Ghana

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Ghana is a country in West Africa. It borders the countries of Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and Togo to the east. Ghana is a very friendly country, ideal for first time travellers to Africa, the people are generally very helpful and welcoming. While their laidback attitude and lack of organized tourist sights/trips can be a little annoying to begin with, before you have been there for very long you realize that it is one of the delights of this country. Tourism in Ghana is growing very quickly, and more tour operators are seeing increased requests for Ghana as a travel destination. Ghana is also rich in gold. This is a stable country with great potential for growth. Ghana means Warrior King and the name of the country is derived from the ancient Ghana Empire. (less...) (more...)

Population: 25,199,609 people
Area: 238,533 km2
Highest point: 885 m
Coastline: 539 km
Life expectancy: 65.32 years
GDP per capita: $3,400
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About Ghana

History

Early times

There is archaeological evidence which shows that humans have lived in what is present day Ghana from about 1500 BC. Nonetheless, there is no proof that those early dwellers are related to the current inhabitants of the area. Oral tradition has it that many of Ghana's current ethnic groups such as the multi-ethnic Akan, the Ga and the Ewe arrived around the 13th Century AD. However, the Dagombas are believed to be the first settlers, having been fully established by 1210 AD, before the arrival of other ethnic groups. Modern Ghanaian territory includes what was the Empire of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa before colonial rule.

Colonial era

Early European contact by the Portuguese, who came to Ghana in the 15th century, focused on the extensive availability of gold. By 1548, the Dutch had joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. Other European traders joined in by the mid 17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. British merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it the Gold Coast, while French merchants, impressed with the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west "Côte d'Ivoire", or Ivory Coast. The Gold Coast was known for centuries as 'The White Man's Grave' because many of the Europeans who went there died of malaria and other tropical diseases.

After the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate. Following conquest by the British in 1896, until independence in March 1957, the territory of modern Ghana excluding the Volta Region (British Togoland), was known as the Gold Coast.

Many wars occurred between the colonial powers and the various nation-states in the area and even under colonial rule the chiefs and people often resisted the policies of the British. Moves toward de-colonization intensified after World War II and after an intense struggle, on March 6th 1957 elected parliamentary leader Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana as "free forever". The nation thus became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence.

Climate

There are two main seasons in Ghana, the wet and the dry seasons. Northern Ghana experiences its rainy season from March to November while the south, including the capital Accra, experiences the season from April to Mid-November.

Food

Traditional food is fun to try and easy to enjoy. Fufu, the most widely served traditional dish, consists of pounded balls of yam, plantain, or cassava served with soup, and a side of goat meat or fish. Soups are typically made of groundnuts, palm nut, okra and other vegetables. Banku is a fermented corn version of the dish typically eaten with grilled tilapia fish or okra soup.

Rice dishes are also typical, but not considered a "real" meal by many Ghanaians, males especially. Jollof rice is a dish as varied as its chef, but generally consists of white rice cooked with vegetables, meat pieces, spices in a tomato based sauce. Waakye is a mix of beans and rice, typically served with gari, a powder of ground cassava. Often rice dishes are served with shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes on the side with a dollop of Heinz salad cream or mayonnaise. Such meals are extremely cheap from street vendors and come as little as GHS1.50 to GHS2.50.

Plantains, yams, and sweet potatoes are prepared in various ways and serve as small snacks. Kelewele, a spiced fried plantain snack, is especially delicious. Fresh fruits such as pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut, oranges, and bananas are delightful when in season and come when applicable by the bag for as little as 10 cents.

A great African meal in a restaurant can cost as little as GHS3.00 to GHS7.00. For instance, a lobster and shrimp dinner can cost a mere GHS6. There are also a number of Western and Chinese style restaurants available especially in Osu, a trendy suburb of Accra.

There is also banku and tilapia.The price of the tilapia varies based on the size as well as where you buy it from. There are other local traditional meals that are not so common example are the Aprapransa, mpotompoto etc

Drinks

Drinking water from the tap is not generally considered to be safe, so choices include plastic bottled water (e.g. Voltic, 1.5 L, c. GHS1.00), boiled or filtered tap water, and "pure water" sachets. These sachets are filtered and come in 500 mL. portions. Many foreigners prefer bottled water.

At least one study[8] has suggested bottled water to be the safest choice. Although "pure water" sachets are more easily accessible, 2.3% of sachets tested were found to contain faecal bacteria. If you want to play it safe, stick with carbonated beverages or bottled water.

