Ghana Tourist Board, P.O.B 3106
Tel: 222 153, 231779, Telex . 2143
WATA - BLACK BEAUTY, ACCRA
Physical geographyGhana lies on the West Coast of Africa, between latitudes 4° north and 11 1/2° north in the belt of tropical equatorial climates and has a land area of 239,460 sq. km. Ghana is bounded on the west by the Ivory Coast, on the north by Burkina Faso, to the east by Togo and to the south by the Gulf of Guinea. The land is divided into ten regions with Accra as the capital. Ghana is mainly the basin of the Volta River and can be divided into five natural regions:
The Coastal Plains have high annual rainfall decreasing towards the east. Thick forests grow in the wetter western areas which thin out towards the east. This region is an important source of hard woods. In the wetter parts, coconuts are increasingly important yielding copra for exports; the coastal areas produce citrus fruits and bananas which are of considerable internal trade. Food crops include rice, yams and cassava in the drier eastern pans of the plain. Livestock, farming and market gardening are important. There is also some fishing and the Government is helping to provide modern facilities, ie, trawlers, cold storage and fish handling equipment.
The Hills and Valley Country include much of the western and central regions and Ashanti and Brong Ahafo. It occupies a third of Ghana and contains approximately two-thirds of the total population. The lower slopes and valleys form the chief cocoa growing areas (in small holdings from one to three hectares).
The eastern Highlands consist of prominent hills which lie west and northwest of Accra and increase in height as they extend eastwards to Togo and Dahomey. The river Volta cuts a gorge through these chains of highlands where a dam has been built at Akosombo. Farm crops on the lower slopes of the Eastern Highlands include cocoa, rice, coffee and yams.
The Volta Basin is a region of summer rainfall. The soils are not very fertile and the vegetation is mainly that of savannah. This region covers about 45 per cent of Ghana and suffers most from the Harmattan. Farming is done in small holdings and the chief crops are groundnuts, maize, millet, yams and tobacco; cattle is also reared and meat is for home consumption. The North and North Western Plateau: little agricultural activity is done here and it is scantily populated.
ClimateTemperatures are increasing from south to north. Average maximum between February and April over most of the country, but above all in the north (may reach 109°F); yet nights are cool. Average minimum, generally in January, except in coastal areas and southern Ho district (August) and in the extreme north (December) may reach 51°F. b) Rainfall: The highest average annual rainfall occurs in the southwest (Esiama, 218,2cm) and decreases to the north and the east (Accra, southeast, 73.6cm). Rainstorms are intense, but brief c) Humidity is higher in the south and during the night and early morning (may reach 100 per cent in coastal areas). d) Winds: the 'Harmattan' is a NE wind, hot and dry, coming from Sahara and blowing specially in the north of Ghana. e) Seasons: In the north, November to April, rainless 'Harmattan season'; May to October, rainy season. In the south, four seasons: May-July, first rains; July-August, monsoon; September-October, second rains; November-March or April, dry.
Economic geographyUntil independence in 1957 a substantial portion of Ghana's exports came from gold. The main gold mining areas are Obuasi-Bibiani in Ashanti Region and Tarkwa in the Western Region. Ashanti is also the main cocoa producing region; cocoa, from which chocolate is made, is Ghana's number one export. Agriculture accounts for about 61 per cent of all employment in the country. Other important products are timber, manganese, diamond and bauxite.
Apart from the Akosombo hydroelectric power plant, small scale power schemes on some of the rest of Ghana's rivers are under development. Work has started on the Kpong hydroelectric project.
Industrialisation is making steady progress in Ghana and products include soap, footwear, clothing, bags, tobacco products. There are also vehicle assembling plants, oil refinery, a paint factory, a gold refinery, aluminium smelter and food processing factory.
DemographyGhana has a population of over 17 million which is based on current estimates. This shows an increase of over 212 per cent on the 1960 census figure. City of Accra, 1,500,000, Kumasi, 900,000.
