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officially Republic of Ghana, republic (2015 est. pop. 27,583,000), 92,099 sq mi (238,536 sq km), W Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital and largest city is AccraAccra
, city (1984 pop. 867,459), capital of Ghana, a port on the Gulf of Guinea. It is Ghana's largest city and its administrative, communications, and economic center.
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Land and People

Modern Ghana comprises the former British colony of the Gold Coast and the former mandated territory of British Togoland. It is bordered by the Côte d'Ivoire on the west, Burkina Faso on the north, and Togo on the east. The coastal region and the far north of Ghana are savanna areas; in between is a forest zone. The country's largest river is the Volta; the damming of the river for a hydroelectric station at Akosombo (1964) created the enormous Lake Volta. In addition to the capital (Accra), other important cities are KumasiKumasi
, city (1984 pop. 376,246), capital of the Ashanti Region, central Ghana. The second largest city in Ghana, it is a commercial and transportation center in a cocoa-producing region, and it has a large central market. Kumasi was founded c.
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, TemaTema
, city (1984 pop. 99,608), SE Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. With the opening of an artificial harbor in 1961, Tema developed from a small fishing village to become Ghana's leading seaport and an industrial center.
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, Sekondi-TakoradiSekondi-Takoradi
, city (1984 pop. 93,822), capital of the Western Region, SW Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. An important seaport and commercial city, Sekondi-Takoradi has shipbuilding, railroad repair, and cigarette industries, and is a support and supply center for Ghana's
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, Cape CoastCape Coast,
town (1984 pop. 57,224), capital of Central Region, S Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Known locally as Gna or Oegna, the town is an export port and fishing center. The town originated as an Ashanti trading center. It grew up around European forts built in the 17th cent.
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, and TamaleTamale
, town (1984 pop. 136,828), capital of the Northern Region, N Ghana. It is a road junction and agricultural trade and education center.
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Ghana's population is composed of many ethnolinguistic groups, the principal of which are the Akan (Ashanti and Fanti), Mole-Dagbani, Ewe, and Ga-Adangme. English is the official language. Some 69% of the population is Christian (Pentecostal and other Protestant churches, and Roman Catholic) and 16% is Muslim (living mainly in the north), with the remainder following traditional religions.


Ghana's economy is predominantly agricultural, with 60% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. The biggest cash crop is cocoa. Rice, coffee, cassava, peanuts, corn, shea nuts, and bananas are also widely grown. Fishing and lumbering are important, although inadequate roads and facilities have hindered the development of the timber industry.

Minerals (most importantly gold, but also industrial diamonds, bauxite, and manganese) are found in the north, south, and coastal regions. There are offshore petroleum deposits, and commercial exploitation began in 2010.

The major industries in Ghana are mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, cocoa and other food processing, and shipbuilding. The major exports are gold and other minerals, cocoa, timber, and tuna. Imports include capital equipment, petroleum, and foodstuffs. The Netherlands, Nigeria, Great Britain, the United States, and China are Ghana's major trade partners. The country has a large but poorly maintained road system; rail lines connect the major centers in the south.


Ghana is governed under the constitution of 1992. The executive branch is headed by a president, who serves as both head of state and head of government. The unicameral legislature consists of a 275-seat Parliament. Both the president and the legislature are popularly elected for four-year terms; the president's tenure is limited to two terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 16 regions.


Early History to Independence

In precolonial times the area of present-day Ghana comprised a number of independent kingdoms, including Gonja and Dagomba in the north, AshantiAshanti
or Asante
, historic and modern administrative region, central Ghana, W Africa. The region is the source of much of Ghana's cocoa. It is inhabited by the Ashanti, a matrilineal Akan people who constitute one of Ghana's major ethnic groups. Before the 13th cent.
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 in the interior, and the FantiFanti
, black African ethnic group, S Ghana, living around Cape Coast and Elmina, one of the Akan peoples. The Fanti speak a Twi language, which is part of the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo branch of the Niger-Kordofanian linguistic family (see under African languages); they
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 states along the coast. In 1482 the first European fort was established by the Portuguese at ElminaElmina
, town, S Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea; also known locally as Edina. It is a fishing center located in a region where corn and cassava are grown. In the late 1400s the Portuguese established an outpost near the native settlement of Anomansa, and later (1482) built St.
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. Trade was begun, largely in gold and slaves, and intense competition developed among many European nations for trading advantages. With the decline of the slave trade in the 19th cent., only the British, Danes, and Dutch still maintained forts on the Gold Coast. The Danes (1850) and Dutch (1872) withdrew in the face of expansionist activities by the Ashanti kingdom; the British, however, remained and allied themselves with the Fanti states against Ashanti.

In 1874 the British defeated Ashanti and organized the coastal region as the colony of the Gold Coast. There was fighting between British and Ashanti again in 1896, and in 1901 the British made the kingdom a colony. In the same year the Northern Territories, a region north of Ashanti, were declared a British protectorate. After World War I part of the German colony of Togoland was mandated to the British, who linked it administratively with the Gold Coast colony. In the Gold Coast, nationalist activity, which began in the interwar period, intensified after World War II. Kwame NkrumahNkrumah, Kwame
, 1909–72, African political leader, prime minister (1957–60) and president (1960–66) of Ghana. The son of a goldsmith, he was educated at mission schools in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and became a teacher.
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 of the Convention People's Party (CPP) emerged as the leading nationalist figure. In 1951, Britain granted a new constitution, which had been drawn up by Africans, and general elections were held. The CPP won overwhelmingly and Nkrumah became premier.

Struggles of an Independent Nation

On Mar. 6, 1957, the state of Ghana, named after the medieval W African empire, became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations. At the same time the people of British Togoland chose to become part of Ghana. In 1960, Nkrumah transformed Ghana into a republic, with himself as president for life. By a 1964 referendum, all opposition parties were outlawed, and many critics of the government were subsequently imprisoned. Nkrumah followed an anticolonial, pan-African policy and grew increasingly less friendly to the West. Falling cocoa prices and poorly financed large development projects led to chaotic economic conditions, and in 1966 Nkrumah was overthrown by a military-police coup. A National Liberation Council (NLC) was set up to rule until the restoration of civilian government.

Relations with the Western powers improved, and in 1969 the NLC transferred power to the government of K. A. BusiaBusia, Kofi Abrefa
, 1913–78, political leader in Ghana. He was educated in Africa and in England and taught sociology in African, American, and European universities in the 1950s and 60s.
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, who had been elected under a new constitution. Busia's government was undermined by labor problems, an unpopular currency devaluation, and serious inflation, and in 1972 it too was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by Col. I. K. AcheampongAcheampong, Ignatius Kutu
, 1931–79, government official in Ghana, b. Kumasi. He taught before joining (1959) the army, where he advanced to colonel. In 1972, following a bloodless army coup that overthrew Kofi Abrefa Busia, he became chairman of the ruling National
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. The constitution was suspended and a National Redemption Council (NRC) set up to govern; it pursued a more neutralist course in foreign affairs and concentrated on developing Ghana's economy. The country's large foreign debt was brought under control; imports were curtailed; and the state took controlling interests in foreign-owned mining and timber firms.

However, in 1978, Acheampong was forced out of office by a group of military officers. Low wages and high unemployment led to a series of strikes that further disrupted the economy. Formerly one of the most prosperous nations in W Africa, Ghana's economy was in severe decline. The government lifted a ban on political parties in 1979 but denied potential leaders the right to participate.

The Rawlings Years and the Reestablishment of Democracy

In 1979, Flight Lt. J. J. RawlingsRawlings, Jerry John
(Jeremiah John Rawlings), 1947–2020, Ghanaian political leader. Of Scottish and Ghanaian descent, Rawlings attended military schools throughout his early life, becoming a skilled pilot and achieving the rank of flight lieutenant.
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 overthrew the government and purged the country of opposition, then turned the government over to an elected president, Dr. Hilla LimannLimann, Hilla
, 1934–98, president of Ghana (1979–81). In 1979, after seven years of military rule, Ghana's new military leader, Jerry Rawlings, handed over power to Limann, who had been elected to head a civilian government.
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. The international community disapproved of Rawlings's tactics, and Nigeria cut Ghana's crude oil supply. Poor economic conditions, restrictions on the press, and allegations of corruption led to popular discontent.

