Elmina Castle, Ghana

Ghana, The Gateway To Africa - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 18th November 2006

A Very Short History of Ghana

  • The earliest kingdoms to emerge in Ghana were the Kingdom of Dagbon in the north and the Bono state, (in the eleventh century. The Ashanti Empire and other Akan kingdoms in the south emerged over the centuries.
  • Today, Ghana's borders encompass four separate British colonial territories: Gold Coast, Ashanti, the Northern Territories and British Togoland. (The Gold Coast, as the country is the second largest producer of gold in Africa.) They were unified as an independent dominion within the Commonwealth of Nations on 6 March 1957, the first colony in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve sovereignty.
  • The Portuguese had been the first colonists in the area in the 15th century, but they eventually conceded to the British in the mid nineteenth century.

Facts and Factoids

  • Ghana is 'a unitary constitutional democracy', one of the freest and most stable governments in Africa, led by a president who is both head of state and head of government. As a result, Ghana is sometimes cited as the most peaceful country in Africa and has played a leading role in supporting other colonised countries in their efforts to attain independence.
  • With over 32 million inhabitants, Ghana is the second-most populous country in West Africa.
  • The word ‘Ghana’ means ‘Warrior King’ in Mande (a common West African language)
  • Ghana is home to the world’s biggest man-made lake. Lake Volta – it is over 320 miles across and is bigger than the land area of Rhode Island and Delaware combined!! (Lake Kariba is bigger by volume of water.) In contrast, it only has one natural lake and that was created by a meteor - Lake Bosumtwe
  • The official language of Ghana is English, due to its colonial legacy.
  • The currency in Ghana is the Cedi, which means Cowry Shells. (They were used as currency before coinage was invented.)
  • A dowry is still often paid to the bride’s family, at weddings. Before the ceremony, the bride’s family makes a list of the items the Groom’s family must bring and each item will be checked before the wedding goes ahead.
  • Ghana is where ‘fantasy coffins’ originated.
  • All of the elected and instated presidents, in Ghana, since 1992, have been named John.

What to See in Ghana?

Ghana boasts the best of West Africa: beaches, jungle, diverse wildlife, vibrant cities, history culture and some of the friendliest people in Africa. This is what I did:

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