Ghana -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Ghana
Capital City: Accra
Official Currency: Ghanaian cedi,
Religions: Christian 69%, Muslim 16%, African beliefs 15%
Population: 23,837,000 (2009 estimate)
Land Area: 238,535 sq km
Landforms: The country encompasses flat plains, low hills and a few rivers. Ghana can be divided into five different geographical regions. The coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and streams while the northern part of the country features high plains. Southwest and south central Ghana is made up of a forested plateau region consisting of the Ashanti uplands and the Kwahu Plateau and the hilly Akuapim-Togo ranges are found along the country's eastern border.
Administrative Divisions: There are ten administrative regions which are divided into 138 districts, each with its own District Assembly. Below districts are various types of councils, including 58 town or area councils, 108 zonal councils, and 626 area councils. 16,000 unit committees on lowest level
Ghana -- History --
Officially called the Republic of Ghana and previously known as the Gold Coast, it was renamed Ghana upon independence in 1957. This African country borders Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. A lot of the history of Ghana comes from oral tradition over the ages, giving an idea of how its civilization flourished.
Prior to 1470 the history of Ghana is gained primarily from oral tradition that refers to migrations from the ancient kingdoms of the western Sahel which is now a part of present-day Mauritania and Mali. Myths told by various tribes in the outlying areas form the basis of the Ghanaian history of that time.
Thomas Windham in 1553 made the first recorded English trading voyage to the coast. For the next three centuries the Ghanaian history was controlled by the English, Danes, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and Germans through various coastal areas.
In 1946 the move towards regional de-colonization began and the area's first constitution was promulgated in 1951. The British Togoland became a United Nations Trust Territory in December 1946. This followed by the United Nations agreeing that the territory would become part of Ghana when the Gold Coast achieved independence. The Convention People's Party (CPP), led by Kwame Nkrumah, won the majority of seats in the new Legislative Assembly in the elections that followed.
Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence with Kwame Nkrumah as the first president. This African anti-colonial leader was also the founder of the modern Ghanaian state and the first African head of state to espouse the Pan-Africanism. Nkrumah was later overthrown by a CIA-backed coup, resulting in the subsequent rise of the power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981.
The Ghanaian constitution was suspended due to the changes made by Rawlings and the political parties were banned in 1981. A new constitution, establishing multiparty politics, was approved in 1992, and Rawlings elected the new president in the free election held that year and also in 1996. The current president is John Kufuor, now in his second term and will also mark Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebration of the 50th years of it's of independence in 2008.
Ghana -- Economy --
Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains somewhat dependent on trade and international assistance. About 28% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day, and according to the World Bank, Ghana's per capita income has barely doubled over the past 45 years.
Ghana, known for its gold in colonial times, remains one of the world's top gold producers. Other exports such as cocoa, timber, electricity, diamond, bauxite, and manganese are major sources of foreign exchange. An oilfield which is reported to contain up to 3 billion barrels (480,000,000 m3) of light oil was discovered in 2007. Oil exploration is ongoing and the amount of oil continues to increase.
The Akosombo Dam, which was built on the Volta River in 1965 provides hydro-electricity for Ghana and its neighboring countries.
Ghana’s labor force in 2008 totalled 11.5 million people The economy continues to rely heavily on agriculture which accounts for 37.3% of GDP and provides employment for 56% of the work force, mainly small landholders. Manufacturing is only a small part of the Ghanaian economy totalling 7.9% of Gross Domestic Product in 2007.
Even so, Ghana remains one of the more economically sound countries in all of Africa.
In July 2007, the Bank of Ghana embarked on a currency re-denomination exercise, from the Cedi to the new currency, the Ghana Cedi. The transfer rate is 1 Ghana Cedi for every 10,000 Cedis.
The new Ghana Cedi is relatively stable and in 2008 generally exchanged at a rate of $1 USD =GhC 1.1 .
However with the passage of Act 734 of 2007, a 3% VAT Flat Rate Scheme (VFRS) began to operate for the retail distribution sector. It is aimed at simplifying the tax system and increasing compliance.
Ghana -- Culture --
Ghana is an ethnically diverse country; thus, Ghanaian culture is a mixture of all its ethnic groups, the Ashanti, Fante, Akyem, Kwahu, Ga, Ewe, Mamprusi and Dagomba, among others. It is most evident in Ghanaian cuisine, the arts and clothing.
The celebration of festivals in Ghana is an essential part of Ghanaian culture and there are many of them such as the Homowo, Odwira, Aboakyer, Dodoleglime and Sandema among others. Several rites and rituals are performed throughout the year in various parts of the country, including child-birth, rites of passage, puberty, marriage and death.
Football is the most popular sport in the country. The national football team are known as The Black Stars and they partake in many championships including the African Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup (in 2006). There are several football teams in Ghana more notably the Accra Hearts of Oak SC, Asante Kotoko, ASHGOLD, Hearts of Lions and King Faisal Football Club among others.
Textiles are very important in Ghanaian culture. These cloths are used to make traditional and modern attire. Different symbols and different colors mean different things. The Kente is probably the most famous of all the Ghanaian cloths. Kente is an Ashanti ceremonial cloth hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom. Strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths. Cloths come in various colors, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions.
Ghana has many types of traditional and modern music. The sound varies from ethnic group to ethnic group and region to region. Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments such as the talking drum ensembles, goje fiddle and koloko lute, court music, including the Akan atumpan, the Ga kpanlogo styles, and log xylophones used in asonko music. The most well known genres to have come from Ghana are Afro-jazz which was created by Ghanaian artist Kofi Ghanaba.
Ghanaian dance is as diverse as its music. Each ethnic group has their own traditional dances and there are different dances for different occasions. There are dances for funerals, celebrations, storytelling, praise and worship etc. Some of these dances include: Bamaya, Adowa, Kpanlongo, Klama.
Ghana -- Political system, law and government --
The political system of Ghana takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic. As a result of this the President of Ghana is both head of the state and head of the government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. The Ghanaian political system also has the government divided into three different brunches, viz the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The seat of government is at Osu Castle, with the parliament being unicameral in nature.
The constitution of Ghana's political system declares Ghana to be a unitary republic with sovereignty residing in the Ghanaian people. it calls for a system of checks and balances, with powers shared between the president, its unicameral parliament, the council of state, and its independent judiciary. The President is the head of the state and also the government. He is the real head of the country with all the power resting in his hands. He is elected for a term of four years by popular vote and is eligible for re-election for a second term. John Agyekum Kufuor is the ninth president of the country from the last election held on 7th December, 2004. The Vice-president, like the president is also elected for a term of four years.
All legislative functions of Ghana's political system are vested in the Parliament. It has a unicameral house with 230 members and a Speaker. The members of the Parliament are popularly elected by Universal Adult Suffrage for a term of four years. Elections have been taking place every four years since 1992 alongside the Presidential election, generally on 7 December.
The judicial systems of the Ghanaian government are independent from the two other branches of government. The Supreme Court is at the apex with broad powers of judicial review. It has the power to rule on the constitutionality of any legislation or executive action at the request of any aggrieved citizen as it's authorized by the Constitution. This system of hierarchy of courts is largely derived from the British juridical system.