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Republic of Ghana
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Freedom and Justice"
National seal
Seal of the Republic of Ghana
Government logo
Location of  Ghana  (red)
Location of  Ghana  (red)
Accra Metropolitan Assembly logo.jpg
Official languages English (official) 21.3%[2]
National language
Indigenous language
Akan (lingua franca) 83.9%
Ethnic groups (2010[3])
Demonym Ghanaian
Government Unitary presidential
constitutional democracy
 -  President John Dramani Mahama
 -  Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur
Legislature Parliament
Independence from the United Kingdom
 -  Declared 6 March 1957 
 -  Realm 6 March 1957 – 1 July 1960 
 -  Republic 1 July 1960 
 -  Current constitution 28 April 1992 
 -  Total 238,535 km2 (82nd)
92,099 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 4.61 (11,000 km2 / 4,247 mi2)
 -  2010 estimate 24.2 million[5]
 -  Density 101.5/km2 (103rd)
258.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $97.5 billion[6]
 -  Per capita $3,718.4[6]
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $50 billion[6]
 -  Per capita $1,902.9[6]
HDI (2013)Increase 0.558[7]
medium · 135th
Currency Ghana cedi (GH₵) (GHS)
Time zone GMT (UTC+0)
Drives on the right
Calling code +233
Internet TLD .gh
Map of the Gulf of Guinea showing Ghana and its 2,093 kilometer international borders.

The Republic of Ghana is a country located in West Afrika. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. The word Ghana means "Warrior King"[8] and is derived from the ancient Ghana Empire.

Etymology of Ghana

Map of Ghana

The word Ghana means Warrior King and was the title accorded to the kings of the medieval West African Ghana Empire.[9] Geographically, the Ghana Empire was approximately 500 miles (800 km) north and west of modern Ghana, and it ruled territories in the area of the Sénégal River and east towards the Niger River, in modern Senegal, Mauritania and Mali.

Ghana was adopted as the legal name for the Gold Coast combined with British Togoland upon gaining autonomy on March 6, 1957. It was not until July 1, 1960, however, that Ghana asserted its complete independence from Britain and became known as the Republic of Ghana.

Pre-colonial Ghana

placement of old Afrikan kingdom of Wagadugu(Ghana)

Archaeological remains found in the coastal zone indicate that the area of present day Ghana had been inhabited since the early since ca. 4000 B.C., but these societies, based on fishing in the extensive lagoons and rivers, left few traces. Archaeological work also suggests that central Ghana north of the forest zone was inhabited as early as 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Oral history and other sources suggest that the ancestors of some of Ghana's residents entered this area at least as early as the tenth century A.D. and that migration from the north and east continued thereafter. These migrations resulted in part from the formation and disintegration of a series of large states in the western Sudan (the region north of modern Ghana drained by the Niger River). Prominent among these Sudanic states was the Soninke Kingdom of Ancient Ghana. Strictly speaking, Ghana was the title of the King, but the arabs, who left records of the Kingdom, applied the term to the King, the capital, and the state. The actual name of the state was Wagadugu[10]The 9th Century Arab writer, al yaqubi, described ancient Ghana as one of the three most organised states in the region (the others being Gao and Kanem in the central Sudan). Its rulers were renowned for their wealth in gold, the opulence of their courts, and their warrior-hunting skills. They were also masters of the trade in gold, which drew North African merchants to the western Sudan. The military achievements of these and later western Sudanic rulers and their control over the region's gold mines constituted the nexus of their historical relations with merchants and rulers of North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Ghana succumbed to attacks by its neighbours in the eleventh century, but its name and reputation endured.

Kumbu is cited by historians as the first kingdom which emerged in the region, and it contained different akan elements. Kumbu was followed by the first and second Bono Kingdoms. It is from the second Bono Kingdom that the Aduana people migrated from and went south to create the Akumi-Akoto kingdom in Eguafo territory in the south. Around 1550, some emigrants from the Akumi-Akoto went north and established the Nyanowase Akwamu kingdom by the early 1700's. Because of a royalty succession dispute, part of the ruling class left the kingdom, travelling north to create a state in a very densely populated zone called Asantemanso.

It was around this time that the Akan people of central Ghana began to solidify their political government around Kumase. As the oral history goes, Okomfo Anokye commanded and a Golden stool to descend from the skies on one Festive Friday, “Fofie” when all the chiefs had gathered, and rested on the laps of Nana Osei Tutu, making him the unquestionable king of the united Asante states. The Golden stool became the soul of the new Nation and each Chief swore an oath not to raise arms against the Golden stool. They swore to protect the Golden stool with their blood. The states, which assembled included Mampon, Asumegya, Kokofu, Kumase, Dwaben, Bekwai, Offinso, Nsuta, Kontanase, Edweso and Agona.

