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Facts and Figures

Full name: Republic of Ghana

Population: 23.5 million (UN, 2007)

Capital: Accra
Area: 238,533 sq km (92,098 sq miles)

Major languages: English, African languages including Akan, Ewe
Major religions: Christianity 63%, indigenous beliefs 21%, Islam 16%
Life expectancy: 60 years (men), 60 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: Cedi
Literacy rate: 57%
Main exports: Gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminium, manganese ore, diamonds
GNI per capita: US $450 (World Bank, 2006)

Tourism
If an award were to be given for the country with the friendliest people in West Africa, Ghana would win hands down. Ghanaian hospitality is proverbial and the ready smiles in the markets, on the street corners and in the trotro (minibus), leave a lingering impression on the mind (The New Internationalist magazine)

People
Ghana is one of the most densely populated countries in West Africa. Almost half the population are Akan whose heartland is around Kumasi. Kumasi was once the capital of the rich and powerful Ashanti kingdom and remains a major cultural and economic centre. mat-to-fore is located about one hour from Kumasi.

The Fante people fish the central coast and farm its hinterland. The Nzema people fish and farm the southwest. Distant migrants from present day Nigeria, the Ga live around Accra and Tema, the two largest cities of Ghana. The southern Volta region is home to the Ewe. With the north of Ghana having another five groups of people there are 75 local languages and dialects, the three main ones being Twi, Ga and Ewe. Most people will speak at least two local languages. For those who went to school English will be their third language as it is the official language of Ghana.

Religion

Religion of all kinds has a profound influence on every aspect of Ghanaian life. Christianity was introduced by European missionaries who were also the first educators and the link between education and religion persists.

About 70% of Ghanaians are Christian, concentrated in the south. About 15% of the population is Muslim, the majority being in the north. The rest practise traditional religions which generally include a belief in a supreme being as well as spirits and less gods who inhabit the natural world. Ancestor veneration is an important part of traditional beliefs. Most people retain traditional beliefs alongside Christian or Muslim beliefs.

Geography
Ghana is about the size of Britain. It is mostly flat consisting of low lying coastal plains, wooded hills ranges in the centre and a low plateau in the northern two-thirds. Dominating the eastern flank is Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in the world, created in the mid 1960’s when the Volta River was dammed.

Climate
Ghana has a tropical equatorial climate which means it is hot all the year round with seasonal rains. In the southern coastal regions the rains come between April to June and September and October. In the central region the rains are heavier and last longer. In the north which is hotter and drier there is only one rainy season from April to October.


Vegetation
Ghana can be split into three zones. The coastal regions are savanna grassland, extending northwards is a belt of forest. The northern two-thirds of the country lies in the Sahel zone with dry grassland and open savanna woodland.

Politics
Ghana was the first country in Africa to win independence from its colonial power Britain in 1957 and its first leader was Dr Kwame Nkrumah ruled until 1966 when a military coup seized power. Many countries in Africa were inspired by the example set by Ghana leading to the end of the colonial rule of Africa over the next decade. Since 1992 Ghana has been a multiparty democracy with elections every 4 years, quite an achievement in a part of the world where civil war has been common.