Ghana

Republic of Ghana
Error creating thumbnail: Coat of arms of Ghana
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Freedom and Justice"
Anthem: God Bless Our Homeland Ghana
Location of Ghana
Capital Accra
Largest city Accra
Official language English
Government Constitutional republic
 - President of Ghana John Agyekum Kufuor
 - Vice President Aliu Mahama
Independence from the UK 
 - Declared 6 March 1957 
 - Constitution 1 July 1960 
Area
 - Total 238,534 km² (81st)
92,098 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 3.5
Population
 - 2005 estimate 22,113,0001 (49th)
 - Density 93/km² (103rd)
215/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $55.2 billion (72nd)
 - Per capita $2,643 (127th)
HDI  (2003) 0.532 (medium) (136th)
Currency Cedi (GHC)
Time zone GMT (UTC)
Internet TLD .gh
Calling code +233
1 Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 estimate)

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It borders Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. Accra is the capital and largest city. The country's population in 2005 was 21,029,853.

It was inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient kingdoms, including the 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.

It was the first black African country to obtain independence from colonial rule. Upon achieving independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, the name Ghana was chosen for the new nation as a reference to its ancient roots in the Empire of Ghana.

Contents

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History

For most of Africa below the Sahara, but north of the tropical jungles, the development up to 500 A.D. was expanding agriculture. Well-organized villages arose; many were similar to the villages that exist today. Farming began earliest on the southern tips of the Sahara. Toward the end of the classical era, important regional kingdoms were forming in West Africa, which lead to the first great state - Ghana. Ghana faced challenges such as dense vegetation, disease's impact on domesticated animals, and slow spread of agriculture southward. But the strength of the agricultural economy would have an impact on the new kingdoms to the west of the Nile. Trade brought new crops from Southeast Asia near 100 A.D. At one point Ghana was part of Nigeria the Twi tribe was located in what is now known as Benin in Nigeria, due to war they migrated to Ghana where they found resources.

Formed from the merger of the British colony Gold Coast and the British Togoland trust territory by a UN sponsored plebiscite, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Kwame Nkrumah was an African anti-colonial leader, founder and first president of the modern Ghanaian state. He was the 1st African head of state in the Pan-African Movement, which was an idea he appropriated during his studies at Lincoln University in the United States, at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his "Back to Africa Movement".

Nkrumah was overthrown by a CIA-assisted coup[citation needed]. A series of subsequent coups ended with the ascension to power of Flight 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. 2007 will mark Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebration of 50 years of independence, Ghana@50.

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Politics

Although a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ghana is a Republic. Its head of state is President John Agyekum Kufuor, the ninth leader of the country since independence. The Parliament of Ghana is unicameral and dominated by two main parties, the New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, is from Ghana.

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Economy

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%-70% of the work force,[citation needed] 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.

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Administrative divisions

Ghana is divided into 10 regions, which are then subdivided into a total of 138 districts. The regions are:

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Geography

Map of Ghana
Map of Ghana
Satellite image of Ghana, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Ghana, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator. It is roughly the size of the state of Britain. 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 world's largest artificial lake, extends through large portions of eastern Ghana.

The capital, Accra, has a population of about 2 million.

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Main cities

Navrongo · Asamankese · Sunyani · Bolgatanga · Koforidua · Cape Coast (home to Cape Coast Castle and the University of Cape Coast) · Elmina (home to Elmina Castle) · Ho · Kumasi (rail junction) · Nsawam (rail junction) · Takoradi (port and railhead) · Tamale · Tarkwa (rail junction) · Techima · Techimantia · Tema (port and railhead) · Wa · Obuasi (major gold mining center) · Odumase-Krobo · Somanya · Nkawkaw · Kpong (site of hydroelectric dam) · Akosombo {site of hydroelectric dam) · Akim-Manso · Nsoatre · Kyebi · Adenta · Madina · Anum

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Demographics

Major tribes: Akan 44%, Moshi-Dagomba 16%, Ewe 13%, Ga 8%. European and other: 0.2%

Religions: Christian 63%, Indigenous beliefs 21%, Muslim 16% [1]

Languages: English (official), African languages (including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga)

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Languages

Ethnologue lists a total of 79 languages in Ghana (language map).

As with many former African colonies, the official language of Ghana is the colonial language, in this case English. Nine languages have the status of government-sponsored languages: Akan, Dagaare/Wale, Dagbane, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem and Nzema.

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Culture

A man weaves kente cloth using a traditional loom in Bonwire (a village) in Ashanti region, Ghana.
A man weaves kente cloth using a traditional loom in Bonwire (a village) in 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 south and central regions of the country, particularly in the areas populated by members of the culturally and politically dominant Ashanti tribe. The Ashantis' paramount 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.

Because of its location, the northern regions of Ghana exhibit cultural ties with other Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and northern Nigeria. Although not being indigenous tribes to the area, there is strong Hausa and Mande influence in the culture of the northern Ghanaian peoples. The dominant tribe in this part of Ghana are the Dagomba. Northern Ghanaians are known for their traditional long flowing robes and distinct musical styles from southern and central regions. Tuo Zaafi, made from pounded rice, is a specialty from this region which has successfully become a staple across Ghana. The Larabanga mosque in Larabanga is the oldest mosque in Ghana and one of the oldest in West east Africa, dating from the 12th century. It is an excellent example of the Sudanese Architecture style, of which other examples include the Djenna Mosque in Mali and the Grand Mosque in Agadez, Niger.

Famous Ring of Honor wrestler and manager Prince Nana is a legitimate prince from Ghana. American soccer player Freddy Adu was also born in Ghana, along with Michael Essien of Chelsea FC who is Africa's most expensive football player ever.

After Independence, the Ghanaian music scene flourished, particularly the up-tempo, danceable style known as highlife, 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. On another note, Rita Marley, wife of the late Bob Marley, now resides in Ghana. Hiplife, another genre of music in Ghana is now in stiff competition with the more established highlife for airplay on local radio stations and nightclubs. A movement that started in the mid 90s, hiplife is effectively a Ghanaian version of hip-hop rap music, with raps basically in the local dialects, Twi being the most prevalent. Hiplife in present day Ghana arguably represents youth culture in general. Slowly but surely hiplife is surpassing "western music" in terms of airplay, whereas ten years ago the opposite was true. It is the most significant addition to Ghanaian culture in decades.

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Education

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 over 20 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. Pupils are enrolled in a nursery school and kindergarten prior to 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

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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See also

  • Communications in Ghana
  • Foreign relations of Ghana
  • Military of Ghana
  • Public Holidays in Ghana
  • Transport in Ghana
  • The Ghana Scout Association
  • ikando
Lists
  • List of Ghana-related topics
  • List of Ghanaian companies
  • List of writers from Ghana
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External links

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