Ghana


Basic Facts

More information about Ghana

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"The Gold Coast"- Ghana

The oldest traces of sedentary habitation in todays Ghana dates back 30 - 40 000 years. The Kintampoculture is stated between 1 700 to 1 500 before Christ. People belonging to this culture were tillers of the soil, cattlebreeder and fishermen. In 1471 the first europeans occured in the region. With the Portuguese a written history came into being. They came to West Africa in search of gold and new discoveries. The place they came to was called "Da Costa da El mina de Ouro". Today the place is called Elmina. Here the Portuguese built their first fort and the remainings from this can still be seen. They started trading with gold and other valuable items which they shipped back to Europe. They increased the tradingarea by building more forts along the coast. Soon the portugueses were followed by other europeans; british, dutch, french, swedes, danes and germans. Everyone interested in being fortune and rich. The rivalry being the most successful in the goldtrade resulted in conflicts among them and several combats found place. The lack of gold forced the traders into other sources for welth. There was a lack of manpower in Europe and The Americas and as the goldtrade was decreasing the british decided to go into the more lucrative slavetrade. 

A slavetrade had existed in Africa long before the Europeans arrived, but slaves were incidental captives of inter-tribal war and relatively few in number. The slavetrade under the Europeans and the Americans is estimated that between 12 and 20 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic and Europe during 250 years. Denmark abolished the slavetrade in 1804, Britain in 1807, USA in 1808, Holland, France, Portugal and Spain in the years between 1814 and 1817.

By 1800, Britain was the major European tradingpower on "The Gold Coast" and it became a British Crown Colony on July 24, 1874, In the 1920:s and 1930:s, a number of political parties arose, dedicated to achieving independence from the British Colonial rules. The 1951 general election was won by Kwame Nkrumah who founded the Convention People´s Party. In 1957, under Nkrumahs leadership, Ghana became the first African country to gain its indenpendence from European colonisers. In 1966, Nkrumah was ousted by a coup because of dissatisfaction. A series of military governments with intervals of civilian rule followed. In 1979 a group of young soldiers, led by Jerry Rawlings, took power. In 1989 they allowed democratic elections. In December 2000 a new political era was heralded in as the conservative liberal New Patriotic Party won both the parliamentary and presidental elections.

In spite of their heritage the ghanaians have big ambitions to develop tourism to attract people from the earlier colonial forces, and the local people often meet the visitors with open arms and a friendly attitude.

This was my second visit to an African country south of the Sahara. My first visit was to Liberia in 1970/71. I noticed that not much was changed in lifestyle among people in this part of the world, but there were many more cars on the roads.

Ghana is situated near the equator in West Africa. It is a small country with a total area of approximately 238 537 square kilometers with a population of approximately 20 millions. The country is divided into 10 regions. Accra, with almost 2 million inhabitants, is the capital. Other major cities are Kumasi, Tema, Tamale and Sekondi-Takoradi. 

The north of the country differs greatly from the south. The southern parts, with high temepratures all year round, are much wetter than the northern. In the southern and central areas you mainly find rainforest. In the northern parts the savannah is dominating. Farmers in the north struggle to grow anything during the long dry season. 

The size of the country makes it easy to travel around. You cover easily all the major areas in 3-4 weeks. The infrastructure is mainly good. During my three weeks in Ghana I covered a majort part of the country.

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Accra

The first two days in Ghana I spent in Accra, the capital. There are not many interesting buildings to visit in the city. The major ones are Kwame Nkruhmas memorial, the Theatre, Governement buildings, the Osu and Usher Forts and the ligthhouse in James Town. I found the commonlife the most interesting object to discover in Accra. I loved to stroll on the buzy streets and on the markets. The big Kaneshimarket is very bustling and interesting. Also the market behind the railwaystation is worth a visit. Outside the center, in a suburb direction Tema, you can visit carpenters producing coffins in different shapes. Some of them are built as lions, snakes or even canons! The Botanical Garden in Aburi, some 30 kilometers north of Accra, is a nice place to visit.

