Ghana, or Republic of Ghana, an independent country on Africa's west coast. It consists of the former territories of Gold Coast and British Togoland, which united in 1957, and is named for a medieval kingdom that flourished in what is now Mali. Ghana fronts on the Gulf of Guinea and is bounded by Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Its area is 92,100 square miles (238,537 km2).
|Facts in brief about Ghana|
|Official language: English.|
|Area: 92,098 mi2 (238,533 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 445 mi (716 km); east-west, 310 mi. (499 km). Coastline—335 mi (539 km).|
|Population: Current estimate—23,542,000; density, 256 per mi2 (99 per km2); distribution, 54 percent rural, 46 percent urban. 2000 census—18,845,265.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—cacao, cassava, coconuts, palm oil and kernels, yams. Mining—bauxite, diamonds, gold, manganese. Forestry—mahogany.|
|Flag: Ghana's flag has three horizontal stripes, red, yellow, and green (top to bottom). A black star symbolizing African freedom is in the center of the middle yellow stripe.|
|Money: Basic unit—cedi.|
Along much of the coast stretches a sandy, grass- and scrub-covered plain. Behind it rises a moderately high plateau broken by forested hills and steep ridges. The Togo Mountains, in the southeast, attain heights of almost 2,900 feet (884 m), the highest in the country. Most of northern and central Ghana is blanketed by a low-lying, flat to rolling savanna, a tropical grassland with scattered trees and forests.
The Volta River and its chief tributaries, the Black Volta (Mouhoun), White Volta (Nakambé), and Oti, drain most of Ghana. Other major rivers include the Tano and Pra in the southwest. Lake Volta, the reservoir impounded by Akosombo Dam, covers more than 3,200 square miles (8,290 km2). The dam produces large amounts of hydroelectric power. There are many coastal lagoons in the Volta River delta in the southeast.
Ghana has a tropical climate. Temperatures generally range from about 70° to 90° F. (21° to 32° C.). Southern Ghana has two wet seasons, May-June and October-November; northern Ghana has one, April-September.
Almost all of the more than 100 ethnic groups of Ghana are of Negroid stock. The two major families of ethnic peoples are the Kwa and the Gur. Kwa peoples—primarily Akan, Ewe, Guan, and Ga-Adangbe—live in south and central Ghana and make up 70 per cent of the country's population. The Ashanti (Asante)—throughout history Ghana's best-known people—are a subgroup of the Akan. Gur peoples—Gurma, Grusi, and Mole-Dagbane—live in the north and make up 20 per cent of the population. There are small numbers of Europeans and Asians.
More than 100 indigenous languages and dialects are spoken. English is the official language. Primary education begins at age six and lasts six years. Secondary school is divided into two cycles of three years each. The principal institution of higher learning is the University of Ghana, near Accra. The literacy rate is about 60 per cent.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Ghana's economy. Farming accounts for nearly half of the workforce and a similar share of the gross domestic product. Ghana is a major producer of cacao, which is the country's chief cash crop. Other cash crops include coffee, bananas, palm kernels, limes, and kola nuts. Crops grown for subsistence or for local trade include millet, corn, sorghum, cassava, rice, and plantains. Goats, sheep, and cattle are the main farm animals. Commercial fishing is carried on along the coast. There is also fishing on Lake Volta.
Mining and lumbering are next in economic importance after farming. Gold, diamonds, manganese, bauxite, and hardwoods, particularly mahogany, are significant exports. Crude oil production began offshore in the late 1970's.
Manufacturing is moderately developed and consists primarily of processing foods, beverages, and materials for export and of making simple household and personal goods. Industries of larger scale, including aluminum smelting, petroleum refining, and vehicle assembly, are generally foreign undertakings. Ghana is heavily dependent on imports for many manufactured items. Accra and Tema are the chief industrial centers.
There is a fairly extensive system of all-weather roads. Railways link most of the major cities in the south. The chief ports are Tema and Takoradi. Accra's airport is the largest in Ghana.
Ghana's basic currency unit is the cedi.
Under the constitution of 1992, the chief executive is the president (head of state), who is popularly elected for a four-year term. He appoints the vice president and the cabinet. The legislature is the Parliament, whose members are elected to four-year terms. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court.