A brief historyAlmost all Ghanaians are Sudanese Africans, although Hamitic strains are common in Northern Ghana. The country has been peopled during the past 700 to 1,000 years. Most of the ethnic groups moved from the north and a few probably came from the east. Those coming from the north included Guan groups who first moved along the Volta and entered the Accra plains and spread along the coast between Winneba and Cape Coast. They were followed by Fantis and then the Akans. Later, the Twis followed the Akans and spread over most of Ashanti and the forest country, farther south between Volta and the Tano, and north of the Fanti and Guan areas. Of those coming from the east, the Ewes claim to have come from north of Togo and the Ga-Adangbes along the coast from Nigeria
In northern Ghana the main groupings of the population are Gonja, Dagomba and Konkomba, in the centre Kassena-Nankani, Frajra, Buila and Sissila in the northeast and Wala, Dagarti and Sissila in the northwest.
When the Gold Coast became the first British African Colony to be independence it took the name 'Ghana', which was the first of the great empires in the Western Sudan. The first Europeans to arrive on the coast were the Portuguese in the 15th century; the next three centuries were characterised by the building of forts and trading posts by the Danes, Brandenburgers, Dutch, English, Swedes and occasionally the French.
The 17th and the 18th centuries saw struggles for political power by various ethnic groupings. The emergent dominating group was the Ashantis whose power extended down to the coast and far into the north. The 19th century saw the decline of Ashanti mainly due to the activities of the British.
Ghana became a sovereign independent state within the British Commonwealth on 6 March 1957. Social and economic discontent prompted several coups d'etat in 1966, 1972, 1979 and 1981. After general elections in 1992 the country finally returned to constitutional rule on 7 January 1993.
ReligionsChristians - 43 per cent made up of Catholics, Protestants, Charismatic Spiritual churches, 12 per cent Muslim population and 38 per cent traditional worshippers.
Languages spoken by nationalsOfficial language: English; indigenous languages include Twi, Ewe, Ga, Dagomba, Hausa, Nzema, Fanti and numerous dialects.
TimeGreenwich Mean Time.
MoneyThe Ghanian monetary unit is the Cedi (100 pesewas). US$ - from C1,600 and £ from C2,200 based on free market forces and fluctuating weekly.
Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)1 January, New Year's Day - February, Id Il Fitr - April, Id Il Ahdr - 6 March, Independence Day - April, Good Friday, Easter Monday - 1 July, Republic Day - 25 December, Christmas Day - 26 December, Boxing Day - 31 December, Revolution Day.
What one should not fail to seeGhana's centuries-old forts and castles, some 41 of them along a 563.60 km. coast, are one of the greatest attractions, they were originally built for the defence and for storing goods and slaves awaiting shipment. African art is famous the world over for its uniqueness, and exquisite examples can be found all over Ghana: the intricate gold trinkets of Ashanti, the decorated drums from all regions, the wood carvings, the leather talismans and decorations from the north.
Valuable antiquities can be seen in the National Museum and the National Archives in Accra and the National Cultural Centre Kumasi. The capital city Accra, scene of many African and International Conferences is interesting for its rapidly changing skyline, varied architecture, monuments, and the colourful, bustling markets. Kumasi the 'Garden City' recalls the glorious days of the Ashanti Empire. Kakum National Park, a typical tropical rainforest. A visit is never complete without witnessing, or rather experiencing, a Ghanaian festival. There are never less than four major festivals in any one month and in October there are no less than 15. These festivals and durbars with their traditional dancing and drumming represent a feature of a priceless cultural heritage from the past.
Ghana has beautiful scenery, ranging from the strange rocks of Tongu in the north to the tropical rain forests of the central regions and the grassy coastal plains of the south. The vast expanse of the Volta Lake (the largest man-made lake in the world) and the numerous cocoa plantations are well worth visiting, as well as the vast stretches of beautiful beaches. Wildlife is another attraction. At the Mole National Park in the Northern Region, animals such as lion, elephant, leopard, wild boar, monkeys and antelopes live in their natural state and can be observed at leisure.
Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touringGhana lies in the tropical and equatorial zones, with an average temperature of 82 degrees F. The country is free from cyclones. Humidity is high in the south except in December, January and February; July records the heaviest rainfall. The best periods for visiting are between August and April.
How to dressLadies: Light-cotton dresses; sandals; beach-wear; sunglasses.
Gentlemen: Trousers of light material; lightweight suits, shorts and sports shirts; sandals; beach-wear; sunglasses.
