Hailed as West Africa’s golden child, Ghana deserves its place in the sun. One of Africa’s great success stories, the country is reaping the benefits of a stable democracy in the form of fast-paced development. And it shows: Ghana is suffused with the most incredible energy.
With its welcoming beaches, gorgeous hinterland, rich culture, vibrant cities, diverse wildlife, easy transport and affable inhabitants, it’s no wonder Ghana is sometimes labelled ‘Africa for beginners’.
It’s easy to come here for a week or a month, but no trip can be complete without a visit to Ghana’s coastal forts, poignant reminders of a page of history that defined our modern world.
Travel north and you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a different country, with a different religion, geography and cultural practices. The beauty is that this diversity exists so harmoniously, a joy to experience and a wonder to behold in uncertain times.
Capital. Accra 5°33′N 0°12′W
Languages. Official – English. National languages – Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi,Dagaare, Dagbani, Dangme,Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem,Fante, Nzema, Wasa, Talensi,Frafra
Ethnic groups. 47.5% Ashanti / Akan (11.5m), 16.6% Dagbani / Mole (4m), 13.9% Ewe (2.9m), 7.4% Ga-Adangbe (1.8m), 5.7% Gurma (0.7m), 3.7% Guan / Gonja (0.3m), 2.5% Gurunsi (0.1m), 1.1% Bissa / Mande (0.1m), 1.6% Other (0.1m)
Government. Unitary presidential constitutional republic. President John Dramani Mahama
Independence from the United Kingdom. Declared 6 March 1957
Area. Total 238,535 km2 (82nd)
Population. 2014 estimate 27,043,093. Density 101.5/km2 (103rd)
GDP (PPP). 2016 estimate Total $121.074 billion (70th). Per capita $4,390 (126th)
GDP (nominal). 2016 estimate Total $38.171 billion (69th). Per capita $1,384 (126th)
When to Go. Apr-Jan: Heaviest of the two rainy seasons (autumn can also be wet). Nov-Mar: dry and easiest season to travel. Dec-Apr: Beest for wildlife viewing with good visibility and animals congregating at water holes.
Tourist Information. As a rule is pretty useless and staff working in offices have little understanding of what travellers need.
www.ncrc-ghana.org – community based tourism site.
www.noworriesghana.com – targeted at people moving to Ghana rather than traveling. Good eating, drinking and entertainment listings, also shipping and transport.
www.touringghana.com – official tourism portal.
MONEY. Ghana cedi (GH₵) (GHS).
Ghana cedi were redenominated in July of 2007. The new “Ghana cedi” (GHS) equals 10,000 old cedis. During the transition period of six months, the old cedi is known as “cedi”, and the new cedi was known as “Ghana cedi”. Be aware that most Ghanaians still think in old currency. This can be very confusing (and costly). Ten thousand old cedis are habitually referred to as ten (or twenty, or thirty). This would, today, be one, two, or three “new” Ghana cedis. So always think whether the quoted price makes sense before buying or agreeing on a taxi fare. If in doubt ask whether this is new cedis.
US Dollars are accepted by some of the major tourist hotels, but you shouldn’t rely on this. As in all West African countries, older dollar bills will be rejected by banks and Forex bureaus. If you intend to take dollar notes make sure that they are all from the 2007 series or above.
Euros, dollars and UK pounds in cash are the most useful currencies to take with you and are easily and safely changed at numerous. It is very difficult to change travellers cheques and certainly almost impossible outside Accra and Kumasi, unless you change them at a major bank. Barclays has branches in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and even Tamale where you can change travellers cheques. Expect lines. VISA cards are accepted at major hotels and there are ATMs in Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast which accept VISA.
Foreign nationals of the following countries can enter Ghana visa-free: ECOWAS countries, plus Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Singapore, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Otherwise, unless in direct airside transit through a Ghanaian airport, all other foreign nationals require a visa to enter Ghana.
There is no such thing as a visa on arrival for Western countries. Ghana is the one country in all of West Africa that will require getting the visa in your home country in advance. The Ghanaian government’s online Ghana list of embassies is out of date, but this list is fairly reliable.
The application requires: 4 copies of fully completed and signed Ghana visa application form, in BLOCK CAPITAL, original signatures on all four application forms, 4 recent passport-style photographs, Letter of Invitation – of which a hotel where you are staying can be the second reference, – 1 copy of confirmation of hotel booking, – 1 copy of passport of invitor or of hotel manager, 1 copy of a return air ticket, or flight confirmation from a travel agency, 1 copy of an International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever,
You must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate which will be presented to customs when entering. Malaria course essential.
