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Ghana

The Republic of Ghana is a nation in West Africa. It borders Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo to the east, with the Gulf of Guinea on its southern coastline. Formerly the Gold Coast, the name Ghana is derived from the Ghana Empire (although its territory never reached present-day Ghana).

Republic of Ghana
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Freedom and Justice
Official language English (official), Twi, Ewe, Dagbani, others
Capital and largest city Accra
Capital's coordinates 5°33′ N 0°15′ W
President John Agyekum Kufuor
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 77th
238,540 km²
3.5%
Population


 - Total (Year)
 - Density

Ranked 50th


19,533,560
82/km²

GDP (PPP)


 - Total (Year)
 - GDP/head

Ranked 73rd


$41,250 million
$2,000

Currency Cedi
Time zone UTC, no (DST)
Independence 6 March 1957, from the United Kingdom
National anthem "Hail the Name of Ghana"
Internet TLD .gh
Calling Code 233

Table of contents

Name

Upon achieving independence from Great Britain, the name "Ghana" was chosen for the new nation—a reference to the Ghana Empire of earlier centuries. This name is mostly symbolic, as the ancient Empire of Ghana was located to the north and west of current-day Ghana. The name was adopted as a reference to the descendants of the ancient Empire of Ghana who migrated south and east and currently reside in Ghana.

History

Main article: History of Ghana

Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the British Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first "black" country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. In 1956 Sudan gained its independence, but it was actually considered "Arab," even though it is part of "Black Africa." Therefore, Sudan was actually the first to achieve independence from colonial powers, but Ghana is considered the first "black" African country to gain independence. A long series of coups 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.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Ghana

Ghana is a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. Its head of state is an elected president (currently John Agyekum Kufuor) with executive power. The Parliament of Ghana is unicameral and dominated by two main parties, the New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress. Kofi Annan, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations, is from Ghana.

Update: John Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party were recently re-elected in a decisive (53% to 44%) victory on December 7, 2004

Economy

Main article: Economy of Ghana

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% of the work force, 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.

Regions

Main article: Regions of Ghana

Ghana is divided into 10 regions:

  • Central
  • Eastern
  • Greater Accra
  • Northern
  • Upper East
  • Volta

Geography

Main article: Geography of Ghana

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator. 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; the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north, hot and dry. Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in the world, extends through large portions of eastern Ghana.

The capital is Accra. Other cities include:

Culture

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 country, particularly in the areas populated by members of the culturally- and politically-dominant Ashanti tribe. The Ashanti's 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.

After Independence, the Ghanaian music scene flourished, particularly the up-tempo, danceable style known as high life, 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 djembes played at social events or performances.

Miscellaneous topics

Traditional mud compound of Ghana

External links



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Dependencies: Canary Islands | Ceuta and Melilla | Madeira Islands | Mayotte | Réunion | Saint Helena and dependencies







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