moved two places up from the 2009 rankings. In 2011, Forbes magazine, published that Ghana was ranked the eleventh most friendly country in the world. The assertion was based on a survey in 2010 of a cross-section of travellers. Of all the African countries that were included in the survey Ghana ranked highest. Tourism is the fourth highest earner of foreign exchange for the country. In 2014, Ghana ranks as the 61st–most peaceful country in the world.

To enter Ghana, it is necessary to have a visa authorised by the Government of Ghana. Travelers must apply for this visa at a Ghanaian embassy, this process takes approximately two weeks. The visa will be good for up to 60 days. By law, visitors entering Ghana must be able to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Panorama view of Kakum National Park, located in the coastal environs of the Central region on the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, covers an area of 375 square kilometres (145 sq mi). Established in 1931 as a Game reserve and Nature reserve, it was gazetted as a national park only in 1992 after an initial survey of avifauna was conducted. The national park is covered with tropical rainforest. Kakum National Park is the only national park in Africa with a canopy walkway, which is 350 metres (1,150 ft) long and connects seven canopy tree tops which provides access to the rainforests.

Notable people

Related pages

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