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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country Profile

Area: 239,000 sq km
Population: 24,791,073 (2011 estimate)
Capital City: Accra, 2.269 million (2009 estimate)
People and languages: The official language is English. There are around 75 spoken languages and numerous ethnic groups, including the Akan, the Mossi, the Ewe, the Ga-Adangme, the Fante, and the Hausa
Religion: Islam, Christianity and indigenous beliefs
Currency: Cedi
Major political parties: New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC), People’s National Convention (PNC), Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP)
Head of State: President John Evans Atta Mills (elected 2009)
Foreign Minister: Hon Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni
Membership of international organisations: Commonwealth, United Nations (UN), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU)

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ECONOMY

Basic economic facts

GDP: US$61.97bn (2010 est)
Annual growth: 5.7% (2010 est)
Inflation: 10.9% (2010 est)
Exchange rate: 2.5 Ghanaian Cedis (GHS) = £1 (December 2004)
Major industries: cocoa, gold, oil and timber.
Major trading partners: The European Union, United States, Nigeria, Togo.
Ghana is well endowed with natural resources; gold and cocoa production and individual remittances are major sources of foreign exchange. Oil production at Ghana's offshore Jubilee field began in mid-December and is expected to boost economic growth. Ghana signed a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in 2006, which aims to assist in transforming Ghana's agricultural sector. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002 and reached HIPC completion point in July 2004, massively reducing its debt as a result of this. Ghana is also benefiting from the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative that took effect in 2006. In 2009 Ghana signed a three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF to improve macroeconomic stability, private sector competitiveness, human resource development, and good governance and civic responsibility. Sound macro-economic management along with high prices for gold and cocoa helped sustain GDP growth in 2008-10. In 2010 President Atta-Mills targeted recovery from high inflation and current account and budget deficits as his priorities.

International Monetary Fund - Ghana (http://www.imf.org/external/country/GHA/index.htm)

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HISTORY

Modern Ghana was created from the British Gold Coast Colony, established in 1874, and the UK-administered Trusteeship Territory of Togoland, incorporated in 1956 following a plebiscite. Agitation for independence grew strongly after the Second World War. From the early 1950s, self-government was introduced with elections in 1951, 1954 and 1956 to the legislative assembly. Kwame Nkrumah’a party, the CPP, won all 3 elections and led the country to independence, as Ghana, in March 1957. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Nkrumah was the first Prime Minister, and in 1960 became President with the change of Ghana’s status to a Republic within the Commonwealth.

Nkrumah turned Ghana into a 1-party state under African Socialism. A celebrated pan-Africanist, he also developed close ties with the Soviet Bloc. He was overthrown in Ghana’s first military coup in 1966. For the next 26 years until 1992, Ghana had only short periods of civilian rule (1969-71,1979-81) interrupted by longer periods of military rule (1966-69,1972-79, 1981-1991). During the last period of military rule Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings brought in populist policies, and Cuban-style revolutionary institutions, including the CDRs, Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, and Peoples Defence Committees. However, under pressure internally and from the international community, in 1991 Rawlings conceded a return to constitutional rule and multi-party politics. A new constitution was approved in a referendum in April 1992.

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Ghana maintains close and friendly relations with its West African neighbours, largely through the regional organisation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in which it is a key player.

On the wider African stage, Ghana plays a leading role in the African Union (AU) and has been a major supporter of NEPAD, the AU’s flagship development plan. Ghana was one of the first four countries to be subject to NEPAD’s African Peer Review Mechanism. In January 2007 Ghana became the Chair of the African Union, a nomination seen as fitting in the year that Ghana celebrated its 50th anniversary.

ECOWAS (http://www.ecowas.info/)
African Union (http://www.africa-union.org/)
NEPAD (http://www.nepad.org)

Ghana's Relations with the UK

The UK’s relations with Ghana are warm and strong. There are wide ranging social, economic and commercial contacts. There is an estimated 500,000 strong Ghanaian-British community.

Visits

Recent Visits Outwards

High level bilateral visits and contacts are a feature of our relations.

July 2011 - DFID Minister Stephen O'Brien

-- May 2011 - The Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham MP

-- February 2011 - The Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham MP

November 2010 - DFID Minister Stephen O'Brien

-- March 2007 - The Duke of Kent participated in the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of Ghana's independence

-- 7-9 November 1999 - State Visit by The Queen and Prince Philip

Recent Visits Inwards

President Atta-Mills made a successful guest of government visit to the UK in May 2009.

