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Country, West Africa. Area: 92,098 sq mi (238,533 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 23,832,000. Capital: Accra. Ghana is home to Akan, Mossi, Ewe, and Ga-Adangme peoples. Languages: English (official), Akan, Ewe, Hausa. Religions: Christianity (Protestant, other Christians, Roman Catholic), traditional beliefs, Islam. Currency: cedi. The land is generally flat, dominated by the Volta River basin. The north is characterized by grassland plains; the south is heavily forested. The southern coastal plain is the historical Gold Coast. The varied wildlife includes lions, leopards, and elephants. Ghana has a developing mixed economy based largely on agriculture and mining. Cacao is the mainstay of the economy; mineral exports include gold and diamonds. Ghana is a unitary multiparty republic with one legislative house; its head of state and government is the president. The modern state is named for the ancient Ghana empire that flourished until the 13th century CE in the western Sudan, about 500 mi (800 km) northwest of the modern state. The Akan peoples then founded their first states in modern Ghana. Gold-seeking Mande traders arrived by the 14th century and Hausa merchants by the 16th. During the 15th century the Mande founded the states of Dagomba and Mamprussi in the northern half of the region. The Asante (Ashanti), an Akan people, originated in the central forest region and formed a strongly centralized empire that was at its height in the 18th–19th century. European exploration of the region began early in the 15th century, when the Portuguese landed on the Gold Coast; they later established a settlement at Elmina as headquarters for the slave trade. By the mid-18th century the Gold Coast was dominated by numerous forts controlled by Dutch, British, and Danish merchants. Britain made the Gold Coast a crown colony in 1874, and British protectorates over the Asante and the northern territories were established in 1901. In 1957 the Gold Coast became the independent state of Ghana. Since independence several political coups have occurred, but the coup of 1981 produced a government that lasted into the 1990s and made a smooth transition into another administration at the beginning of the 21st century.
Variants of GHANA
Ghana officially Republic of Ghana formerly Gold Coast
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Ghana, visit Britannica.com.