Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992.
Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957, becoming the first sub-Saharan nation to break free from colonial rule.
Gold, cocoa and more recently oil form the cornerstone of Ghana’s economy and have helped fuel an economic boom.
The country is named after the great medieval trading empire that was located northwest of the modern-day state until its demise in the 13th century.
Area: 238,535 sq km
Population: 32.1 million
Languages: English, Dagaare, Dagbanli, Dangme, Ewe, Frafra, Ga, Gonja, Nzema, Twi, Fante
Life expectancy: 63 years (men) 65 years (women)
President: Nana Akufo-Addo
Nana Akufo-Addo won the presidential election in December 2016, tapping into an electorate fed up with a sputtering economy and ready for change.
The erudite 72-year-old human rights lawyer won 53.8% of the vote, according to the country’s election agency, and incumbent John Mahama conceded defeat after a hotly contested race that was seen as a test of the country’s democracy in a region plagued by dictators and coups.
President Akufo-Addo won re-election in December 2020, again defeating John Mahama.
Ghana enjoys a high degree of media freedom, and the private press and broadcasters operate without significant restrictions.
Radio is Ghana’s most popular medium, although it is being challenged by increased access to TV.
Some key dates in Ghana’s history:
12th Century – Various states established by the Akan people emerge and develop the gold trade.
1482 – Portuguese and later other European states set up posts to trade gold with the various Akan states.
1500s – Slave trade: Slavery overtakes gold as the main export in the region.
1600s – Dutch, English, Danish, and Swedish settlers arrive; slave trade becomes highly organised.
1642 – The Portuguese relinquish their territory to the Dutch and leave the Gold Coast.
1807 – British dominance: British ban on slave trade from the Gold Coast becomes effective.
1874 – The Gold Coast is officially proclaimed a British crown colony.
1948 – Rioting after British colonial police kill three World War Two veterans during a protest march demanding compensation for their war service. It becomes a milestone in Ghana’s struggle for independence.
1957 – Independence for the state now called Ghana, the first country in black sub-Saharan Africa to shake off colonial rule, inspiring liberation struggles around the continent. Kwame Nkrumah becomes prime minister.
1964-1992 – Military rule: Succession of destabilising coups, Ghana is predominantly a one-party state.
1992 – New constitution, multi-party system is restored.
2007 – Major off-shore oil discovery announced.
2010 – Offshore oil production starts, fuelling one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.
2017 – Ghana and Ivory Coast set up a commission to implement an international ruling on a maritime border dispute involving oilfields.
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