Rawlings seized power again in 1981 and tightened his political control throughout the 1980s. He enlisted economic help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and in the late 1980s the economy began to show significant growth. In 1992 the government promulgated a new constitution and lifted the ban on opposition parties. Later that year, Rawlings easily won a disputed presidential election. In 1994 several thousand people were killed and many more displaced in ethnic fighting in northern Ghana. In the 1996 elections, which were generally termed fair, Rawlings was returned to power.

Ghana's economic recovery continued into the late 1990s. Under the constitution, Rawlings could not run for reelection in 2000. In the December elections, the candidate of the opposition New Patriotic party (NPP), John Agyekum KufuorKufuor, John Kofi Agyekum,
1938–, Ghanaian political leader. A lawyer educated at Lincoln's Inn, London, and Oxford, he served in Ghana's parliament (1969–72, 1979–81) between periods of military rule and was detained after the coups of 1972 and 1981.
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, was elected president; the NPP also won a near majority in the parliament. The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) was hurt by the declining economy. Kufuor oversaw improvement in the economy, although poverty remained widespread in Ghana, and in Dec., 2004, he won reelection and the NPP secured a majority in the parliament. N Ghana experienced some of its worst flooding in decades in Sept., 2007, especially along the White Volta.

In the Dec., 2008, elections, John Atta MillsAtta Mills, John Evans,
1944–2012, Ghanaian lawyer, government official, and political leader, grad Univ. of Ghana (1967), London School of Economics (LL.M., 1968), School of Oriental and African Studies, London (Ph.D.
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, who had twice lost to Kufuor, finally won the presidency after a runoff; Atta Mills's NDC also won the largest bloc of seats in the parliament. Atta Mills died in office in July, 2012, and was succeeded by his vice president, John Dramani MahamaMahama, John Dramani
, 1958–, Ghanaian political leader, grad. Univ. of Ghana, Legon (1981, 1986), Institute of Social Sciences, Moscow (1988). A member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mahama was elected to parliament in 1996, serving (1998–2001) as
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. Mahama won the presidency in his own right in the Dec., 2012, elections, and the NDC won parliamentary majority. The NPP unsuccessfully contested the results in court. Hurt by an economic slowdown, Mahama lost his Dec., 2016, bid for a second term to the NPP's Nana Akufo-AddoAkufo-Addo, Nana
(Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo), 1944–, Ghanaian lawyer, government official, and political leader, president of Ghana (2017–). Born into a prominent political family, he studied at the Univ.
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, whom he had defeated in 2012. The NPP also secured a majority in parliament. In 2020, Akufo-Addo won reelection; Mahama again was his main opponent. The NPP, however, lost its parliamentary majority, winning the same number of seats as the NDC.


See D. Kimble, A Political History of Ghana, 1850–1928 (1963); D. Austin, Politics in Ghana, 1946–1960 (1970); E. A. Boateng, A Geography of Ghana (1970); I. Kaplan et al., Area Handbook for Ghana (2d ed. 1971); D. M. McFarland, Historical Dictionary of Ghana (1985); M. M. Huq, The Economy of Ghana (1989); D. Rothchild, ed., Ghana: The Political Economy of Recovery (1991); R. A. Myers, Ghana (1991).


(gä`nə), ancient empire, W Africa, in the savanna region of what is now E Senegal, SW Mali, and S Mauritania. The empire was founded c.6th cent. by Soninke peoples and lay astride the trans-Saharan caravan routes. Its capital was Kumbi Salih (in present-day SE Mauritania). It prospered from trade—particularly in salt and gold—and tribute. Internal divisions and an Almoravid invasion (1076) contributed to Ghana's decline, and by the 13th cent. it had disintegrated. Modern GhanaGhana,
officially Republic of Ghana, republic (2015 est. pop. 27,583,000), 92,099 sq mi (238,536 sq km), W Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital and largest city is Accra.
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 takes its name from the former empire.


See N. Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali 1973).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a state that existed in the southern part of presentday Mauritania and in the western part of the Republic of Mali. According to legend the state of Ghana (also called Aukar) was founded in the fourth century. It was populated mainly by the Soninke, one of the Mande group of peoples. The economy was based on agriculture and cattle raising, and metalworking was also well developed. The capital of Ghana, Koumbi Saleh, played an important role in the caravan trade in salt, gold, and slaves with the countries of North Africa. Almost nothing has been preserved about the social system of Ghana. It may be assumed that the process of the formation of an early class society was taking place. The state was at its peak from the ninth century to the mid-11th. In 1076 it was for a short time conquered by the Almoravids. At the beginning of the 13th century the rulers of Mali, one of the southern provinces of Ghana, extended their rule over all of Ghana, founding the state of Mali. The present-day state of Ghana is named after the Ghana of medieval times.


Ol’derogge, D. Zapadnyi Sudan v XV-XIX vv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Suret-Canale, J. Afrika Zapadnaia i Tsentral’naia. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from French.)
Davidson, B. Novoe otkrytie Drevnei Afriki. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from English.)
Kubbel’, A. E. Strana zolota. Moscow, 1962.
Bovill, E. W. The Golden Trade of the Moors. London-Oxford, 1958.




(Republic of Ghana).

Ghana is a state in West Africa and a member of the British Commonwealth. It is bordered on the west by the Ivory Coast, on the northwest and north by Upper Volta, and on the east by Togo. In the south it is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Ghana’s greatest length from north to south measures 690 km and from east to west, 480 km. Its area is 238,500 sq km, and its population is 8.5 million (1970). The capital is Accra, Administratively, Ghana (as of 1969) is divided into eight regions: Ashanti (regional capital, Kumasi), Brong-Ahafo (Sunyani), Upper (Bolgatanga), Volta (Ho), Eastern (Koforidua), Western (Sekondi), Northern (Tamale), Central (Cape Coast), and the Greater Accra Capital District.

Ghana is a republic; its present constitution was adopted on Aug. 22, 1969. The head of state is the president, elected by a system of indirect elections for a term of four years; he is also the commander in chief of the armed forces. The electoral college consists of the members of the parliament (the National Assembly), as well as electors who have been chosen by the regional houses of chiefs and by district councils. In accordance with the constitution, the president is not responsible to the parliament. There is also a Council of State consisting of 16 members, of whom four hold their posts ex officio (the prime minister, the speaker, the leader of the opposition, and the chairman of the National House of Chiefs), while the remainder are appointed by the president.

The highest legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly, consisting of from 140 to 150 deputies, elected for five-year terms by general, direct elections. All citizens who reach the age of 21 are granted suffrage.

The government of Ghana consists of a prime minister, appointed by the president, ministers who are members of the Cabinet, and ministers who are not members of the Cabinet. The ministers (not more than 21) are appointed by the president from the members of parliament. The National Security Council and the Armed Forces Council have been established within the government.

A specific provision of the 1969 constitution provided for the restoration to the tribal chiefs of certain of their prerogatives. The National House of Chiefs was created, standing at the head of the system of traditional institutions (regional houses of chiefs, councils) and acting as an advisory body. Without its approval no bill may be passed affecting the rights and privileges of the chiefs. The National House of Chiefs is also charged with codifying and interpreting customary law.

The constitution provides for the establishment of organs of local self-government—village, town, municipal, district, and regional councils. About half of the seats in the councils may be occupied by tribal chiefs. Prior to the creation of local councils, authority was exercised by the administrative committees formed after the events of 1966 (see below: Historical survey).

Ghana’s judicial system comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Court (which together make up the so-called Superior Court of Judicature), as well as district and local courts. The Supreme Court is the court of highest appeal and is the guardian of the constitution.


