The above mentioned, is an expression you’ll hear several times daily as you travel around Ghana. One that will ring in your ears at night, and bring a smile to your face for weeks after you leave. Akwaaba! It means ‘welcome”! And you will be welcome to a sunshine nation with a proud reputation as the friendliest in Africa.
Welcome to a haven that combines the luxuriant charms of a tropical beach, idyll with a fascinating historical heritage, a rich cultural and some fabulous wildlife viewing opportunities.
Welcome to a classic African destination that truly warrants the epithet ‘best-kept secret’; one whose multifaceted attractions remain untainted by mass tourism and whose smiling people place inestimable value on the hospitality innate in their culture.
Welcome to Africa’s heart of Gold!
Welcome to Ghana!
GHANA AT A GLANCE
The size of Ghana is 239,460 sq. km, almost the size of Great Britain or the state of Oregon.
The Republic of Ghana extends inland from the Gulf of Guinea on the western ‘bulge’ of Africa, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Togo to the east, Burkina Faso to the north and La Cote d’Ivoire to the west. The country is bisected by the Greenwich Meridian and lies entirely within the northern tropics 4.5 Celsius and 11 Celsius.
In other words Ghana is located on the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator which is in her territorial waters, thus making the country’s location at the center of the world. Another way to determine its location is flight time from other parts of the globe.
Most of the country is relatively flat and lies below an altitude of 150, but several peaks in the east rise to above 800m. It has a typical climate, warm to hot all year through, and can be divided into two broad geographic zones: the south and centre are moist and support a cover lush rainforest and grassland, whereas the north consists of a drier savannah environment.
A visitor can be in Ghana 9 hours after take-off from New York on North-American Air line or any other Air line (10 + hour); 6 ½ hours after leaving London, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Zurich or Geneva, Amsterdam or Rome on British Airways, KLM, Alitalia, Lufthansa or Swissair; 6 hours after leaving Harare, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Cairo/Beirut on Ghana Airways, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airways or Egyptair and MEA.
The coastal area of Ghana consists of plains and numerous lagoons near the estuaries of rivers. The land is relatively flat and the altitude is generally below 500m, with more than half of the country below 200m.
The Volta River basin dominates the country’s river system and includes the 400km largest artificial lake in the world (WORLD LAKE) formed behind the Akosombo Hydro-Electric Dam. In the north, the predominant vegetation is savannah and shrub, while the south has an extensive rain forest.
Basically, Ghana’s climatic conditions are tropically characterized most of the year by moderate temperatures generally 21-32 (70-90), constant breeze and sunshine.
The country has two rainy seasons, from March to July and from September to October, separated by a short cool dry season in August and a relatively long dry season in the south from mid-October to March.
Annual rainfall in the south averages 2,030mm but varies greatly throughout the country, with the heaviest rainfall in Western Region and the lowest in the north.
THE PEOPLE AND LANGUAGE
Ghana’s population is estimated at 20 million, roughly ten percent of whom live in and around the capital city of Accra. Other major urban centres include Kumasi, Tamale, Tema, Takoradi and Cape Coast. More than 70 languages and major dialects are spoken countrywide, classified in four linguistic groups: Akan, Mole-Dagbani, Ewe and Ga. The most widespread Akan language is Twi which is spoken by roughly half the population, including the Asante (Ashanti) people of Kumasi and the coastal Fante.
While the Lingua Franca of the country is English, French and Hausa are also spoken as two major foreign languages.
As the success of Ghanaian professionals, scientists, technicians, and teachers throughout the world testifies, Ghana has a tradition of educational excellence.
The educational system was originally based on the English grammar school system. But this decade has seen radical changes focusing on the scientific, technical, vocational, material and entrepreneurial skills to meet Ghana’s development needs.
Proper attention is now also devoted to Ghanaian and African history, art, literatures, languages and traditional skills and customs.
There are public and private universities. The public universities are the University of Ghana, Legon; the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology at Kumasi, the University of Cape Coast, the University of Development Studies at Tamale,the Western University College at Tarkwa and the University College of Education at Winneba.
The private universities are Central University, Catholic University, Fiapre in the Brong Ahafo Region, Valley View University, Accra, Methodist University, Presbyterian University, Islamic University among others.
Additionally, there are numerous polytechnics and specialized institutions such as Teacher Training Colleges, School of Languages and Ghana Institute of Journalism.
The tertiary education system is being enlarged and its facilities improved, with substantial funds being allocated every year for the provision of academic and residential infrastructure, journals, computers and other equipment.
Absolutely, there is freedom of religion in Ghana. Following are the religious affiliation:
Pentecostal / Charismatic - 24.1%
Protestant - 18.6%
Islam - 15.6%
Catholic - 15.3%
Other Christians - 11. %
Traditional Religion - 8.5%
No Religion - 6.2%
And other religion - 0.7%
HISTORY & POLITICS
Ghana has been settled by Europeans since 1482 but external rule was imposed only in 1874, when Britain claimed a strip of land extending less than 50km inland as the Gold Coast Colony.
The more northerly territories were annexed to that colony in 1902, following a war with the Asante Empire, while the eastern border was extended to include present-day Volta Region (formerly part of German Togoland) in 1919.
The Gold Coast attained independence and was renamed Ghana under the leadership of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1957. Nkrumah, having banned all political opposition, was deposed in 1966 by what transpired to be the first of four military coups within the space of 15 years.
A multi-party constitution was introduced in 1992. Jerry John Rawlings won the first presidential election in the same year and served the constitutional maximum of two terms before stepping down in 2000, when former opposition leader John Agyekum Kufuor was voted into power.