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The Republic of Ghana is a country in West Africa. It borders Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south.

Background History

Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry Rawlings took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, Rawlings won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John Kufuor succeeded him and was reelected in 2004. John Atta Mills took over as head of state in early 2009.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Ghana
  • conventional short form: Ghana
  • former: Gold Coast


  • name: Accra
  • population: 2,269,000
  • geographic coordinates: 5 33 N, 0 13 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 6 March 1957 (from the UK)

Government Type:

  • Constitutional Democracy

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President John Evans Atta Milla (since 7 January 2009); Vice President John Dramani Mahama (since 7 January 2009)
  • head of government: President John Evans Atta Milla (since 7 January 2009); Vice President John Dramani Mahama (since 7 January 2009)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers; president nominates members subject to approval by Parliament
  • elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 and 28 December 2008 (next to be held on 7 December 2012)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral Parliament

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; High Court; Court of Appeal; regional tribunals

People & Society


  • 25,241,998 (global rank: 47)
  • growth rate: 1.787% (global rank: 66)


  • noun: Ghanaian(s)
  • adjective: Ghanaian

Major Cities:

  • Accra (capital): 2.269 million; Kumasi 1.773 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Akan 45.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Grusi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other 7.8%


  • Christian 68.8% (Pentecostal/Charismatic 24.1%, Protestant 18.6%, Catholic 15.1%, other 11%), Muslim 15.9%, traditional 8.5%, other 0.7%, none 6.1%


  • English (official) 36.1%, Asante 14.8%, Ewe 12.7%, Fante 9.9%, Boron (Brong) 4.6%, Dagomba 4.3%, Dangme 4.3%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.7%, Akyem 3.4%, Ga 3.4%, Akuapem 2.9%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 61.45 years (global rank: 187)
  • male: 60.22 years
  • female: 62.73 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 47.26 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 49)
  • male: 50.64 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 43.79 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 1.8% (2009 est.) (global rank: 32)
  • people living with AIDS: 260,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 23)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 57.9%
  • male: 66.4%
  • female: 49.8%


Overview: Ghana's economy has been strengthened by a quarter century of relatively sound management, a competitive business environment, and sustained reductions in poverty levels. Ghana is well endowed with natural resources and agriculture accounts for roughly one-quarter of GDP and employs more than half of the workforce, mainly small landholders. The services sector accounts for 50% of GDP. Gold and cocoa production and individual remittances are major sources of foreign exchange. Oil production at Ghana's offshore Jubilee field began in mid-December, 2010, and is expected to boost economic growth. President Mills faces challenges in managing new oil revenue while maintaining fiscal discipline and resisting debt accumulation. Estimated oil reserves have jumped to almost 700 million barrels . Ghana signed a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in 2006, which aims to assist in transforming Ghana's agricultural sector. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002, and is also benefiting from the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative that took effect in 2006. In 2009 Ghana signed a three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF to improve macroeconomic stability, private sector competitiveness, human resource development, and good governance and civic responsibility. Sound macro-economic management along with high prices for gold and cocoa helped sustain GDP growth in 2008-11.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $74.77 billion (global rank: 81)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $3,100 (global rank: 168)
  • real growth rate: 13.5% (global rank: 2)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 28.3%, industry: 21%, services: 50.7%


  • currency: Cedi (GHC)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 1.5


  • population below poverty line: 28.5%
  • unemployment rate: 11%

Agricultural Products:

  • cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), peanuts, corn, shea nuts, bananas; timber


  • mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing, cement, small commercial ship building

Exports Commodities:

  • gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminum, manganese ore, diamonds, horticulture

Imports Commodities:

  • capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs



  • Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d'Ivoire and Togo


  • total: 238,533 sq km (global rank: 82)
  • land: 227,533 sq km
  • water: 11,000 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon


  • tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north

Land Use:

  • arable land: 17.54%
  • permanent crops: 9.22%
  • other: 73.24%

Natural Resources:

  • gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone

Current Environmental Issues:

  • recurrent drought in north severely affects agricultural activities; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; poaching and habitat destruction threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Ghana struggles to accommodate returning nationals who worked in the cocoa plantations and escaped fighting in Cote d'Ivoire
  • refugees (country of origin): 35,653 (Liberia); 8,517 (Togo)
  • illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis for the international drug trade; major transit hub for Southwest and Southeast Asian heroin and, to a lesser extent, South American cocaine destined for Europe and the US; widespread crime and money laundering problem, but the lack of a well developed financial infrastructure limits the country's utility as a money laundering center; significant domestic cocaine and cannabis use

Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008