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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Republic of Ghana
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Freedom and Justice"
AnthemGod Bless Our Homeland Ghana[1]
Capital
(and largest city)
Accra
5°33′N 0°15′W / 5.55°N 0.25°W / 5.55; -0.25
Official language(s) English
Demonym Ghanaian
Government Constitutional democracy
 -  President John Atta Mills
 -  Vice-President John Dramani Mahama
 -  Speaker of Parliament Joyce Bamford-Addo
 -  Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  Declared 6 March 1957 
 -  Republic 1 July 1960 
 -  Current Constitution 28 April 1992 
Area
 -  Total 238,535 km2 (81st)
92,098 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 3.5
Population
 -  2009 estimate 23,837,000[2] (48th)
 -  Density 99.9/km2 (103rd)
258.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $36.322 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $1,571[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $17.75 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $1000[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.553 (medium) (136th)
Currency Ghanaian cedi (GHS)
Time zone GMT (UTC0)
 -  Summer (DST) GMT (UTC0)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .gh
Calling code 233

The Republic of Ghana, located in West Africa, borders Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. The word Ghana means "Warrior King"[4] and derives from the Ghana Empire.

Ghana was inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient predominantly Akan Kingdoms, including the Akwamu on the eastern coast, the inland Ashanti Empire and various Fante and non-Akan states, like the Ga and Ewe, along the coast and inland. Trade with European states flourished after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the British established a Crown colony, Gold Coast, in 1874.[5]

The Gold Coast achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, becoming the first sub-Saharan African nation to do so[6][7][8] and the name Ghana was chosen for the new nation to reflect the ancient Empire of Ghana, which once extended throughout much of west Africa. Ghana is a member of many international organizations including the Commonwealth of Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, La Francophonie (Associate Member) and the United Nations. Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world and is also home to Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake in the world.[9]

Contents

Etymology

Map of Ghana

The word Ghana means Warrior King and was the title accorded to the kings of the medieval West African Ghana Empire.[10] Geographically, the Ghana Empire was approximately 500 miles (800 km) north and west of modern Ghana, and it ruled territories in the area of the Sénégal River and east towards the Niger River, in modern Senegal, Mauritania and Mali.

Ghana was adopted as the legal name for the Gold Coast upon independence on March 6, 1957; however, it was not until July 1, 1960 that Ghana asserted its complete autonomy from Britain and became known as the Republic of Ghana.

History

There is archaeological evidence which shows that humans have lived in what is present day Ghana from about 1500 BC.[11] Nonetheless, there is no proof that those early dwellers are related to the current inhabitants of the area. Oral tradition has it that many of Ghana's current ethnic groups such as the multi-ethnic Akan, the Ga and the Ewe arrived around the 13th Century AD. However, the Dagombas are believed to be the first settlers, having been fully established by 1210 AD, before the arrival of other ethnic groups.

Ashanti yam ceremony, 19th century by Thomas E. Bowdich

Modern Ghanaian territory includes what was the Empire of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa before colonial rule. Akan migrants moved southward and founded several nation-states including the first great Akan empire of the Bono, which is now known as the Brong-Ahafo region in Ghana. Much of the area of modern day south central Ghana was united under the Empire of Ashanti of the Ashanti people, a branch of the Akan people by the 16th century.

The Ashanti government operated first as a loose network and eventually as a centralized kingdom with an advanced, highly specialized bureaucracy centered in Kumasi. It is said that at its peak, the Asantehene could field 500,000 troops and had some degree of military influence over all of its neighbours. Among the Ashanti a third of the population were slaves.[12] The Ga people developed an effective unit around 1500 [13] and the Gonja, Dagomba and Mamprusi also fought for political power in the 1620s.[13]

Early European contact by the Portuguese, who came to Ghana in the 15th century, focused on the extensive availability of gold. The Portuguese first landed at a coastal city inhabited by the Fante nation-state and they named the place Elmina, which means "the mine" in Portuguese. In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d'Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed in 3 years. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves, consolidating their burgeoning political and economic power in the region.

By 1548, the Dutch had joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. In 1617, they captured the Olnini Castle from the Portuguese and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. British merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it the Gold Coast, while French merchants, impressed with the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west "Côte d'Ivoire", or Ivory Coast.

More than thirty forts and castles were built by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Spanish merchants. The Gold Coast was known for centuries as 'The White Man's Grave' because many of the Europeans who went there died of malaria and other tropical diseases.[14] After the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate. Following conquest by the British in 1896, until independence in March 1957, the territory of modern Ghana excluding the Volta Region (British Togoland), was known as the Gold Coast.

Many wars occurred between the colonial powers and the various nation-states in the area including the 1806 Ashanti-Fante War and the continuous struggle by the Ashanti against the British, which ended in 1901 with the Third Ashanti-British War (1900–1901).[15] Even under colonial rule the chiefs and people often resisted the policies of the British; however, moves toward de-colonization intensified after World War II. In 1947 the newly formed United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) called for "self-government within the shortest possible time."[16] After rioting increased in 1948, the members of the United Gold Coast Convention were arrested, including future Prime Minister and President, Kwame Nkrumah. Later Nkrumah formed his own party, the Convention People's Party (CPP) with the motto 'self government now." He began a 'Positive Action' campaign and gained the support of rural and working class people.[15]

Once again he was imprisoned for being the leader of a party that caused boycotts, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience. After winning a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly in 1952; however, Kwame Nkrumah was released and appointed Leader of Government Business. After further negotiations with Britain finally on March 6, 1957 at 12 a.m. Kwame Nkrumah's declared Ghana "free forever".[15]

Accra International Conference Centre

The flag which consists of the colours red, gold, green and the black star became the new flag in 1957. Designed by Theodosia Salome Okoh, the red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, gold represents the mineral wealth of Ghana, the green symbolises the rich agriculture and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.[17]

Formed from the merger of the Gold Coast and British Togoland by a United Nations sponsored plebiscite in 1956, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence in 1957.

Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister and then President of the modern Ghanaian state, was not only an African anti-colonial leader but also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. He was the first African head of state to promote Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (United States), at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his "Back to Africa Movement." He merged the dreams of both Marcus Garvey and the celebrated African-American scholar W. E. B. Du Bois into the formation of the modern day Ghana. Ghana's principles of freedom and justice, equity and free education for all, irrespective of ethnic background, religion or creed, borrow from Kwame Nkrumah's implementation of Pan-Africanism.

Independence Arch, Ghana

Although his goal of African unity never realised, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, as he is now known, played an instrumental part in the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, which was succeeded in 2002 by the African Union. Even though people like Kevin Shillingford consider Nkrumah as unpopular back at home in Ghana, the reality is that he is adored by even his nemeses.[18] No other government in Ghana can match the rate of industrialisation that Osagefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah championed. His achievements were recognised by Ghanaians during his Centenary birthday celebrations and the day instituted as a public holiday in Ghana.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's popularity was a major concern for the West. It was no surprise that Nkrumah was subsequently overthrown by the military while abroad in February 1966. It is believed by many political analysts that the United States' Central Intelligence Agency participated in the coup, but that generally remains unproven.

