Facts About Ghana's Culture, Geography, and History
Ghana is a West African nation bordered by Ivory Coast to the west, Togo to the east, Burkina Faso to the north and Gulf of Guinea to the south. Formerly known as ‘Gold Coast’, Ghana has interesting things to offer to the world. In this article, we have compiled 12 interesting facts about Ghana that will help you get started on your journey to exploring more about Ghana.
Related: 12 Interesting Facts About Burundi
12. Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence. It gained its independence on March 6, 1957.
Africa faced brutal colonialism by the Europeans such that gaining independence was the highest aspiration of any nation in Africa. Ghana reached the apex of its aspiration on March 6, 1957, under the guidance of a great Pan-Africanist by the name Kwame Nkrumah. Under the leadership of Nkrumah, the Pan-Africanist Movement established a global campaign that helped liberate the rest of Africa from the enslaving yokes of European colonialism. Nkrumah was deposed by the military in 1966 and since then Ghana has had 12 regime changes out of which 7 of them have been military. The last military leader is General Jerry Rawlings. Rawlings has also been the longest-serving Head of State serving more than three different regimes with a combined reign totaling over 20 years.
11. Ghana was ranked as Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index.
After independence, Ghana faced turbulent times with coups being a common phenomenon. Kwame Nkrumah was deposed through a military coup. The last military ruler was Jerry Rawlings who ushered multiparty democracy in the 1990s. Thenceforth, Ghana has experienced one of the rarest and admirable stretches of peace in African history. It is one of the few African countries to have persistently held credible elections and experienced a peaceful transition from one president to another. It has spread these peace dividends to other parts of West Africa by mediating and bringing peace to conflict zones.
10. Major languages in Ghana are English, African languages including Akan, Ewe.
Ghana, having been a British colony, was not spared from the effects of linguistic colonialism. The leftovers of this can be found in its ‘official’ language of business and instructions at school. Besides English, there are several indigenous languages. The most widely spoken indigenous languages are Akan and Ewe.
9. There are over 650 butterfly species in Ghana's Kakum National Park, including the giant swallowtails, which are nearly 8 inches (20 centimeters) across.
Traditionally, butterflies symbolize elegance and flamboyance. Indeed, this is what describes Ghana in terms of its cultural attire, linguistic prowess, and political expressions. The abundance of butterflies, in the Ghanaian context, can also symbolize wealth and flourish. Naturally, Ghana is richly endowed with a highly flourishing economy.
8. Ghanaians love soccer and built a large soccer stadium in the capital of Accra. Soccer is the national sport.
Like most West African countries, football in Ghana attracts a fanatic following. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana is rivaled only by Cameroon (7 times) and Nigeria (6 times) in terms of Soccer World Cup appearances. However, Ghana edges out Nigeria in terms of the best performance ever at the World Cup having reached Quarter Finals in the 2010 World Cup only to be fraudulently edged out by Uruguay, which scored an equalizer by handball. Football is Ghana’s largest talent export. Many Ghanaian players dot European football scenes as contract players with many European football clubs. Some of Ghana’s legendary players include Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah, Samuel Kuffour, Michael Essien, and Karim Abdul Razak, among others.
7. Kofi Annan is one of the most well-known Ghanaians. He served as secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997- 2006.
While Kwame Nkrumah is Africa’s most renowned Pan-Africanist, Kofi Annan is Africa’s most renowned diplomat. Kofi Annan took over the role of the world's top-most diplomat on January 1, 1997, as UN Secretary-General. It is a tenure remarked with great transformation effort of the UN from a largely moribund organization into a transparent, accountable, and forthright world organization. He served many diplomatic duties while at the UN, dating prior to him occupying to the top-most position. After retiring from the UN, Annan successfully engineered peace effort in Kenya which was on the brink of civil war due to fraudulent and disputed elections of December 1997. He was elected to the midwife peace process in Syria in 2012 but quit after the international community failed to provide a strong backup effort to his mission. No one else has ever succeeded in stopping the Syrian civil war that is now stretching its 5th year. Currently, Annan still pursues international diplomacy, albeit in an advisory role. He is still the world's most-sought diplomat which it comes to providing perspective on global conflicts.
