ghana map The republic of Ghana derives its name from the ancient Ghana Empire in the Western Sudan which fell in the 11th century. Ghana is the first black African colony to gain independence and until independence from the British colonial rule on March 6, 1957, Ghana was known as the Gold Coast. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive and others came later. The remnants of around 30 castles can be seen along the coast of Ghana. The castles bear witness to four centuries of the presence of Europeans trading in ivory, gold, and slaves. At the height of the slave trade, there were more than 60 strongholds along the coast which is a mere 350 miles long. These castles were built by the Dutch, Prussians, French, and British. Many of them changed hands.
The capital of Ghana was moved from Cape Coast to Accra by the British in 1876. See independence square at Accra Ghana.


Ghana coat of arms


The first president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, graduated from Lincoln University and returned to Ghana to make it the first African country to gain independence. On 1st July,1960 Ghana became a republic with Kwame Nkrumah as its first President.

See the new President: His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills

professor John Evans Atta Mills, the current President of Ghana was the Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the 2008 General Elections. He was born on July 21st, 1944, at Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana and hails from Ekumfi Otuam in the Mfantsiman East Constituency of the Central region of Ghana.

The President attended the University of Ghana, Legon, where he received a bachelor's degree and professional certificate in Law (1967). While earning a PhD in Law from the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, John Evans Atta Mills was selected as a Fulbright scholar at the equally prestigious Stanford Law School in the United States of America. He was awarded his PhD at the age of 27 after successfully defending his doctoral thesis in the area of taxation and economic development.

John Evans Atta Mills is married to Ernestina Naadu Mills, an educationist, and has a 19 year old son, Sam Kofi Atta Mills.

gentle giant Ex-President, John Kuffuor, a businessman and the leader of the New Patriotic Party, was sworn in as president on Sunday January 7, 2001. The two term President's last day in office was January 7, 2009.

Jerry John Rawlings, Former- Pres. of Ghana, and JJ Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the Former First Lady, have been conferred honorary doctorate degrees by Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. Nana Konadu Rawlings is the Pres. of a non-governmental organization working for women and development.

Cuba: Castro on Ghana's Rawlings, Support For Clinton.

J.J. Rawlings, any accomplishments? Read this article


Government

Ghana's struggle towards democratization has gained a stronger ground with the success of its 1996 multiparty elections. Today Ghana is a welcome African example of legitimate democracy and successful economic reform. In an unusually peaceful transfer of power, a civilian government that grew out of a military regime has accepted an election defeat and surrendered power to the opposition.

People talk about a newly relaxed atmosphere here. The military presence has steadily decreased in the past ten years. There's less fear of criticizing the government. Tourists and their dollars are welcome. Ghanaians are well known for their friendliness.
The quest for transparent and effective elections stirred the efforts of political parties, nongovernmental organizations and donors, all of whom had immensely contributed to the electoral process. The road towards democracy in Ghana has not been an easy task, and the struggle continues as the nation furthers its efforts of instituting more political, social and economic reforms.

Ghana is a key U.S. ally in promoting economic and political reform and respect for human rights in West Africa. Ghana plays a constructive role as a stabilizing influence in the region and is committed to helping resolve regional conflicts and promoting regional security. Ghana has taken a lead role in supporting the African Crisis Response Initiative, and is also in the forefront of African countries that have made positive steps toward consolidating democracy. Trade links between Ghana and the United States are expanding: U.S. exports to Ghana grew from $53 million in 1985 to $295 million in 1996, boosting Ghana to third place (after South Africa and Nigeria) among African markets for U.S. exports. The United States has a strong commitment to encourage these positive efforts and supports the development of African leadership in promoting economic growth and political stability.
[USAID congressional presentation...]

Many donors are involved in promoting democracy and good governance objectives in Ghana. The United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, and Netherlands as well as the European Union and World Bank have active programs in supporting decentralization of government services to local level district assemblies. Germany also has an active media and journalism support program.

In close cooperation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Ghana emerged as a model for free market innovations in Africa, and now spends five times as much on education and health as on its military.