Tamale, Mole National park, the village Auchubunyor

From Accra I went to the Northern region. In Tamale I had the opportunity to see a group performing traditional dances. Next stop was Mole National Park, the largets gamereserve in Ghana. More than 90 mammals and 300 bird species have been recorded in Mole. You are not allowed to go into the park by your own. The friendly and armed guides are helping you to trace the animals. During my visit in Mole I saw different kinds of antilopes, warthog, crocodile, different kind of monkeys and of course the big African elephant. There is a small group of elephants living close to the hotel and sometimes they visit the hotelarea. 

It is always interesting to meet people. In the small village Auchubunyor, located between Mole and the Tamale-road, I had the oppurtunity to stay with the villagers for three days, which gave me a good picture of the hard life for many Africans. The village has about 500 inhabitants, mainly muslims, and they are very friendly to visitors. My host, a muslim man, had two wives and six children.

Kumasi, Ghanas second largest city

Kumasi, is the second largets city in Ghana with a population of about 1 million. Here I celebrated the New Year. Kumasi was the capital of the Ashantis, a powerful group who heavily protested against the british colonial power. As a result of this the british burnt their town to ground in 1873. The Kumasi Fort, once held by the british, is probably the oldest building in the city. 

Kumasi has the largest market in West Africa, with more than 10 000 vendors, and is very interesting to visit. Also interesting to visit is the Okomfo Anokye Sword. Traditionally held to have been stuck in the same position in the ground for 300 years.

Well worth to visit is the small Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary, 16 kilometers NW of Kumasi, which harbours  a great many varieties of butterfly and birds. Do not miss to visit the holy Lake Bosumtwi, some 30 kilometers south of Kumasi. It is located in a vast crater and the most expansive natural body of fresh water in Ghana. The lake is held sacred by Ashanti traditionalists. There is a taboo on the use of traditional boats, why the local fishermen get around by lying on customised tree trunks and using their hands as paddles. Bonwire is the home of skilful kente weavers. Kente is a luxuriant ashanticloth with complex, colourful geometric patterns. The young guides around the shops are very aggressive and takes away the pleasure to visit Bonwire.

Tarkwa, in the Middle of the goldregion

Ghana is the second largets goldproducer in the world. The gold comes from large mines, or from private people digging for it. The galamasays are poor people working with the hope to make a fortune. In the Tarkwa-area you find people working in rivers or in small handdigged mines. You can visit some fields just outside Tarkwa and see their struggle.

The Coast around Busua and Cape Coast

My last week in Ghana I spent on the Coast with Busua and Cape Coast as startingpoints for excursions.

Busua is a small fishingvillage seldom visited by tourists, even if they have some hotels in the village. The best is Busua Beach Resort hotel, a luxury hotell charging USD60 for a doubbleroom. The others have lower standar. The shores in Busua are very nice and the fishermens common life very interesting. You can follow their hard struggle for the daily bread when strolling around. There are only a few restaurants in the village. Be careful with "Joseph - The Lobster Man" who is cheating people by adding extra costs on the bill. His food is very good.

Do not miss to visit the small stiltvillage Mzulezu, with about 500 inhabitants, when you are in the Busua-region. It is supposed to be one of the mainattractions in Ghana. You go there either by renting a taxi, or if you are a group by rented minibus. The starting point for this interesting excursion is Beyin, where you have to pay your entrancefee. Included is a two hour ride in a dugout canoe, to and from the village on the small Amansuri River and on the Lake Amansuri. Only the boatrides are worth the money. The village is nicely located at the shore. There is a small guesthouse in the village where you can stay overnigth. People are friendly to visitors and you can see their commonlife when walking around. On the way back to Busua you can make a stop in Dixcove and visit the big Fort.

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Cape Coast

was once the first capital of Britain´s "Gold Coast" colony. Today it is the capital of Ghanas Central Region. Cape Coast is steeped in history, in many aspect very cruel and inhuman. The Cape Coast Castel, now on UNESCO:s World Heritage List, is an evidence of the slavetrade. If you visit the castle you will be remebered of what kind of cruelties the europeans once did to the African people. The castle was one of the major places from where the slaves where shipped out. The horror in the dungeons can still be recalled if you go into them. The castle was originally constructed by Swedes! There are few other interesting buildings to visit in the city. 

The athmosphere is very nice in Cape Coast. People are friendly and you feel totally safe when walking in the streets during nigthtime.