A series of subsequent coups from 1966 to 1981 ended with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. The economy suffered a severe decline soon after, and many Ghanaians migrated to other countries. Although most migrating Ghanaians went to Nigeria, the Nigerian government deported about a million Ghanaians back to Ghana in 1983.[19]

Rawlings soon negotiated a structural adjustment plan with the International Monetary Fund and changed many old economic policies and; thus, the economy soon began to recover. A new constitution restoring multi-party politics was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president then and again in 1996. The Constitution of 1992 prohibited him from running for a third term, so his party, the National Democratic Congress, chose his Vice President, John Atta Mills, to run against the opposition parties. Winning the 2000 elections, John Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party was sworn into office as President in January 2001, and beat Mills again in 2004; thus, also serving two terms as President.

In 2009, John Atta Mills took office as president with a difference of about 40,000 votes (0.46%) [20] between his party, the National Democratic Congress, and the New Patriotic Party, marking the second time that power had been transferred from one legitimately elected leader to another, and securing Ghana's status as a stable democracy.[21]

Regions and districts

Regions of Ghana

Ghana is a divided into 10 administrative regions, subdivided into a total of 138 districts. The regions are:

Population of major cities

City Population
Accra 3,096,784
Kumasi 2,604,909
Tamale 390,730
Takoradi 260,651
Tema 229,106
Teshie 154,513
Sekondi 153,900
Cape Coast 200,204
Obuasi 147,613
Dunkwa-On-Offin 108,482

Government and politics

The Supreme Court Building, Accra
Ghana at 50 celebrations

According to the 2009 Failed States Index, Ghana is ranked the 53rd least failed state in the world and the second least failed state in Africa after Mauritius. Ghana ranked 124th out of 177 countries on the index and was classified as a moderate state.[22] Ghana also was placed 7th out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance which was based on data from 2006. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African government, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens.[23]

Government: Ghana was created as a parliamentary democracy at independence in 1957, followed by alternating military and civilian governments. In January 1993, military government gave way to the Fourth Republic after presidential and parliamentary elections in late 1992. The 1992 constitution divides powers among a President, Parliament, Cabinet, Council of State, and an independent judiciary. The Government is elected by universal suffrage; however, the legislature is greatly malapportioned, with low-population districts receiving more representatives per person than those with high populations.[24]

Administrative Divisions: There are ten administrative regions which are divided into 138 districts, each with its own District Assembly. Below districts are various types of councils, including 58 town or area councils, 108 zonal councils, and 626 area councils. 16,000 unit committees on lowest level.[24]

The Presidential Palace, Golden Jubilee House, Accra

Judicial System: The legal system is based on British common law, customary (traditional) law, and the 1992 constitution. Court hierarchy consists of Supreme Court of Ghana (highest court), Courts of Appeal, and High Courts of Justice. Beneath these bodies are circuit, magisterial, and traditional courts. Extrajudicial institutions include public tribunals. Since independence, courts are relatively independent; this independence continues under Fourth Republic. Lower courts are being redefined and reorganized under the Fourth Republic.[24]

Politics: Political parties became legal in mid-1992 after a ten-year hiatus. There are many political parties under the Fourth Republic; however, the major ones are the National Democratic Congress which won presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992, 1996 and 2008; the New Patriotic Party, the major opposition party which won elections in 2000 and 2004; the People's National Convention, and the Convention People's Party, successor to Kwame Nkrumah's original party of the same name.[24]

Foreign Relations: Since independence, Ghana has been fervently devoted to ideals of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism, both closely identified with first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana favors international and regional political and economic co-operation, and is an active member of the United Nations and the African Union.[citation needed]

Many Ghanaian diplomats and politicians hold positions in international organisations. These include Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, International Criminal Court Judge Akua Kuenyehia, and former president Jerry Rawlings, who was elected chairman of the Economic Community of West African States.[24]

Economy

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains somewhat dependent on trade and international assistance as well as the investment activities of Ghanaian diaspora. About 28% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day, the vast majority of which are Ghanaian women from the politically marginalised and poor northern and upper regions[25] and according to the World Bank, Ghana's per capita income has barely doubled over the past 45 years.[26] Ghana, known for its gold in colonial times, remains one of the world's top gold producers. Other exports such as cocoa, timber, electricity, diamond, bauxite,[27] and manganese are major sources of foreign exchange monitored, operated and managed by the Presidential Ministry Agricultural Arm of the Republic of Ghana headed by Mrs. Antoinette Efua-Addo (see more information at www.Ghana-agricexport.com).[28] An oilfield which is reported to contain up to 3 billion barrels (480,000,000 m3) of light oil was discovered in 2007.[29] Oil exploration is ongoing and the amount of oil continues to increase.[30] There is expected to be a tremendous inflow of capital into the economy beginning from the last quarter of 2010 when the country starts producing oil in commercial quantities.

Sunyani Cocoa House

The Akosombo Dam, which was built on the Volta River in 1965 provides hydro-electricity for Ghana and its neighboring countries.

Ghana’s labor force in 2008 totalled 11.5 million people [31] The economy continues to rely heavily on agriculture which accounts for 37.3% of GDP and provides employment for 56% of the work force,[31] mainly small landholders. Manufacturing is only a small part of the Ghanaian economy totalling 7.9% of Gross Domestic Product in 2007.[32]

Ineffective economic policies of past military governments and regional peacekeeping commitments have led to continued inflationary deficit financing, depreciation of the Cedi, and rising public discontent with Ghana's austerity measures. Even so, Ghana remains one of the more economically sound countries in all of Africa.

In July 2007, the Bank of Ghana embarked on a currency re-denomination exercise, from the Cedi (¢) to the new currency, the Ghana Cedi (GH¢). The transfer rate is 1 Ghana Cedi for every 10,000 Cedis. The Bank of Ghana employed aggressive media campaigns to educate the public about the re-denomination.

The new Ghana Cedi is relatively stable and in 2009 generally exchanged at a rate of $1 USD =Gh¢ 1.4 [31] The Value Added Tax is a consumption tax administered in Ghana. The tax regime which started in 1998 had a single rate but since September 2007 entered into a multiple rate regime.

