Overview

Overview

Ghana is a West African country, bounded on the north by Burkina Faso, on the east by Togo, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Côte d'Ivoire. Formerly a British colony known as the Gold Coast was led to independence by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on the 6th of March, 1957.
Ghana became the first black nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence from colonial rule.

The country is named after the ancient empire of Ghana, from which the ancestors of the inhabitants of the present country are thought to have migrated.

Politics

A new constitution was introduced in 1992, and soon after Ghana’s first multiparty elections were organized. In 1996 Ghana enjoyed a smooth second-term election, with full participation of all political parties and the Ghanaian electorate. Local assemblies were increased from 110 districts to 138 and elections held in 2002. The assemblies are responsible for delivering services to the people in the districts.

In December 2004 the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by John A .Kufour, won a first round with 52.45 percent in a peaceful presidential poll. And on January 7, 2005 President John A. Kufour was sworn into office for a second term of office. The political transition has proceeded peacefully and is seen as a major achievement for Ghana and for the region.

The political landscape is interesting and competitive, as demonstrated by recent by-elections that were won by the opposition by fairly high margins. The liveliness of political debate is likely to increase in future, as overseas Ghanaians begin to be a factor in local elections, following the passage of the Representation of the Peoples Amendment Bill, giving them the right to vote. The relative peace and tranquility being enjoyed in the country can be attributed to growing level of political maturity of the Ghanaians themselves, who time and again have demonstrated their strong desire for peaceful coexistence.

The role of Ghana’s strong and growing social capital in deepening democracy deserves special mention. The influence of the media, particularly the private radio stations, as well as the growth of mobile telephony, cannot be overemphasized. The combination of radio and mobile phones has given Ghanaians tremendous voice and space for contribution to matters of political, economic and social interest. The role of radio stations in enhancing debate during electioneering has helped promote lively and constructive political competition, and has helped enhance transparency during vote counting and declaration of results.

The influence of civil society and other stakeholders was evident during APRM, where 4 independent think-tanks and research institutions were appointed to carry out the country's self-assessment in the four thematic areas – (i) Democracy and political governance; (ii) Economic governance and management; (iii) Corporate Governance, and (iv) Socio-economic development.

Economy

Ghana’s economy is mainly rural: cocoa, timber, and pineapples are the main export crops; and mining (mainly gold) has become one of the biggest sources of foreign exchange. The emerging industrial sector's products include cassava, fruits, and cocoa by-products.

The Ghanaian economy is in its fifth year of expansion, combining improvements in macroeconomic management and strong export growth. The latest figures are positive, and indicate that:

  • The annual real GDP growth rate reached 5.8 percent in 2005, sustaining the growth rate observed in 2004;
  • Export growth continued strong, rising by 5 percent in 2005, with the decline in cocoa exports offset by increases in gold and timber exports;
  • imports increased by 9 percent, largely due to the 45 percent rise in the price of imported oil;
  • The fiscal deficit continued shrinking, falling to 2.4 percent of GDP by end-2005, down from 3.6 percent of GDP in 2004, and providing scope for an increase in the share of credit allocated to the private sector;
  • Broad money increased by 23.1 percent, allowing the central bank to accommodate the rise in net international reserves to 4 months of imports, up from 3.8 months at end 2004, while still keeping the increase in the growth of monetary aggregates below the levels observed in 2004.

Population

The population of Ghana is divided into some 75 ethnic groups.

In 2000 the estimated population of Ghana was 18,412,247
(females-51%, males 49), giving the country an overall population
density of 78 persons per sq km (201 per sq mi).  The most densely populated parts of the country are the coastal areas, the Ashanti region, and the two principal cities, Accra and Kumasi.

About 70 percent of the total population lives in the southern half of the country.  The most numerous peoples are the coastal Fanti, and the Ashanti, who live in central Ghana, both of whom belong to the Akan family.  The Accra plains are inhabited by the Ga-Adangbe. Most of the inhabitants in the northern region belong to the Moshi-Dagomba or to the Gonja group.

Regional Divisions

Ghana is divided into ten administrative regions:

Region

Regional Capital

Northern

Tamale

Eastern

Koforidua

Western

Takoradi

Central

Cape Coast

Upper East

Bolgatanga

Upper West

Wa

Volta

Ho

Ashanti

Kumasi

Brong-Ahafo

Sunyani

Greater Accra.

Accra (capital of Ghana )

 

Major Cities

Accra, the capital, has a population (1996 estimate, greater city) of1.7 million.  Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region.  Sekondi has an artificial harbor and was the first modern port built in Ghana. Other major cities include Tema, Tamale, and Cape Coast. People living in urban areas account for 37 percent of the population.

The Capital

Accra, capital and largest city of Ghana, southeastern Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Accra is an important commercial, manufacturing, and communications center. It is the site of an international airport and a focus of the country's railroad system, including a link to nearby Tema, which since 1962 has served as the city's deepwater port. Industries include vehicle and appliance assembly, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of foodstuffs, textiles, metal and wood products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. A sprawling city, Accra presents a varied appearance, with buildings of modern, colonial, and traditional African architecture. Of note here are the 17th-century Christiansborg Castle, now the residence of the chief of state, and the National Museum (1957). Several research and technical institutes are located in Accra, and the University of Ghana (1948) is in the nearby town of Legon. The site of what is now Accra was occupied by villages of the Ga, the local people, when the Portuguese first visited here in the late 15th century. During the 17th century the Portuguese were forced to withdraw by the Dutch, who, along with the Danes and the English, founded rival trading posts, which became the settlements of Ussher Town, Christiansborg, and James Town, respectively. In the 19th century Britain purchased Dutch and Danish rights in the area, and in 1876 Christiansborg was made the capital of the Gold Coast Colony. The three separate towns grew and gradually coalesced to form the city of Accra. Much of the modern city's layout was planned in the 1920s, and since then growth has been rapid. Accra remained the capital city, when in 1957 the Gold Coast Colony became the independent state of Ghana. Population (1990 estimate) 953,500.

Language

English is the official language of Ghana and is universally used in
schools in addition to nine other local languages. The most widely spoken local languages are Twi, Ga, Dagomba, Akan and Ewe.

Religion

Traditional religions accounts for two-fifths of the population. The Christian population also accounts for two-fifths of the total population and includes Roman Catholics, Baptist, Protestants, etc. The Muslim population (12 percent of the total) is located mainly in the northern part of the country.

Education

Primary and secondary education is free and compulsory in Ghana between the ages of 6 and 14. In 1996, 76 percent of primary school-aged children were enrolled in school. Secondary schools enrolled just 31 percent of the appropriately aged children. Vocational and teacher-training institutions had 38,000 students. Higher education is provided by the University of Ghana (1948), in Legon (near Accra); the University of Science and Technology (1951), in Kumasi; the University of Cape Coast (1962); and the University for Development Studies (1992), in Tamale. Total university enrollment was about 9,600 in the early 1990s.

 

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