European Arrival

elmina castle, Oguaa

The first european people arrived in the absolute southern part of the region around the late 15th century. When they arrived, many inhabitants of the Gold Coast area were striving to consolidate their newly acquired territories and to settle into a secure and permanent environment. The portuguese were the first to arrive. By 1471, under the patronage of prince henry, they had reached the area that was to become known as the Gold Coast because europeans knew the area as the source of gold that reached the empires to the north, such as Songhai and Mali by way of trade routes across the Sahara. The initial portuguese interest in trading for gold, ivory, and pepper so increased that in 1482 the portuguese built their first permanent trading post on the western coast. This fortress, elmina castle, constructed to protect portuguese trade from hostile Afrikans, and european competitors still stands.

With the opening of european plantations in North and South America the 1500s, which suddenly created a massive demand for enslaved Afrikans in the Americas, trade in enslaved Afrikans soon overshadowed gold as the principal export of the area. The west coast of Afrika became the principal source of enslaved peoples for the Americas. The seemingly insatiable market and the substantial profits to be gained from the slave trade attracted enslavers from all over europe. Much of the conflict that arose among european groups on the coast and among competing Afrikan kingdoms was the result of rivalry for control of this trade.

The portuguese position on the Gold Coast remained secure for almost a century. During that time, lisbon leased the right to establish trading posts to individuals or companies that sought to align themselves with the local chiefs and to exchange trade goods both for rights to conduct commerce and for enslaved Afrikans whom the chiefs could provide. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, enslaver-nations first dutch, and later english, danish, and swedish-- were granted licenses by their governments to trade overseas. On the Gold Coast, these european competitors built fortified trading stations and challenged the portuguese. Sometimes they were also drawn into conflicts with local inhabitants as europeans developed commercial alliances with local chiefs.

The principal early struggle was between the dutch and the portuguese. With the loss of elmina in 1642 to the dutch, the portuguese left the Gold Coast permanently. The next 150 years saw kaleidoscopic change and uncertainty, marked by local conflicts and diplomatic maneuvers, during which various european powers struggled to establish or to maintain a position of dominance in the profitable trade of the Gold Coast littoral. Forts were built, abandoned, attacked, captured, sold, and exchanged, and many sites were selected at one time or another for fortified positions by contending european nations. Both the dutch and the british formed companies to advance their Afrikan ventures and to protect their coastal establishments. The dutch West India Company operated throughout most of the eighteenth century. The british African Company of Merchants, founded in 1750, was the successor to several earlier organisations of this type. These enterprises built and manned new installations as the companies pursued their trading activities and defended their respective jurisdictions with varying degrees of government backing. There were short-lived ventures by the swedes and the prussians. The danes remained until 1850, when they withdrew from the Gold Coast. The british gained possession of all dutch coastal forts by the last quarter of the nineteenth century, thus making them the dominant european power on the Gold Coast.

Enslavement in West Afrika

For a time, a form of servitude was an accepted social institution in the region, and the european slave trade overshadowed all other commercial activities on the West Afrikan coast. In general, however, the servants in Afrikan communities were often treated as junior members of the society with specific rights, and many were ultimately absorbed into the families and cultures as full members. Given traditional methods of agricultural production in Afrika, the servitude in Afrika was quite different from chattel slavery that was created and maintained by europeans in europe and the western hemisphere. Another aspect of the impact of the european slave trade on Afrika concerns the role of Afrikan chiefs, Muslim traders, and merchant princes in the trade. Although there is no doubt that local rulers in West Africa engaged in slaving and received certain advantages from it, some scholars have challenged the premise that traditional chiefs in the vicinity of the Gold Coast engaged in wars of expansion for the sole purpose of acquiring slaves for the export market.[11][12] In the case of Asante, for example, rulers of that kingdom are known to have supplied slaves to both Muslim traders in the north and to Europeans on the coast. Even so, the Asante waged war for purposes other than simply to secure slaves. They also fought to pacify territories that in theory were under Asante control, to exact tribute payments from subordinate kingdoms, and to secure access to trade routes--particularly those that connected the interior with the coast.

Because it took decades to end the trade in Afrikans, some historians doubt that the humanitarian impulse inspired the abolitionist movement. According to historian Walter Rodney, for example, europe abolished the european slave trade only because its profitability was undermined by the Industrial Revolution. Rodney argues that mass unemployment caused by the new industrial machinery, the need for new raw materials, and european competition for markets for finished goods are the real factors that brought an end to the trade in human cargo and the beginning of competition for colonial territories in Afrika. Other scholars, however, disagree with Rodney, arguing that humanitarian concerns as well as social and economic factors were instrumental in ending the Afrikan slave trade.

