Ghana: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Gold Coast West African Nation


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Ghana

Introduction 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 re-elected in 2004. Kufuor is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in upcoming Presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 2008.
History Medieval Ghana (4th – 13th Century):The Republic of Ghana is named after the medieval Ghana Empire of West Africa. The actual name of the Empire was Ouagadougou. Ghana was the title of the kings who ruled the kingdom. It was controlled by Sundiata in 1240 AD, and absorbed into the larger Mali Empire. (Mali Empire reached its peak of success under Mansa Musa around 1307.) Around 1235 a Muslim leader named Sundiata united warring tribes. He then brought neighboring states under his rule to create the Mali empire.Its capital city was called Kumbi-Saleh.

Geographically, the old Ghana was approximately 500 miles (800 km) north of the present Ghana, and occupied the area between Rivers Senegal and Nigeria. Some inhabitants of present Ghana have ancestors linked with the medieval Ghana. This can be traced down to the Mande and Voltaic people of Northern Ghana–Mamprussi, Dagomba and the Gonja. Anecdotal evidence connected the Akans to this Empire. The evidence lies in names like Danso shared by the Akans of present Ghana and Mandikas of Senegal/Gambia who have strong links with the Empire. Ghana was also the site of the Empire of Ashanti which was perhaps the most advanced black state in sub-Sahara Africa. It is said that at its peak, the King of Ashanti could field 500,000 troops.

Up until March 1957, Ghana was known to much of the world as the Gold Coast. The Portuguese who came to Ghana in the 15th Century found so much gold between the rivers Ankobra and the Volta that they named the place Mina – meaning Mine. The Gold Coast was later adopted by English colonists. The French, impressed with the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west “Cote d’Ivoire,” or Ivory Coast.

In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d’Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed the next year. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves, consolidating their burgeoning power in the region.

By 1598 the Dutch had joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. In 1637 they captured Elmina Castle from the Portuguese and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. The coastline was dotted by more than 30 forts and castles built by Dutch, British and Danish merchants. The Gold Coast became the highest concentration of European military architecture outside of Europe. By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left and after the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate.

For most of central sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural expansion marked the period before 500. Farming began earliest on the southern tips of the Sahara, eventually giving rise to village settlements. Toward the end of the classical era, larger regional kingdoms had formed in West Africa, one of which was the Kingdom of Ghana, north of what is today the nation of Ghana. After its fall at the beginning of the 13th century, Akan migrants moved southward then founded several nation-states including the first great Akan empire of the Bono which is now known as the Brong Ahafo region in Ghana. Later Akan groups such as the Ashanti federation and Fante states are thought to possibly have roots in the original Bono settlement at Bono manso. Much of the area was united under the Empire of Ashanti by the 16th century. The Ashanti government operated first as a loose network and eventually as a centralized kingdom with an advanced, highly-specialized bureaucracy centered in Kumasi.

The first contact between the Ghanaian peoples, the Fantes on the coastal area and Europeans occurred in 1482. The Portuguese first landed at Elmina, a coastal city inhabited by the Fanti nation-state in 1482. During the next few centuries parts of the area were controlled by British, Portuguese, and Scandinavian powers, with the British ultimately prevailing. These nation-states maintained varying alliances with the colonial powers and each other, which resulted in the 1806 Ashanti-Fante War, as well as an ongoing struggle by the Empire of Ashanti against the British. Moves toward regional de-colonization began in 1946, and the area’s first constitution was promulgated in 1951.

Formed from the merger of the British colony Gold Coast, The Empire of Ashanti and the British Togoland trust territory by a UN sponsored plebiscite, Ghana became the first democratic sub-Sahara country in colonial Africa to gain its independence in 1957. Kwame Nkrumah,LIE founder and first president of the modern Ghanaian state, was not only an African anti-colonial leader but also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. He was the first African head of state to espouse Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (United States), at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his “Back to Africa Movement.” He merged the dreams of both Marcus Garvey and the celebrated African-American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois into the formation of the modern day Ghana. Ghana’s principles of freedom and justice, equity and free education for all, irrespective of ethnic background, religion or creed borrow from Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s implementation of Pan-Africanism.

Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup in 1966.[attribution needed] It has been argued that this was supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency;[7][8] that assertion remains generally unproven. A series of subsequent coups ended with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. A new constitution, restoring multi-party politics, was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president in the free and fair elections of that year and again won the elections 1996 to serve his second term. The constitution prohibited him from running for a third term. John Agyekum Kufuor, the current president, is now serving his second term, which ends in 2008 where another election will be held to elect a new president. Last year 2007 marks Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebration of its 50-year anniversary, which was on March 6, 1957.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 239,460 sq km
land: 230,940 sq km
water: 8,520 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,094 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 549 km, Cote d’Ivoire 668 km, Togo 877 km
Coastline: 539 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north
Terrain: mostly low plains with dissected plateau in south-central area
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Afadjato 880 m
Natural resources: gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone
Land use: arable land: 17.54%
permanent crops: 9.22%
other: 73.24% (2005)
Irrigated land: 310 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 53.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.98 cu km/yr (24%/10%/66%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts
Environment – current 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
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: Lake Volta is the world’s largest artificial lake
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 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.[9]

Administrative Divisions: There are ten administrative regions which are divided into 110 districts, each with its own District Assembly. Below districts are various types of councils, including fifty eight town or area councils, 108 zonal councils, and 626 area councils. 16,000 unit committees on lowest level.[9]

Judicial System: The legal system is based on Ghanaian common law, customary (traditional) law, and the 1992 constitution. Court hierarchy consists of Supreme Court of Ghana (highest court), Court of Appeal, and High Court of Justice. Beneath these bodies are district, traditional, and local courts. Extrajudicial institutions include public tribunals, vigilante groups, and asafo companies. Since independence, courts are relatively independent; this independence continues under Fourth Republic. Lower courts are being redefined and reorganized under the Fourth Republic.[9]

Politics: Political parties became legal in mid-1992 after ten-year hiatus. Under the Fourth Republic, major parties are National Democratic Congress, led by Jerry John Rawlings, which won presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992; New Patriotic Party, major opposition party; People’s National Convention, led by former president Hilla Limann; and (new) People’s Convention Party, successor to Kwame Nkrumah’s original party of same name.[9]

Foreign Relations: Since independence, Ghana has been fervently devoted to ideals of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism, both closely identified with first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana favors international and regional political and economic cooperation, and is an active member of United Nations and Organization of African Unity. In 1994 President Rawlings was elected chairman of Economic Community of West African States.

People Population: 22,931,299
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 4,438,308/female 4,329,293)
15-64 years: 58.2% (male 6,661,512/female 6,687,738)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 380,495/female 433,953) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 20.2 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.972% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 29.85 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.55 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.025 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.996 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.877 male(s)/female
total population: 1.003 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 53.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59.12 years
male: 58.31 years
female: 59.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.89 children born/woman

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