Social Etiquette

For several years now Ghana has been playing host to an ever-increasing number of visitors, especially tourists from all over the world. Ghanaians are a hospitable, respectable and peace-loving people. One could tell from their greeting forms and general behavior. Ghanaians have wide and generous smiles when you greet them. Traditionally, children are taught in their homes to respect their elders. A child who fails to observe social value is considered as untrained and uncultured. Visitors from all over the world are sure to be well received in any Ghanaian community that they happen to visit. In all Ghanaian communities, a visitor is first given a seat, and then water to drink before he is greeted and asked the purpose of his visit. The smile on their face seems to be permanently in place and the world have observed that Ghanaians are very patient as people, kind not only to visitors but to themselves too.
Women are highly respected. A woman is given a seat first before a man. However, if water is being offered, it is the man who drinks first. Hardly ever touching or kissing in public, for instance, Ghanaians may not be particularly demonstrative in love, but their feelings for their partners must not be mistaken. Their love is pure.

Ghanaians are well known for their wisdom which is expressed in their use of proverbs, especially at the courts of chiefs, and in bedtime stories and anecdotes.


The ancient African political systems were dominated by 'queenmothers'. Contrary to some anthropologist's assertion that the office of the queenmother was merely ceremonial, female title-holders of the Akan and the other tribes in the Republic of Ghana enjoyed significant political powers. The Akan ohemmaa obtains her title due to seniority in the royal matrilineage.


Family

In traditional communities in Ghana, every child is a treasured element of the society irrespective of how it was conceived. Once it had been born, it is an accepted commodity, and the Ghanaian in his right senses with his feet firmly fixed in his traditions will do all it takes to see that the child grows in happiness.
Being young or old, the Ghanaian belongs to a large family. Family in Ghana, goes beyond spouse and children. There are parents, siblings, uncles, cousins, aunts, grand-parents and great grand-relations. Behind every Ghanaian, there is the extended family which is a source of strength and assurance. In times of difficulty, they all share the cost of relief and also share the times of joy together. United we stand.

Ghanaian notions of goodness or virtue


Geography

Ghana is located in west Africa with the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Togo to the east, Cote dIvoire to the west and Burkina Faso to the North.
Ghana lies within the tropics and on the Greenwich Meridian. There are two main seasons, the Rainy season and the Dry season. The dry season starts around late August and ends in February. Minerals such as gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese are also found in Ghana.
Ghana's population was estimated to be 17,080,000 in 1994.
See the map of Ghana and Africa map.


CAPITAL: Accra
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE DAY: March, 6th (1957)
REPUBLIC DAY: 1 July
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English




Regional divisions and their capitals

Region

Ashanti-
Greater Accra-
Brong-Ahafo-
Northern-
Western-

Capital

Kumasi
Accra
Sunyani
Tamale
Sekondi-Takoradi

Region

Central-
Eastern-
Upper East-
Upper West-
Volta-

Capital

Cape Coast
Koforidua
Bolgatanga
Wa
Ho


Ghana and Humanism

Ghana is one of the first African countries to have an incipient humanist movement. Like most African nations, Ghana was formerly under European colonial rule, but it was not widely settled by Europeans because of its inhospitable climate.
The northern part of the country has long been Muslim, but Christians, who arrived in the 18th century, now outnumber Muslims two to one. Fortunately, Ghana is free of the tribal conflicts which afflict many other African countries. It is one of the most economically progressive African countries and could be the starting point for the humanist movement in Africa.

Peacekeepers Are Ghana's Treasured Export?

Ghana: A Leader in Africa


Legal System

The country still practices English common law and customary law. Ghana has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.

Ghana is a member of:
OAU, UN, IMF, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-24, G-77, GATT, IAEA, IBRD, UNESCO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, CCC, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IOC, ISO, ITU, LORCS, MINURSO, NAM, ACP, CCC, UNCTAD, ICAO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNIKOM, UNPROFOR, UNTAC, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO.


Journalism and the Media


Kabral Blay-Amihere, president of the West Africa Journalists Association, is a man accorded great respect and admiration throughout Africa for his relentless work toward a free press in Ghana and the rest of the continent. Journalism in developing countries like Ghana lack the modern tools that are taken for granted in the US, but the mission to report the truth is no less important.
Ghana's independent commercial radio are coming to their own after the government's Frequency Registration and Control Board granted the first FM license to a small college radio station. Since the early 1970s, independent radio has been seen as a subversive threat and the awarding of licenses have been continually deferred. Today, there are about 80 stations in the country, out of which 29 or more are in the capital - Accra. Licenses for independent radio stations are valid for seven years.

