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Brief History

Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence on March 6, 1957 after the merger of the British Colony with the Togoland trust territory. Ghana underwent a series of military coups until Lt. Jerry Rowlings took power in 1981 and banned political parties. Ghana is currently headed by John Atta Mills who was elected President in 2009.

Geography

The Republic of Ghana, capital Accra, is located on the Gulf of Guinea along the west coast of Africa covering an area of 238,533 square kilometers. It is bounded by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. Ghana is rich in natural resources such as gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, and limestone. It is also known for its agricultural products such as cocoa, coconuts, coffee, and tea. Its current climate is tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast, hot and humid in southwest, and hot and dry in north. Ghana’s recurrent drought in the north severely affects agricultural activities. The country is also home for Lake Volta, the world's largest artificial lake that extends through large portions of eastern Ghana and is the main source of many tributary rivers.

People

Ghana has a population of 24,339,838 that speaks more than 50 languages and dialects including English, which is the official language, and other African languages such as Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Twi, Ga and Ewe. Its literacy rate is 57.9% and has an unemployment rate of 11%. Its religions are distributed among 63% Christians, 16% Muslims and 21% followers of indigenous beliefs (2000 census).

Government

The government of Ghana is subject to a constitutional democracy system. Its legal system is based on British common law, customary law and the 1992 constitution which divides powers among a President, Parliament, Cabinet, Council of State, and an independent judiciary. Its official currency is the Ghana Cedi (GHC) which is equivalent to US$0.709. Ghana’s president, John Evans Atta Mills, is both the chief of state and head of the government. Its Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, was elected along with the President on 7 January 2009.

Economy

Over the past 10 years, Ghana has been undergoing a vigorous reform program where the economy has grown rapidly, the infrastructure is being repaired, the markets are full, and Accra, once again, has the appearance of a bustling coastal city. Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture which employs about 55% of the work force and accounts for 35% of its GDP which is estimated to be US$15,513 million (International Monetary Fund 2009). The other workforce is distributed among the industry and services sectors. Being the second largest producer of cocoa, and the one of the world’s top producers of gold, Ghana relies on gold and cocoa as major sources of foreign exchange. Other major exports are timber, electricity, diamond, bauxite, and manganese. Oil production is expected to expand in late 2010 or early 2011. Ghana has adopted a Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy and is focusing on establishing macroeconomic stability, private sector competitiveness, human resource development, and good governance and civic responsibility. It covers several industries such as mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing, cement, small commercial ship building. Ghana has an inflation rate of 19.6% (2009) and its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$674.25 (2010).

In recent years, the Ghanaian travel and tourism industry has undergone impressive growth with Ghana now positioned to be one of the leading tourist markets in Africa. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from British rule in March 2007 gave tourism a further boost.


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