An independent West African country on the Gulf of Guinea, just north of the equator. It comprises the former British colony and protectorates of the Gold Coast together with the former UN Trust Territory of [British] Togoland. Ghana is bordered on the north by Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), on the west by the Ivory Coast, on the east by Togo, and on the south for 334 miles (540 km) by the Atlantic Ocean. The total area is 92,098 square miles (238,533 sq km), including the 13,040 square miles (33,770 sq km) of the former Togoland trusteeship. Ghana came into being as an independent state on Mar. 6, 1957. It was the first new state to emerge in sub-Saharan Africa during the post-World War II breakup of the European colonial empires, and its very existence as an independent state, as well as the aid it gave other African nationalist movements, hastened the independence of most of the other African colonies. Drawing on tradition, the new state took its name from that of the medieval empire of Ghana, on the upper Niger River, several hundred miles to the northwest of modern Ghana. (For color map, see Nigeria.)
The Land. Ghana is typical of the states of the West African littoral in having coastal, forest, and savanna-grassland regions, separated by low wooded escarpments, the highest of which rises to 2,905 feet (885 meters). The coastline has a low sandy foreshore frequently interspersed with saltwater lagoons, which are shaded by small groves of coconut palms. Inland, widening from a point near the coast west of Sekondi-Takoradi to some 60 miles (100 km) on the eastern boundary, stretches a flat plain of scrub brush and low trees, broken occasionally by isolated hills. Beyond the plain lies the forest plateau. Here is the famous West African forest of tall close-standing trees, whose entangled foliage filters the fierce light of tropical sun to a shadowy green, preserving the steamy heat of the forest floor and providing cover for a luxuriant undergrowth of matted vines and creepers. It is in these forest areas that energetic migrant farmers from the southeast of the country cleared the tangled bush and planted cocoa trees, which, with the help of a fertile soil and a generous, evenly spread rainfall, flourished under the protective canopy of the forest trees. To the east lies part of the Togo hills. To the north of Ejura, above the Nampong escarpment, the forest thins out gradually until it is lost in an inhospitable scrub-covered plain, where rainfall is limited to a few months, the soil is impoverished, and the population is scattered. This area is infested by tsetse flies, the carrier of sleeping sickness, which, along with other fly-borne enemies of man and his livestock, poses an economic problem. Further north, above the Gambaga escarpment, lie more fertile, open grasslands. There rainfall is more frequent, the soil is more cultivable, and consequently population is denser.
The Volta River and its tributaries, especially the Black Volta, White Volta, Oti, and Afram rivers, constitute the principal drainage system. After the damming of the Volta in the gorge at Akosombo, completed in 1964, a huge lake, 3,300 square miles (8,500 sq km) in area, formed behind the dam. Lake Volta opened up new possibilities for inland navigation, freshwater fishing, and irrigated agriculture. The hydroelectric power plant near the dam site is a source of energy for the manufacture of aluminum in Tema and for industries throughout southern Ghana. Among the smaller rivers are the Tano, the Ankobra, and the Pra and its tributaries. The only large natural lake is Lake Bosumtwe, 21 miles (34 km) southeast of Kumasi; roughly circular in shape, it is surrounded by steep wooded hills, rising more than 600 feet (183 meters) above the lake surface.
Ghana has a rainy-and-dry tropical climate. Much of the year is dry. The coastal and forest areas have two rainy seasons, April to July and September to November. The north has only one, April to November. Temperatures are high the year round, and only in the north do they drop at night. The air is usually humid, though less so in the north and when the harmattan blows in from the Sahara. In general, the coastal and forest areas are warm and oppressively humid, and the north is extremely hot. The usual temperature range is 82 to 86°F. (28 to 30°C.) in the coastal and forest areas and 61 to 92T. (16 to 33°C.) in the north. The mean annual rainfall is 30 to 40 inches (750-1,000 mm) at Accra, 58 to 72 inches (1,470-1,830 mm) at Kumasi, 70 to 82 inches (1,780-2,080 mm) in the southwest coastal area near Axim, and 43 to 48 inches (1,100-1,200 mm) at Tamale.
Minerals. The earlier name, the Gold Coast, testifies to the rich gold-bearing rock of central Ashanti and the Western Region of southern Ghana. This area was an important source of gold in medieval times, and gold exports were the principal source of revenue in early colonial times, until displaced by exports of raw cocoa beans. By 1914 the Gold Coast was also well established as an important diamond-producing area. In 1915 large deposits of manganese were discovered, and Ghana became one of the world’s main exporters of this ore. In 1921 large deposits of bauxite were found in southern Ashanti. In 1979 oil production began on a small scale on the continental shelf near Saltpond. There are also deposits of limestone for the local manufacture of cement and, in the north and west, some undeveloped low-grade iron ore deposits. But Ghana lacks significant deposits of basic metals and mineral fuels. This fact underlay the project to dam the Volta at Akosombo, so as to generate hydroelectric power for aluminum manufacture.
