Facts About Ghana, West African Nation

High-angle view of Peduase, Ghana

 

Kwame Appah/EyeEm/Getty Images

Ghana is a country located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea. The country is known for being the second largest producer of cocoa in the world as well as its incredible ethnic diversity. Ghana currently has more than 100 different ethnic groups in its population of just over 24 million.

History of Ghana

Ghana's history prior to the 15th century is concentrated primarily on oral traditions. However, it is believed that people may have inhabited what is present-day Ghana from about 1500 BCE. European contact with Ghana began in 1470. In 1482, the Portuguese built a trading settlement there. Shortly thereafter for three centuries, the Portuguese, English, Dutch, Danes, and Germans all controlled different parts of the coast.

In 1821, the British took control of all of the trading posts located on the Gold Coast. From 1826 to 1900, the British then fought battles against the native Ashanti and in 1902, the British defeated them and claimed the northern part of today's Ghana.

In 1957, after a plebiscite in 1956, the United Nations determined that the territory of Ghana would become independent and combined with another British territory, British Togoland, when the entire Gold Coast became independent. On March 6, 1957, Ghana became independent after the British gave up control of the Gold Coast and the Ashanti, the Northern Territories Protectorate and British Togoland. Ghana was then taken as the legal name for the Gold Coast after it was combined with British Togoland in that year.

Following its independence, Ghana underwent several reorganizations that caused the country to be divided into 10 different regions. Kwame Nkrumah was the first prime minister and president of modern Ghana and he had goals of unifying Africa as well as freedom and justice and equality in education for all. His government, however, was overthrown in 1966.

Instability was then a major part of Ghana's government from 1966 to 1981, as several government overthrows occurred. In 1981, Ghana's constitution was suspended and political parties were banned. This later caused the country's economy to decline and many people from Ghana migrated to other countries.
By 1992, a new constitution was adopted, the government began to regain stability, and the economy started to improve. Today, Ghana's government is relatively stable and its economy is growing.

Government of Ghana

Ghana's government today is considered a constitutional democracy with an executive branch made up of a chief of state and a head of government filled by the same person. The legislative branch is a unicameral Parliament while its judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court. Ghana is also still divided into 10 regions for local administration: Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, and Western.

Economics and Land Use in Ghana

Ghana currently has one of the strongest economies of West Africa's countries due to its richness of natural resources. These include gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, and limestone. However, Ghana remains dependent on international and technical assistance for its continued growth. The country also has an agriculture market that produces things like cocoa, rice, and peanuts, while its industries are focused on mining, lumber, food processing, and light manufacturing.

Geography and Climate of Ghana

Ghana's topography consists mainly of low plains but its south-central area does have a small plateau. Ghana is also home to Lake Volta, the world's largest artificial lake. Because Ghana is only a few degrees north of the Equator, its climate is considered tropical. It has a wet and dry season but it is mainly warm and dry in the southeast, hot and humid in the southwest and hot and dry in the north.

More Facts About Ghana

  • Capital: Accra
  • Bordering Countries: Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo
  • Land Area: 92,098 square miles (238,533 sq km)
  • Coastline: 335 miles (539 km)
  • Highest Point: Mount Afadjato at 2,887 feet (880 m)
  • Ghana has 47 local languages but English is its official language.
  • Association football or soccer is the most popular sport in Ghana and the country regularly participates in the World Cup.
  • Ghana's life expectancy is 59 years for males and 60 years for females.

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