In 1998, the rate of tax was 10% and amended in 2000 to 12.5%. However with the passage of Act 734 of 2007, a 3% VAT Flat Rate Scheme (VFRS) began to operate for the retail distribution sector. This allows retailers of taxable goods under Act 546 to charge a marginal 3% on their sales and account on same to the VAT Service. It is aimed at simplifying the tax system and increasing compliance.[citation needed]

Geography

Aburi Botanical Gardens
Beach in Ghana
Elephants at Mole National Park

Ghana is a country located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator, therefore giving it a warm climate. The country spans an area of 238,500 km2 (92,085 sq mi). It is surrounded by Togo to the east, Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south. The Greenwich Meridian passes through Ghana, specifically through the industrial city of Tema. Ghana is geographically closer to the "centre" of the world than any other country even though the actual centre, (0°, 0°) is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 614 km (382 mi) south of Accra, Ghana, in the Gulf of Guinea.[33]

The country encompasses flat plains, low hills and a few rivers. Ghana can be divided into five different geographical regions. The coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and streams while the northern part of the country features high plains. Southwest and south central Ghana is made up of a forested plateau region consisting of the Ashanti uplands and the Kwahu Plateau and the hilly Akuapim-Togo ranges are found along the country's eastern border.

The Volta Basin also takes up most of central Ghana. Ghana's highest point is Mount Afadjato which is 885 m (2,904 ft) and is found in the Akwapim-Togo Ranges. The climate is tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and comparatively dry (see Dahomey Gap); the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north, hot and dry. Lake Volta, the world's largest artificial lake, extends through large portions of eastern Ghana and is the main source of many tributary rivers such as the Oti and Afram rivers.

There are two main seasons in Ghana; the wet and the dry seasons. Northern Ghana experiences its rainy season from March to November while the south, including the capital Accra, experiences the season from April to Mid-November. Southern Ghana contains evergreen and semideciduous forests consisting of trees such as mahogany, odum and ebony. It also contains much of Ghana's oil palms and mangroves. Shea trees, baobabs and acacias are usually found in the Volta region and the northern part of the country.

Demographics

Bolga road, Tamale
Larabanga Mosque, built in the 13th century, Larabanga

Ghana has a population of about 24 million people. It is home to more than 100 different ethnic groups. Fortunately, Ghana has not seen the kind of ethnic conflict that has created civil wars in many other African countries[34]. The official language is English; however, most Ghanaians also speak at least one local language.

The ethnic groups in Ghana are the Akan (which includes the Fante, Akyem, Ashanti, Kwahu, Akuapem, Nzema, Bono, Akwamu, Ahanta and others) 49.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme (comprising of the Ga, Adangbe, Ada, Krobo and others) 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Gurunsi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other (Hausa, Zabarema, Fulani) 1.8% (2000 census). According to the CIA World Factbook, religious divisions are as follows: Christian 68.8%, Muslim 15.9%, Traditional African beliefs 8.5%[35][36].

Languages

Ghana has 47 ethnic languages. English is the country's official language and predominates government and business affairs. It is also the standard language used for educational instruction. Native Ghanaian languages are divided into two linguistic subfamilies of the Niger-Congo language family. Languages belonging to the Kwa subfamily are found predominantly to the south of the Volta River, while those belonging to the Gur subfamily are found predominantly to the north. The Kwa group, which is spoken by about 75% of the country's population, includes the Akan, Ga-Dangme, and Ewe languages. The Gur group includes the Gurma, Grusi, and Dagbani languages.[37]

Nine languages have the status of government-sponsored languages: Akan, specifically Ashanti Twi, Fanti, Akuapem Twi, Akyem, Kwahu, Nzema; Dagaare/Wale, Dagbani, Dangme, Ewe, Ga, Gonja and Kasem.Though not an official language, Hausa is the lingua-franca spoken among Ghana's Muslims[38] who comprise about 16% of the population. Ghana borders with Togo, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast

Health

As of 2009, life expectancy at birth is about 59 years for males and 60 years for females [39] with infant mortality at 51 per 1000 live births [39]. The birth rate is also about 4 children born per woman. There are about 15 physicians and 93 nurses per 100,000 persons.[40] 4.5% of the country's GDP was spent on health in 2003.[40]

People & Culture

Ghana is an ethnically diverse country; thus, Ghanaian culture is a mixture of all its ethnic groups, the Ashanti, Fante, Akyem, Kwahu, Ga, Ewe, Mamprusi and Dagomba, among others. It is most evident in Ghanaian cuisine, the arts and clothing. The celebration of festivals in Ghana is an essential part of Ghanaian culture and there are many of them such as the Homowo, Odwira, Aboakyer, Dodoleglime, Hogbetsotso, Tedudu, Deza (festival) and Sandema among others. Several rites and rituals are performed throughout the year in various parts of the country, including child-birth, rites of passage, puberty, marriage and death.

Sports

Tamale stadium
Vida Anim, Ghanaian athlete

Football (Soccer) is the most popular sport in the country. The national men's football teams are known as The Black Stars, the Black Satellites and the Black Starlets. They have participated in many championships including the African Cup of Nations, the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA U-20 World Cup. On October 16, 2009, Ghana became the first African nation to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup by defeating Brazil 4-3 in a penalty shootout.[41] There are several football teams in Ghana more notably the Accra Hearts of Oak SC and Asante Kotoko among others. Some Ghanaian football players that are recognised on an international level or achieved success in European football are Abedi Pele, Ibrahim Abdul Razak, Tony Yeboah, Anthony Annan, John Paintsil, Asamoah Gyan, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Richard Kingston, Sulley Muntari, Laryea Kingston, Stephen Appiah, Andre Ayew, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, John Mensah, Dominic Adiyiah and Michael Essien,. Ghana is also the birth place of World Wrestling Entertainment Wrestler Kofi Kingston (born Kofi Sarkodie-Mensah), who is wrestling on the Raw brand. Also is Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong who competed in the just ended Vancouver winter olympics. The country has also produced quite a few quality boxers such as Azumah Nelson a three time world champion, Nana Yaw Konadu also a three time world champion, Ike Quartey, and Joshua Clottey, who is scheduled to fight boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

Fashion

Ashanti Kente cloth
Ewe cloth in Kente pattern

Textiles are very important in Ghanaian culture. These cloths are used to make traditional and modern attire. Different symbols and different colors mean different things. The Kente is probably the most famous of all the Ghanaian cloths. Kente is an Ashanti ceremonial cloth hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom. Strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths. Cloths come in various colors, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions.

In a cultural context, kente is more important than just a cloth. It is a visual representation of history, and also form of a written language through weaving. The term kente has its roots in the Twi word kenten which means a basket. The first kente weavers used raffia fibers to weave cloths that looked like kenten (a basket); and thus were referred to as kenten ntoma; meaning basket cloth. The original Asante name of the cloth was nsaduaso or nwontoma, meaning "a cloth hand-woven on a loom"; however, the term kente is the most popularly used term today. Many variations of narrow-strip cloths similar to kente are woven by various ethnic groups in Ghana like the Ewe, Ga and others in Africa. It is also popular among the African diaspora.

Music

Ghanaian drummers
Axatse

Ghana has many types of traditional and modern music. The sound varies from ethnic group to ethnic group and region to region. Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments such as the talking drum ensembles, goje fiddle and koloko lute, court music, including the Akan atumpan, the Ga kpanlogo styles, and log xylophones used in asonko music. The most well known genres to have come from Ghana are Afro-jazz which was created by Ghanaian artist Kofi Ghanaba.[42] and its earlist form of secular music is called Highlife.

