The country of Ghana is filled with vibrant beauty that can be found everywhere, from its sandy beaches to the people who live in it. Its history extends as far back as 1500 BC, starting off as the Kingdom of Ghana and evolving into the beautiful country it is today. Here are ten interesting facts about the country of Ghana.
1. Before Ghana became an independent country, it was a British colony in the 15th century called the Gold Coast. The colony derived its name from the abundance of gold deposits in the country’s soil. Gold, diamonds, ivory, cocoa, and timber were among the many natural resources the Gold Coast had to offer to the British colonists, who exported the goods and profited greatly from it. To this day these natural resources continue to bolster Ghana’s economy.
2. After years of war and conflict, Ghana won its independence on March 6th, 1957. Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the United Kingdom. This day has since been turned into a national holiday, and parades are thrown to celebrate the day in the country’s capital.
3. Kwame Nkrumah became the country’s first prime minister on the day Ghana gained its independence. He held his position until July 1, 1960, at which point he was then made Ghana’s first president and remained so until February 24, 1966. During his time as the president of Ghana, the Soviet Union awarded Nkrumah the Lenin Peace Prize. After passing away on April 27, 1972, Nkrumah was buried in downtown Accra. His resting place has become the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park, where a statue and museum was erected in his honor.
4. Ghana favors diversity of all kind in its people. Though the country’s national language is English, there are over 50 additional African languages spoken throughout the country. Ghana is also known for religious freedom, allowing its people to choose and practice the religion of their choice freely without prosecution. Multiple ethnic groups, like the Akan and Ewe, live in Ghana, and speak their respective languages and dialects.
5. Accra is the capital of Ghana, where over two million people live. The city is a hub of activity for both local residents and tourists. In addition to the many Western styled stores and malls, Accra houses the Makola market, an open air market of the traditional African style. Accra provides access to several beaches, including the famous Labadi Beach. The American author W.E.B. Dubois once lived in Accra, and his residence is now a part of the W.E.B. Dubois Memorial Centre that honors his work as an activist in Ghana.
6. The Independence Square in Accra, which is also called the Black Star Square, was built in 1961. It is the second largest square in the world, and the chosen site for the country’s Independence Day parades. The Black Star Gate and the Independence Arch are major draws for tourists, however the Independence Arch can only be photographed from afar. Guards have been posted to prohibit any close up photography of the Arch without prior obtained permission. Within the square is the Eternal Flame of African Liberation, which was lit in 1961 by Kwame Nkrumah and has continued to burn brightly ever since.
7. Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa beans, seconded only by the Ivory Coast, which is directly west of Ghana. As the country’s cash crop, cocoa’s export to other countries is one of the major contributors to Ghana’s thriving economy. In recent years, oil has been discovered in Ghana and consequentially exported, adding it to the country’s natural occurring economic supply.
8. Founder’s Day is a national holiday in which Ghana recognizes and celebrates its founding fathers. The holiday was originally conceived by President John Evans Atta Mills, who wished for Ghanians to pay honor to Kwame Nkrumah and other leaders like him who shaped Ghana into the country it is today. Founder’s Day takes place every year on September 21st, which was Nkrumah’s birthday.
9. Ghana’s national currency is the cedi, which can be broken up into one hundred pesewas. The cedi was first introduced as currency in 1965 and is printed on paper, while pesewas are distributed as coins. Prior to the cedi, the British pound was Ghana’s currency. The front of the cedi banknotes are generally consistent on the front with each denomination save for the color, while the back features a different image of various national monuments. ‘Cedi’ is a local word that means cowry shell, which was once used as currency. Approximately 2.85 cedi convert into one US dollar.
10. As of 2013, the Global Peace Index lists Ghana as the 58th most peaceful country in the world. Ghana is listed as a country with a high state of peace, and has maintained its status as a peaceful country for the last few years.