Ghana country profile
- 6 January 2016
- From the section Africa
Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992.
Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957, becoming the first sub-Saharan nation to break the chains of colonialism.
Gold, cocoa and more recently oil form the cornerstone of Ghana's economy and have helped fuel an economic boom.
Until recently Ghana was hailed as a model for African growth but since 2013, its economy has endured a growing public deficit, high inflation and a weakening currency, resulting in it seeking an IMF bailout.
Republic of Ghana
Population 25.5 million
Area 238,533 sq km (92,098 sq miles)
Major languages English, African languages including Akan, Ewe
Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Islam
Life expectancy 64 years (men), 66 years (women)
UN, World Bank
John Dramani Mahama, as vice-president, assumed the presidency in July 2012 following the sudden death of John Atta Mills. He went on to win his first mandate in the December 2012 presidential election.
Following a smooth transition to power, Mr Mahama had been expected to bring a firm hand to Ghana's fast growing economy but his term in office has been blighted by lower than expected growth, spiralling public debt and a worsening energy crisis.
Despite these economic challenges, in November 2015 Ghana's governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) overwhelmingly endorsed Mr Mahama's bid for a second term ahead of presidential elections in 2016.
Ghana enjoys a high degree of media freedom and the private press and broadcasters operate without significant restrictions.
Radio is Ghana's most popular medium, although it is being challenged by increased access to TV.
Some key dates in Ghana's history:
1482 – Portuguese settlers arrive and begin trading in gold, ivory and timber.
1500s – Slave trade: Slavery overtakes gold as the main export in the region.
1600s – Dutch, English, Danish, and Swedish settlers arrive; slave trade becomes highly organised.
1642 – The Portuguese relinquish their territory to the Dutch and leave the Gold Coast.
1807 – British dominance: British ban on slave trade from the Gold Coast becomes effective.
1874 – The Gold Coast is officially proclaimed a British crown colony.
1957 – Independence: Ghana becomes first black African colony to declare independence.
1964-1992 – Military rule: Succession of destabilising coups, Ghana is predominantly a one-party state.
1992 – New constitution, multi-party system is restored.
2010 – Economic woes: Offshore oil production starts, fuelling Africa's fast-growing economy. Public deficit spirals.