The word Ghana means Warrior King, it was chosen as the name of the country on its independence from Britain in 1957, it was known, when as part of the British colonies, as the Gold Coast and British Togoland (now the Volta region, a narrow strip that forms the east of the country).
The Gold Coast was built by the British from a number of tribal kingdoms, while British Togoland was formed by splitting areas in the first world war, later known as Trans-Volta Togo, and administered from the Gold Coast, it was merged into the Gold Coast slightly before independence and after it had been agreed.
Ghana was a British colony until 1957, when it gained independence. It is now a model for other African countries with elections, a stable government, and being both a safe and pleasant place to visit.
Located on the west Atlantic coast of Africa. It has the world's largest manmade waterway, Lake Volta.
The land area is similar to the UK but it has around a quarter of the population. The population is estimated as 23 million.
The capital city is Accra. There are a small number of other cities, the second city being Kumasi.
Major population areas include:- Accra 2,096,653; Kumasi 1,604,909; Tamale 390,730; Sekondi-Takoradi 260,651; Tema 229,106; Teshie 154,513; Cape Coast 154,204; Obuasi 147,613. Beyond this most are far smaller places.
Ghana has 540KM of Atlantic coastline, very little of it developed.
Climate: Northern Ghana, is dry October to March, mixed from April to October. Southern Ghana, Rainy seasons are April-June and September-October. The rains are usually restricted to specific times each day, they are not continuous. Generally temperatures are between 21o and 31o Centigrade.
Infrastructure, roads and driving
Infrastructure, is poor, and roads in particular outside of Accra and the coastal road are limiting. There is a skeleton of tarmaced roads, but these may have missing sections or large potholes, beyond this roads are mud tracks. Its generally not possible to drive at night. Fuel is available in most parts of the country although in some places it's out of barrels with a hand pump.
Driving is on the right, and you need to check with hire companies the driving licence requirements, many want an international driving permit. Driving in Ghana is not perhaps for everyone, they call it defensive driving, and you may be run off the road at times. There is little traffic management and going through some junctions can be best described as driving through a maze, mostly around other cars. In road works you may come across cars travelling the wrong way down your carriageway. Insurances are expensive and as labour is cheap you may find it cheaper to have a car and driver than to drive yourself. Drivers cover their own accommodation and meals, but you still pay for the fuel.
A wide range of accommodation is available from under £5 a night, right up to 4 star international hotels at similar rates to other places world-wide. Generally accommodation is far cheaper than the UK, but it varies from place to place. Around £25 a night in many places will cover a double room in an above average hotel with air conditioning. A meal for two including drinks can cost from £5 to £30.
The local currency is the Ghanaian Cedi (GHS), this underwent a revaluation a few years back and you will find many places and people still talking in terms of the old cedi, rather than the new, with a lot of confusion occurring. Most transactions in the country are done using the local currency, although some, including car hire and some hotels quote prices in US$, and some of these can take US$. You can convert UK£ and US$ to Cedi's in the country, but the most cost effective and easiest way to get them is to pull them from a cash dispenser (ATM), and you will find these in most towns and cities. Most are Visa machines, a far smaller number will take MasterCard. There is a daily limit per card, so you may want to take more than one Visa debit card or credit card with you, particularly if going further north where there are few towns. There is a guard on each machine and I had no problem with getting currency this way.
You get mixed messages on education. Some publications say its available to all, and some others say that 90% of children are outside education. There is also confusion over what is free and what has to be paid for. Currently school enrolments totals almost 2 million:- 1.3 million primary; 107,600 middle; 48,900 secondary; 21,280 technical; 11,300 teacher training; and 5,600 university. With a population with a life expectancy not that high you might have expected this to represent around a third of the population, where it represents under 10% of the population in all forms of education. In one area it was found that 15% of the children were in private educational establishments not recognised by the government and therefore not counted. It is said that primary and middle school education is free and it is planned that it will be mandatory when enough teachers and facilities are available to accommodate all students. Beyond this it appears that the cost of attending school is very high, with a front end registration fee, equivalent to over 6 months average adult wage.
Age of consent:- 14