Highlife originated in the late 1800 and early 1900s and spread throughout West Africa mainly Sierra Leone and Nigeria. In the 1990’s a new genre of music was created by the youth incorporating the influences of Highlife Afro-reggae, Dancehall and Hiphop. This hybrid was called Hiplife. Ghanaian artists such as R&B and Soul singer Rhian Benson and Highlife singer Kojo Antwi have had international success.

Dance

Ghanaian dance is as diverse as its music. Each ethnic group has their own traditional dances and there are different dances for different occasions. There are dances for funerals, celebrations, storytelling, praise and worship etc. Some of these dances include

Bamaya It is performed by the Northern people of Ghana. It narrates the legend of a time of great drought. An oracle told the people that the drought was brought about by the manner in which the men were severely repressing and demeaning the women. It further stated that the drought would be relieved only when the men lowered themselves to the role they were imposing on the women by putting on skirts and participating in this dance. When the men did this it began to rain. It is currently performed during harvest time in northwestern Ghana by both Dagbani men and women.

Ghanaian dancers

Adowa A dance of the Ashanti peoples of Ghana. This dance is especially noted for the grace and complexity of the dancers' movements. The drumming is also noted for the complexity of the interlocking rhythms and the two atumpan drums which are used as the lead or master drum. Originally funeral dance music, Adowa is now also performed at annual festivals and social gatherings.

Kpanlongo Is performed by the Ga people of Ghana. It is often referred to as "the dance of the youth," Kpanlongo started during the wake of Ghana’s Independence as a musical type for entertainment in Accra. Kpanlongo is presently performed at life-cycle events, festivals, and political rallies.

Klama Is the music and dance is associated with puberty rites of the Krobo people of Ghana. It emphasizes the graceful movement of hands and feet. With small rhythmic steps and heads turned demurely downward, the dancers embody quiet elegance. The different movements of the dance are designed to reveal the beauty of the dancers. Suitors watching from the sidelines will often approach a girl's family after the ceremony and make an offer for her hand in marriage.

Agbadza The traditional dance of the Eʋe (Ewe or Eve) people of Ghana. It is characterized by the graceful choreograph of a couple seasoned with the rhythmic movement of the arms, the waist and the feet in perfect synchrony. Agbadza, is traditionally a war dance but is now used in social and recreational situations to celebrate peace. War dances are sometimes used as military training exercises, with signals from the lead drum ordering the warriors to move ahead, to the right, go down, etc. These dances also helped in preparing the warriors for battle and upon their return from fighting they would act out their deeds in battle through their movements in the dance.

Atsiagbekor is a contemporary version of the Ewe war dance Atamga (Great (ga) Oath (atama) in reference to the oaths taken by people before proceeding into battle. The movements of this present-day version are mostly in platoon formation and are not only used to display battle tactics, but also to energize and invigorate the soldiers. Today, Atsiagbekor is performed for entertainment at social gatherings and at cultural presentations.

Atsia dance is performed mostly by women, and its a series of stylistic movements dictated to dancers by the lead drummer. Each dance movement has its own prescribed rhythmic pattern, which is synchronized with the lead drum. 'Atsia' in the Ewe language means style or display.

Bɔbɔɔbɔ (pronounced Borborbor) the Ewe-speaking people in the central and northern parts of the Volta Region of Ghana cultivate the Bɔbɔɔbɔ dance. Bɔbɔɔbɔ (originally 'Akpese') might have originated in the Kpando area, and is said to have been created by the late Mr. Francis Kojo Nuadro. He is thought to have been an ex-police officer who returned to Kpando and organized a group in the middle to late 1940’s. The dance has its roots in the 'Highlife' popular music of Ghana and other West African countries. Bɔbɔɔbɔ gained national recognition in the 1950’s and 1960’s because of its use at political rallies and the novelty of its dance formations and movements. It is generally performed at funerals and other social occasions. This is a social dance with a great deal of room for free expression. In general, the men sing and dance in the center while the women dance in a ring around them. There are 'slow' and 'fast' versions of Bɔbɔɔbɔ; the fast Bɔbɔɔbɔ is believed to come from the Kpando area and the slow version from Hohoe. The slow one is called Akpese and the fast one is termed to be Bɔbɔɔbɔ. Lolobi-Kumasi is known for doing a particular fast version of the slow version.

Agahu is both the name of a dance and of one the many secular music associations (clubs) of the Ewe people of Ghana, Togo, and Dahomey. (Gadzok, Takada, and Atsiagbeko are other such clubs). Each club has its own distinctive drumming and dancing, as well as its own repertoire of songs. A popular social dance of West Africa, Agahu was created by the Egun speaking people from the town of Ketonu in what is now Benin. From there it spread to the Badagry area of Nigeria where migrant Ewe fisherman heard, adapted, and eventually took it to Ghana. In dancing the Agahu, two circles are formed; the men stay stationary with their arms out and then bend with a knee forward for the women to sit on. They progress around the circle until they arrive at their original partner.

Religion

Media & Entertainment

Miss Ghana 2007

The media of Ghana is one of the most free in Africa, and had previously undergone a series of government overthrows by military leaders and periods of severe restriction. Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of the press and independence of the media, while Chapter 2 prohibits censorship.[43]

Post independence, the government and media often had a tense relationship, with private outlets closed during the military coups and strict media laws that prevent criticism of government.[44] The media freedoms were restored in 1992, and after the election in 2000 of John Kufuor the tensions between the private media and government decreased. Kufuor was a supporter of press freedom and repealed a libel law, though maintained that the media had to act responsibly.[45] The Ghanaian media has been described as "one of the most unfettered" in Africa, operating with little restriction on private media. The private press often carries criticism of government policy.[46] The media were vigorous in their coverage of the 2008 Ghanaian presidential election, and the Ghanaian Journalists Association (GJA) praised John Atta Mills on his election, hoping to foster a good media-government relationship.[47]

Education

A Dora textile group in Nsawam

The adult literacy rate in Ghana was 65% in 2007 , with males at 71.7% and females at 58.3%. Ghana has a 6-year primary education system beginning at the age of six, and, under the educational reforms implemented in 1987 and reformed in 2007, they pass on to a 3-year junior high school system. At the end of the 3rd year of Junior High, there is a mandatory Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Those continuing must complete the 3-year senior high school (SHS) program and take an admission exam to enter any university or tertiary programme.

Presently, Ghana has 21,530 primary schools, 8,850 junior secondary schools, 900 senior secondary schools, 52[48] public training colleges, 5[48] private training colleges, 5[48] polytechnical institutions, 4[48] non-university public tertiary institutions, 8[48] public universities and over 45[48] private tertiary institutions. Most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to primary and secondary education. These numbers can be contrasted with the single university and handful of secondary and primary schools that existed at the time of independence in 1957. Ghana's spending on education has varied between 28 and 40 percent of its annual budget in the past decade. All teaching is done in English, Ghana's official language, mostly by qualified Ghanaian educators.