Flora. In the great evergreen forest area of central Ghana the chief trees are the tall silk cottons, up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall and often between 20 and 30 to the acre (50-60 per hectare), the kola, and the valuable West African hardwoods—mahogany, odum, and ebony. The characteristic trees of the northern savanna are the small shea tree and the large-girthed baobab. The oil palm is found throughout the south and Ashanti and—besides its fruit—yields the sap for a widely used wine. Fruit trees are common—orange, grapefruit, avocado pear, banana and plantain (a type of banana), mango, and papaya. The pineapple grows well, and its cultivation both for local markets and for export is encouraged by government help. Wild flowers are not greatly in evidence, apart from the lovely white swamp lily and the beautiful blossoms of some flowering forest trees.
Fauna. Elephants and lions used to be plentiful in the north and on the Afram plains but are now found there in only small numbers. Other large mammals—leopards, panthers, bushcows (forest buffaloes), hyenas—have also retreated, and a game reserve has been established in the north at Damongo in an attempt to preserve a breeding ground. Monkeys are still common, however, in the forest area, as are baboons in the northern hills. Antelopes of many species may still be seen. Scorpions, centipedes, and venomous and other snakes infest much of the less populous areas of the country. The porcupine—emblem of Ashanti—can still be found in the high forest. Crocodiles and, in small numbers, hippopotamuses live in the Volta River. There are many beautiful, often brightly colored birds, besides tropical birds of prey. Insects are numerous and often deadly as carriers of disease. The sea yields a good harvest of fish, and the rivers a delectable species of large prawn (locally called lobster) and fresh-water oyster.
People and Society. Demographic Patterns. Ghana had a population of 12,205,574 in 1984 compared with 8,559,313 in 1970 and 6,726,815 in i960. Because the death rate has declined, especially among children, and the rural birth rate remains high, the population has grown rapidly, by more than 3 percent a year, and consists predominantly of young people. About 47 percent were under age 15 in 1985.
Migration from rural areas to the cities has been rapid. By 1984 more than one third of the population lived in and around a metropolitan area. The largest city is Accra (pop. 1984, 964,900), the governmental and commercial hub and the seat of the University of Ghana, which is in the suburb of Legon. Nearby is Tema (99,608), a port and industrial center that was officially opened in 1962. Greater Accra, consisting of Accra, Tema, Legon, and adjacent areas, had a population of 1.4 million in 1984. The second largest city is Kumasi (348,900), the cocoa capital, residence of the asantehene (“king” of Ashanti), and seat of the University of Science and Technology. Other important cities are Tamale (136,800), the main administrative center of the north; Sekondi-Tako-radi (93,900), an older port city; and Cape Coast (57,700), seat of the University of Cape Coast.
There is a great deal of labor migration from north to south. Northerners supply the bulk of the unskilled labor for the southern towns and cocoa farms. In the past these areas also attracted migrants from Burkina Faso, Togo, and Nigeria. In i960 there were 828,000 aliens in Ghana. In the 1970′s and early 1980′s there was an extensive flow of labor from southern Ghana to cities in Nigeria. In the towns of Ghana, as in the villages, ethnic communities usually live in their own quarters. Women are responsible for most small-scale retail trade in the towns.
Housing. In rural areas, most homes are built of sunbaked mud and wattle, with roofs of corrugated metal or thatch. A family compound usually consists of several rooms or huts around an open courtyard. In the towns, houses are often built of concrete. Tenancy is common, and the rooms in one house are often rented to different families. Structures are rectangular in the south and round in the north.
Ethnology. Although tribalism has been discouraged, ethnic groups have preserved a sense of identity. The largest cluster of peoples speak Akan languages, which prevail throughout the southern half of Ghana except the southeast and include the Twi language in most of the area, the closely related Fante dialect around Cape Coast, and the Nzima language in the southwest. Akan-speaking groups, divided among various traditional states, were 44 percent of the population in i960. They included the Ashanti and Brong of the two center regions of Ghana, the Fanti of the south-central area, the Akim, Akwapim, and Kwahu of the southeast, and the Nzima of the southwest. Related to the Akan states is the large Gonja-speaking state of the Northern Region. In the coastal plain from around Accra eastward to the Volta River, groups speaking Ga-Adangbe languages predominate, and they included 8 percent of the population in i960. Still further east, beyond the Volta, live Ewe-speaking people, 10 percent of the population of Ghana and 21 percent of the population of neighboring Togo. In the north of Ghana lies a multiplicity of states, ethnic societies, and language groups. Among the more important are the Dagomba, Mamprusi, Kusasi, and Wala states, each with a clearly defined social and political system; the Kassena-Nankanni, Frafra, Builsa, and Sissala tribal groups of the far north; and the Lobi-Dagarti groups of the northwest.
Traditional Society. The greater part of the people of Ghana, in history as today, have engaged in farming for subsistence or local markets. But to this primary occupation have to be added two important secondary pursuits—war and trade. Often the two went together, either directly as during the slave trade or indirectly when the political stability created by success in war encouraged the settlement of traders and the growth of commerce within the area of the ruler’s sway. Preeminent in this respect was the powerful, warlike, and wealthy kingdom of Ashanti.
