Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a sovereign state in West Africa. It is bordered by the Ivory Coast to the west, Togo to the east, Burkina Faso to the north and the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
The word ‘Ghana’ means Warrior King’, the title accorded to the kings of the medieval West African Ghana Empire, although this empire was farther north than the modern-day country of Ghana. The name “Ghana’ was also the source of the name ‘Guinea’ (via French ‘Guinoye’) used to refer to the West Africa coast (as in ‘Gulf of Guinea’). However. Ghana’ was adopted as the legal name for the Gold Coast combined with British Togoland upon declaration of independence on 6 March 1957.
Ghana was inhabited in the Middle Ages and the age of discovery by a number of predominantly Akan kingdoms. Prior to the Black contact with Europeans, trade between the Akan and various African states flourished for Akan gold wealth. Trade with European states began after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century. In 1847 England established control over some parts of the country assigning three areas the status of Gold Coast. The Gold Coast declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1957 and established the nation of Ghana. This made it the first African country to gain independence from colonial rule.
Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator. It Is geographically closer to the ‘centre’ of the world than any other country in the world, as the national centre (0°) is located in the Atlantic Ocean only 614 km off the south-east coast of Ghana.
Ghana encompasses plains, low hills, rivers, Lake Volta (the world’s largest artificial lake), Dodi Island and Bobowasi Island on the South Atlantic Ocean coast. Ghana can be divided into four different geographical categories: the coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and intersected by several rivers and streams; the northern part of Ghana features high plains, the south-west and south-central Ghana is made up of a forested plateau consisting of the Ashanti uplands and the Kwahu Plateau; the hilly Akwapium-Togo ranges are found along Ghana’s eastern border.
The climate of Ghana is tropical, and there are two main seasons—the wet and the dry. North Ghana experiences its rainy season from March to November while South Ghana has its rainy season from April to mid- November. The tropical climate of Ghana is relatively mild for its latitude. The harmattan, a dry desert wind, blows in north-east Ghana from December to March, lowering the humidity and causing hot days and cool nights.
According to the Ghana Statistical Service census released in 2012, Ghana has a population of about 24 million people. The official language of the State is English. It is spoken by 90% of the population; however, 75% of the people also speak the Akan language. The literacy rate is 81% in Ghana. Christianity is the country’s largest religion, and predominates in South Ghana and parts of northern Ghana, while Islam is more widespread in some other parts of the northern region. Ghana has a cultural heritage of Ghanaian dance, Ghanaian knit-clothing and Ghana drummers.
Ghana was created as a parliamentary democracy after independence in 1957, followed by alternating military and civilian governments. In January 1993, the military government gave way to the Fourth Republic after presidential and parliamentary elections. The constitution divides powers among a president, cabinet, council of state, and an independent judiciary. The government is elected by universal suffrage. The capital of Ghana is Accra.
Ghana, known as ‘the Switzerland of Africa’, enjoys rapid economic growth. It maintains the 4th largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa with the 7th largest economy on the continent of Africa. Its economy flourishes on cocoa, gold, and natural gas. Ghana is the second-largest cocoa producer in the world, and one of the world’s largest producers of gold, petroleum, and natural gas.
There are two main seaports in Ghana which are located in the southern coastal cities of Sekondi-Takoradi and Tema. The port of Tema handles the majority of the nation’s import and export cargo. Ghana railway network is limited to south Ghana, while road transportation is the most dominant choice in Ghana. The country has a vibrant airline transport and there are five main airports in the cities: Kotoka Airport in greater Accra, Kumasi Airport in Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi airport, Sunyani Airport and Tamale Airport in Western Ghana.
The International Sports in Ghana began in 1952 when Ghana competed in its first Olympic games as Gold Coast. Ghana competed in the Winter Olympics in 2010 for the first time. Ghanaian athletes have won four Olympic medals in thirteen appearances at the Summer Olympics—three in boxing and one in association football. Thus Ghana became the first African country to win a medal at association football.