The Republic of Ghana, commonly known as the Gold Coast is located in West Africa, between the nations of Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. The capital, Accra, is the largest city in Ghana, which is comprised of three million people. Ghana has an estimated population of twenty-four million people, and a growth rate of 1.8%. The nation is home to numerous ethnic groups with the Akan, Mole Dagbon, Ewe, and Ga-Dangme people accounting for the majority. More than two-thirds of Ghanaian’s practice Christianity, followed by Islam at 15.9%, and traditional religions at 8.5%. The official language of Ghana is English; however an estimated 79 native languages are spoken. Akan, Ewe, Dagomba, Dangme, Dagaare, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, and Nzema are the nine government-sponsored languages. In comparison to other African nations, Ghana has been able to strengthen its economy due to excellent governmental management, competitive business environments, and sustained reductions in poverty levels. As a result, in 2010, the World Bank shifted Ghana’s status from a low-income nation to a lower-middle income nation. With a GDP of $38.6 billion, Ghana dominates as one of the world’s top gold producers. In addition, Ghana is a major exporter of cocoa, crude oil, natural gas, timber, electricity, diamond, and manganese. In addition to Ghana’s economic success, Ghana remains as one of the leading African nations in support of education with 95% of children in school. This is a result of Ghana’s implementation of mandatory and tuition-free primary and junior secondary education.
Prior to colonial rule, the modern Ghanaian territory was included in what is known as the Ashanti Empire. Throughout the 19th century the Ashanti political entity was considered one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa due to its highly specialized bureaucratic system, strong military force, and gold production. During the next three centuries several European nations (Portuguese, Dutch, Danes, and German) would begin to infiltrate several parts of the coastal areas. In 1821, however, the British government took official control of the Gold Coast. A series of violent campaigns and wars underwent between the Ashanti government and the colonial powers, until the early 1900’s when the British government was able to establish firm control over the Ashanti region.
One cannot speak of current Ghanaian politics, furthermore African politics without giving reference to Kwame Nkrumah, father of the African Nationalism. Under his leadership as the creator the Convention People’s Party and due to his persistent campaigns for “self-government now”, Nkrumah was able to successfully negotiate talks with Great Britain in order to gain independence in 1957. As a result, Ghana became the first independent sub-Saharan African nation. Nkrumah continued to push for his dreams of an independent Africa, which consequently led to the decolonization process of numerous African nations. In addition, Nkrumah’s aspirations for a united continent prevailed, under his establishment of the Union of African States. Although the organization no longer exists, it served as a foundation for future African organizations such as the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union. Nkrumah’s visions were unfortunately short lived as Ghana experienced a long series of military coup d’états and military regimes. In 1992, Ghana restored its constitution which allowed for multi-party elections. Ghana is currently considered a unitary presidential constitutional republic. Its current head of state is John Atta Mills, whom is elected by the populous and able to serve for a maximum of two 4-year terms.
As with all nations, Ghana is currently facing internal challenges. In northern Ghana there are recurrent droughts which heavily affect agricultural activities. In addition, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, water pollution, drug trading and money laundering are obstacles the government is addressing.