Ghanaian school children

The courses taught at the Primary or Basic School level include English, Ghanaian language and Culture, Mathematics, Environmental studies, Social Studies and French as a Third language are added, Integrated or General Science, Pre- vocational Skills and Pre-technical skills, Religious and Moral Education, and physical activities such as Music, Dance and Physical Education. The Senior High level School curriculum has Core subjects and Elective subjects of which students must take four the core subjects of English language, Mathematics, Integrated Science (including Science, Agriculture and Environmental studies) and Social Studies (economics, geography, history and government).

The High school students also choose 3 elective subjects from 5 available programmes: Agriculture Programme, General Programme (Arts or Science option), Business Programme, Vocational Programme and Technical programme.[49] Apart from most primary and secondary schools which choose the Ghanaian system of schooling, there are also international schools such as the Ghana International school, The Roman Ridge School, the Lincoln Community School and the SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College which offer the International Baccalaureat, Advanced Level General Certificate of Education and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

With 83 percent of its children in school, Ghana currently has one of the highest school enrolment rates in West Africa.[50] The ratio of girls to boys in the total education system is 1:0.96, which for a West African country, is a considerable achievement.[51] That said, some 500,000 children still remain out of school because of resource constraints in building schools, providing adequate textbooks and training new teachers.[51] UNESCO reports that sixth-graders sitting a simple multiple-choice reading test scored on average the same mark that would be gained by random guessing.

The oldest university in Ghana, the University of Ghana, which was founded in 1948, had a total of about 29,754 students in 2008.[52] Since Ghana's independence, the country has been one of the educational hot spots in Sub-Saharan Africa and has played host to notables such as President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Alhaji Sir Dauda Jawara of The Gambia and Cyprian Ekwensi of Nigeria among others. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been chancellor of the University of Ghana since 2008.

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the second university to be established in Ghana, is the premier university of science and technology in Ghana and the West Africa sub region.

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace [3] Global Peace Index[53] 52 out of 144
Heritage Foundation/The Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 91 out of 157[54]
Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index 31 out of 173[55]
Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 69 out of 179[56]
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 135 out of 177[57]
Vision of Humanity Global Peace Index 40 out of 121[58]
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report not ranked[59]

See also

References

  1. ^ Emefa.myserver.org
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Ghana". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=652&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=23&pr.y=1. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ Jackson, John G. Introduction to African Civilizations, 2001. Page 201.
  5. ^ MacLean, Iain. Rational Choice and British Politics: An Analysis of Rhetoric and Manipulation from Peel to Blair, 2001. Page 76.
  6. ^ Peter N. Stearns and William Leonard Langer. The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged, 2001. Pages 813, 1050.
  7. ^ "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwptUKKy. , encarta.msn.com
  8. ^ NEWS.BBC.co.uk
  9. ^ Geography.about.com
  10. ^ "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwptUKKy. , Encarta.msn.com
  11. ^ "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwpviLJm. 
  12. ^ Slavery. Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History.
  13. ^ a b "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwpwHCrq. 
  14. ^ Bush Praises Strong Leadership of Ghanaian President Kufuor. America.gov. September 15, 2008.
  15. ^ a b c Encarta.msn.com, Webcitation.org, Archived 2009-10-31.
  16. ^ The history of Ghana - Google Books
  17. ^ Ghana Flag
  18. ^ Kevin Shillington. Encyclopedia of African history. p. 575. 
  19. ^ "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwpu3n3T. 
  20. ^ BBC: Opposition leader wins Ghana poll - modernghana.com/ghana elections
  21. ^ "Thousands celebrate as new president takes office". The Guardian. 8 January 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/08/world-news-in-brief. 
  22. ^ Foreignpolicy.com
  23. ^ Welcome to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  24. ^ a b c d e "Government and Politics". A Country Study: Ghana (La Verle Berry, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (November 1994). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. Lcweb2.loc.gov
  25. ^ [1] Human Development Indices, Table 3: Human and income poverty, p. 35. Retrieved on 1 June 2009
  26. ^ "Obama's Ghana trip sends message across Africa". CNN. 10 July 2009. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/07/10/ghana.obama/index.html. 
  27. ^ Aluworks.com
  28. ^ The World Factbook
  29. ^ Ghana leader: Oil reserves at 3B barrels - Yahoo! News
  30. ^ Rigzone.com - Kosmos Makes Second Oil Discovery Offshore Ghana
  31. ^ a b c [2]
  32. ^ "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwpvAZNH. , encarta.msn.com
  33. ^ Extreme points of Earth
  34. ^ "Ghana - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwpue2eM. 
  35. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2007". U.S. Department of State. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/90100.htm. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  36. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook - Ghana". U.S. CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gh.html. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  37. ^ LaVerle Berry, ed (1995). Ghana: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 81–82. ISBN 0844408352. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ghtoc.html. 
  38. ^ Hausa language
  39. ^ a b CIA.gov
  40. ^ a b Afro.who.int
  41. ^ NEWS.BBC.co.uk
  42. ^ "Ghana: Kofi Ghanaba - Influential Drummer Who Emphasised the African Origins of Jazz". Ghanaian Chronicle. 12 February 2009. http://allafrica.com/stories/200902120888.html. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  43. ^ Constitution of Ghana, Government of Ghana.
  44. ^ Anokwa, K. (1997). In Press Freedom and Communication in Africa. Erbio, F. & Jong-Ebot, W. (Eds.) Africa World Press. ISBN 978-0865435513.
  45. ^ Ghanian Media, Press Reference.
  46. ^ BBC Country Profile: Ghana, BBC News.
  47. ^ GJA congratulates President Atta Mills, Joy Radio, January 11, 2009.
  48. ^ a b c d e f NAB.gov.gh
  49. ^ TobeWorldwide.org
  50. ^ This page is available to GlobePlus subscribers
  51. ^ a b Ghana News :: Obama: What is the agenda for education in Ghana? ::: Breaking News | News in Ghana | features
  52. ^ University of Ghana
  53. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/home.php. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  54. ^ "Heritage Foundation - 2007 Index of Economic Freedom". Official Website for the Index. The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 2008-02-13. http://web.archive.org/web/20080213211732/http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.cfm. Retrieved 2007-02-24. "The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realised freedoms of movement for labour, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself. In other words, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state." 
  55. ^ "Reporters Without Borders - Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2008". Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Reporters sans frontières. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29031. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 
  56. ^ "Corruption Perception Index 2007". Official Website. Transparency International e.V. http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  57. ^ "Human Development Report 2006" (pdf). Annual Report. United Nations Development Programme. Archived from the original on 2007-10-29. http://web.archive.org/web/20071029110409/http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics/documents/hdi2004.pdf. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  58. ^ "Global Peace Index Rankings". Global Peace and Sustainability. Economist Intelligence Unit, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, Australia and some Peace Institutes and Think Tanks. http://www.visionofhumanity.com/rankings/. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  59. ^ "Table 1: Global Competitiveness Index rankings and 2005 comparisons" (pdf). World Economic Forum - Global Competitiveness Report 2006 - 2007. World Economic Forum. http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Global_Competitiveness_Reports/Reports/gcr_2006/gcr2006_rankings.pdf. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 

