COUNTRY PROFILE
Introduction
Formed from the merger of the Gold Coast and British Togoland by a United Nations sponsored plebiscite in 1956, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence in 1957

The Republic of Ghana is located in West Africa and bordered by Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. The word Ghana means "Warrior King" and derives from the Ghana Empire in pre colonial times.

Ghana was inhabited in pre-colonial times by a number of ancient predominantly Akan Kingdoms, including the Akwamu on the eastern coast, the inland Ashanti Empire and various Fante and non-Akan states, like the Ga and Ewe, along the coast and inland. 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.  

When Ghana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, it become the first sub-Saharan African nation to do so and the name Ghana was chosen for the new nation to reflect the ancient Empire of Ghana, which once extended throughout much of West Africa.

Ghana is a member of many international organizations including the Commonwealth of Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, La Francophonie (Associate Member) and the United Nations. Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world and is also home to Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake in the world. 

After Independence under Kwame Nkrumah in 1957, Ghana endured a long series of coups before Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, Ft. Lt. 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 re-elected in 2004. John Atta Mills took over as head of state in early 2009 and John Dramani Mahama, the vice president to John Atta Mills was sworn in as the president of Ghana on 24th July 2012 following the death of president John Atta Mills. Ghana held Presidential election in December 2012 and John Dramani Mahama was elected as the president. When Ghana went into the polls again in December 2016, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo won the elections and was subsequently sworn in as the President of the Republic of Ghana on 7th January 2017.
 


Government and Politics

Government
Ghana was created as a parliamentary democracy at independence in 1957, followed by alternating military and civilian governments. In January 1993, military government gave way to the Fourth Republic after presidential and parliamentary elections in late 1992. The 1992 constitution divides powers among a President, Parliament, Cabinet, Council of State, and an independent judiciary. The Government is elected by universal suffrage.

Administrative Divisions
There are ten administrative regions which are divided into 138 districts, each with its own District Assembly. Below the districts are various types of councils, including 58 town or area councils, 108 zonal councils, and 626 area councils. 16,000 unit committees are on lowest level.

Judicial System
The legal system is based on British common law, customary (traditional) law, and the 1992 constitution. Court hierarchy consists of Supreme Court of Ghana (highest court), Courts of Appeal, and High Courts of Justice. Beneath these bodies are circuit, magisterial, and traditional courts. Extrajudicial institutions include public tribunals. Since independence, courts have been relatively independent; this independence continued under Fourth Republic. Lower courts are being redefined and reorganized under the Fourth Republic.

Politics
Political parties became legal in mid-1992 after a ten-year hiatus. There are many political parties under the Fourth Republic; however, the major ones are the National Democratic Congress which won presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012; the New Patriotic Party, the major opposition party which won elections in 2000 and 2004; the People's National Convention, and the Convention People's Party, successor to Kwame Nkrumah's original party of the same name.   

Foreign Relations:
Since independence, Ghana has been fervently devoted to ideals of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism, both closely identified with the first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana favors international and regional political and economic co-operation, and is an active member of the United Nations and the African Union

National Colours
The flag of Ghana, which consists of the colours red, gold, green and the black star, became the new flag in 1957. The red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the mineral wealth of Ghana, the green symbolises the rich agriculture and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.

Economy
The economy of Ghana has over the years made positive progress as a result of policy reforms, which have improved macroeconomic performance and created a business environment conducive to the reduction of the cost of operating a business. Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. 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 estimated quantity of oil continues to increase. There is expected to be a tremendous inflow of capital into the economy beginning from the last quarter of 2010 when the country starts producing oil in commercial quantities. 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 totaled 11.5 million people. The economy continues to rely heavily on agriculture which accounts for 37.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment for 56% of the work force, mainly small landholders. Manufacturing is only a small part of the Ghanaian economy totaling 7.9% of Gross Domestic Product in 2007. Ghana remains one of the more economically sound countries in all of Africa. The Ghana Cedi is relatively stable and in 2009 generally exchanged at a rate of $1 USD to Gh¢ 1.40.

Demographics
Ghana has a population of about 24 million people. It is home to more than 100 different ethnic groups. Fortunately, Ghana has not seen the kind of ethnic conflict that has created civil wars in many other African countries. The official language is English; however, most Ghanaians also speak at least one local language.

The ethnic groups in Ghana are the Akan (which includes the Fante, Akyem, Ashanti, Kwahu, Akuapem, Nzema, Bono, Akwamu, Ahanta and others) 49.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Gurunsi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other (Hausa, Zabarema, Fulani 1.8% (2000 census). Religious divisions are as follows: Christian 68.8%, Muslim 15.9%, Traditional African beliefs 8.5%.

People and 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. The diversity is most evident in the Ghanaian cuisine, 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, Hogbetsotso, Tedudu, Deza 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.

Media
The media of Ghana is one of the most vibrant and free in Africa. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of the press and independence of the media and prohibits censorship. The Ghanaian media has been described by various reputable organizations as "one of the most unfettered" in Africa, operating with little restriction on private media.

Education
Ghana currently has an adult literacy rate of 65% with 71.7% male and 58.3% female. 83 percent of the children in Ghana are in school, making it one of the countries with the highest school enrolment rates in West Africa. Children from the age of 15 can read and write.

At the tertiary level there are 21 training colleges, 18 technical institutions, two diploma-awarding institutions and five universities serving a population of about 23 million; this means that most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to good education. Most reputed of these are the University of Ghana, Legon; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi; Cape Coast University, Cape Coast; and University of Development Studies, Tamale.

Ghana can also boast of highly educated persons who have been trained abroad and have excelled in the various industries.

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