Ghana is located in the subequatorial zone of the northern hemisphere. Savannas and sparsely wooded areas cover most of the country, and in the southwest there are wet tropical forests. Its shores are primarily low, flat, and sandy, with lagoons. The coastline (approximately 535 km) is quite regular, without natural harbors and with a constant strong surf.

Terrain. The greater part of Ghana is a plain ranging in elevation from 150 to 300 m; along the gulf there is a coastal lowland up to 15 km in width. In the southeast are the so-called Accra Plains with a maximum elevation of 100 m, and in the southwest are the Akan Lowlands ranging in elevation up to 150 m. The extensive Ashanti Uplands (up to 300 m in elevation) lie in the center of the country. The Kwahu Plateau, extending for 200 km from northwest to southeast and with elevations of up to 500 m (Mt. Akwawa, 788 m), is also found in the center of the country. The northern section is occupied by the Wa and Mamprusi Plains (150-300 m), in the eastern part of which rises the Gambaga Scarp (500 m). In the east lies the southern part of the Atakora Range (Mt. Djebobo, 876 m), which is located primarily in Togo.


Geological structure and minerals. Most of the territory of Ghana is composed of Precambrian formations. In the northwest and south are extended the metamorphic and granitized rocks of the Birrimian system, dating from the Early Proterozoic age, and lying among them in downwarps are poorly metamorphosed detrital (molassa) deposits of the Tarkwaian system, dating from the Middle Proterozoic age. These formations make up the western edge of the Lyon-Liberian massif. In the central part of Ghana is the Voltaian syneclise, filled with nonmetamorphosed sedimentary Upper Proterozoic and Lower Paleozoic deposits of the Voltaian system. In the east, along the Togo border, stretches the Akwapim Togo (Atakora) folded zone, formed by poorly metamorphosed and sedimentary rocks of the Togo-Buem series, dating from the Late Proterozoic age. Cretaceous and Cenozoic deposits developed along the coastline.

Lying in the Early Proterozoic formations are large deposits of bauxite (total reserves are estimated at 300 million tons), manganese ores (approximately 30 million tons), gold, and diamonds. There are iron ore deposits in the Atakora zone. In the covers of the sedimentary rocks there are lime-stone and barite deposits. There is evidence of petroleum in the Cretaceous deposits in the depressions off the coast and in the Voltaian syneclise.


Climate. The climate is equatorial-monsoonal, and in the southwest it is predominately equatorial. The mean temperature in the hottest month (March) ranges from 27° C in the south to 32° C in the north and in the coolest month (August), from 23° C in the south to 26° C in the north. The annual precipitation in the western part of the coastal area and the Ashanti Plateau is 1,500-2,000 mm, in the region of Accra and the eastern coastal area, 650-750 mm, and in the north, 1,000-1,200 mm. In the northern and northeastern parts of Ghana there is one rainy season (from March through September-October) and one dry season. In the southern and southwestern parts there are two rainy seasons (March-July and September-October), as well as two dry seasons. The harmattan, a dry, hot wind from the Sahara, blows in November (on the coast in December).

Rivers and lakes. Ghana’s river network is a dense one. The most important river is the Volta, within whose basin lies more than 60 percent of the country’s area. Other important rivers are the Pra (with its tributaries, the Ofin and the Birim), the Ankobra, and the Tano. These rivers are characterized by rapids. During the rainy seasons they are deep and navigable, but during the dry seasons they grow very shallow. The mouths of many rivers, especially during the dry seasons, are blocked by sandbars. At a distance of 34 km southeast of Kumasi is the country’s only lake—Bosumtwi (with an area of 34 sq km and a depth of 71 m). The dam for the Akosombo Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Volta River in 1964-65 formed a reservoir with an area of 8,422 sq km.

Soils and flora. Most of the country is covered by savanna woodlands and tall-grass savannas. In the south and south-west these give way to moist tropical, semideciduous forests. Forests occupy about 10 percent of the area of Ghana, and cacao plantations may be found under their canopy. There are many valuable species of trees, such as wawa, mahogany, sapele, utile, and makoré. The soils are, for the most part, reddish-yellow laterites and reddish laterites rich in iron. In the coastal region scrub vegetation predominates. There are many palm trees (oil, coconut, raffia). Along the ocean front in low-lying areas protected from the surf, there are mangrove thickets.

Fauna. Over a long period of time the animal life of Ghana has been much depleted. But in the savanna woodlands elephants may still be encountered, while lions are to be found in the savannas. There are buffalo, hippopotamuses, leopards, monkeys, and potto lemurs, as well as many herbivores (antelopes and others). Birds are abundant, and the numerous snakes include cobras and mambas. Also characteristic are termites, tsetse flies, and in the north simuliids.


Some 73 percent of the people belong to the Guinean linguistic group. The most numerous are the Akan peoples (3.7 million, 1967 estimate), including the Ashanti, Fante, Akwapim, and Akim, who have settled in the coastal forest zone. Closely related to them are the Anyi and Bawle, who live in the southwestern part of the country. Sometimes included among the Akan are the Gonja, or Guang, peoples (320,000), who inhabit the middle course of the Volta River. The Ga and Adangbe peoples (680,000) live in the environs of Accra; to the west of them are the Ewe (1.1 million). The northern regions have been settled by peoples of the Gur linguistic group (central Bantoid): the Mossi (including the Dagomba, Dagarte, Frafra, and others; 1.25 million), the Gurma (280,000), the Grusi (250,000), the Tern (60,000), and others. In the area bordering on Togo are tribes speaking isolated languages: the Lefana, Likpe, Akpafu, and others (their total number is about 60,000). In the cities there are also Hausa, Songhai, Fulbe, Busa, and others. The official language of Ghana is English, but it is spoken only by a small part of the population. The most widespread languages are Akan (in its four basic written forms—Twi, Fante, Akwapim, and Akim), Ewe, More, and Hausa. Some 78 percent of the people adhere to local traditional beliefs, about 17 percent are Christians, and about 5 percent are Muslims. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The population growth during the years 1963-69 averaged 2.7 percent per year. In 1967 about 45 percent of the population was under 15 years of age. Census reports showed populations of 1.4 million in 1891,2.1 million in 1921, 2.9 million in 1931, 4.1 million in 1948, 6.7 million in 1960, and 8.5 million in 1970 (estimate). In 1965 the labor force was 3.2 million, of which 60 percent were employed in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, 10 percent in industry, 13 percent in commerce, 6 percent in services, and 11 percent in other branches. The average population density is 36 per sq km. Southern Ghana, particularly the coastal region, is the most densely populated. Seasonal migration has been increasing in connection with the cultivation and harvesting of cacao beans. Farm laborers come from the northern regions and from Upper Volta.

About 23 percent of the people live in cities, of which the most important (according to 1968 population figures) are Accra (615,800), Kumasi (281,600), Sekondi-Takoradi (128,200), Tamale (75,000), and Cape Coast (71,000).

Before the colonial conquest (to the 1840’s). Man appeared in the territory which today is Ghana in remote antiquity. This is attested to by the stone implements found here—Paleolithic arrowheads, cutting tools, and scrapers, and Neolithic axes. Copper and bronze artifacts found in Ghana date from approximately the seventh century. Already by the 15th century, before the coming of Europeans, the peoples of Ghana had achieved a relatively high level of economic and cultural development. They were linked by the caravan trade in gold, salt, and handicrafts with distant regions of the continent. Many small states of the early feudal type existed on the territory of Ghana. During the 17th and 18th centuries there was a marked tendency toward the formation of large centralized states, but the interference of the European powers interrupted this natural historical process.

The first Europeans to establish themselves on Ghanaian territory were the Portuguese. In 1482 they built a fortified trading post, Elmina, on the land of the Fante people. The Portuguese exported great quantities of gold—hence the name Gold Coast by which the country became known in Europe—as well as slaves. The riches of the Gold Coast attracted the attention of other European powers—Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, and Great Britain (the first British fortified trading post at Kormantin was built in 1631). Gradually Britain crowded out its competitors and began to conduct an open policy of territorial seizure.