In Accra's expat visited bars, a beer will cost between GHS2.00 and GHS4.00. Fruit juices GHS1.50, water GHS1.00 to GHS1.50. Star and Club are two of the more popular beers served. For a more interesting and rewarding experience, visit a "spot," a bar signified by the blue and white stripes on the outside of the building. They are cheaper and you will undoubtedly be able to meet some local Ghanaians as well as hear the newest hip-life songs.

A soft drink such as Coke, Fanta, 7UP (called "minerals" by locals) are widely available for GHS0.70.

Be aware that the bottles that minerals or beer is served to you in are owned by the bottling company-if you do not return it to the seller, they stand to lose GHS0.50 -- more than you most likely paid for the drink. If you are not going to consume the drink at the "spot" or at the roadside stand, make sure you let the seller know. Often, you will be asked for a deposit which will be returned upon the return of the bottle.There also traditional drinks like "pito", asaana,burkina,bisarrp drink (sobolo)

Shopping

The new Ghana cedi (GHS) was introduced on 1 July 2007 at a rate equal to 10,000 old cedis. When it was introduced, it was the highest-valued currency unit issued by a sovereign African country.

You will encounter a variety of currency notations locally, including "GH₵" instead of "GHS". Banknotes are issued in 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 new Ghana cedi denominations.

One new Ghana cedi is divided into one hundred new Ghana pesewas (Gp). Coins of GHS1, 0.50 0.20, 0.10, 0.05 and 0.01 circulate. The one pesewa coins are rare in the system since you hardly find items that can be bought for less than 5 pesewas.

Be aware that most Ghanaians still think in old currency. This can be very confusing (and costly). Ten thousand old cedis are habitually referred to as ten (or twenty, or thirty). This would, today, be one, two, or three "new" Ghana cedis. So always think whether the quoted price makes sense before buying or agreeing on a taxi fare. If in doubt ask whether this is new cedis.

US dollars are accepted by some of the major tourist hotels, but you shouldn't rely on this. As in all West African countries, older US dollar bills will be rejected by banks and Forex bureaus. If you intend to take dollar notes make sure that they are all from the 2007 series or above.

Euros, dollars and pounds sterling in cash are the most useful currencies to take with you and are easily and safely changed at numerous air con booths open to 21:00. Approximate exchange rates as of August 2013, are:

  • GBP1 = GHS3.30
  • USD1 = GHS2.12
  • €1 = GHS2.84

There are many Forex Bureaus in Accra, and a few in the other major cities. It is very difficult to change travellers cheques and certainly almost impossible outside Accra and Kumasi, unless you change them at a major bank. Barclays has branches in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and even Tamale where you can change travelers cheques. Expect lines. VISA cards are accepted at major hotels and there are ATMs in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Tamale and Bolgatanga. which accept VISA. Be aware that the Cape Coast cash machine is frequently empty. At the main branch of Barclays Bank in Accra you can get a cash advance on your VISA or MasterCard provided you have your passport with you.

Bargaining is very much expected in the markets. Large cities such as Accra have markets open every day, but travellers get the true flavour of the country if they have the opportunity to visit a village market on the day of the week that it is open. Most goods will be staple goods, but cloth, beads, musical instruments, bags, and even CD's are usually available.

Kente cloth, drums and wooden designs, such as masks and "sacred stools" can be found on almost any street in any tourist area in Ghana.

The accra mall is a first class and commercial shopping centre situated on the spintex road of the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange.(www.accramall.com).

Adinkrah symbols and sacred stools

The sacred stools have traditional Adinkrah "motif" designs in them that can mean many things having to do with God, love, strength, community, and much more. Finding a guidebook which will tell you what each symbol means is advisable to prevent the possibility of buying a stool that doesn't mean what you think it is.

Gye Nyame is by far the most popular Adinkrah symbol. It means "Only God". Other popular stools are the "Wisdom Knot" and the one with the character holding many sticks together, which cannot be broken, to symbolize the strength of community.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Ghana on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Ghana

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Kumasi is the main city of Ashanti-Kwahu region of Ghana.

Interesting places:

  • Manhyia Palace
  • Kumasi Sports Stadium (Baba Yara Stadium)
  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
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Sekondi and Takoradi are adjacent port cities, the combined municipality forms the capital of Western Ghana.

