The heartland of the ancient Ashanti kingdom, Ghana in west Africa was once known as the Gold Coast. It has experienced intermittent periods of military rule since independence in 1957.
Geography: Mostly low-lying. The west is covered by rainforest. One of the world’s largest artificial lakes – Lake Volta – was created by damming the White Volta River.
Climate: Tropical. There are two wet seasons in the south, but the north is drier, and has just one.
People & Society: Around 75 cultural-linguistic groups. The largest is the Akan, who include the Ashanti and Fanti peoples. Southern peoples are richer and more urban than those of the north. There are few tribal tensions. Family ties are strong. Women play a major role in market trading. The 2000 election saw Ghana’s first peaceful handover of power. Poverty levels have been significantly reduced.
The Economy: World’s second-largest cocoa producer. Oil discovered in 2007: on stream in 2011. Hardwood trees such as maple and sapele. Gold mining.
Insight: Ghana was the first colony in west Africa to gain independence
Official Name: Republic of Ghana
Date of Formation: 1957
Population: 23.8 million
Total Area: 92,100 sq. miles (238,540 sq. km)
Density: 268 people per sq. mile
Languages: Twi, Fanti, Ewe, Ga, Adangbe, Gurma, Dagomba, English*
Religions: Christian 69%, Muslim 16%, traditional beliefs 9%, other 6%
Ethnic Mix: Akan 49%, Mole-Dagbani 17%, Ewe 13%, other 13%, Ga 8%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Cedi = 100 pesewas