The first European to visit Kumasi and bring back an account of the Ashanti kingdom and of its king, the asantehene, was T. E. Bowdich, who visited the capital in 1817. He was greatly impressed with the power of Ashanti, the extent of its domains, and the obvious wealth of Kumasi and its people; this picture, though modified by other travelers, is broadly accepted by modern historians. The system of government was typical of the Akan system, although vastly enlarged and regularized. The king was feared and obeyed, but he was also advised by elders and an assembly of war captains who represented the popular will. A large slave population was engaged in mining and agriculture. Constitutionally, there was a balance of power, uneasily maintained, between the royal capital and its inner ring of advisers, on the one hand, and, on the other, the outlying chiefdoms, linked to Kumasi by strong ties of kinship and fealty but always hopeful of asserting a large measure of local autonomy within the Ashanti confederacy. The exercise of royal power was further modified by a clearly recognized right in the people of deposition or, to use the local (translated) expression, “destoolment.” The chief was elected to a “stool,” and if he behaved badly he could be constitutionally “destooled”; the stool was taken from him. This was true of minor chiefs and of the asantehene himself, whose stool was the Golden Stool of the whole Ashanti nation. The Stool, still in Kumasi, is made of wood, heavily overlaid and ornamented with gold. A strong sense of Ashanti nationality, a well-regulated treasury, a succession of able rulers and good advisers, and an astonishing prowess in war carried the Ashanti southward to the coast, where they were checked—and finally driven back to Kumasi in the 19th century—by British troops. Northward, Ashanti exacted tribute from the large Dagomba state. Lying in the heart of modern Ghana, Ashanti was both a spur and an obstacle to the 20th-century progress of the country.
North of Ashanti and in the Volta Region to the east, tribal society is more varied. It ranges from the hierarchical warrior chiefdoms of the Dagomba to the small village communities of Eweland and the segmentary kinship groups among the leaderless tribes of the far north.
Religion. The bulk of the older generation practice tribal religions, but Christianity is a symbol of status and is increasingly common among the youth, owing to the spread of mission schools, especially in the south. The Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, and Roman Catholic denominations predominate, with Catholicism at some advantage insofar as it is more tolerant of local customs such as the nearly universal practice of pouring libation to God and the ancestors. There are various indigenous “spiritualist” churches, sometimes led by local prophets and characterized by invocation of the Holy Spirit of God, intense emotionalism, spiritual healing, and acceptance of polygyny. There are important Muslim communities in Salaga, Wa, and other northern towns, and Muslim quarters—called Zongos—in the main towns of Ashanti and the south. The Muslims are divided between the orthodox majority Maliki school and the Ahmadiyya movement, which originated in British India.
Modern Social Divisions. Education, the accumulation of private wealth through cocoa farming and trading, and, in recent years, success in politics have been the major avenues to high social status as well as sources of many conflicts. During the Nkrumah era, the higher civil servants, lawyers and other professionals, and secondary and university students, often supported by the wealthier farmers and traders, were generally opposed to the politicians. The politicians of that period, who typically lacked higher educational qualifications, centered their appeal on the market women, skilled and unskilled workers, lower level clerks and teachers, and poorer farmers. Crosscutting these class divisions, however, were strong family and tribal allegiances and the social cement provided by chieftaincy, which remained a popular institution, especially in rural areas and among older people. Tribalism, and a tendency to exploit tribal grievances for political ends, remained a serious problem, despite the development of a sense of Ghanaian nationality.
Government and Politics. The Nkrumah Governments: 1951-1966. The Gold Coast was the first African colony to develop a mass nationalist movement after World War II. Crystallized around the Convention People’s Party (CPP), led by Kwame Nkrumah, the movement forced the pace of reform in the colonial administration. In 1951 Africans were allowed to become ministers in charge of government departments, with Nkrumah as “leader of government business;” from 1952 onward Nkrumah was prime minister. Despite violent political fragmentation, the CPP maintained its dominance and Nkrumah remained in office through the constitutional reforms of 1954 and 1956, which led to internal self-government. Following Ghana’s independence in March 1957, the powers of the CPP and Nkrumah were further enhanced. Various measures ensured a unitary state structure, stripped the chiefs of all political powers, brought most special interest organizations under CPP or government control, and protected the government from its enemies both inside and outside the administration. A presidential republic was established in i960 under the first post-colonial constitution, and in 1964 the CPP, already closely intertwined with the administration at all levels, was constitutionally made the sole national party.
The CPP was avowedly a socialist party and, in its later years, theoretically a “vanguard” party. But in practice it remained a mass party, with an elite inner leadership. Though there was an increasing emphasis on building socialism during the early 1960′s, the CPP was not held together by ideology but on the basis of loyalty to its founder and life chairman, Kwame Nkrumah, who acted as a supreme arbiter among various conflict groups. Job-seeking and sycophancy were rife. Over the years, the party ceased to be as well organized locally as during the struggle for independence. However, with its integral “wings”— trade unions, farmers’ council, cooperative council, and women’s movement—it remained an important instrument for rallying support for the government.