British colonial domination (1840’s-1957). In 1843 the government of Great Britain took over the administration of the British forts on the Gold Coast and appointed a governor (until 1874 he was subordinate to the governor of the British colony of Sierra Leone). In 1844 the British governor concluded a treaty with the chiefs of the Fante states on the coast by which the chiefs conceded de facto recognition of the authority of the British Crown. At this time British possessions on Ghanaian territory included only the coastal belt, ranging from ten to 15 km in width. To the north lay the lands populated by the Ashanti, Akim, and Akwapim. The Ashanti, who had established a strong centralized state, offered stubborn resistance to Great Britain’s attempts to penetrate into the interior of the continent. In their rivalry the European powers incited the African peoples to fight among themselves, supporting first one group, then another. The first half of the 19th century was marked by many clashes among the Ashanti, Fante, Akim, and Akwapim, inspired for the most part by the Europeans.

In 1896, in the course of the Seventh Anglo-Ashanti War, Great Britain captured Ashanti and concluded an agreement with individual tribes establishing a protectorate. In 1901, Great Britain declared Ashanti to be its possession, as well as those lands north of Ashanti not occupied by the other powers—the so-called Northern Territories. The name Gold Coast, which had previously referred only to the coastal belt, was also extended to all the adjacent lands conquered by the British.

The British monopolies mined and exported gold, diamonds, and other minerals, at the same time hindering the development of a processing industry. Agricultural development was one-sided, specializing in the cultivation of cacao, the production of which remained in the hands of the Africans. Cacao plantations were established primarily by tribal chiefs and by merchants of the coastal cities, who employed hired labor.

Supreme authority in the colony was exercised by the British governor; the Legislative Council under the governor, created by the colonialists, was essentially a consultative body consisting of British officials. In 1888 one African was admitted to this body, and by the end of World War I the representation of Africans in the Legislative Council had increased to six, but they were all appointed by the governor.

Initially, the struggle of the Ghanaian peoples against the colonial regimes was led by the feudal upper class and groups connected with it; in 1897 they created the Gold Coast Aborigines’ Rights Protection Society. For the most part, the society opposed the attempts by the British authorities to declare the country’s land and forest resources to be the property of the British Crown.

A new stage in the nationalist movement began in 1920 with the establishment of the National Congress of British West Africa. This was an organization of the democratic, primarily urban, classes. Its members strove for the democratization of the colonial administration, in particular for elective representation in the Legislative Council. Under pressure from the National Congress, the British authorities were compelled in 1925 to introduce a new colonial constitution, in accordance with which the Legislative Council for the first time admitted three deputies elected by the urban populations of Accra, Sekondi, and Cape Coast.

World War II had a considerable influence on the economy and social life of the Gold Coast. During the war about 70,000 people from this area were mobilized into the armed forces of the British Empire. During the war years there was also an increase in the export of cacao, rubber, palm products, and manganese ore; in 1941 bauxite deposits began to be worked. The working class grew to 250,000 persons. In 1945 the Congress of Gold Coast Trade Unions was founded (which initially supported ties with the World Federation of Trade Unions). In 1947 a national organization was created—the United Gold Coast Convention—which demanded that independence be granted the country “in the shortest possible time.” But this convention was led by people connected with feudal elements and with the upper bourgeoisie, who were inclined to make compromises and who feared the political activation of the masses. These leaders dissociated themselves from the broad-based movement that began in the country in 1948. On February 28 of that year a demonstration by African veterans of World War II was fired upon by the British colonialists. The mass movement also encompassed a struggle against high prices and for an increase in wages, as well as a boycott against imported goods. In June 1949, on the initiative of Kwame Nkrumah, the Convention People’s Party (CPP) was created. In November the party’s leaders convened the Ghana People’s Representative Assembly, which demanded that independence be granted the country as soon as possible.

In view of the growing upsurge of the nationalist movement the British imperialists agreed to certain concessions. In October 1949 a committee of Africans established by the British and headed by a local judge named Coussey published the draft of a compromise constitution calculated to allow the nationalist bourgeoisie and feudal elite some power, while retaining the domination of British imperialism. The people joined in a protest movement directed against this plan, and the strikes that began in January 1950, as well as demonstrations and campaigns to boycott British trading firms, served as a further impetus. The CPP supported this movement and advanced the slogan “Self-government—Now!” Nevertheless, the Coussey draft constitution, with some modifications, was ratified by the British government. In 1951 elections were held for the Legislative Assembly (in accordance with the Coussey constitution), which gave the CPP 35 mandates out of a possible 38. In 1952 a government made up of Africans was established for the Gold Coast colony (the first among the African colonies), which was headed by K. Nkrumah (it enjoyed limited rights in matters of local self-government). In April 1954 a new constitution was introduced, according to which all 104 deputies of the Legislative Assembly were to be elected on the basis of a universal franchise.

Nevertheless, the stratagems used by the British government to stop the growth of the liberation struggle were unsuccessful. In 1956 the British government was forced to grant dominion status to the Gold Coast colony. After a plebiscite held in May 1956, the part of Togo that had been under British trusteeship was annexed to the Gold Coast.

Independent Ghana (since March 1957). On Mar. 6, 1957, the independence of the Gold Coast was proclaimed. The new state adopted the name Ghana, after the medieval state of Ghana, which had existed on the territory of the western Sudan. In accordance with the 1957 Constitution, however, the head of state was still considered to be the queen of England and the British governor-general remained her representative. On Mar. 8, 1957, Ghana was admitted to the United Nations.

The government of Ghana introduced a national monetary system (1958), established its own national armed forces, and took measures to eliminate tribal and regional fractionalism. Adhering to a policy of positive neutrality in foreign affairs, Ghana established diplomatic relations with the socialist countries and concluded economic and cultural agreements with them. In 1959, Ghana exchanged diplomatic representatives with the USSR. In 1960, Ghana and the USSR signed agreements for economic and cultural cooperation. The Soviet government extended credit to Ghana for building a number of industrial installations and for developing its agriculture, and it took part in the construction of industrial enterprises, educational institutions, and other installations, as well as in training specialists.

The government of Ghana initiated the convocation of the first conference of independent African states in Accra in April 1958 and of the first conference of the African peoples in December 1958.

On July 1, 1960, Ghana was proclaimed a republic. In accordance with the adopted constitution a presidential regime was established in Ghana. K. Nkrumah became president, while retaining the post of head of government. The government of the Republic of Ghana nationalized several British mining companies, brought about the Africanization of the state apparatus, and removed British generals and officers from their posts. In 1962 the 11th congress of the CPP was held, and it adopted a new party program entitled For Labor and Happiness (the first program had been adopted in 1949) providing for a course of action to make the public sector in the economy predominant and to place limitations on private capitalist exploitation. In the program this course was regarded as the precondition for the socialist transformation of the society.

In 1964, Ghana’s parliament adopted a seven-year development plan covering the period from 1963-64 to 1969-70, which presented in concrete form corresponding sections of the CPP program. The state assumed a dominant position in export, credit and monetary matters, and transport and gained quite a strong position in import, domestic trade, and construction.

In agriculture 105 state farms were created, and at the end of 1965 laws were adopted giving farmers incentives to form production cooperatives. A state system of education and health care was also established.

The progressive transformations that were being carried out in Ghana met opposition from imperialists and domestic reactionary forces, represented by the United Party (founded in 1957), which included organizations opposing the CPP. In 1964 the one-party system was introduced in Ghana. Amendments were made to the constitution that reinforced the leading role of the CPP.

The struggle against imperialism and its agents was complicated by significant economic difficulties. Because it was increasing the import of industrial equipment and machinery, the government of Ghana was forced to curtail the import of a number of industrial goods and foodstuffs, to increase taxation on profits, personal income, and property, as well as to raise indirect taxes. Even so it could not avert deficits in the state budgets. The bureaucracy and national bourgeoisie ever more openly sabotaged the work of the state apparatus and the public sector, thereby aggravating the country’s economic difficulties and the population’s economic hardships. By the end of 1965, Ghana’s foreign indebtedness amounted to no less than £240 million, its gold-valuta reserves were completely exhausted, and its balance of payments deficit was increasing.

