OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Ghana
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Democracy
AREA: 92,100 square miles (238,537 square kilometers)
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: English, Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, Ga
Map of Ghana
Ghana is located in West Africa and is sandwiched between Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Togo. The northern border is the country Burkina Faso and the southern border is the Gulf of Guinea. The country is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. The landscape consists mainly of plains and low plateaus covered by rain forests in the west and Lake Volta in the east.
There are six national parks and many smaller nature reserves, which were set up to help protect Ghana’s wildlife. There are over 650 butterfly species in the Kakum National Park, including the giant swallowtails, which are nearly 8 inches (20 centimeters) across.
The park is also home to leopards, hornbills, Diana monkeys, flying squirrels, and scarlet-tailed African gray parrots.
Elephants, leopards, wild buffalo, and antelope were once plentiful across the savanna, but now are found mostly in nature reserves. Elephants, crocodiles, warthogs, and hippos can be seen around the watering holes in the Mole National Park.
Poisonous snakes such as the cobra and puff adder are native to Ghana as are pythons, which don’t bite, but can squeeze their victims to death.
The baobab tree grows in the northern parts Ghana and other savannas in Africa. Ghanaians eat the large, gourd-like fruit, they make barrels from the trunk, the tree provides shade from the sun, and the bark can be made into rope and clothing.
The Volta River was dammed in the 1960s and created Lake Volta, one of the Earth’s largest artificial lakes.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Children in Ghana begin two years of kindergarten at age four. Then all children ages 6-12 attend six years of elementary education. If families can afford it, children go on to secondary education. Ghana’s school system is more advanced than many of its African neighbors.
There are over 50 different ethnic groups in Ghana, each with their own customs and languages. But the country is harmonious and peaceful. The Akan tribe is the largest group and makes up about 45 percent of the population. They live mostly in villages and grow their food on farms.
The traditional cloth of the Ghanaian people is the bright and colorful kente cloth. In the north, the men wear loose flowing clothes made of darker cloth.
Ghanaians love soccer and built a large soccer stadium in the capital of Accra. Soccer is the national sport.
Kofi Annan is one of the most well-known Ghanaians. He served as secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997- 2006.
Photograph by Andrey Dybrovskiy, Dreamstime
The president is the head of government and the head of state in Ghana. The president and vice president are elected every four years. A council of ministers is selected by the president and approved by the parliament. The ministers are made of heads of different departments of state in the government.
There is also a system of tribal government in addition to the national government.
Before the Europeans arrived in search of gold, the west coast of Africa was part of an ancient trade route. In 1471, Portuguese traders came ashore and noticed that the local people wore gold jewelry.
People from Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Britain came to the Gold Coast to search for gold. The British took control of the country in the 20th century and declared the Gold Coast a colony of the British Empire.
In 1957, the Gold Coast gained its independence from Britain and became known as Ghana. After many corrupt governments, Ghana’s new leader in 1981, Jerry Rawlings, vowed to stop corruption. Democracy involving many parties started in 1992 when a new constitution was adopted.