The central figure in the government, according to the constitution and in practice, was the president, who was Dr. Nkrumah. He was named by a majority decision among the successful candidates for parliament (in 1965 all unopposed CPP candidates), who, with the prospective president’s permission, declared their presidential choice prior to their own popular election in 198 constituencies. He was assisted by a cabinet, chosen from parliament and responsible for the government ministries. In addition, a growing number of important functions were entrusted to various secretariats, under tighter political control, in the office of the president.
Outside the capital, the country was divided into eight regions—Volta, Eastern, Central, Western, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, and Upper—under regional commissioners, who had ministerial status. The regions were subdivided into some 200 urban and local (rural) council areas, in which the leading officials were district commissioners (DCs). The DCs were political appointees, named by the regional commissioners with the approval of the CPP executive secretary. Their responsibilities included both the communication of government policy to the popularly elected councils and town and village development committees, and the organization of the party in the areas. They also had to win the cooperation of the chiefs, without which local administration would come to a standstill. While the chiefs no longer had political power, they were accorded considerable prestige in return for supporting the government, and they still discussed customary matters in traditional “state” councils of chiefs and elders and in regional houses of chiefs.
The civil service and judiciary, the army, and the police consisted entirely of Africans by the early 1960′s. Having been trained by the British, they resisted efforts to make them carry out party policy and retained a measure of independence of executive control.
The National Liberation Council (NLC): 1966-1969. In 1966 the Nkrumah regime was overthrown in a coup. It was replaced by a joint army-police regime, the National Liberation Council (NLC), originally headed by Lieutenant-General Ankrah and seconded by Police Commissioner Harlley. The NLC dissolved the CPP and its “wings”, except for the Trades Union Congress, which was reorganized. Administrative tasks and most policy making were assigned to higher civil servants and other professionals, almost all of whom supported the coup. The previous emphasis on developing the state sector of the economy and preventing the growth of a Ghanaian capitalist class was reversed, and Nkrumah’s militantly anti-colonial, pan-Africanist foreign policy was replaced by a pro-Western policy. At the local level many chiefs who had been “de-stooled” by the Nkrumah government were restored to their previous positions.
The Busia Regime: 1969-1972. In 1969 a new constitution was adopted and elections were held for a civilian government. The new constitution maintained the unitary state, but it provided for an indirectly elected president with limited powers as head of state and a prime minister, responsible to a directly elected National Assembly, as head of government. It also gave Ghana’s traditional chiefs a role in national affairs, including the selection of the president. In the elections for the National Assembly the two main parties that ran candidates were the Progress Party, led by Kofi A. Busia, a sociologist long identified with the business, professional, and Ashanti chief opposition to Nkrumah; and the National Alliance of Liberals, headed by Komla A. Gbedemah, a chief organizer of the CPP in the 1950′s and a former finance minister, who had been ousted from the cabinet in 1961 because of his opposition to Nkrumah’s socialism. The Progress Party, favored by the NLC, won a clear majority, and Busia then became prime minister. The policies of the Busia regime resembled those of the NLC.
The National Redemption Council (NRC): 1972-1979. In 1972 the Busia government was ousted in a military coup
led by Colonel Ignatius K. Acheampong. The 1969 constitution was suspended, and all political parties were banned. A National Redemption Council headed by Acheampong was established to govern. In 1975 the NRC executive council was replaced by a more compact Supreme Military Council, still headed by Acheampong. In 1978 Acheampong was removed and replaced by Lieutenant General F.W.K. Akuffo. The NRC rehabilitated Nkrumah as a “great nationalist leader” while avoiding any actual return to Nkrumahism. It was, however, more nationalist than the Busia regime and was not pro-Western.
Politics and Government Under the 1979 Constitution. In 1979 the NRC regime was overthrown by junior officers, who allowed elections to be held under a new constitution and, after trying and executing three former heads of state for corruption, yielded power to a civilian government.
Under the 1979 constitution a president served as head of state and head of government. The president was popularly elected for a term of four years. The president, with the approval of Parliament, appointed a cabinet of ministers to assist him. Parliament, which exercised legislative power, consisted of not less than 140 members popularly elected from single-member constituencies for five-year terms.
The parties that emerged to contest the 1979 elections reflected the old cleavages between the lawyer-professional class and Ashanti chiefs, on the one hand, and the remnants of Nkrumah’s populist party, the CPP, on the other, though both groups now contained many new young professionals as well. As in the 1950′s and 1960′s, northerners joined one group or another on the basis of benefits they had been promised. The People’s National Party (PNP), which claimed descent from the CPP, won both the parliamentary and presidential elections. The opposition was divided among three main parties, the Popular Front, the United National Convention, and the Action Congress. Hilla Li-mann, a career diplomat from the north who was a nephew of a former CPP minister who had founded the PNP, became president. He served from 1979 until he was overthrown in another coup at the end of 1981.