External links

Government
General information
Health
  • Unite For Sight at Buduburam Refugee Camp, Ghana A Unite For Sight video documentary with interviews of residents at Buduburam Refugee Camp, Ghana. Unite For Sight provides free eye care for the residents. video.google.com
  • Subayo Foundation A not for profit charity for women and children in Ghana based out of the US. subayo.org
  • Ghana Eye Foundation A Non Governmental Organisation to create awareness and mobilise resources to support the provision of a sustainable, equitable and quality eye health service by well-trained and appropriately motivated personnel to all residents in Ghana.
Other


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:gh-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Accra
Government Constitutional democracy
Currency Cedi (GHC)
Area total: 239,460 km2
land: 230,940 km2
water: 8,520 km2
Population 22,409,572 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), African languages (including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga)
Religion Indigenous beliefs 21%, Muslim 16%, Christian 63%, tiny population of Jews (c. 800 (est.))
Electricity 240V/50Hz (UK plug)
Calling Code +233
Internet TLD .gh
Time Zone UTC

Ghana [1] is in West Africa. It borders Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and Togo to the east.

Regions

Roughly from South(west) to North(east):

Map of Ghana
Map of Ghana
  • Accra -- Capital
  • Bolgatanga -- Capital of the Upper East Region
  • Cape Coast -- Capital of the Central Region
  • Kumasi -- Regional capital and centre of the Ashanti Kingdom
  • Takoradi -- Coastal town & Capital of the Western Region
  • Tamale -- Capital of the Northern Region
  • Wa -- Capital of the Upper West Region
  • Ho -- Capital of the Volta Region
  • Sunyani -- Capital of the Brong Ahafo Region
  • Koforidua -- Capital of the Eastern Region
Canopy Walk at Kakum Forest
Canopy Walk at Kakum Forest
  • Mole National Park -- known for its wildlife including elephants.
  • Kakum National Park -- Rainforest with Canopy walk
  • Cape Coast Castle -UNESCO World Heritage site, display of a slave castle and the headquarters for the British colonial government of the Gold Coast.
  • Wli Falls --a lush rain forest park near the Togo border.
  • Nzulezu -- The stiltvillage close to Beyin is one of the highlights for many travelers in Ghana.

Understand

Ghana is a very friendly country, ideal for first time travellers to Africa, the people are generally very helpful and welcoming. While their laidback attitude and lack of organized tourist sights/trips can be a little annoying to begin with, before you have been there for very long you realize that it is one of the delights of this country.

Tourism in Ghana is growing very quickly, and more tour operators are seeing increased requests for Ghana as a travel destination.

Ghana is also rich in gold. Their people have a very rich culture and they have a very stable country with great potential for growth.

Get in

There is no such thing as a visa on arrival. It's thus best to play it safe and get a visa in advance. The Ghanaian government's online Ghana list of embassies is out of date, but this list [2] is fairly reliable. A three-month single-entry visa costs US$50; a one-year, multiple entry visa costs $80. You must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate which will be presented to customs when entering. Malaria course essential.

Travelers that are staying longer than their entry visa (a maximum of 30 or 60 days are usually granted for tourists) are advised to bring their passport for visa extension to Immigration Service early and expect delays in getting their passports back. Two weeks are provided as the guideline for processing time, but this can often take much longer. Be careful about what dates are stamped in your passport. Sometimes immigration puts a 60 day stamp on a visa for 3 months- the stamps is what counts. If you don't want to go through the hassle of Immigration Service, you may consider going to Togo and back to get a visa stamp at the border.

By plane

All International flights are through Kotoka International airport at Accra (ACC) [3]. Also, Kotoka International airport at Accra (ACC) is very central and there are always Airport Shuttles and lots of taxis available to connect you to other parts of the City.

Ghana International Airlines (http://fly-ghana.com) flies from Accra to London 4 times a week and from Accra to Dusseldorf every Saturday. Delta Air Lines serves Accra from New York City (JFK) with four flights per week. British Airways flies from London Heathrow, and Ghana International Airlines and Astraeus fly from London Gatwick. The Royal Dutch airlines (KLM) flies daily from Schiphol, Amsterdam. Lufthansa and Alitalia maintain daily direct flights from Frankfurt and Milan respectively, with a short stop in Lagos, Nigeria. Emirates flies daily non-stop from Dubai in the Middle East (with connections to Asia and the Far East). Ethiopian Airlines flies four weekly non-stops from Addis Ababa (with stopover, you can visit another African country).Also Egypt Air flies non-stop to Accra. Also, South African Airways flies four times a week non-stop from Johannesburg. If coming from Brazil or nearby, the flight from Rio to Luanda, Angola on Angola Airlines would be the shortest. From there, you can go non-stop to Accra.

The lowest fares to Ghana outside of Africa are usually from London, but that doesn't necessarily mean British Airways is the cheapest (i.e. a transfer inside continental Europe may be required). Afriqiyah Airways is one of the cheapest airlines maintaining flights to Accra, from London Gatwick via Tripoli. Those living in North America might be able to save by getting a cheap ticket to London from their home country. (Beware that there are two separate international airports, Gatwick and Heathrow, and allow lots of connection time.)

Photos of the small but well run airport [4]

By train

No international rail connections exist.

By car

The border at Aflao with Togo is an entertaining scene. It appears very disorderly and human traffic seems to flow freely. However it is unlikely that a caucasian person can pass through without all the formalities. The process of filling out forms and checking visas can take quite a while for non-diplomats. Soldiers on the Togo side are likely to ask for a bribe but need not be paid if all of your documents are in order. Border officials on the Ghanaian side in contrast are much more difficult to bribe. A visa into Ghana can be bought at the border at double the normal cost (because of the speedy delivery) for some GH₵110.

The border with Cote d'Ivoire at Elubo takes less time to cross but Ivorian guards seem much more keen on the rules.

By bus

Ghana's national bus company, Metro Mass Company, run services within the capital city, Accra, and within other regions in Ghana. STC run bus services to & from cities within Ghana and some nearby countries.

ABC Transport [5], based in Nigeria has a daily air conditioned bus to Lagos for about GH₵45.

By boat

Tamale to Accra can cost only Gh¢20

Get around

By plane

There are scheduled domestic flights 2 - 3 times a day between Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale in the north including flights by Antrak Air. There are also filghts to destinations outside the country.

CityLink also flies between Accra and Kumasi, etc. http://www.flycitylink.com

By train

There are rail links between Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi. The train is very slow and it travels at night so you won't see much, but with the ghana train system currently undertaking rehabilitation it will be vastly improved with new stations and faster more frequent trains.