Corruption of the state apparatus became widespread. Officials were using the state treasury and the public sector to enrich themselves. The revolutionary elements of the CPP attempted to wage a struggle against the party-state bureaucracy, especially against those of its elements which were linked with private enterprise. However, they did not rely on the masses for support, and this doomed their efforts to failure. In 1965 the government of K. Nkrumah, owing to a sharp decline in the price of cacao on the world market, was compelled to reduce the wholesale price for cacao beans from 290 to 180 cedi per ton, thereby causing great dissatisfaction among the cacao producers. The country’s financial position was further complicated by the fact that foreign loans and credits were due to be repaid at that time.

On Feb. 24, 1966, while K. Nkrumah was en route to Hanoi, high police officials and army officers seized power. President K. Nkrumah was deposed, the National Assembly and the CPP were dissolved, most ministers and many party leaders were arrested, the constitution was abrogated, and political activity was forbidden. A National Liberation Council (NLC) was formed, headed by General Ankrah, which assumed full power. The NLC began to pursue a policy of expanding the private capitalist sector of the country’s economy. A number of enterprises in the state sector were sold to private entrepreneurs, and most of the state farms were liquidated. The government refused assistance to the producers’ cooperatives and revoked the previously enacted law stabilizing land rent payments. Implementation of the seven-year plan was curtailed. The NLC turned for aid to the imperialist powers and granted foreign capital the right to participate in the running of state enterprises. It also removed the restrictions imposed by K. Nkrumah’s government on the export of profits by foreign companies. Ghana’s diplomatic missions in a number of socialist countries were closed down, and Soviet specialists had to leave Ghana.

In 1966 strikes by workers and student unrest began to occur. There were efforts to bring about a military countercoup.

In April 1969, General Afrifa assumed the post from which General Ankrah had been removed. In May 1969 political activity was again permitted in Ghana, and political parties began to be formed. In August 1969 a new constitution went into effect, proclaiming Ghana a parliamentary republic. On Aug. 29, 1969, elections to the National Assembly were held, and these brought victory to the Progress Party. Its leader, K. A. Busia, became prime minister and formed a civilian government made up of representatives from his party. On September 3 a Presidential Commission of three members was formed, led by General Afrifa. The NLC invested itself with full power. On July 30, 1970, the National Assembly adopted a resolution dissolving the Presidential Commission, and on August 31, E. Akufo-Addo was elected president.

On Jan. 13, 1972, a group of officers carried out a bloodless coup, as a result of which state power passed to the Council of National Salvation headed by Colonel I. Acheampong, who also assumed the post of president of the Executive Council and headed several ministries. The constitution was abolished, the Parliament disbanded, and all political parties banned. The government proclaimed a policy of creating an independent national economy and undertook several measures to this end. Contacts with socialist countries have been extended.


Potekhin, I. I. Stanovlenie novoi Gany. Moscow, 1965.
Nkrumah, Kwame. Avtobiografiia. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from English.)
Ward, W. E. F. A History of the Gold Coast. London [1948].
Bourret, F. M. Ghana: The Road to Independence 1919-1957. London, 1960.
Fage, J. D. Ghana: A Historical Interpretation. Madison, 1966.
Kimble, D. A Political History of Ghana: The Rise of Gold Coast Nationalism 1850-1928. Oxford, 1963.

I. I. POTEKHIN (to 1949) and O. A. GOROVOI (since 1949)

The country inherited from the colonial period an extremely backward economy, which depends, to a great extent, on fluctuations of world prices for cacao beans. There was almost no processing industry before 1957, and there was considerable import of foodstuffs and other consumer goods. Before 1966 Ghana pursued a policy of accelerated economic growth through the strengthening of the state sector, the nationalization of the export trade, and the cooperative movement in agriculture. By the end of 1964 approximately 80 percent of exports and about 45 percent of imports, as measured by cost, were controlled by the state, and farm cooperatives owned 194,500 ha of land. In 1962 the major port and industrial complex of Tema was built, in 1963 an oil refinery was put into operation, and in the autumn of 1965 the first unit of the powerful Akosombo Hydroelectric Power Plant (on the Volta River) was functioning. This unit formed the energy base for plans of industrialization and reconstruction of agriculture.

After the 1966 coup the private capitalist sector began to expand. In January 1972 the reactionary regime was overthrown; the Council of National Salvation, which had come to power, proclaimed a policy of economic independence. Measures were initiated that are designed to lead to the government’s predominant participation in the extractive industries, to develop the national economy, and to extend economic ties with the socialist countries.

Ghana occupies first place in the capitalist world in the harvest and export of cacao beans. Moreover, the country occupies one of the foremost places in the capitalist world in diamond mining, second place in Africa (after the Republic of South Africa) in gold mining, and third place (after the Republic of South Africa and Gabon) in the mining of manganese ore.

Industry. The mining industry is of great importance to the economy. The principal centers of gold mining are in the southwestern part of the country (Konogo, Obuasi, Prestea, Bondaye, Bibiani, and Tarkwa), as well as near Dunkwa, where the mining is done by dredging. A considerable part of the mining is carried on by the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, whose mines in 1968 were leased for 50 years to the British Lonrho Company and 20 percent of whose shares are owned by Ghana. Diamonds are mined in the basins of the Birim and Bonsa rivers (with the principal center located at Akwatia), for the most part by a British company. Manganese ores are mined at the huge Nsuta deposit and bauxite, near Awaso. There are known deposits of iron ore at Shieni in the Northern Region near the border of Togo, and in 1968 iron ore was discovered north of Takoradi. Petroleum has been discovered in the region of the Volta. Salt is obtained from the lagoons along the seacoast (34,000 tons in 1969). (See Table 1 for data on the mining of principal minerals.)

Table 1. Mining of principal minerals (tons)
1 Carats 2 By content of metal in the ore 3 Exported 4 For 1968
Gold ...............22.727.323.522.1
Diamonds1 ...............2,181,0003,273,0002,273,0002,390,000
Manganese ore2 ...............361,0003266,000288,000198,4004
Bauxites ...............117,0003194,000309,000248,000

The processing industry is being developed. Aluminum, metallurgical, oil-refining, and chemical industries have been initiated. The aluminum plant in Tema produced 124,500 tons of aluminum in 1968; it is controlled by an American company and processes imported alumina. The following plants have been built in Tema: a steel mill, an oil refinery (processing imported petroleum), a plant for retreading automobile tires, and plants producing toxic chemicals, dyes, and cleaning compounds. Near Tarkwa there is a tire plant that uses local raw materials. There are textile enterprises at Tema, knitting and garment factories at Accra, and a shoe factory at Kumasi. Food-processing enterprises include cocoa butter, cocoa oil, and chocolate plants in Takoradi and Tema. Other industries include palm oil, vegetable and fish canning, and beverages. There are sugar refineries in Asutsuare, near Akuse, and in Komenda, and there is a baking industry. There is also a construction industry manufacturing prefabricated houses, bricks, tiles, and cement. There is a tobacco plant at Takoradi and a match factory at Kade. Fish-refrigeration plants are located in Tema, Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale.

The timber industry exports a considerable portion of its output. In 1969, timber production amounted to 1.6 million cu m of commercial wood, mainly wawa, mahogany, and sapele, of which 0.5 million cu m were exported. Moreover, 217,000 cu m of sawn wood were exported. Some 64 sawmills are in operation, half of them in the Kumasi region, and there are plywood (Kumasi, Takoradi, and Samreboi) and furniture factories.

The rated capacity of electric power plants is 631,000 kW (1969), and the production of electric power amounts to 2,772 million kW-hrs, including 2,728 million kW-hrs at the Akosombo Hydroelectric Power Plant (capacity, 589,000 kW, with a planned increase by 1976 to 883,000 kW).

Agriculture. Ghana’s agriculture is characterized by an interweaving of tribal-clan and feudal relations with those of capitalism. Land is cleared by the slash-and-burn method. The small peasant farms are from 0.4 to 1.2 ha each. About 10.7 percent of the land is under crops at any one time, and 47 percent of the land is suitable for agriculture.

