Olivier & Danielle Funfschilling
P.O. Box 19 Busua via Dixcove Western Region
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Lake Bosumtwi

The Republic of Ghana is a nation in West Africa. It borders the Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso in the north and Togo to the east. It was inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient kingdoms, including an inland Ashanti kingdom and various Fante states along the coast. Trade with European states flourished after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the British established a crown colony, Gold Coast, in 1874. Ghana became independent in 1957. Accra is the capital and largest city. The country's population in 2005 was 21,029,853. It was the first African country to obtain its independence from Britain.


Upon achieving independence from the United Kingdom, the name "Ghana" was chosen for the new nation—a reference to the Ghana Empire of earlier centuries. This name is mostly symbolic, as the ancient Empire of Ghana was located to the north and west of current-day Ghana. The name was adopted as a reference to the descendants of the ancient Empire of Ghana who migrated south and east and currently reside in Ghana.


Cape Coast castle

Formed from the merger of the British colony Gold Coast and the British Togoland trust territory by a U.N. sponsored plebiscite, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. A long series of coups ended with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. His changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. A new constitution, restoring multiparty politics, was approved in 1992, and Rawlings was elected in free elections of that year and also in 1996. The constitution prohibited him from running for a third term. John Kufuor, the current president, is now in his second term.


Future of Ghana

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange.

The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 40% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders. In 1995-97, Ghana made mixed progress under a three-year structural adjustment program in cooperation with the IMF. On the minus side, public sector wage increases and regional peacekeeping commitments have led to continued inflationary deficit financing, depreciation of the cedi, and rising public discontent with Ghana's austerity measures.


 St lago Castle in Elmina

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator. It is roughly the size of the state of Oregon. The coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and streams. A tropical rain forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills and many streams and rivers, extends northward from the shore. North of this belt, the land is covered by low bush, park-like 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. Lake Volta, the largest reservoir in the world, extends through large portions of eastern Ghana.


Kente Cloth

Perhaps the most visible (and most marketable) cultural contribution from modern Ghana is Kente cloth, which is widely recognized and valued for its colors and symbolism. Kente cloth is made by skilled Ghanaian weavers, and the major weaving centers in and around Kumasi (Bonwire is known as the home of Kente, though areas of Volta Region also lay claim to the title) are full of weavers throwing their shuttles back and forth as they make long strips of Kente. These strips can then be sewn together to form the larger wraps which are worn by some Ghanaians (chiefs especially) and are purchased by tourists in Accra and Kumasi. The colors and patterns of the Kente are carefully chosen by the weaver and the wearer. Each symbol woven into the cloth has a special meaning within Ghanaian culture.

Kente is one of the symbols of the Ghanaian chieftaincy, which remains strong throughout the south and central regions of the country, particularly in the areas populated by members of the culturally- and politically-dominant Ashanti tribe. The Ashanti's chief, known as the Asantehene, is perhaps the most revered individual in the central part of the country. Like other Ghanaian chiefs, he wears bright Kente, gold bracelets, rings and amulets, and is always accompanied by numerous ornate umbrellas (which are also a symbol of the chieftaincy itself). The most sacred symbol of the Ashanti people is the Golden Stool, a small golden throne in which the spirit of the people is said to reside. It is kept in safekeeping in Kumasi, the cultural capital of the Ashanti people and the seat of the Asantehene's palace. Though the chieftaincy across Ghana has been weakened by allegations of corruption and cooperation with colonial oppression, it remains a very vital institution in Ghana.

 Funeral in Busua

Because of its location, the northern regions of Ghana exhibit cultural ties with other Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and northern Nigeria. Although not being indigenous tribes to the area, there is strong Hausa and Mande influence in the culture of the northern Ghanaian peoples. The dominant tribe in this part of Ghana are the Dagomba. Northern Ghanaians are known for their traditional long flowing robes and distinct musical styles from southern and central regions. A speciality of food from this region which has successfully become a staple across Ghana is Tuo Zaafi, which is made from pounded rice. The Larabanga mosque in Larabanga is the oldest mosque in Ghana and one of the oldest in West Africa, dating from the 12th century. It is an excellent example of the Sudanese Architecture style, of which other examples include the Djenne mosque in Mali and the Grand Mosque in Agadez, Niger.

After Independence, the Ghanaian music scene flourished, particularly the up-tempo, danceable style known as high life, which is still played consistently at the local clubs and bars, often called spots. Many Ghanaians are adept drummers, and it is not unusual to hear traditional drum ensembles play at social events or performances.


Ghanaian currency is Ghana Cedi (1 US $ is almost 1 ghana cedi). Take care, many ghanaians still talk in old cedis (1 Ghana cedi= 10,000 old cedis) without saying "thousands", so when they say one hundred it usually means 10 Ghana cedis.

(Source: Wikipedia)



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