Main holiday resortsSea: Accra, Labadi, Teshie (Greater Accra); Winneba, Cape Coast, Elmina (Central Region); Sekondi-Takoradi (Western Region) Busua Beach Resort - Busua (west), Paradise Beach Hotel Resort, Ada Foar, Coco Beach Resort, Teshie, Nungua. Interior: Kumasi (Ashanti Region), Akosombo (Eastern Region), Damongo (Northern Region), Bolgatanga (Upper Region).
Main holiday sportsSoccer, volleyball, tennis, golf, cricket, swimming, polo. It should however be mentioned that except the 'important' holidays such as Independence Day, etc, holidays in Ghana are characterised by traditional entertainment - drumming and dancing.
What to eat and drinkThe most common starchy foods are fufu: pounded yam cocoyam, cassava, or plantain, kenkey: a ball of slightly fermented corn dough; gari: grated dried cassava and rice are combined with soups and stews. Soups: Palm-nut soup, made from the flesh of palm-nuts, is cooked with fish, meat, chicken or crabs. Ground-nut soup is made from ground peanut butter, cooked with chicken or meat and is usually served with rice, fufu and kenkey. Light Soup is a kind of consomme with pieces of fish or meat and highly seasoned with pepper tomatoes and onions. Stews: Paiaver sauce is made of spinach, fish, chicken or meat with the addition of agushi. It is served with boiled yam, cocoyam, kenkey, rice or boiled plantain. Okro stew is made with finely chopped okro, meat and palm oil. It goes well with kenkey and banku. Other dishes worth trying are: Dodotsi-Aboboi is fried plantain with beans and 'zomi' (a special kind of palm-oil). Gari and Beans is a combination of beans and 'Dzomi' served with gari (it is a very nutritious dish). Garifoto is made of gari sprinkled with water mixed with salt. A sauce is made of tomatoes, onions, pepper, salt ground, smoked shrimps and is fried in oil. A beaten egg is added to the sauce and the gari poured into the sauce.
What to buyWood carvings, gold trinkets, traditional sandals and stools ceramics, leather goods, Kente cloth, rafia work, baskets and bronze objects. Pottery and ceramics objects made from ivory and hand dyed materials.
Passports and visasVisa required. All non-Commonwealth nationals require visas to enter Ghana except nationals of Togo and Burkina Faso between whose governments and the Government of Ghana visa requirements and fees have been abolished. But the nationals must possess valid passports. Commonwealth nationals must obtain valid entry permits before starting their journeys to Ghana. Member nationals of Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) do not need a visa to enter member countries for a visit not exceeding 90 days, but must possess valid travelling documents.
Health regulationsYellow fever strongly recommended except for children under one year of age. Smallpox is not recommended, but required from any traveller who, within the last 14 days has visited or transited an infected area. Cholera is not required. Malaria is endemic.
CustomsEach person is allowed to bring into Ghana, duty free: tobacco not exceeding one pound in weight (50 cigars or 200 cigarettes), spirits and wine not exceeding one pint and one quart respectively; photographic films, sound recording tapes, binoculars; sports requisites, articles for household use (eg, perambulators, linen, towels, cutlery) which have been in the use of the individual for a reasonable period. Unaccompanied baggage: admission permitted within two months of the arrival of the tourist who is obliged to make a declaration immediately on his arrival.
Currency regulationsTravellers to Ghana can bring in any amount in foreign currency, provided it is exchanged at banks and licensed Forex bureaux.
Main travel routesAccra to Winneba, Cape Coast, Takoradi, Koforidua, Kumasi Ho, Aflao. Kumasi to Cape Coast, Tamale, Salaga, Koforidua Accra. Tamale to Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Damongo, Kumasi.
MiscellaneousSpecial events of the Year: 6 March, Independence Day Parade - Festivals every month in various regions throughout the year.
List of representatives abroadEngland: Ghana Airways, 12 Old Bond Sreet, London, W.l. Tel. 0171-4999-0201/7. Telex 21415. Other places, apply to nearest Ghana Embassies abroad.
We have been able to publish the present tourist information on GHANA thanks to the co-operation of the Ghana Tourist Board in Accra.