Ghana’s chief crop is cacao, and its share of world cacao production during 1969-70 amounted to 28.4 percent. The cacao crop (with a total planted area of 2,435,000 ha) is cultivated, for the most part, on peasant farms located in the southern part of Ghana. More than 50 percent of all cacao is produced in Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo and 20-25 percent in the Eastern Region. Export crops also include coffee, kola nuts, palm kernels (the central portions of the oil palm nuts), copra, bananas, citrus fruit, and peanuts. The cultivation of coconut palms (which had a harvest of 147 million coconuts in 1968) has become widespread in the Eastern Region, along the coast. Oil palms are grown, for the most part, in the southern part of the country; citrus crops, primarily in the Cape Coast area; coffee trees, in many places, especially in the Volta Region; and peanuts, in the northern part of Ghana.

In order to reduce the country’s economic dependence on a single crop, the area under rubber trees (hevea), especially in the area around Axim and Prestea (8,000 ha), coffee trees, pineapples, and oil palms is being increased.

Crops grown for domestic consumption include manioc, yams, sweet potatoes, taro, millet, sorghum, corn, rice, oil palms (41,000 tons of fruit in 1967), plantains (2.1 million tons), pulses, and vegetables. Tobacco is also cultivated. More sugarcane is being grown (32,000 ha around Accra, Asatsuara on the left bank of the Volta, and near Komenda and Avakpea.) (See Table 2 for data on the principal agricultural crops.)

Table 2. Principal agricultural crops
 Area planted (ha)Harvest (tons)
1 On an average for one year 2 Economic year
Cacao beans ...............1,619,000.….…245,000416,0002339,0002
Coffee ...............1,000.….…1,0001,6003,400
Corn ...............143,000173,000272,000169,000209,000301,000
Millet ...............175,000119,000140,00099,00057,00073,000
Sorghum ...............134,000156,000151,00079,00090,00083,000
Rice (unmilled) ...............20,00032,00046,00023,00033,00065,000
Manioc ...............66,000101,000172,000574,000689,0001,446,000
Peanuts ...............55,00091,00061,00044,00061,00062,000
Oil palm kernels ................….….…11,30022,10025,000
Sweet potatoes and yams ...............60,00095,000119,000481,0001,055,0001,355,000

As of 1969 there were 605,000 cattle, 671,000 sheep, 592,000 goats, and 143,000 pigs. Owing to the incidence of the tsetse fly, cattle and horses are not raised in the forest regions.

There is fishing along the seacoast. In 1969 the catch was 148,800 tons (as compared to 32,000 tons in 1960).

Transportation. As of 1968 there were 1,285 km of railway lines in the country, including 948 km of main lines. Freight turnover amounts to about 2 million tons annually. There are 33,200 km of motor vehicle roads, of which about 9,000 km are main roads, including 3,532 km paved with asphalt and 2,220 covered with gravel. In 1967 there were 48,000 motor vehicles, including 29,000 passenger cars and 18,800 trucks. Maritime transport is handled through two modern seaports—Takoradi (primarily for exports) and Tema (mainly for imports). In 1969 their total cargo turnover amounted to 5.5 million tons. There are four airports, Accra (international), Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale.

Foreign economic relations. Ghana’s exports in 1969 came to 333.3 million cedi and imports totaled 354.4 million cedi. In 1969 cacao beans constituted more than 60 percent of total exports; sawn lumber and wood materials, 9 percent; mineral raw materials (gold, diamonds, bauxite, manganese ore), approximately 12 percent; and other products, 15 percent. Principal imports in 1969 included machinery and transport equipment (26.7 percent), foods, and beverages and tobacco (15 percent). The leading countries to which goods were exported in 1969 were Great Britain (31.9 percent of exports), the USA (14.5 percent), the Federal Republic of Germany (10 percent), Japan (8 percent), and the USSR and other socialist countries (7.2 percent). The principal countries from which goods were imported in 1969 were Great Britain (26.8 percent of the import value), the USA (18.4 percent), the Federal Republic of Germany (10.7 percent), and the USSR and other socialist countries (8.8 percent). The Netherlands is a chief buyer of exports, as well as an important supplier of imports. The monetary unit of Ghana is the cedi, which in August 1971 was equal to 0.88 rubles according to the exchange rate of the Gosbank (State Bank) of the USSR.

Geographic regions. Southern Ghana comprises the Volta, Eastern, Western, and Central regions and the southern part of the Ashanti Region. About two-thirds of the country’s population lives here. This part of the country also has the most dense network of railroads and automobile roads, the seaports are located here, and almost all the mining, timber-processing, food, and textile industries are concentrated here. Most of the cacao harvest, as well as the oil palm and coconut palm crops, comes from this area. Also concentrated here are the largest industrial installations. Northern Ghana includes the Brong-Ahafo, Upper, and Northern regions, and the northern part of the Ashanti Region. Its economy is based on agriculture (cacao, yams, corn, and rice). There are al-most no factories, and there are no railroads. Various handicrafts are widespread. Of economic importance are the markets in Bawku, Navrongo, and Bolgatanga, to which traders even from Upper Volta come. There are projects under way to open up uninhabited areas, provide irrigation, develop livestock breeding, investigate mineral resources, and build a network of highways and some industrial enterprises.


Aleksandrovskaia, L. I. Gana. Moscow, 1965.
Strany Afriki. Moscow, 1969.
Boateng, E. A. Geografiia Gany. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from English.)
Church, R. J. H. Zapadnaia Afrika. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from English.)
Varley, W. J., and H. P. White. The Geography of Ghana, London, 1958.
The Economies of Africa. Edited by P. Robson and D. A. Lury. London, 1969.


Ghana’s armed forces consist of an army, air force, and navy, headed by the president, who is the commander in chief. The Ministry of Defense directly supervises and administers the army. At the beginning of 1969 the personnel of the armed forces totaled 18,700, including about 16,000 in the army, 1,500 in the air force, and 1,200 in the navy. The army consists of two brigades, three regiments, and units of special troops. The navy has ten small ships of various classes, and the air force has 75 airplanes. The armed forces recruits its forces by hiring volunteers. The army is supplied primarily with British weapons and is trained according to British regulations. Foreign military specialists (for the most part, British and Canadian) serve as instructors. In 1960 a military academy was established with a two-year course of instruction.

In 1969 the birth rate was between 47 and 52 per 1,000, and the mortality rate was 24. Infant mortality was 156 per 1,000 live births. The average life span is 37 years. Infectious diseases are common. Malaria, intestinal infections, geohelminthiasis, urogenital schistosomiasis, leprosy, and yaws are widespread. Every year there are outbreaks of smallpox (the incidence in 1967 was 0.14 per 10,000). The mortality rate from children’s infectious diseases, especially from measles, is high (to 5 percent). Three medical-geographical regions may be identified. In northern Ghana (an area of moderately moist savannas) there is a high incidence of malaria (more than 75 percent of the children are infected). In certain settlements more than 10 percent of the inhabitants suffer from river blindness (onchocerciasis). Every year there are out-breaks of cerebrospinal meningitis. In central and southeastern Ghana (an area of moist savannas) wuchereriasis is wide-spread, and there are concentrations of trypanosomiasis, onchocerciasis, dracunculosis, and intestinal schistosomiasis, as well as natural breeding grounds of yellow fever. In southwestern Ghana (an area of equatorial forests) leprosy, yaws, and loaiasis are widespread. The incidence of malaria in central and southern Ghana is lower than in northern Ghana, where more than 50 percent of the children contract the disease.

In 1969 there were 158 hospitals in Ghana with a total of 9,100 beds (1.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). Outpatient service was being dispensed at 120 hospital outpatient divisions, 6 polyclinics, 49 health care centers, and 197 dispensaries. Medical service for mothers and children is provided at 255 institutions for prenatal care and 453 children’s health centers. In 1969 there were 575 physicians (one physician per 15,000 inhabitants), 57 physician’s aides, 33 dentists, 359 pharmacists, 1,051 midwives, and 2,800 nurses. Physicians receive their training at the medical school of the University of Ghana in Accra. Registered nurses are trained at hospitals in Kumasi and Accra.