By car

Roads are variable. In Accra most are fairly good. Significant improvements are being made on the main road between Accra and Kumasi. Most of the roads outside Accra apart from the major ones are dirt tracks. The road between Techiman and Bole is particularly bad and should be avoided if possible. For travel on most roads in the North of the country a 4x4 is required, a saloon car will cope with some of them in the dry season but is not recommended.

Also it should be noted that cars with foreign registration are not allowed to circulate between 6PM and 6AM. Only Ghanaian registered vehicles are allowed on the road at this time. Non compliance can result in fines and the impounding of the vehicle for the night.

By bus

STC is the main coach company. They operate long distance domestic and international services. Probably the safest way to travel long distance, and are also pretty quick compared to other options, although even on these services breakdowns are reasonably frequent. STC operate between Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale, Cape Coast and other main cities. 'Express' or 'Air-conditioned' services are quicker and a lot more comfortable than the ordinary services and are now available on the Accra-Kumasi, Accra-Tamale, Accra-Bolgatanga routes. Buy your tickets a day in advance though, often times they will be full if you wait until the day of travel. Also, expect to pay for your luggage based upon its weight. It should rarely be over 1/3 the price of the ticket.

Several other companies also operate bus services between the major towns, these include OSA and Kingdom Travel, their service is marginally more reliable than tro-tros but there isn't much in it.

MPlaza Tours also operated bus service between Accra, Kumasi, etc. What's nice about MPlaza is that it has its own gated bus terminal(s).

By Tro-Tro

A 'Tro-tro' is a term that covers almost any sort of vehicle that has been adapted to fit in as many people, possessions, and occasionally livestock, as possible. Tro-tros are typically old, 12-passenger VW vans. Similarly to 'shared' taxis, tro-tros will run along fixed routes and have fixed fares, and will rarely run with less than capacity [so be prepared to wait]. They are inexpensive (cheaper than shared taxis and STC buses) and fares should reflect distance traveled, however they have a questionable safety record and frequently breakdown. Breakdowns however are usually not too much of a problem since they will break down in a route where other tro-tro's run, so you can just grab another one. Although they generally run point to point they will usually pick and drop on route if required. They make runs within the city (i.e. Circle to Osu for GH₵.20) as well as intercity routes. They are often the only option between remote towns but are not recommended for long journeys. Tro-tros are an excellent way to meet Ghanaians, and are always great for a cultural adventure. Sometimes they will make you pay extra for luggage, and occasionally they will try to overcharge, so try bargaining

By taxi

Taxis are prevalent, and as a tourist you will find they find you quick enough if you need one. To charter a taxi is more expensive than to share one, but prices are negotiable and can be bartered over. Always settle on a fare before getting in. A taxi for a very short route should be no more than GH₵1.00, longer GH₵2.50-5.00 and GH₵7.00 should be enough for anywhere in the city. Fares continue to fluctuate with the fuel prices on the international market. About 1 in every 10 taxi drivers will probably try to cheat you for a higher price if you're a foreigner. In Accra and the major cities most taxis that will stop for you assume you require a charter taxi and unless you are on a very strict budget it's usually easiest to do this. In more remote areas, shared taxis are most common.

Talk

Because Ghana was colonized by the British, English has become the official language, and many Ghanians (particularly in urban centres) you'll meet will be able to speak English. Official government documents are kept in English, but there over 40 distinct languages spoken in Ghana including English, Twi, Ga, Ewe, Dagbani, and so on. "Obruni", the Akan word for foreigner literally means "white man", is generally shouted to greet any tourist in an unoffensive way (sometimes). Obruni is used in a similar way as the word "Toubab" is used further west in Mali, Guinea, the Gambia and Senegal.

Pidgin English is about the most typical form of English you will find. With phrases like: "my head de bash", meaning "I have a headache".

In the Northern Regions and among Ghanaian Muslims in general, the Hausa language is used as a lingua franca.

Buy

Ghana Cedi was redenominated July 2007. The new "Ghana Cedi" (GH₵) equals 10,000 old cedis. During the transition period of six months, the old cedi is known as "cedi", and the new cedi is known as "Ghana Cedi". Be aware that most Ghanaians still think in old currency. This can be very confusing (and costly). Ten thousand old cedis are habitually referred to as ten (or twenty, or thirty). This would, today, be one, two or three "new" Ghana cedis. So always think whether the quoted price makes sense before buying or agreeing on a taxi fare. If in doubt ask whether this is new cedis.

US Dollars are accepted by some of the major tourist hotels but you shouldn't rely on this. As in all West African countries, older dollar bills will be rejected by banks and Forex bureaus. If you intend to take dollar notes make sure that they are all from the 2007 series or above. EURO in cash are the most useful currency to take with you and you will sometimes find that bars/restaurants will be willing to change them for you if you need Cedis outside banking hours.

Approximate exchange rates as of May. 1, 2009, are:

  • 1 British Pound = GH₵ 1.9
  • 1 US Dollar = GH₵ 1.4
  • 1 Euro = GH₵ 1.8
A village market near Lake Volta
A village market near Lake Volta

There are many Forex Bureaus in Accra, and a few in the other major cities. It is very difficult to change travelers cheques and certainly almost impossible outside Accra and Kumasi, unless you change them at a major bank. Barclays has branches in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and even Tamale where you can change travelers cheques. Expect lines. VISA cards are accepted at major hotels and there are ATMs in Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast which accept VISA. Be aware that the Cape Coast cash machine is frequently empty. At the main branch of Barclays Bank in Accra you can get a cash advance on your VISA or MasterCard provided you have your passport with you.

Bargaining is very much expected in the markets. Large cities such as Accra have markets open every day, but travelers get the true flavor of the country if they have the opportunity to visit a village market on the day of the week that it is open. Most goods will be staple goods, but cloth, beads, musical instruments, bags, and even CD's are usually available.

Kente cloth, drums and wooden designs, such as masks and "sacred stools" can be found on almost any street in any tourist area in Ghana.

Adinkrah Symbols & Sacred Stools

The sacred stools have tradional Adinkrah "motif" designs in them that can mean many things having to do with God, love, strength, community, and much more. Finding a guidebook which will tell you what each symbol means is advisable to prevent the possibility of buying a stool that doesn't mean what you think it is.

Gye Nyame is by far the most popular Adinkrah symbol. It means "Only God". Other popular stools are the "Wisdom Knot" and the one with the character holding many sticks together, which cannot be broken, to symbolize the strength of community.

Eat

Food is extremely cheap in Ghana. Traditional food is fun to try and easy to enjoy. Fufu, the most widely served traditional dish, consists of pounded balls of yam, plantain, or cassava served with soup, and a side of goat meat or fish. Soups are typically made of groundnuts, palm nut, okra and other vegetables. Banku is a fermented corn version of the dish typically eaten with grilled tilapia fish or okra soup.

