Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a unitary presidential constitutional democracy, located along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, in the sub-region of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km², Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.
The first permanent state in the territory of present-day Ghana dates back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti. Beginning in the 15th century, numerous European powers contested the area for trading rights, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. It became independent of the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957.
A multicultural nation, Ghana has a population of approximately 27 million, spanning a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. Five percent of the population practices traditional faiths, 71.2% adhere to Christianity and 23.6% are Muslim. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savannahs to tropical jungles. Ghana is a democratic country led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government. Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system have made it a regional power in West Africa. It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Group of 24 (G24) and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator, therefore giving it a warm climate. Ghana spans an area of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), and has an Atlantic coastline that stretches 560 kilometers (350 miles) on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean to its south. It lies between latitudes 4°45’N and 11°N, and longitudes 1°15’E and 3°15’W. The Prime Meridian passes through Ghana, specifically through the industrial port town of Tema. Ghana is geographically closer to the “center” of the Earth geographical coordinates than any other country; even though the national center, (0°, 0°) is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 614 km (382 mi) off the south-east coast of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea. Grasslands mixed with south coastal shrublands and forests dominate Ghana, with forest extending northward from the south-west coast of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean 320 kilometers (200 miles) and eastward for a maximum of about 270 kilometers (170 miles) with the Kingdom of Ashanti or the southern part of Ghana being a primary location for mining of industrial minerals and timber.
Ghana encompasses plains, waterfalls, low hills, rivers, Lake Volta, the world’s largest artificial lake, Dodi Island and Bobowasi Island on the south Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana. The northernmost part of Ghana is Pulmakong and the southernmost part of Ghana is Cape Three Points.
Economy & Infrastructure
Ghana is an average natural resource enriched country possessing industrial minerals, hydrocarbons, and precious metals. It is an emerging designated digital economy with mixed economy hybridization and an emerging market with 8.7% GDP growth in 2012. It has an economic plan target known as the “Ghana Vision 2020”. This plan envisions Ghana as the first African country to become a developed country between 2020 and 2029 and a newly industrialized country between 2030 and 2039.[clarification needed] This excludes fellow Group of 24 member and Sub-Saharan African country South Africa, which is a newly industrialized country. Ghana’s economy also has ties to the Chinese yuan renminbi along with Ghana’s vast gold reserves. In 2013, the Bank of Ghana began circulating the renminbi throughout Ghanaian state-owned banks and to the Ghana public as hard currency along with the national Ghana cedi for second national trade currency.
The state-owned Volta River Authority and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation are the two major electricity producers. The Akosombo Dam, built on the Volta River in 1965, along with Bui Dam, Kpong Dam, and several other hydroelectric dams provide hydropower. In addition, the Government of Ghana has sought to build a second nuclear power plant in Africa.
The Ghana Stock Exchange is the 5th largest on continental Africa and 3rd largest in sub-Saharan Africa with a market capitalization of GH¢ 57.2 billion or CN¥ 180.4 billion in 2012 with the South Africa JSE Limited as first. The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) was the 2nd best performing stock exchange in sub-Saharan Africa in 2013.
Ghana also produces high-quality cocoa, is the 2nd largest producer of cocoa globally, and is projected to become the world’s largest producer of cocoa in 2015.
Ghana is classified as a middle-income country. Services account for 50% of GDP, followed by manufacturing (24.1%), extractive industries (5%), and taxes (20.9%).
The vast majority of Ghana’s population—98% percent—are Black Africans. Ghana is a multiethnic country. The largest ethnic group is the Ashanti people. Ghana’s territorial area within West Africa was unoccupied and uninhabited by humans until the 10th century BC. By the 10th century AD. The Guans were the first settlers in Ghana long before the other tribes came. (Akans) had established Bonoman (Brong Ahafo region) and were joined by the current settlers and inhabitants in the 16th century.
In 2010, the inhabiting population of Ghana was 71.2% Christian (28.3% are Pentecostal, 18.4% Protestant, 13.1% Catholic and 11.4% other). Approximately 23.6% of the inhabiting populations of Ghana were Muslims, (51% Sunni, 16% Ahmadiyya, and 8% Shia).
As of the year 2014, there are 375,000 registered legal skilled workers (permanent residents) or foreign workers/students (i.e. Ghana Card holders) inhabitants with an annually 1.5 million transited airport layovers. In its first post-colonial census in 1960, Ghana had a population of 6.7 million. The median age of Ghanaian citizens is 30 years old and the average household size is 3.6 persons. The Government of Ghana states that the official language of Ghana is English, and is spoken by 67.1% of the inhabiting population of Ghana.
There are eleven languages that have the status of government-sponsored languages: four are Akan ethnic languages (Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi, Mfantse and Nzema), two are Mole-Dagbani ethnic languages (Dagaare, Dagbanli, and Hausa language). The rest are Ewe, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, and Kasem.
English is the language of the state and is widely used as a lingua franca.
Ghana is a country of 24.6 million people, comprising dozens of native ethnic groups, such as:
- The Akans in the centre and South of the country
- The Ga and Adangbe in, around and East of Accra
- The Guang peoples in the rainforest
- The Dagombas, Mamprusi and related peoples in the North
- The Gurunsi languages speaking peoples in the far North
- The Gonjas in Northern Region.
English, is the official language, but the indigenous Twi of the Ashantis, the Fante language, Frafra, Dangme, Ga, Dagbani, Mampruli, Gonja, and Ewe also have official status and are taught in school as indigenous (local) language in the respective areas where they predominate.