If you have sparetime in Cape Coast you can make an excursion to Kakum National park, which is less than one hours bussride  from the city. Try the canopywalk high up in the threetops. It gives you a nice view over the rainforest. Regretfully it is rather expensive and not as long as you find in the Amazonas. Do not expect to see any wild animals during your visit, they are very rare here.

When staying in the area you must absolutely visit Elmina. The place where the first europeans landed in 1471. The magificent castle, built by the Portuguese, can still be visited. The fishmarket gives you a good view of women taking care of the fish that their husbands have landed. They are very powerful! There are several posuban shrines to visit in Elmina. If you are interested in history do not miss to visit the Dutch cementary. Here you get a vision of colonial history. Elmina also has a nice athmosphere why it is nice to stroll around in town.

On the way to the airport in Accra, I made a short stop in Winneba, where I met a powerful Paramount Chief. He was leader for 20 lower chiefs. The meeting was an interesting experience.

Three weeks in Ghana flew away. During my trip around the country I met almost only friendly and helpful people which made this visit memorable. I experienced only a few negative things, as bartenders and taxidrivers who tried to cheat me on money. 

Ghana is absolutely worth to visit, in all respects!

 

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James Town.
Accra

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Young man.
Tamale

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Dancer.
Tamale

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The mosque.
Larabanga

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Monkey. 
Mole National Park

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Elephant.
Mole NP

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The Chief and his Advisors.
Auchubunyor

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Villagers.
Auchubunyor

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Palmoil-
production.
Kakum

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Golddiggers.
Agona

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Fishermens children. 
Busua

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Children in
Mzulezu

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The Fort.
Dixcove

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Fishingboat.
Cape Coast

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Fisherman.
Lake 
Botumswi

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Elephants.
Mole NP

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The Fort.
Cape Coast

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Old guns.
Cape Coast

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Golddigger.
Tarkwa

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Villagers.
Larabanga

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Friendly and smiling Ghana!

Basicfacts:

Conventional longform: Republic of Ghana
Area, total:
238 533 sq km
Population:
25 242 000
Population / sq km:
107
Coastline:
539 km
Capital/Population:
Accra / 2 290 000, incl. suburbs

Lowest point:  Atlantic Ocean 0 m a s
Highest point: Mount Afadjato 885 m a s
Largets rivers:
 Mouhoun (Black Volta), Nakambe (White Volta)
Largest lakes:
Lake Volta (artificial), Lake Bosumtwi (natural)

Pop. growth rate: 1.79 %
Infant mortility rate: 
47 
(deaths / 1 000 live births)
Life expectancy at birth (years):
Male / Female  
56 / 58

Ethnic groups: Akan 45.3 %, Mole-Dagomba 15.2 %, Ewe 11.7 %, Ga-Dangme 7.3 %, Guan 4.0 %, Gurna 3.6 %, Grusi 2.6 %, Mande-Busanga 1.0 %, other tribes 1.4 %, other ethnic groups 7.8 %
Religions: Christian religions 68.8 %, Muslim 15.9 %, indigenous beliefs 8.5 %, other religions 0.7 %, atheists 6.1 %
Languages:
English (official), African languages incl. Akan, Mosgi-Dagomba, Ewe, Ga 
Literacy; % population over 15 years:
Male / Female
 
66.4 / 49.8

Independence:  March 6, 1957
National holiday:
March 6

GNP/capita: USD 762
Population below poverty line:
28.5 % 
Currency:
Cedi (GHC), 1 GHC = 100 pesewas
Tourists (annually): 587 000

Mobiletelphones: 17 436 000
Internetusers:
1 297 000
Railways:
947 km
Mainroads:
62 221 km

Source: CIA World Factbook 2012/02

Map over Ghana


 

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The flag consists of a horizontal red, yellow and green stripe. In the middle of the flag is a five pionted black star representing the lodestar of African freedom. Red is representing the the blood of those who died in the struggle for independence. Yellow stands for the minerals wealth and green for the forests. 


   

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Surmounting the shield is a black five pointed star rimmed with gold, representing the lodestar of African freedom. The star stands on the wreath of the colours red, gold and green, which again on the top of the shield. Under the shield is the motto "Freedom and Justice" written. The supporters of the coat of arms are two eagles, coloured gold.


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