International Relations. Ghana belongs to the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, Organization of African Unity, and Economic Community of West African States. It is also one of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific states tied to the European Common Market through the Lome treaty. Under Nkrumah, Ghana was firmly committed to the liberation of all of Africa from European rule and the creation of a continental political union. The independence of Ghana alone was regarded as meaningless, and generous moral and material aid was given to African nationalist movements in European-ruled territories. It was also felt that foreign political and economic pressures could not be resisted, and that overall economic development could not be effected, except through a union government. Nkrumah took the initiative in calling the first pan-African conferences in April and December 1958. He gave large loans to Guinea and Mali when they became independent in 1958 and i960. He repeatedly condemned what he regarded as European and U.S. neocolonialism in the Congo (now Zaire), the French-oriented African states, and elsewhere. He called for political and military unity within the Organization of African Unity. Outside of Africa, Nkrumah espoused nonalignment and peaceful coexistence in the cold war. While Ghana remained heavily dependent on the West for trade, investment, and technical assistance, Nkrumah attempted to spread the country’s economic ties among Communist countries as well. Under the NLC and Busia, Ghana established closer ties with Western countries and neighboring French-speaking states. The NRC and Li-mann governments adopted a policy of nonalignment.
Economy. Ghana’s economy and most Ghanaians depend heavily on trade, especially the export of cocoa and other raw or partly processed materials in exchange for most of the manufactures and much of the food consumed in the country.
Cocoa and Other Primary Products. Cocoa is by far Ghana’s most valuable product, providing two thirds of the country’s export income. Several hundred thousand farmers and laborers in the forest region derive income from cocoa production. The government, which levies a duty on cocoa exports, depends for much of its revenue on the amount of cocoa that farmers produce and the price that foreigners will pay for it. The export of cocoa is monopolized by a government marketing board, which, through licensed buying agents, pays the farmers a fixed price, irrespective of short-term changes in the world market price.
Much of the world’s cocoa is produced in Ghana, but because cocoa is not an essential product the price it commands is determined by foreign buyers, not Ghana. The fluctuations in cocoa prices have been huge and devastating. In the late 1970′s Ghana’s recorded production of cocoa— based on exports—averaged 269,000 metric tons annually, amounting to 17 percent of world production. An additional 45,000 tons were probably unrecorded, having been smuggled into the Ivory Coast, where the producer price was higher than in Ghana. Ghana’s output of cocoa has fallen sharply since the early to mid 1960′s, when production averaged 450,000 metric tons annually, amounting to 36 percent of world production. The decline is largely the result of a reduction in new plantings in the 1960′s, as farmers responded to slumping world market prices. From 1953-1954 to 1965, because of rising world production, the world market price fell sharply, eventually causing a severe financial crisis. There was a partial recovery in cocoa prices in the late 1960′s and then, as Ghana’s output fell, a sharp rise in the middle and late 1970′s.
Other primary products that are exported are gold, timber (logs and sawn wood), manganese, industrial diamonds, bauxite, and small quantities of palm kernels, copra, coffee, bananas, shea nuts, and kola nuts. Large-scale timber and mineral production were formerly controlled by private foreign capital. In 1972 the government acquired a controlling interest in all foreign-owned mining companies and took steps to achieve similar control over foreign-owned timber companies. Ghanaian individuals and firms also produce timber and mine diamonds. The government has purchased some gold mines and the manganese mine at Nsuta. There are marketing boards for timber and diamonds.
The principal food crops, consumed by the producers or traded internally, are yams, cassava, corn, cocoyams, and bananas and plantains in the southern half of the country, and millet and sorghum in the northern grasslands. The production of palm and coconut oils is important, as is the cultivation of rice in some areas and the growing of peanuts, vegetables, and fruits. Goats, sheep, and poultry are widely kept, but cattle are concentrated in the north, and about two thirds of the country’s cattle are imported, mainly from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria. Ghana also imports considerable amounts of rice and wheat, sugar, and fish. Food production has grown since the 1950′s, but not nearly as rapidly as the population.There are several new cash crops grown for local industries, including tobacco, kenaf (a jute substitute), and a number of fruits and vegetables.
Industrialization. The Nkrumah government sought to develop both light and heavy industries. Its principal undertaking was the Volta River Project, involving the state-owned Akosombo dam and power plant and the private Tema aluminum smelter; the smelter was financed by Kaiser and other U.S. aluminum firms. Other new industries, besides aluminum smelting, that were initiated were steel manufacture (from scrap metal), oil refining, gold refining, vehicle assembly, fruit and vegetable canning, sugar refining, liquor distilling, and cocoa processing (into butter and powder), and the manufacture of jute bags (for packing cocoa beans), soap, textiles and clothing, building materials, aluminum goods, plastic and rubber products, glass, pharmaceuticals, tools, hardware, cutlery, batteries, and fluorescent lights. Production was expanded of wood and wood products, beer and soft drinks, and cigarettes. Most of the large-scale industry was foreign-owned and a minority state-owned. However, foreign interests, if offered for sale, had to be offered first to the government; and partnerships between Ghanaian private and foreign capital were prohibited. This policy was abandoned by the post-Nkrumah governments, which emphasized private enterprise and sold some state firms to private investors. Many state industries had operated at a loss because of poor management and excessive labor costs. Under the post-Nkrumah governments Ghanaian industry suffered losses because, as a result of shortages of imported raw materials and spare parts, it could operate at only 30 percent of capacity.
