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Ghana: the Gold Coast and the kingdom of the Ashanti

Ghana is a West African state bordering the Gulf of Guinea. This country formerly known as the Gold Coast was a British colony until 1957. The territory of Ghana has seen numerous African kingdoms and empires develop. The most powerful of which was the Kingdom of Ashanti. Its coasts were explored by Portuguese navigators in the 15th century. It was here that in 1482 Portugal built the first European settlement in the Gulf of Guinea, the fort of São Jorge da Mina, located near the current town of Elmina. The commercial settlement became important for the gold trade that arrived here from the mines located in the interior.

In the following centuries the coast of Ghana was the scene of the struggles between the European states that aimed to control the new and profitable slave trade. The Gold Coast saw the construction along the coast of the country of dozens of fortresses and castles by the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Swedish, Brandenburgers (German), French and Danish who often changed hands between a colonial power and the other. This situation ended with the abolition of the slave trade and with the English dominance along the coast and with the extension of their control also in the interior of the country. Although both the Danes and the Dutch kept their bases in Ghana until the end of the 19th century.

GEOGRAPHY

Ghana today faithfully reflects the borders of the British colony of the Gold Coast. The country extends with a low and sandy coast, with numerous lagoons, about 500 km long along the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Guinea. Along the coast there are occasionally isolated promontories such as the Three Points Cape, which is the southernmost point of the country.

The country mainly consists of flat land and undulating plateaus. On average, even the highest areas of the country have heights around 300 meters. Only in the Kwahu Plateau, located north-west of Accra, are reached 788 meters in height. Due to the heavy rains that characterize the whole territory of Ghana, the river network is very well developed. Among the rivers the most important is the Volta, which is formed by the union of the White Volta and Black Volta. Much of the river is now occupied by Lake Volta, an artificial lake born after the construction of the Akosombo dam. Lake Volta – which measures 8,502 km² – is the largest artificial lake in the world by surface.

Ghana is essentially made up of three types of vegetation. Along the coast there is a strip of coastal savannah several tens of kilometers deep. To the north of this, for a depth of several hundred kilometers lies the rainforest. Finally, from the end of the forest to the border with Burkina Faso, the savannah extends.

THE ECONOMY

The country produces and exports significant quantities of oil and natural gas, and is among the most important gold and diamond producing countries in the world. Of the agricultural products, cocoa is the most important.

The official website of the Government of Ghana.

  • Surface: 238,535 sq km. (Arative 18.1%, Meadows and Pastures 35.2%, Forests and Woods 40.2%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 6.5%)
  • Population: 30,400,000 (update 2019). Ethnic groups: Akan 47.5%, Dagbani / Mole 16.6%, Ewe 13.9%, Ga-Adangbe 7.4%, Gurma 5.7%, Guan / Gonja 3.7%, Gurunsi 2.5%, Bissa / Mande 1.1%, others 1.6%.
  • Capital: Accra.
  • Languages: Official language is English. Over a hundred ethnic languages are spoken in Ghana.
  • Religion: Christian 71.2%, Muslim 17.6%, Animist 5.2%.
  • Currency: Ghana cedi (GHS)
  • Time zone: -1 hour of Europe (-2 hours when daylight saving time is in force in Europe). UTC +0.

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