Africa

Ghana country profile

  • 19 January 2017
  • From the section Africa
Map of Ghana

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 helped fuel an economic boom.

Until recently Ghana was hailed as a model for African growth but since 2013, its economy has endured a growing public deficit, high inflation, and a weakening currency, resulting in its seeking an IMF bailout.

FACTS

Republic of Ghana

Capital: Accra

  • Population 25.5 million

  • Area 238,533 sq km (92,098 sq miles)

  • Major languages English, African languages including Akan, Ewe

  • Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Islam

  • Life expectancy 64 years (men), 66 years (women)

  • Currency Cedi

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LEADER

President: Nana Akufo-Addo

Image copyright Getty Images

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 votes, 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.

MEDIA

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Apostle Safo Technology Research Centre aims to transform Ghana's manufacturing sector

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.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Ghana's history:

1482 - Portuguese settlers arrive and begin trading in gold, ivory and timber.

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.

1957 - Independence: Ghana becomes first black African colony to declare independence.

1964-1992 - Military rule: Succession of destabilising coups, Ghana is predominantly a one-party state.

1992 - New constitution, multi-party system is restored.

2010 - Economic woes: Offshore oil production starts, fuelling Africa's fast-growing economy. Public deficit spirals.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kwame Nkrumah inspired Africa's independence movement but became a dictator and was overthrown

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