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Republic of Ghana
( In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Freedom and Justice
Official language English (official), Ga, Twi, Ewe, Dagbani, Fante, and others.
Capital and largest city Accra
Capital's coordinates 5°33′N 0°15′W
President John Agyekum Kufuor
- Total
- % water
Ranked 78th
238,540 km²
- Total (2005)
- Density
Ranked 50th
- Total ( Year)
- GDP/head
Ranked 73rd
HDI ( 2003) 0.520 ( 138th) – medium
Currency Cedi
Time zone UTC, no ( DST)
Independence 6 March 1957, from the United Kingdom
National anthem " God Bless Our Homeland, Ghana"
National Motto " Freedom & Justice"
Internet TLD .gh
Calling Code 233
The Republic of Ghana is a nation in Africa. It borders the Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso in the north and Togo to the east. It was inhabited in precolonial times by a number of ancient kingdoms, including an inland Ashanti kingdom and various Fante states along the coast. Trade with European states flourished after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the British established a crown colony, Gold Coast, in 1874. Ghana became independent in 1957. Accra is the capital and largest city. The country's population in 2005 was 21,029,853.

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Name - Contents

Upon achieving independence from the United Kingdom, the name "Ghana" was chosen for the new nation—a reference to the Ghana Empire of earlier centuries. This name is mostly symbolic, as the ancient Empire of Ghana was located to the north and west of current-day Ghana. The name was adopted as a reference to the descendants of the ancient Empire of Ghana who migrated south and east and currently reside in Ghana.

History - Contents

Formed from the merger of the British colony Gold Coast and the British Togoland trust territory by a U.N. sponsored plebiscite, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. In 1956 Sudan gained its independence, but it was actually considered Saharan even though it is part of sub-saharan Africa. Therefore, Sudan was actually the first to achieve independence from colonial powers, but Ghana is considered the first sub-saharan African country to gain independence. A long series of coups ended with the ascension to power of Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. His changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. A new constitution, restoring multiparty politics, was approved in 1992, and Rawlings was elected in free elections of that year and also in 1996. The constitution prohibited him from running for a third term. John Kufuor, the current president, is now in his second term.

Politics - Contents

Ghana is a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. Its head of state is an elected president (currently John Kufuor) with executive powers. The Parliament of Ghana is unicameral and dominated by two main parties, the New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress. Kofi Annan, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, is from Ghana.
  • List of Presidents of Ghana
  • List of political parties in Ghana

Economy - Contents

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange.The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 40% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders. In 1995-97, Ghana made mixed progress under a three-year structural adjustment program in cooperation with the IMF. On the minus side, public sector wage increases and regional peacekeeping commitments have led to continued inflationary deficit financing, depreciation of the cedi, and rising public discontent with Ghana's austerity measures.

Regions - Contents

Ghana is divided into 10 regions:
  • Ashanti
  • Brong Ahafo
  • Central
  • Eastern
  • Greater Accra
  • Northern
  • Upper East
  • Upper West
  • Volta
  • Western

Geography - Contents

Map of Ghana
Map of Ghana
Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator. The coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and streams. A tropical rain forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills and many streams and rivers, extends northward from the shore. North of this belt, the land is covered by low bush, park-like savanna, and grassy plains.The climate is tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and comparatively dry (see Dahomey Gap); the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north, hot and dry. Lake Volta, the largest reservoir in the world, extends through large portions of eastern Ghana.The capital is Accra.

Main cities
Other cities include (see also Cities in Ghana):
  • Asamankese
  • Sunyani
  • Bolgatanga
  • Cape Coast
  • Elmina
  • Ho
  • Kumasi - (rail junction)
  • Nsawam - (rail junction)
  • Takoradi - port - railhead
  • Tamale
  • Tarkwa - (rail junction)
  • Tema - port - railhead
  • Wa
  • Odumase-Krobo
  • Somanya
  • Kpong -(Hydroelectric Dam)
  • Akosombo-(Hydroelectric Dam)

Culture - Contents

A man weaves kente cloth using a traditional loom in Bonwire village, Ashanti region, Ghana.
A man weaves kente cloth using a traditional loom in Bonwire village, Ashanti region, Ghana.
Perhaps the most visible (and most marketable) cultural contribution from modern Ghana is Kente cloth, which is widely recognized and valued for its colors and symbolism. Kente cloth is made by skilled Ghanaian weavers, and the major weaving centers in and around Kumasi (Bonwire is known as the home of Kente, though areas of Volta Region also lay claim to the title) are full of weavers throwing their shuttles back and forth as they make long strips of Kente. These strips can then be sewn together to form the larger wraps which are worn by some Ghanaians (chiefs especially) and are purchased by tourists in Accra and Kumasi. The colors and patterns of the Kente are carefully chosen by the weaver and the wearer. Each symbol woven into the cloth has a special meaning within Ghanaian culture.Kente is one of the symbols of the Ghanaian chieftaincy, which remains strong throughout the country, particularly in the areas populated by members of the culturally- and politically-dominant Ashanti tribe. The Ashanti's chief, known as the Asantehene, is perhaps the most revered individual in the central part of the country. Like other Ghanaian chiefs, he wears bright Kente, gold bracelets, rings and amulets, and is always accompanied by numerous ornate umbrellas (which are also a symbol of the chieftaincy itself). The most sacred symbol of the Ashanti people is the Golden Stool, a small golden throne in which the spirit of the people is said to reside. It is kept in safekeeping in Kumasi, the cultural capital of the Ashanti people and the seat of the Asantehene's palace. Though the chieftaincy across Ghana has been weakened by allegations of corruption and cooperation with colonial oppression, it remains a very vital institution in Ghana.After Independence, the Ghanaian music scene flourished, particularly the up-tempo, danceable style known as high life, which is still played consistently at the local clubs and bars, often called spots. Many Ghanaians are adept drummers, and it is not unusual to hear traditional drum ensembles play at social events or performances.

Education - Contents

Ghana has 12,630 primary schools, 5,450 junior secondary schools, 503 senior secondary schools, 21 training colleges, 18 technical institutions, two diploma-awarding institutions and five universities serving a population of 17 million; this means that most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to good education. In contrast, at the time of independence in 1957, Ghana had only one university and a handful of secondary and primary schools. In the past decade, Ghana's spending on education has been between 28 percent and 40 percent of its annual budget.Primary and middle school education is free and will be mandatory when enough teachers and facilities are available to accommodate all students. Students begin their 6-year primary education at age six. Under educational reforms implemented in 1987, they pass into a new junior secondary school system for 3 years of academic training combined with technical and vocational training, where they pass a Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).Those wishing to continue with their education move into the 3-year senior secondary school program. Entrance to universities is by examination following completion of senior secondary school. School enrollment totals almost 2 million: 1.3 million primary; 107,600 middle; 48,900 secondary; 21,280 technical; 11,300 teacher training; and 5,600 university.There is currently an on-going educational reform in Ghana, and teaching is mainly in English, Ghana's official language.
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