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Elmina is a city in Coastal Plain region of Ghana. Its name comes from the Portuguese word for "Mine". The gold found in these mines are also the origin of the name "Gold Coast", which was the name of what is now Ghana, when it was a British Colony.

Interesting places:

  • Elmina Castle
  • Cape Coast Castle
  • Fort St. Jago
  • Kakum National Park
  • Fort Amsterdam
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Interesting places:

  • Akosombo Dam
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Busua is a seaside city on Ghana's Coastal Plain.

Interesting places:

  • Fort Metal Cross
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Obuasi is a mining town situated in the Ashanti-Kwahu region of Ghana, some 60 km south of Kumasi.

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Accra is the capital city of Ghana.

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Koforidua is a city and capital of Eastern Region in south of Ghana. Koforidua has a settlement population of 127,334 people in 2012. Koforidua is a commercial center for the Eastern region and New-Juaben Municipal district. Koforidua is regarded as one of the calmest and coolest cities in the country of ... (read more)

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Sekondi and Takoradi are adjacent port cities, the combined municipality forms the capital of Western Ghana.

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Ghana

Historic sites

For many visitors the history of Ghana starts with the slave trade, and interaction with Europeans, but there was a long and rich history before that. Remnants of thriving civilisations can be seen in the Northern region, at both the Larabanga mosque which dates from the 15th century and the 16th century Nalerigu Defence Wall.

With the growth in power and prestige of the Ashanti Kingdom in the 17th and 19th Centuries, the capital Kumasi also grew and now contains a number of historic sights.

However the slave trade did leave its mark on Ghana, with forts built by the British, Dutch, Danish, Germans, Portuguese and Swedish dotted all along the coast. Excellent examples of these can be seen at both Cape Coast and Elmina, these forts give a glimpse of the time of slavery and a view of the last sight of Africa for thousands of people, as well as being Unesco World Heritage sites.

Nature

Ghana is blessed with an abundance of natural treasures, from beautiful beaches such as those at Kokrobite and Winneba, where you can relax with a cocktail, enjoy a stay at a beach front hotel or watch the fishermen at work. Alternatively you could take the waters inland instead, Volta Lake created by the damming of the River Volta at Akosombo in the mid 1960s to provide a source of electricity to Ghana now also provides a wonderful viewing point from the dam itself or trips out onto the lake itself or you can take a trip on the River Volta instead at Ada.

In the Ashanti region not far from Kumasi is Lake Bosumtwi, a 10.5km diameter meteor impact crater lake, which was created by a meteor strike approximately 1 million years ago, as well a being extremely picturesque the lake holds a spiritual significance to the Ashanti, whose traditional belief asserts that souls of the dead meet the god Twi at the lake.

Also inland, are two more national treasures in the form of two world renowned national parks. Kakum National Park to walk of the elevated rope bridges within the forest, with the opportunity for bird watching and butterfly and other nature spotting or to Mole National Park to enjoy a safari experience, with the chance to see Elephants, big cats and other animals on the savannah.

Urban

Both the 1st and 2nd cities of Ghana offer plenty to see and to do. Accra offers history at the historic sites, such as Independence square, the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum and the WB Dubois Centre. Shopping in a number of markets, including Makola market in the centre of the city. Cultural treats include a number of museums and the national theatre. Outside of the city at Aburi are the extensive botantical gardens.

Kumasi offers the sights based around the history of the Ashanti, including the Manhiya Palace, the Asantehene's Palace and Okomfo Anokye Sword.There are also more to discover in terms of artifacts which are deeply rooted in the culture of the Asante people like wood cvarvings from Ahwiaa,Adinkra designs and clothes from Ntonso and Aboaso,Kente weaving in some part of Kwabre Bonwire, Adanwomasi and Wonoo.

Elmina Castle - Elmina

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial - Accra

Manhyia Palace - Kumasi

Fort Metal Cross - Busua

Fort Patience - Winneba

Mole National Park - Tamale

Fort Saint Antony - Axim

Fort San Sebastian - Shama

Fort Prinzenstein - Keta

Nini-Suhien National Park - Jema

Cape Coast Castle - Elmina

Ohene Djan Stadium - Accra

Makola Market - Accra

Holy Trinity Cathedral - Accra

Fort St. Jago - Elmina

Labadi Beach - Accra

National Theatre of Ghana - Accra

Independence Square (Black Star Square) - Accra

Accra International Conference Centre - Accra

Accra Mall - Accra

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

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