Foreign Trade. Ghana’s main imports are industrial supplies and equipment, accounting for more than half of its spending on imports; petroleum; and food. Because of the quadrupling of world oil prices in 1973-1974, spending on oil rose from 9 percent of the total in 1973 to 15 percent in 1975. Spending on food was reduced from 22 percent to 13 percent. Cocoa exports provide two thirds of the earnings needed to pay for imports. Other significant exports are aluminum (made from imported alumina), lumber, manganese, industrial diamonds, and gold. The main suppliers of imports are Great Britain, the United States, West Germany, and Nigeria (for oil). The main markets for exports are Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, West Germany, and the Soviet Union.
Except in 1958, Ghana’s trade balance was in deficit during the later 1950′s and most of the 1960′s because of an expanded bill for imports, both for consumption and development, and generally stagnant export earnings (despite a large increase in the volume of exports). In the late 1960′s and in the 1970′s the trade balance improved because of severe restrictions on imports and higher earnings from cocoa exports (despite a fall in production). In 1978 exports earned $1,096 million and imports cost $993 million.
Because Ghana did not receive any large investments or long-term loans from abroad, its foreign exchange reserves dwindled rapidly after independence. The Nkrumah regime imposed restrictions on import licenses, stiff import
duties and purchase taxes on imported consumer goods, and currency exchange controls in an effort to control imports and thereby reduce the trade and payments deficits. This system of restricting imports was continued by Nkrumah’s successors.
Rational Product. Ghana had a gross domestic product in 1979 valued at $4.5 billion, or $400 per person. Economic growth has jiot kept pace with the increase in population. Output per person fell by 0.1 percent annually in the 1960′s and 3 percent annually from 1970 to 1978.
Public Finance. As a result of soaring expenditures on economic services, education, health, and other items, and only modestly increased revenues, government budgets during the Nkrumah era were regularly in deficit. The chief sources of revenue were export duties and other taxes on cocoa, of declining importance as world cocoa prices slumped; and, increasingly, import duties, other indirect taxes, and income taxes. There were inflationary price rises during the 1960′s, especially in 1964 and 1965, and large increases in both the domestic and foreign public debt. The latter consisted mainly of short-term supplier and contractor credits.
The first two post-Nkrumah governments reduced the budgetary deficits and curbed inflation, primarily by reducing development spending and obtaining from Ghana’s creditors new foreign aid and better terms for the repayment of foreign debts. The post-Nkrumah governments were also helped by an upturn in world cocoa prices. Nonetheless, after 1972, under the government of General Acheampong, large budgetary deficits recurred. The Acheampong regime also repudiated certain foreign debts, and as a result Ghana was cut off from foreign credit for two years. Deficit spending increased and inflation soared beginning in 1974. By 1977 Ghana had an annual inflation rate of more than 100 percent. In 1978 government expenditures were almost two and a half times as large as government revenues. The national currency is the cedi. It is issued by the Bank of Ghana, the central bank, founded in 1957.
Transportation. Ghana has a well-developed road network, the result mainly of heavy government investment during the 1950′s. In the mid-1970′s it included 2,750 miles (4,400 km) of bitumen-surfaced and 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of gravel-surfaced trunk roads. However, road maintenance is expensive and sometimes inadequate, and there are too few feeder roads from farm areas. The rail system is limited. A 592-mile (950-km) railroad triangle connects Kumasi, Accra, and the deep-water ports at Sekondi-Takoradi and Tema. The port at Tema opened in 1962. The government operates a shipping line, the Black Star Line, and a national airline, Ghana Airways.
Education. During the colonial period modern education got a fair start in the coastal towns and, somewhat later, Ashanti. Its spread was due partly to the activities of Christian missions, assisted by the government, partly to the accumulation, through cocoa farming and trade, of local wealth, which was frequently invested in higher education abroad. The impoverished north, however, was deprived of education as a matter of official policy. After 1951, with the advent of African ministerial responsibility under Nkrumah, there was an enormous expansion of education and educational facilities throughout the country. The Nkrumah regime made primary and middle schooling both free and compulsory in 1961, and introduced free secondary schooling in 1965. It established three large new universities— one in Legon for liberal arts, a second in Kumasi for science and technology, and a third in Cape Coast for the training of science teachers—and provided state scholarships for most university students, who were subsequently bonded to government employment (usually teaching) for five years. Adult education was provided by the Institute of Public Education, with centers in five parts of the country, and mass literacy campaigns were conducted in the rural areas by the Department of Social Welfare. In 1977 there were 1,246,000 pupils in primary schools and 585,000 students in secondary schools. About 9,000 students attended Ghanaian universities in 1975, and several thousand Ghanaians were receiving higher education abroad, mostly in the West.