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GEOGRAPHY

Ghana is situated in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo in the east, Burkina Faso in the north, Côte d’Ivoire in the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. A narrow grassy plain stretches inland from the coast, widening in the east. The south and west are covered by dense rain forest. To the north are forested hills, beyond which is dry savannah and open woodland. The Black and White Volta rivers enter Ghana from Burkina Faso and lead to the largest man-made lake in the world, Lake Volta.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and investment with the UK

Ghana is the UK’s fourth largest export market in Africa. UK exports in goods to Ghana were valued at £259 million in 2009, up from £155.04m in 2006. Various manufactured articles, pharmaceuticals and textiles made up the majority of these exports. UK imports from Ghana were £189 million in 2009, up from £148.8m in 2006.

The UK is the largest investor in Ghana, with an estimated £500m of assets. One of the biggest investments is Lonmin’s 32% share in Ghana’s largest gold mining company, Ashanti Goldfields. Altogether, there are 141 companies with British equity registered with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre. The key ones are Unilever, Guiness, British Airways, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays, Paterson Zochonis, Taylor Woodrow and Cadbury.

Development

UK development assistance to Ghana, provided through the Department for International Development (DFID), has been closely associated over the long term with the success Ghana has recorded in reducing poverty. The poverty rate declined from 52% in 1991 to 29% in 2006, and Ghana is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on poverty reduction. The UK remains one of the largest bilateral donors to Ghana and through this assistance is supporting the Government of Ghana in the implementation of its Shared Growth and Development Agenda.

The next few years will be crucial for Ghana, offering an opportunity to transform the country's development, firmly establishing its middle income status and delivering significantly better health, education and wealth creation outcomes. There are still a number of challenges however: over six million people live below the national poverty line; progress against a number of Millennium Development Goals is disappointing; there are major regional inequalities, with the North of the country suffering significantly higher levels of poverty than elsewhere; women and girls perform worse across all the main social indicators; educational attainment is poor; oil is potentially a blessing, but it could also prove to be a curse; businesses are often too small, unproductive and lacking in innovation; domestic revenue collection is low; macroeconomic stability remains at risk; and Ghana needs to continue to build on its strong electoral track record, especially now that oil has raised the stakes.

DFID's current planned support to Ghana is focussed on helping the Government of Ghana address these challenges. The three strategic objectives for the period 2011-2015 are: wealth creation; competent, transparent and accountable governance; and improved human development outcomes (education, health and poverty reduction). This will be achieved through a combination of general budget support, sector budget support (predominantly in health and education) and targeted programmes.

Links to main donors:
Department for International Development (DFID) (http://www.dfid.gov.uk)
World Bank (http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/GHANAEXTN/0,,menuPK:351958~pagePK:141159~piPK:141110~theSitePK:351952,00.html)
United Nations Development Programme (http://www.undp.org/)
EU Development Directorate (http://ec.europa.eu/development/index_en.cfm)

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POLITICS

The 1992 constitution introduced an executive presidential system, a 2-term limit to presidential tenure and a 200-member unicameral legislature (since increased to 230 in 2004). Rawlings created his own party, the NDC, out of the former revolutionary structures, and other parties were created or revived. In the subsequent presidential election of November 1992, Rawlings won with 58% of the vote. Four years later, in 1996, Rawlings again won the Presidency with 57% of the vote but the NDC was reduced to 133 seats.

Rawlings stepped down in 2000 and President Kufuor, of the opposition NPP, was elected, first in December 2000 (with 57% of second round votes) and again in December 2004 (with 53% of second round votes). In both legislative elections, the NPP won a majority of the seats leaving the NDC with a greatly reduced presence in Parliament. In December 2006 the losing candidate of the NDC party in 2000 and 2004, John Atta Mills, was again nominated by the NDC presidential candidate for the 2008 elections. In December 2007 the NPP nominated former Foreign Minister Nana Akuffo Addo as its candidate for the 2008 elections, after he beat his nearest rival Alan Kyeremanteng in the first round of party voting. John Atta-Mills was elected President of Ghana in 2009.

Ghana Government (http://www.ghana.gov.gh)
BBC News Country Profile: Ghana (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1023355.stm)
Ghana Web (http://www.ghanaweb.com/)

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HUMAN RIGHTS

The Rawlings military regime of the 1980s saw significant human rights abuses. President Kufour’s government set up a National Reconciliation Commission in 2002 to hear cases of human rights abuses during the years of military rule. It heard 4,000 petitions. It reported in 2004. The human rights situation has been transformed for the better since the return to constitutional rule. Currently, Ghana’s record is good. There is an independent judiciary and free and active press. The death sentence remains on the statute books.

Human Rights Annual Report 2010 (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/human-rights/around-the-world/human-rights-report/)

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Last Updated: November 2011

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