Ghana Frequency Registration and Control Board approved and frequencies were assigned for private TV Stations. TV 3 and Metro TV are all private TV Stations. MNET and Fantasia also provide satellite TV. There are about eleven FM Stations throughout Ghana. They are based in Greater Accra, Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, Han in the Upper West Region, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, Sekondi in the Western Region, Cape Coast, Apam and Swedru in the Central Region, Dormaa Ahenkro in the Brong Ahafo Region, Ho in the Volta Region and Tamale in the Northern Region. Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has three (3) Shortwave Radio Transmitters with a radiating power of 50kw each which is received across the length and breadth of the country and beyond. There are about 13.5 million listeners to GBC radio.
It was Thomas Jefferson who once said that "the press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and providing him as a rational, moral and social being." These words are relevant today as they were in the eighteenth century.


Health

Ghana has a reasonably good health service. All regional capitals and most districts have clinics and hospitals, and two teaching hospitals in Accra and Kumasi have facilities for treating special cases. Additionally, a number of religious organizations and private medical practitioners operate hospitals and clinics all over the country. Herbal medicine and psychic healing are also generally practiced, and there is a special government Herbal Medicine Hospital and Research Centre at Akwapim-Mampong.


Language

There are about six languages that are used on the national radio and television. These are: English, Akan, Dagbani, Ewe, Ga, and Hausa. Even though English is the official language, it is only used in government and business circles in the cities and urban areas. Akan in its various dialects enjoys a wide usage throughout the country. It is a trade language for most Ghanaians. About nine languages are used in the Ghanaian school system. Most Ghanaians speak one other Ghanaian language or more languages in addition to their own. There are about 60 language groups in Ghana.


Festivals

Most festivals in Ghana are for purification, thanksgiving, dedication and reunion. They are also considered symbolically as maintaining the link between the living and the dead. It is dedicated to the honor of the spirits of the ancestors believed to be a guiding force in all human activities. Some of the most popular festivals are:

Adae and Akwasidae: Celebrated by the people of Ashanti.
Akwambo: Celebrated by the Fantes of Agona and Gomoa.
Odwira: An Akan festival celebrated by the Ashantis and Akuapim.
Homowo: Celebrated by the Ga people of Accra.
Hogbetsotso: Celebrated by the Ewe people of Anlo.
Damba: Celebrated by the poeple of the Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana.
Bugum: Celebrated by the Dagombas of the Northern Region.
Kwafie: Celebrated by the Dormaa in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Aboakyere: Effutu people of Winneba.
Oguaa Fetu Afahye: Celebrated by the people of Cape Coast.


Clothing

Dressing in Ghana traditionally reflects the geo-political division of the country into north and south. Kente is the most popular cloth for festive occasions. Cloth is commonly worn by men from the south and the smock which is becoming a gown for all occasions are common among men from the north. Ghana's kente cloth has spread in popularity around the world. The kente identifies where a person is from, and sometimes, their station in life. The first president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah used both the smock and the kente cloth widely to portray Ghana's culture in the area of clothing. The kente cloth and the smock can be purchased at any commercial market in the urban areas where they are sold by numerous merchants.


The Asanteman Association in New York City

The Asanteman Association in New York City is one of the major Ghanaian associations in the New York City area, with the goal of promoting the welfare of the Ghanaian immigrants. Founded in 1982, the Association aims to bring back the glory of the Asante Kingdom, its culture and traditions. The Association's activities are aimed at helping immigrant Ghanaians, especially the newcomers, to adjust to new surroundings. The installation practices and other sociocultural activities are designed to promote ethnic unity among the Ghanaians.


Tourism

USEFUL LINKS TO INFO ON GHANA

IN THE NEWS...

African vs. African-American.

A Stamp of Recognition - Black authors honored.


LOCAL TIME IN GHANA


Check out these cool links to learn more about GHANA:

Ghana music
Ghana home page
Ghanaweb home page
Ashanti home page
Ghana Review
Africa Home Page
Ghana News Runner


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I'm originally from Ghana in West-Africa currently living in Connecticut in the United States of America. I work at YALE UNIVERSITY,GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS CENTER.
Click here to visit the Yale University Government Documents and Information Center Home Page.

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Thanks for dropping by and come back soon.
Send me Email: frank.boateng@yale.edu
Office phone:(203)432-3211
Sources: Black Issues in Higher Education, Journal of Black Studies, D. Kondor, USAID congressional presentation..
All Contents Copyright 1996-2009, FRANK BOATENG
Last updated January 23, 2009