History. Part of the general history of the Gold Coast-Ghana region, and of its possible connections with the Phoenicians and Greeks of the ancient world, will be found in the history section of the article on Africa. Here we can discuss only the most important events of more recent times. There is considerable evidence that many of the present peoples of Ghana migrated into its grasslands and forests in successive waves, some—the Akan—from the north, others—the Ewe and Ga—from the east. The Fanti (Akan) peoples arrived at the coast in the 15th century. The original peoples (whoever they were) were overrun, and among the Akan small chiefdoms appeared, trading and warring with each other until the 17th century, when the powerful Ashanti began to weld the forest states together in a confederation and to expand outward from Kumasi. During the same period the Gonja peoples began to establish a strong chiefdom to the north of Ashanti and to rival the existing northern warrior states of Mamprusi and Dagomba. Whether any of the Akan peoples came from the medieval Ghana empire following its decline in the nth century must be left to conjecture. What is known is that by the time the first Europeans arrived by sea on the Guinea coast at the end of the 15th century, there were already the beginnings of territorial states and the growth of local wealth based on trade as well as on agriculture.
The early European traders were interested in buying gold, ivory, and spices. But the purchase of these commodities was soon superseded by the demand for slaves. It was on the basis of the slave trade that Ashanti power began to expand and that the European powers built their forts and trading posts along the Guinea shore, where they entered into alliances with the much smaller chiefdoms of the coast. By the end of the 18th century Great Britain had gained a dominating position along the coast, but in doing so it came into conflict with Ashanti. Throughout the 19th century British power on the coast and Ashanti power inland were engaged in a series of local wars. On balance, the Ashanti had the best of it until 1873-1874, when in a determined effort the British under an able commander, Sir Garnet Wolseley, marched on Kumasi and burned the capital. Thereafter, Ashanti power declined, and a final expedition in 1896 led to the exile of Asantehene Prempeh I to the Seychelle Islands. An uprising in 1900, when the British force in Kumasi was besieged, was followed by a period of British military rule. Meanwhile, the British had experimented in the course of the 19th century with a variety of forms of administration of the coastal area, which was finally made into a colony in 1874. Ashanti was made a colony, and the northern hinterland a protectorate, in 1901. These steps, with the later addition (1919) of the mandated territory of western Togoland, completed the establishment of British rule in the Gold Coast.
A period of slow political evolution began to draw the country together politically, helped in the 20th century by the rapid spread of cocoa farming from the southeast colony states to Kwahu and Ashanti. Local government was based (irresolutely) on a policy of “indirect rule,” including the bringing back of Prempeh in 1924, restoration of an Ashanti Confederacy Council under his successor (Otumfuo Nana Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II) in 1935, and inauguration of a Northern Territories Territorial Council in 1946. At the center a legislative council had been established for the southern colony area in 1850, but for a long time it consisted onlv of officials and a minority of appointed local representatives (the unofficials). Election from chiefs’ councils and the municipalities of the colony was first permitted in 1925. In 1946 the legislative council was broadened to include representatives from Ashanti, and for the first time the elected unofficials outnumbered the officials. However, the north was not brought within the central legislative framework until 1951.
In February 1948 rioting and looting in the main towns pushed the constitutional evolution further, and at a faster pace, than the administration had reckoned with. The outbreaks were the result of high postwar prices of imported goods, the devastation wrought by the swollen-shoot disease of cocoa, and general unrest of a nationalist character. Already in 1947 lawyers and businessmen had joined together in the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in order to agitate for self-government, but the riots in 1948 were indicative of the rise of political consciousness among new groups —clerks, teachers, drivers, petty traders, farmers. There were further demonstrations in January 1950, directed against the new constitution, which offered considerably less than self-government. These were led by Kwame Nkrumah, who had returned to the country from London at the end of 1947, reorganized the UGCC on a mass basis in 1948, and then carried the bulk of its expanded membership with him into the new Convention People’s Party in mid-1949. Nkrumah and other CPP leaders were imprisoned, but after the elections held in February 1951 on a wide franchise basis, in which the CPP won massive support, they were released from prison. Nkrumah became “leader of government business,” and though still opposed to the constitution he prepared to work \vith the governor, Sir Charles Arden Clarke, and a minority of officials.
