Ghana, situated on the West coast of Africa, washed by the Atlantic Ocean on its southern border,was given the name “Gold Coast” by Europeans, much due to the promise of wealth for those who traded at its ports—be it wealth from the currency of gold or enslaved people. Ghana gained its independence from Great Britain on March 6, 1957, and was the first African country to do so. Since the late 1950’s, Ghana has been an inspiration to other African countries as they seek national independence and to the diaspora of free African people around the world wishing to learn from their spiritual and cultural roots. Ghana is today one of the most stable of Africa’s 51 countries.
Three years after Ghana gained its independence, it became a republic and Kwame Nkrumah was elected to be its first president. He was a strong leader who worked tirelessly to make Ghana a shining example among emerging nations. During Nkrumah’s time,, Ghana built hospitals and schools and promoted development projects like the Lake Volta hydroelectric and aluminum plants so that Ghana might be a showplace of African cultures. Politically, he enabled members of his Convention People’s Party (CPP) to resist British colonial policies through effective peaceful means. Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 and later replaced by Jerry Rawlings, a president who also changed a great deal of government policy and structure. He formed the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and ruled the country through a series of coups until he was democratically elected in 1996. In December, 2004 John Kufuor won the election for the New Patriotic Party (NPP). In 2009 John Ataa-Mills, who had been the Vice President under Rawlings became Ghana’s 3rd President of the 4th Republic.
In the summer of 2009, US President Barack Obama visited Ghana—the first African American president to make such a journey. Visit the website below to see President Obama deliver his speech to the parliament in Ghana.
Ghana’s economy is primarily based on agriculture. Over 50 percent of the labor force works to harvest Ghana’s cash crops. Cacao (from which cocoa and chocolate are made) is the most important cash crop and accounts for about 60 percent of all exports. Other exports include coffee, fruits, corn, root crops, peanuts, millet, and sorghum. Mining is also important to the economy as Ghana has many valuable natural resources like gold, diamonds, aluminum, and bauxite. Other key industries include timber, fishing, and light manufacturing.
Traditionally regional chiefs were the protectors of Ghana’s assets, economic and agricultural. Today, chiefs provide guidance and leadership to the people of their ethnic group, presiding over special occasions, solving disputes, and overseeing festivals.
PEOPLE OF GHANA
Present day Ghana is a country composed of many ethnic groups who generally live in certain parts of the country, speak their own distinct language, and have a distinct culture. They maintain their own customs, for instance some groups are matrilineal and others are patrilineal. But, despite the variety of languages and customs in Ghana, English is currently the official language, primarily because of Ghanaian developments after British colonization. Following is a listing of some of Ghana’s major ethnic groups.
Ghana is a beautiful and diverse country, approximately the same size as Great Britain, 239,000 sq. kilometers. Because it is located just north of the equator, its climate is warm and humid like the tropics and maintains an average temperature of 26 degrees to 29 degrees Celsius. Its population as of 2008 was approximately 23 million. Ghana consists of flat grassy plains, coastal savannah, valleys, many lakes and rivers, lagoons, sandbars, plateaus, tropical forests, low mountain ranges covered in deciduous forest (cooler climate), and a strong surf that pounds shorelines and beaches.
Compare the country of Ghana to Oregon considering the coast, the mountains, the forests and the desert.