Rice dishes are also typical, but not considered a "real" meal by many Ghanaians, males especially. Jollof rice is a dish as varied as its chef, but generally consists of white rice cooked with vegetables, meat pieces, spices in a tomato based sauce. Waakye is a mix of beans and rice, typically served with gari, a powder of ground cassava. Often rice dishes are served with shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes on the side with a dollop of Heinz salad cream or mayonnaise. Such meals are extremely cheap from street vendors and come as little as GH₵1.50 to GH₵2.50.

Plantains, yams, and sweet potatoes are prepared in various ways and serve as small snacks. Kelewele, a spiced fried plantain snack, is especially delicious. Fresh fruits such as pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut, oranges, and bananas are delightful when in season and come when applicable by the bag for as little as 10 cents.

A great African meal in a restaurant can cost as little as GH₵3.00 to GH₵7.00. For instance, a lobster and shrimp dinner can cost a mere GH₵6. There are also a number of Western and Chinese style restaurants available especially in Osu, a trendy suburb of Accra.

Drink

Drinking water from the tap is not generally considered to be safe, so choices include plastic bottled water (eg. Voltic, 1.5l appx. GHC 1.00), boiled or filtered tap water, and "pure water" sachets. These sachets are filtered and come in 500 ml. portions. Many foreigners prefer bottled water. Water in sealed plastic sachets is generally not considered safe. Athough easily accessible and an unique experience, small studies have shown varying amounts of fecal bacteria suggestive the source may be tap water. If you want to play it safe, stick with carbonated beverages.

In Accra's expat visited bars, a beer will cost between GH₵2.00 and GH₵3.00. Fruit juices GH₵1.50, water GH₵1.00 to GH₵1.50. Star and Club are two of the more popular beers served. For a more interesting and rewarding experience, visit a "spot," a bar signified by the blue and white stripes on the outside of the building. They are cheaper and you will undoubtedly be able to meet some local Ghanaians as well as hear the newest hip-life songs.

A soft drink such as Coke, Fanta, 7UP (called "minerals" by locals) are widely available for GH₵0.50.

Be aware that the bottles that minerals or beer is served to you in are owned by the bottling company-if you do not return it to the seller, they stand to lose GH₵0.50 cedis-more than you most likely paid for the drink. If you are not going to consume the drink at the "spot" or at the roadside stand, make sure you let the seller know. Often, you will be asked for a deposit which will be returned upon the return of the bottle.

Sleep

There are many wonderful places to stay in Ghana. There are many options including lavish hotels or more rustic places to stay. Cheap, decent hotel rooms can run as low as GH₵12.00. A better room can go as low as GH₵20.00.

For longer stays (a few months) it is possible to rent a house. Houses for rent are advertised in local newspapers and also in those places frequented by expats - Koala supermarket, Ryan's Irish pub etc.

Learn

Ghana has three major public universities. The largest of these is the University of Ghana, located in Legon, a suburb of the capital, Accra. Other universities are located at Cape Coast (University of Cape Coast) and Kumasi (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, or "Tech"). Smaller public universities include the University of Education at Winneba, the University of Development Studies with a main campus at Tamale and several other campuses around the north, and the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa, Western Region. There are also several private universities and colleges, both religious and non-religious.

There are some good schools while others aren't that great. Teachers are usually very strict and respect from the students is very important.

Stay safe

Ghana is currently a very safe, stable country with relatively low crime levels compared to other West African countries. Take sensible precautions but be assured it is quite safe.

Bywel's bar in Osu is a frequent hangout of expats on Thursday nights meaning that it is target for muggings. Be sure to leave in a large group and enter a taxi immediately upon exiting the bar.

Cases have also been reported of people snatching cell phones in the streets. Avoid using your cell phone out in the open if you do not absolutely need to. You may run the risk of having someone snatch it from you.

Work

Ikando Volunteers: [6] AIESEC University students: [7]

Volunteer opportunities:

  • Africa Calling [8]
  • Light for Children [9]
  • Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa [10]

Stay healthy

Be aware that chloroquine-resistant malaria is widespread and you must take sufficient malaria protection including mosquito avoidance, mosquito repellants, and chemical prophylaxis. Yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into the country. Hepatitis A&B, Cholera and Typhoid fever innoculation is also recommended.

Risk of Meningitis is high in the northern third of Ghana which is a part of the Meningitis belt of Africa. This applies especially during the dry windy periods from December to June. A polysaccharide vaccine is available for Meningitis types A, C, Y and W135.

Although the AIDS/HIV rate is lower than other sub-Saharan African countries, do not have unprotected sex! Receiving a blood transfusion while in Ghana greatly increases your risk of acquiring HIV. Also you should avoid contact with still freshwater as there is a risk of schistosomiasis.

Some restaurants will approach European health standards, but be prepared to pay for this. Smaller restaurants, often called "chop bars," will likely not meet these standards.

Because of the tropical climate near the coast, travelers will need to stay hydrated. Bottled water is available everywhere. Volta Water has been a reliable brand, but do check to make sure the seal has not been broken.

Respect

Do try and pick up on respectful practice (such as not eating or offering with your left hand), but in general Ghanaians are quite accepting of tourists getting it wrong. Greetings are very important. Ghanaians are not forgiving of people who do not take time to greet others. Sometimes greetings come in the form of a salute accompanied by a "good morning" or "good afternoon". The expected response is the same (a salute with a "good morning or afternoon").

Contact

Telephone and postal services can be unreliable within Ghana itself but international post, at least to and from Accra is reasonably reliable (approx a week either way to the UK for example). Ghanatelecom is the most widespread phone company, but is not yet entirely reliable or widespread. The mobile network is good in urban areas. With a recent ICT boom in the country's urban areas, you're never too far away from an internet cafe where one hour of internet access should cost GH₵0.50 to GH₵1.00.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Etymology

Named after the Ghana Empire.

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Ghana

Plural
-

Ghana

  1. A country in Western Africa. Official name: The Republic of Ghana.

Derived terms

Translations

See also


Czech

Proper noun

Ghana f.

  1. Ghana

Finnish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Ghana

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Ghana

  1. Ghana

Declension


French

Proper noun

Ghana

  1. Ghana

Related terms


German

Wikipedia-logo.png
German Wikipedia has an article on:
Ghana

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Ghana n.

  1. Ghana

Derived terms


Italian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Ghana

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Ghana f.

  1. Ghana

Derived terms


Norwegian

Proper noun

Ghana

  1. Ghana

Related terms


Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /ˈɡana/

Proper noun

Ghana f.

  1. Ghana

Declension

Singular Plural
Nominative Ghana Ghany
Genitive Ghany Ghan
Dative Ghanie Ghanom
Accusative Ghanę Ghany
Instrumental Ghaną Ghanami
Locative Ghanie Ghanach
Vocative Ghano Ghany

Derived terms

  • Ghańczyk m., Ghanka f.
  • adjective: ghański

Spanish

Proper noun

Ghana f.

  1. Ghana

Related terms


Swedish

Proper noun

Ghana

  1. Ghana







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