Veterinary services. The prevalence of the tsetse fly—the carrier of trypanosomiasis—causes a high rate of infection among imported livestock driven into Ghana from Mali and Upper Volta (27 outbreaks in 1970). The local livestock has built up a resistance to trypanosomiasis. Conditions in the country favor the outbreak of pleuropneumonia among cattle; there were 36 outbreaks in 1970. Anthrax and rabies also occur among farm animals. Helminthiasis is widespread. Poultry raising has suffered great losses from pox (41 outbreaks in 1970) and pseudopest (45 outbreaks in 1970).

By the end of the 1960’s the veterinary service was beginning to be organized. Along the northern border and on the cattle-drive trails, quarantine and inoculation points are being set up.

In 1960 more than 74 percent of Ghana’s population was illiterate. In 1961 compulsory free education was introduced for children between the ages of six and 15. The present system of public education has the following structure. The first link in the system is the kindergarten for children of four or five years (in 1967 there were 13,000 enrolled). At the age of six the child begins the eight-year primary school. From their first year of instruction, along with their native language, pupils study English, which is also the language of instruction in the higher grades of the primary school, as well as in secondary and higher educational institutions. The six-year secondary school has two stages, four and two years of instruction, respectively. Religion is taught in all general education schools. During the 1967-68 school year there were 1,288,300 pupils enrolled in primary schools and about 180,000 students in secondary schools. Vocational training begins after graduation from primary school and lasts from one to three years. Primary school teachers receive a four-year course of training at a pedagogical school if they have graduated from an eight-year primary school or a two-year training course if they have completed four years of secondary education. During the school year 1967-68 17,500 students were enrolled in vocational training and 16,700 in teacher training.

The country’s higher educational institutions include the University of Ghana at Accra (founded in 1948), the University of Science and Technology at Kumasi (founded in 1951), and the University College of Cape Coast (founded in 1962). Both universities were founded as university colleges and attained university status in 1961. At the university at Accra there is a medical school, as well as a number of institutes and scientific research institutions. The university’s library has 240,000 volumes. In the academic year 1967-68 there were 4,700 students enrolled in higher educational institutions. Also in Accra are the Ghana National Museum (founded in 1957), the Ghana National Science Museum and a botanical garden.


Until World War II (1939-45), Ghana did not have a single scientific institution administered by Africans. A few experimental agricultural stations, with British staffs, conducted practical research. In 1961, after the country had gained its independence, the Academy of Learning was established, and in 1963 it merged with the previously organized National Research Council of Ghana, which supervised scientific research institutes and laboratories. After the merger the academy was renamed the Ghana Academy of Sciences. It had responsibility for planning and organizing scientific research in various branches of science, as well as for financing the designated research at the universities. In 1966 the academy was divided into the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which is under government direction. The council coordinates the work of a number of scientific research institutes. Among these is the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, which works on hematological problems in which Ghana has a special interest, conducts clinical-pathological studies of infectious hepatitis, and does epidemiological research on tuberculosis and blood parasites. Also under the council’s direction is the Entomological and Parasitological Research Unit, which conducts research on the tropical cattle diseases, on the spread of the tsetse fly, and on certain tropical species of ticks and nematodes. The Agricultural Institute with its divisions of soil science and horticulture is compiling soil maps of Ghana and studying specific farm crops, excluding cacao, and maintains experimental stations for research on the selection of new varieties of agricultural crops, on the protection of plants, on irrigation, and on the economics and organization of agriculture. The Cacao Research Institute at Tafo has sections on plant pathology, entomology, agricultural techniques, botany, and chemistry, as well as numerous experimental stations and an experimental plantation. There are also the Building and Road Research Institute and the Forest Products Research Institute at Kumasi, and there is a laboratory for the study of local medicinal plants.

Specialists in various branches of learning have joined together to form the Ghana Science Association, the Ghana Medical Association, the Ghana Geographical Association, the Geological Survey of Ghana, and the Ghana Joint Group of Engineers.


The following daily newspapers are published (1971): Ghanaian Times (since 1958; circulation about 87,000 in 1969; semiofficial), Daily Graphic (since 1950; circulation 150,000 in 1969), Evening News (since 1948; circulation 60,000 in 1968), and Pioneer (circulation 30,000 in 1970). The following weeklies are also published: Sunday Mirror (since 1953; circulation 98,500 in 1970), New Ashanti Times (since 1948; circulation 25,000 in 1970), Weekly Spectator (since 1963; circulation 50,000 in 1970), and Business Weekly (circulation 5,000).

Radio and television broadcasting is provided by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Radio programs have been carried since 1961 in six native languages (Akan, Ga, Ewe, Nzema, Dagbani, and Hausa), as well as in English, French, and other languages. Telecasts have been carried since 1965, on a single channel. The radio and television center is in Accra.

Written literature began to appear among the peoples of Ghana only at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, primarily in English. Books and articles by such journalists as A. Ahuma, A. Ajayi, E. Casely-Hayford (who also wrote the novel Ethiopia Liberated in 1911), S. J. Mensah, and R. E. G. Armattoe (1913-53) were popular. Publications in Fanti, Ewe, Ga, Adangbe, Dagbani, and Hausa began to appear in the middle of the 20th century. The principal themes of the literary works from the 1920’s to the 1950’s were historical and ethnographic problems. A number of works were of great importance in awakening the Ghanaian people’s self-awareness and understanding of their national community, including the epic poems The Fanti People and Customs of the Fanti by G. R. Acquaah (died 1954), the novels and plays of J. H. Nketia (born 1921), the play The Third Woman by J. B. Danquah, the dramas The Fifth Lagoon and Pages From the History of Anlo by K. Fiawoo (born 1891), the poems of Armattoe (the collection Hidden Thoughts of a Black Man, 1954), and the poems of E. Amu, and C. A. Akrofi. During this same period translated literature also began to appear, for example, the translations by H. K. B. Setsoafia (born 1920) and by I. B. Dadson. After Ghana’s independence was proclaimed in 1957, new social and political themes began to emerge in literature. Most writers took part in the common struggle against the vestiges of colonialism expressed, for example, in the verse of Dadson, Addo, and Nyaku (born 1924). As before, there was great interest in the country’s rich folklore. Poetry, prose, and dramas have developed on the basis of folk traditions. Especially popular are E. Sutherland (born 1924), Nketia, H. Ofori, A. A. Opoku (born 1912), A. K. Mensah, I. N. Ho (born 1912), Setsoafia, E. K. Martin, J. H. Sackey, and J. Okai (born 1941). Since the mid-1960’s the genre of the novel has been developing more intensively. In 1968 such novels appeared as The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born by A. Armah (born 1939), Anowa by A. Aidoo, and A Husband for Esi Ellua by K. Bediako. Appearing in 1967 was The Madcaps by C. Duodu (born 1937). Literary unions and groups include the Bureau of Ghana Languages, the Union of Journalists and Writers, the Division of the West African Bureau of Writers, and the Committee for the Development of Ghanaian Literature.


Golosa Gany. Tashkent, 1960.
Vavilov, V. N. “O sovremennoi literature Gany.” Narody Azii i Afriki, 1962, no. 6.
Poety Gany. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Chego stoit khleb: Rasskazy afrikanskikh pisatelei. Moscow, 1968.
Voices of Ghana: Literary Contributions to the Ghana Broadcasting System 1955-57. Accra, 1958.


The traditional dwellings of Ghana are round or rectangular adobe huts with conical or gable roofs, made of wooden poles covered with palm branches, straw, or slate. Complexes of palaces of the native chiefs have been preserved in northern Ghana—adobe structures (up to 5 m in height) with carved geometrical ornamentation and painted stucco basreliefs. The wooden pillars supporting the projecting overhangs of the roofs are embellished with carving. In the major cities (Accra, Kumasi) new quarters have been built up with multistoried modern buildings of glass, concrete, and aluminum. Since 1960 new cities such as Tema have been built, and large-scale architectural complexes have been created, for example, the cultural center in Kumasi, as well as residential sections, for example, in Accra.