6. Poisonous snakes such as the cobra and puff adder are native to Ghana as are pythons, which don't bite but can squeeze their victims to death.
There many myths associated with the 'wicked' power of snakes, including the famous myth in the Garden of Eden. Africans also have many myths regarding snakes which are mostly kept as pets by the witch. Nonetheless, regardless of the myths, snakes are highly versatile animals. Ghana is home to some of the biggest, longest, powerful, and most venomous snakes. These include cobras which are famed for their high-speed movement with a standing head position. Also in the wilderness of Ghana includes the dangerous puff udder which is claimed to be capable of throwing venom at it target over a dozen feet ahead. Pythons too have sanctuary in Ghana. Pythons can strangle and swallow an entire antelope, goat, and other similar-sized herbivores.
5. The name Ghana means warrior king and harks back to the days of the Ghana Empire between the ninth and 13th centuries.
Ghana is part of one of Africa’s oldest civilizations – the Ghana Empire. This is a civilization that is over one millennium old. It is famed for its legendary warriors who ruthlessly conquered territories and exerted a powerful reign. Thanks to these warrior kings that the name ‘Ghana’ came to be born.
Related: 12 Interesting Facts About Benin
4. Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital.
Kumasi is the famous capital of the Ashanti Kingdom about 100 miles north of Accra, Ghana’s capital city. Kumasi is famous for its ancient history as a gold trade center. Kejetia market is well-known for its plenty of gold and diamond jewelry. Apart from jewelry, the famous Ashanti Kente traditional clothing fabric dots most of its garment shops. Most tourists are attracted to the Kejetia market due to the ability to have an interactive experience with locals in a busy market yet be able to find and buy authentic cultural artifacts. With almost 50,000 stores concentrated in one area, you are definitely spoilt for variety in your shopping experience.
3. Ghana produces the second most cocoa beans in the world. Ivory Coast is No. 1.
Cocoa is one of the world’s most loved beverages. Chocolate, a product of cocoa, is also one of the world’s most loved snacks. Chocolate bars, chocolate cakes, chocolate sweets, and chocolate creams are some of the tastiest snacks. If you are a consumer of cocoa or chocolate, there is a very high probability that you have enjoyed a sweet-smooth taste of Ghana. As a chocolate lover, the best way to understand this sweet, smooth, delicious substance is to witness its nativity right in the interior farmlands of Ghana. This is the best way to appreciate why chocolate got this sweet-smooth nature.
2. In 1991, Ferdie Ato Adoboe of Ghana set a world record by running 100 meters backward in 13.6 seconds.
Ferdie Ato Adoboe juggles two Guinness World Records – being the fastest man to run 100m backward and being the fastest speed juggler. Speed juggling is about kicking the ball into the air back and forth without touching the ground as many times as possible within the shortest period of time. This is no mean-feat knowing that the fastest sprinters have hardly gone below 9 seconds frontward. Doing both backward sprinting and speed juggling requires not only lightning foot-works but also high mental form. This is obviously a revolutionary way of etching one’s country in the annals of history.
1. The Ghana Empire was built on trade in salt and gold, which is why British merchants later called it the Gold Coast.
Ghana Empire is legendary when it comes to Gold. From the times of Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca to the days of British colonialism, Ghana has been associated with gold. Salt largely transited through ports of Ghana from other parts including Mali.
Ghana, the ancient land of gold still holds its supreme place in the history of mankind. From the days of warrior kings, Ghana has continued making first strides including leading Sub-Saharan Africa into independence, formulating Pan-Africanism, helping to birth OAU (the precursor to AU) and proudly representing Africa at the Soccer World Cup. This is definitely a blessed land worth paying homage in honor of its great feats.
Related: 12 Interesting Facts About Guinea