The Republic of Ghana is located in West Africa on the Atlantic Ocean, between the countries of Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. In 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from colonial rule. Since independence, Ghana has developed into one of the most stable democracies in Africa. At present, President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, elected in 2016, leads the government.
Culture: Ghana has a rich cultural heritage that reaches from its noble past to the dynamic present. Vibrantly evident in Ghanaians’ daily life, culture thrives in the arts, festivals, traditions of the distinct social groups, fashion, storytelling, food, and in Ghanaians’ devotion to their celebrated football (soccer) team, the Black Stars.
Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, possesses a wealth of natural and mineral resources; gold, diamonds, bauxite, oil, and electricity from hydropower are all significant exports. In the agriculture sector, which employs 60% of the workforce, cocoa is the largest export, with timber, cotton, fish, and pineapples all being important to the nation’s economy.
Ghana’s economic development faces significant challenges because of seriously insufficient infrastructure, particularly roads, power, water, sanitation, and Internet access.
The population is approximately 25,000,000 (similar to that of the state of Texas) with most living in the southern part of the country. Though 39% of the population is under the age of 15, this percentage is expected to drop as the young age and fertility rates continue to drop.
English is the official language of Ghana and is universally used in schools in addition to nine other local languages. The most widely spoken local languages are Dagomba, Ewe, Ga, and the many Akan languages. In rural areas, villagers prefer their local language.
70% of the people in Ghana are Christian, 18% Muslim, and the rest adhere to traditional or have no religious practice.
In 1996, Ghana instituted an educational program called Free, Compulsory, Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) for children between the ages of 6 and 14. In reality, even though there are no fees for attendance at national schools, the program has proven to be neither free nor compulsory.
Required to pay for supplies, uniforms, and books, many families cannot afford the cost, nor can they afford the loss of a child’s labor in the home, field, or street (34% of children ages 5-14 are involved in child labor – 2006). The result has been low literacy, lack of individual advancement, minimal contribution to national development, and widening gaps in the understanding and use of technology and digital science.
Mortality rates have improved in the decades since independence. And, due to wide reaching immunization programs, the recent reduction of infant and child mortality has lengthened Ghanaian life expectancy. Nonetheless, access to physicians and hospital facilities is a nationwide problem. It is especially notable in rural areas where villagers still rely on traditional medicines rather than modern medical practices, practitioners, and medications.
The risk to diseases is high. Malaria, dengue fever, diarrhea, hepatitis, asthma, typhoid fever, diabetes, hypertension are common. Access to adequate sanitation also impacts the wellbeing of the nation. Improved sanitation facilities are available to 14.4% of the total population, much less to people in the villages. As of 2011, government health expenditures were 4.8% of GDP.