A new constitution in 1954 brought the CPP within reach of its goal of independence, following a general election in June, when the CPP won 72 of the 104 directiy elected seats in the new legislature. Then, at the end of 1954, the government’s decision to peg the price paid to the cocoa farmer at a time of very high world prices, as part of an attempt to check inflationary dangers, touched off a violent reaction against the centralizing and modernizing tendencies of the CPP. A National Liberation Movement was formed in Ashanti headed by Kofi A. Busia and backed by the Asantehene. It found allies in a Northern People’s Party, a Muslim Association, and a Togoland Congress. The last of these demanded the unification of British-administered Togoland and French-ruled Togo, and opposed the integration of Togo-land with the Gold Coast. The main demand, however, was for a federal constitution. The British government, therefore, insisted on fresh elections, and these were held in July 1956. Again the CPP won 72 of the 104 seats, although it was outvoted and outseated in Ashanti (then including Brong-Ahafo) and the north. It won all 44 of the southern seats. Violence continued until the promise of a new constitution with regional assemblies brought a temporary reconciliation between the CPP and its opponents. Independence followed on Mar. 6, 1957.
The serious security problem remained. Ashanti had been brought under government control. But on the eve of independence the Togoland Congress was implicated in an armed uprising, and afterward a new threat emerged among the Ga people of Accra, who resented the loss of certain land revenues and the intrusion of non-Ga people into the capital and government jobs. The educated elite was still alienated from the government. In these circumstances the CPP consolidated its strength, not only through generous social and economic development expenditures, but also through various strong-arm measures. Persisting in its efforts to build a centralized, radical nationalist party, it put through a law in 1957 prohibiting sectional parties, based on racial, religious, or regional loyalties. This forced the various oppositions to form the United Party. In 1958, after a conspiracy involving the United Party, a law permitting preventive detention was passed. Detentions followed, and it was made increasingly difficult for the opposition to function.
By i960 the government felt strong enough to hold a referendum on establishing a presidential republic. There was a 90 percent vote in favor of the new constitution and Nkru-mah. The republic was inaugurated on July 1, i960. However, the regime, though popular, was still not secure, and it grew more insecure as its mass base was eroded. In 1961 Sekondi-Takoradi was alienated after a strike there was put down. Attempts to assassinate the president in 1962 and 1964 showed the unreliability of the party and of the police. When the party officials accused of organizing the first attempt were not convicted, the independence of the judiciary was restricted. After the second attempt, the police command was shuffled. A one-party state was officially inaugurated in February 1964. In 1965 there was a shift in the army command when it objected to the creation of a separate presidential defense guard. Meanwhile, there was a mounting payments deficit and debt burden, caused by a drastic drop in the world market price for cocoa and the deficit financing of massive development projects, frequently through short-term, high-interest supplier credits. This gave rise to severe import restrictions, increased taxes, shortages of essential commodities, and inflation. On Feb. 24, 1966, while Nkrumah was out of the country, the armed forces staged a coup and installed an army-police regime.
The National Liberation Council (NLC), which ruled the country after the coup, represented the return to power of classes that had been defeated by the CPP between 1948 and 1951. These were the business and professional classes, and particularly their representatives’ in the armed forces, civil service, and universities. The NLC and the civilians it
brought into the government were warmly regarded by Ghana’s major Western creditors, which provided new foreign aid and concluded agreements allowing Ghana to repay its foreign debts over a longer period of time. The NLC was also helped by a rise in the price paid for cocoa in the later 1960′s. Budgetary deficits were reduced, and inflation was slowed. However, the economic growth rate dropped to about 2 percent annually, less than the rate of population growth, and unemployment increased. In 1969 a new constitution was promulgated and, after parliamentary elections, a civilian government formed under Kofi A. Busia.
Busia’s government was no more able than its predecessors to solve Ghana’s economic problems: a burdensome foreign debt and an import capacity determined mainly by the world market price for cocoa. Within two years Busia’s support had been eroded by a slip in cocoa prices, import restrictions, austerity measures, and inflation, and by evidence of corruption and authoritarianism. In 1972 Busia was ousted in a coup led by Colonel Ignatius Acheampong.
The military regime headed by Acheampong repudiated some of Ghana’s debts, but the basic problems remained and were made worse by the fourfold rise in world oil prices in 1973-1974. By 1975 Ghana was suffering hyperinflation and acute shortages of essential consumer goods. Corruption, engendered by scarcities, soon permeated the military regime. In 1978 Acheampong was replaced by his deputy, Lieutenant General Fred W. K. Akuffo. In 1979 Akuffo was overthrown in a coup by junior officers, led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who allowed elections to be held for a civilian government under a new constitution. The People’s National Party (PNP), a successor to Nkrumah’s CPP, won 71 out of 140 seats in Parliament, to 42 for the Popular Front, descended from Busia’s organization. The PNP candidate, Hilla Limann, was elected president. The junior officers remained in power temporarily to carry out a “fjouse-cleaning” campaign, during which three former heads of state—generals Acheampong, Akuffo, and Afrifa (the last had been in office briefly during the Busia regime)—were tried and executed for corruption. The civilian government of President Hilla Limann took office on Sept. 24, 1979. Continuing economic problems soon eroded its prestige, however, and Limann was overthrown in a coup led by Rawlings on Dec. 31, 1981.