Ghana has achieved a high level in the artistic working of gold, silver, and bronze. Outstanding are ornaments, ceremonial weapons, vases, and elegantly figured little weights (in the form of animals), used for weighing gold dust. From precious metals are cast human figurines of exaggerated proportions and decorative sculptured groups of a humorous nature. A number of crafts have flourished since ancient times. These include pottery—black ceramic vessels, complex in form, with molded depictions of people and animals—the making of the national dress known as kente with its woven or printed colored design, and ornamental wood carving on everyday objects. Mahogany and ebony are used for carving stylized, column-shaped statuettes with large, flat, round faces on long, thin necks. After Ghana’s proclamation of independence professional art developed, and art exhibitions were held. Artists’ organizations arose, for example, the Ghana Society of Artists and the Akwapim 6, which are united in their efforts to develop a contemporary national style. Toward this goal, the sculptor O. Ampofo— the founder of Akwapim 6—is striving to master the heritage not only of Africa but also of the rest of the world, from Michelangelo to Japanese Buddhist sculpture. The works of such painters as A. O. Bartimeus, J. D. Okae, G. Ananga, and A. Kotei are diverse in their ideological and artistic outlooks, as well as in their techniques; they range from decorative stylization to a realistic European manner.

Ghana has an institute of the arts and culture, an art school in Achimota (near Accra), schools of architecture and construction, and a school of arts and crafts in Kumasi.


Ol’derogge, D. Iskusstvo narodov Zapadnoi Afriki v muzeiakh SSSR. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.
Meyerowitz, E. L. R. The Sacred State of the Akan. London [1951].
Italiaander, R. Neue Kunst in Afrika. [Mannheim, 1957.]
Brentjes, B. “Junge Kunst aus Ghana.” Bildende Kunst, 1962, no. 1.

Although there are common national traditions the music of each of the numerous national groups of Ghana has its own special character, and it performs various functions in everyday life. For example, among the Konkomba, Dagbane, and Adangbe peoples, music is one of the principal elements in the wedding ceremony, whereas the Akan and a number of other peoples do not have this tradition. In certain northern regions collective labor is accompanied by music, but there is no such custom among the Ashanti.

The pentatonic scale is the harmonic foundation for the music of a number of peoples (the Adangbe, Dagbane, Mamprusi, Kusasi). Other peoples, for example, the Akan, Builsa, and Konkomba, have six- and seven-note scales. In regions settled by representatives of different nationalities several scales are used.

One of the traits of Ghana’s music is the presence of both fixed and “free” rhythms. This originated from the use of regular and irregular accents along with the “main” accent, which appears at fixed intervals and is emphasized by the stamping of feet, the clapping of hands, and the beating of drums. Songs and instrumental pieces are performed in “free” rhythm, but dances require a fixed rhythm.

The musical instruments of Ghana are varied. The percussion group is represented by drums of various types: the atsimevu, sogo, kidi, and kagan among the Ewe people and the etvie (leopard) among the Ashanti and other peoples. A rhythmic background is also created by different types of rattles, little bells, and metallic castanets. Of the wind instruments flutes made of bamboo or wood and horns made from elephant tusks or the horns of other animals are widespread. In the north stringed instruments predominate, including musical bows, single-string violins, zithers, and the unique six- and seven-string harps.

During the 1950’s, European instruments began to be used. A new type of musical ensemble became widespread—the highlife orchestra, based on a combination of African folk instruments and European instruments.

With the creation of the independent state of Ghana new paths were opened for the development of professional music. In 1958 the Arts Council was created, whose primary task was to preserve and develop African folk culture. Problems of musical art are also the concern of the Institute of African Studies connected with the University of Ghana. A student symphony orchestra and a choral group have been organized within the institute. Composers include E. Amu, P. Gbeho, and K. Nketia. Works are published on problems of music and folklore, including works by K. Nketia.


Hanga, L. “Pervyi trud.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1965, no. 6, pp. 125-27.
Nketia, Kwabena. African Music in Ghana. Accra, 1962.
Nketia, Kwabena. Folk Songs of Ghana. London, 1963.
Nketia, Kwabena. Drumming in Akan Communities of Ghana. Edinburgh, 1963.

Among the people of Ghana, especially among the Akan peoples, dance occupies an important place. There are dances that are common to all regions of the country: the ceremonial fontom-forom, the sorcerer’s magical akom, the warlike asafo, and the women’s funeral dance, the adowa. Their rhythms and movements are usually standardized. Dances are an obligatory element of almost all dramatic performances.

During the 1920’s traveling concert groups arose, whose members—continuing a traditional folk art—would act out improvised small scenes with a morally instructive content. In 1962 the School of Music and Drama was created at the University of Ghana, and the university also has a department of dance. In 1962 a folk-dance ensemble was created which toured Europe.

In 1958 the poet E. Sutherland organized a drama studio that became the experimental workshop of the national theater. Its repertory has included productions in English and in Akan—for example, folk tales and legends (Anasegoro and Foriwa by Sutherland), dramas dealing with contemporary life (Sons and Daughters and A Guest From the Past by J. De Graft), plays by the Nigerian dramatists W. Soyinka and J. Henshau, an adaptation of the medieval morality play Odesani, and J. Anouilh’s Antigone. In 1963 the studio became part of the University of Ghana and, jointly with the School of Music and Drama, staged Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Of great importance for the development of theater in Ghana was the activity of the director F. Morisseau-Leroy. In 1961 he founded the Theater Club company, and in 1965 he formed a semiprofessional group, the National Dramatic Society. He staged works by Western playwrights, sometimes adapting them (Antigone in Haiti and others), dance narrative poems, and his own play Akosombo.

During the second half of the 1960’s the School of Music and Drama trained dramatic actors who were attempting to make the transition to the professional stage. In 1968 the first professional actors on their own initiative formed drama groups such as the Free-lance Players, the Independent Actors, and the Legon Seven, which put on productions of plays from both the Ghanaian and the translated foreign repertory, including N. V. Gogol’s The Inspector General and B. Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Material difficulties, however, compel these actors to work in other occupations. Such troupes, as a rule, exist for a brief time and then cease their activity because of financial hardships. The comic actor Ajax Bukana, who appears with his own troupe, enjoys popularity. Among other semiprofessional troupes is the Playhouse, founded in 1965. In 1961 one such company, organized by Saka Akwei, staged Obadzeng (Born Again) while on tour in the USSR.

N. I. L’VOV [6-276-1; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Ghana

Capital city: Accra

Internet country code: .gh

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), yellow, and green with a large black five-pointed star cen­tered in the yellow band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia; similar to the flag of Bolivia, which has a coat of arms centered in the yellow band

National anthem: “God bless our homeland Ghana” (first line)

Geographical description: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo

Total area: 92,100 sq. mi. (238,538 sq. km.)

Climate: Tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north

Nationality: noun: Ghanaian(s); adjective: Ghanaian

Population: 22,931,299 (July 2007 CIA est.)

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%

Languages spoken: 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%, other 36.1% (includes English [official])

Religions: Pentecostal/Charismatic 24.1%, Protestant 18.6%, Catholic 15.1%, other Christian 11%, Muslim 15.9%, indigenous religions 8.5%, other 0.7%, none 6.1%

Legal Holidays:

Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Farmers' DayDec 5
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Independence DayMar 6
May DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
Republic DayJul 1
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in W Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea: a powerful empire from the 4th to the 13th centuries; a major source of gold and slaves for Europeans after 1471; British colony of the Gold Coast established in 1874; united with British Togoland in 1957 and became a republic and a member of the Commonwealth in 1960. Official language: English. Religions: Christian, Muslim, and animist. Currency: cedi. Capital: Accra. Pop.: 21 377 000 (2004 est.). Area: 238 539 sq. km (92 100 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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