Ghana is located on West Africa's Gulf of Guinea only a few degrees north of the Equator. Half of the country lies less than 152 meters (500 ft.) above sea level, and the highest point is 883 meters (2,900 ft.). The 537 kilometer (334 miles) coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and streams, most of which are navigable only by canoe. A tropical rain forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills
and many streams and rivers, extends northward from the shore, near the Cote d'Ivoire frontier.
This area, known as the "Ashanti," produces most of the country's cocoa, minerals, and timber. North of this belt, the country varies from 91 to 396 meters (300-1,300 ft.) above sea level and is covered by low bush, parklike savanna, and grassy plains.
The climate is tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and comparatively dry; the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north, hot and dry. There are two distinct rainy seasons in the south-May-June and August-September; in the north, the rainy seasons tend to merge. A dry, northeasterly wind, the Harmattan, blows in January and February. Annual rainfall in the coastal zone averages 83 centimeters (33 in.).
The manmade Volta Lake extends from the Akosombo Dam in southeastern Ghana to the town of Yapei, 520 kilometers (325 miles) to the north. The lake generates electricity, provides inland transportation, and is a potentially valuable resource for irrigation and fish farming.
The meaning of the colours of the Ghana flag
The Ghana Flag was designed by Mrs Theodosia Okoh, a Ghanaian, to replace the flag of the United Kingdom upon attainment of independence in 1957. The Flag of Ghana consists of the colours RED, GOLD and Green in horizontal stripes with a five-pointed star in the centre of the gold stripe
RED represents the blood of those who died in the country's struggle for independence
GOLD represents the mineral wealth of the country
GREEN symbolizes the country's rich forest
THE BLACK STAR stands for the lone star of African freedom
The major ethnic groups in Ghana include the Akan, Ewe, Mole-Dagbane, Guan, and Ga-Adangbe. No part of Ghana, is ethnically homogeneous. Urban centers are the most ethnically mixed because of migration to towns and cities by those in search of employment. Rural areas, with the exception of cocoa-producing areas that have attracted migrant labor, tend to reflect more traditional population distributions. One overriding feature of the country's ethnic population
is that groups to the south who are closer to the Atlantic coast have long been influenced by the money economy, Western education, and Christianity, whereas Gur-speakers to the north, who have been less exposed to those influences, have came under Islamic influence. These influences were not pervasive in the respective regions, however, nor were they wholly restricted to them.
The official language is ENGLISH.
Exports: $1.1 billion (f.o.b., 1992)
Commodities: cocoa 45%, gold, timber, tuna, bauxite, and aluminum
Partners: Germany 29%, UK 12%, US 12%, Japan 5%
Imports: $1.4 billion (c.i.f., 1992 est.)
Commodities: petroleum 16%, consumer goods,foods,intermediate goods, capital equipment
Partners: UK 23%, US 11%, Germany 10%, Japan 6%
Industries: mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum, food processing
Agriculture accounts for about 50% of GDP (including fishing and forestry); the major cash crop is cocoa; other principal crops - rice, coffee, cassava, peanuts, corn, shea nuts timber; normally self-sufficient in food
US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $455 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $2.6 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $78 million; Eastern European countries (1970-89), $106 million
Currency:1 cedi (C) = 100 pesewas
Minimum wage: 5,500 cedis/Day (March 2001)
Gold Coast & European Exploration
Before March 1957 Ghana was called the Gold Coast. The Portuguese who came to Ghana in the 15th Century found so much gold between the rivers Ankobra and the Volta that they named the place Mina - meaning Mine. The Gold Coast was later adopted to by the English colonisers. Similarily, the French, equally impressed by the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named The Ivory Coast, Cote d'Ivoire.
In 1482, the Portuguese built a castle in Elmina. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves. In 1481 King John II of Portugal sent Diego d'Azambuja to build this castle.
In 1598 the Dutch joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsil. In 1637 they captured the castle from the Portuguese and that of Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 18th century. These were the English, Danes and Swedes. The coastline were dotted by forts built by the Dutch, British and the Dane merchants. By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left. And when the
Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a crown colony.
By 1901 the Ashanti and the North were made a protectorate.
1957 - independence, Nkrumah of CPP is PM, 2 key parties
1960 - declared republic, one party system, presidential system
1966 - military overthrow of 1st republic
1969 - 2nd republic, Busia of PP is PM, 2 key parties
1972 - military overthrow of 2nd republic
1978 - palace coup to restructure military government
1979 - junior officer uprising and military housecleaning
1979 - ushered third republic, Limann of PNP is President,
1981 - overthrow of the constitutional PNP gov't by the PNDC military junta
1983 - attempted overthrow of the PNDC junta by other junior army men 1992 - Rawlings of NDC is Dem elected as President, 2 parties **
1996 - Rawlings of NDC is re-elected, 2 parties
2001 - Kuffour (NPP) is President
one party system:
** fraud allegations led to an electoral boycott resulting in an effective one party system. Also, marks the first time when the head of a military regime had contested an election.
The climate of Ghana is tropical, but temperatures vary with season and elevation. Except in the north two rainy seasons occur, from April to July and from September to November. In the north the rainy season begins in April and lasts until September. Annual rainfall ranges from about 1,100 mm (about 43 in) in the north to about 2,100 mm (about 83 in) in the southeast. The harmattan, a dry desert wind, blows from the northeast from December to March, lowering
the humidity and creating hot days and cool nights in the north. In the south the effects of the harmattan are felt in January. In most areas the highest temperatures occur in March, the lowest in August. The average annual temperature is about 26 degrees C (about 79 degrees F).
Sunny skies (dry)
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