Independence from european control

During the 1940s, the movement toward independence gained momentum after police opened fire in Accra (capital of Ghana) on a large contingent of former service men who were peacefully carrying a petition to the Governor to seek redress of their grievances. Joseph Danquah and other leading nationalists founded the United Gold Coast Convention in August 1947 and invited Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, to lead the group's campaign for representative self-government (but Nkrumah and Danquah were jailed after troops fired on demonstrators and a riot erupted in 1948). In 1949, the Convention People's Party (CPP), led by Nkrumah organized workers and farmers for the first time in a mass movement for independent and staged strikes. A new constitution was introduced by Nkrumah's government to provide direct election by universal suffrage in 1954. After years of suffering under british imperial rule, Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, became the first Afrikan State to achieve independence in 1957.


Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister and then President of the modern Ghanaian state, was not only an African anti-colonial leader but also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. He was the first African head of state to promote Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (United States), at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his "Back to Africa Movement." He merged the dreams of both Marcus Garvey and the celebrated African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois into the formation of the modern day Ghana. Ghana's principles of freedom and justice, equity and free education for all, irrespective of ethnic background, religion or creed, borrow from Kwame Nkrumah's implementation of Pan-Africanism.

Independence Arch, Ghana

Although his goal of African unity never realised, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, as he is now known, played an instrumental part in the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, which was succeeded in 2002 by the African Union. His achievements were recognised by Ghanaians during his Centenary birthday celebrations and the day instituted as a public holiday in Ghana. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's government was subsequently overthrown by the military while abroad in February 1966. It has been demonstrated that the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had an effective hand in forcing the coup, and this has been substantiated by the testimonies of former CIA officers (CIA-backed coup). [13] Documents, declassified in 1999, only recently made public, reveal that then-US Secretary of State Dean Rusk and then-CIA director John McCone had met and shared secret correspondence with General J.A. Ankrah, and had specified that he would be the man to lead Ghana after the coup.[14]

A series of subsequent coups from 1966 to 1981 ended with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. The economy suffered a severe decline soon after, and many Ghanaians migrated to other countries. Although most migrating Ghanaians went to Nigeria, the Nigerian government deported about a million Ghanaians back to Ghana in 1983.[15]

President of Ghana, John Atta Mills with Nigerian pastor T.B. Joshua, January 2009

Jerry Rawlings soon negotiated a structural adjustment plan with the International Monetary Fund and changed many old economic policies and the economy soon began to recover. A new constitution restoring multi-party politics was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president then and again in 1996. The Constitution of 1992 prohibited him from running for a third term, so his party, the National Democratic Congress, chose his Vice President, John Atta Mills, to run against the opposition parties. Winning the 2000 elections, John Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party was sworn into office as President in January 2001, and beat Mills again in 2004; thus, also serving two terms as President.

Since 2008 Ghana have had several issues with its taxing and income of most of its workers. It has had several issues with ongoing security which has led to a major decrease in the country's overall wealth. As well as this the next president (see below) promised to build more tarmac roads as he commented on its major lack of them.

In 2009, John Atta Mills took office as president with a difference of about 40,000 votes (0.46%) [16] between his party, the National Democratic Congress, and the New Patriotic Party, marking the second time that power had been transferred from one legitimately elected leader to another, and securing Ghana's status as a stable country.[17]

Locations of Interest in Ghana

Places to Stay

Places to See


  1. "". Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  2. "Welcome". Government of Ghana. 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013. The Ghanaian Government states that English is the official language. It is being widely used in business, law, and government documents, as well being taught throughout schools as a medium of instruction. For the official percentage of English language speakers in Ghana see List of countries by English-speaking population
  3. "Ghana – 2010 Population and Housing Census" (PDF). Government of Ghana. 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named religion2010
  5. "2010 Provisional Census Results Out". ISD (Antoinette I. Mintah) Population Division. 4 February 2011. Ghana Government. 2010. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Ghana". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  7. "Human Development Report 2010" (PDF). United Nations. 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  8. Jackson, John G. (2001). Introduction to African Civilizations. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp. p. 201. ISBN 0-8065-2189-9. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
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  14. Kpessa, Michael Whyte (2005-02-24). "24th February--A Dark Day In Our National History".
  15. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  16. "BBC: Opposition leader wins Ghana poll - elections". Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  17. "Thousands celebrate as new president takes office". The Guardian. 8 January 2009.