If you require a visa to enter Ghana, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Ghanaian embassy or consulate.
ExtensionS. Immigration Service early and expect delays in getting their passports back. Two weeks are provided as the guideline.
Visas for Onward Travel.
Burkina Faso. 3 month visas in 24 hours. 3 photos.
Cote d’Ivoire. 3 month visa requires a hotel confirmation.
Togo. 1 month visas on the same day.
Ghana is a sovereign unitary presidential constitutional democracy, located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2, Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south.
The territory of present-day Ghana has been inhabited for millennia, with the first permanent state dating back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti. Beginning in the 15th century, numerous European powers contested the area for trading rights, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. In 1957, it became the first sub-saharan African nation to declare independence from European colonisation.
A multicultural nation, Ghana has a population of approximately 27 million, spanning a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. Five percent of the population practices traditional faiths, 71.2% adhere to Christianity and 17.6% are Muslim. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savannahs to tropical jungles. Ghana’s economy is one of the strongest and most diversified in Africa, following a quarter century of relative stability and good governance. Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system has made it a regional power in West Africa. It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) and the Group of 24 (G24).
The etymology of the word Ghana means “warrior king” and was the title accorded to the kings of the medieval Ghana Empire in West Africa, although this empire was further north than the modern-day country of Ghana in the region of Guinea. The name “Ghana” was a possible source of the name “Guinea” (via French Guinoye) used to refer to the West African coast off Ghana (as in Gulf of Guinea).
Prehistory.Archaeological evidence suggests that humans have lived in present-day Ghana since the Bronze Age.
Medieval kingdoms. Ghana was already recognized as one of the great kingdoms in Bilad el-Sudan by the ninth century. Ghana was inhabited in the Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery by a number of ancient predominantly Akan kingdoms in the Southern and Central territories. This included the Ashanti Empire, the Akwamu, the Bonoman, the Denkyira, and the Mankessim Kingdom.
Until the 11th century, the majority of modern Ghana’s territorial area was largely unoccupied and uninhabited by humans. Although the area of present-day Ghana in West Africa has experienced many population movements, the Akans were firmly settled by the 5th century BC. By the early 11th century, the Akans were firmly established in the Akan state called Bonoman, for which the Brong-Ahafo Regionis named.
From the 13th century, Akans emerged from what is believed to have been the Bonoman area, to create several Akan states of Ghana, mainly based on gold trading. These states included Bonoman (Brong-Ahafo Region), Ashanti (Ashanti Region), Denkyira (Central region), Mankessim Kingdom (Western region), and Akwamu Eastern region. By the 19th century; the territory of the southern part of Ghana was included in the Kingdom of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-saharan Africa prior to the onset of colonialism. The Kingdom of Ashanti government operated first as a loose network, and eventually as a centralised kingdom with an advanced, highly specialised bureaucracy centred in the capital city of Kumasi. Prior to Akan contact with Europeans, the Akan Ashanti people created an advanced economy based on principally gold and gold bar commodities then traded with the states of Africa.
The earliest known kingdoms to emerge in modern Ghana were the Mole-Dagbani states. The Mole-Dagombas came on horse-backs from present day Burkina Faso under a single leader, Naa Gbewaa. With their advanced weapons and the presence of a central authority they easily invaded and occupied the lands of the local people ruled by the Tendamba (land god priests), established themselves as rulers over them and made Gambaga their capital. The death of Naa Gbewaa caused civil war among his children, some of whom broke off and founded separate states including Dagbon, Mamprugu,Mossi, Nanumba and Wala.
European contact. (15th century) Akan trade with European states began after contact with Portuguese in the 15th century to trade and established the Portuguese Gold Coast (Costa do Ouro), focused on the extensive availability of gold. The Portuguese built a trading lodge at a coastal settlement called Anomansah (the perpetual drink) which they renamed Elmina.
In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d’Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed in three years. By 1598, the Dutch people had joined the Portuguese people in gold trading, establishing the Dutch Gold Coast and building forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. In 1617, the Dutch captured the Olnini Castle from the Portuguese, and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony).
Other European traders had joined in gold trading by the mid-17th century, most notably the Swedish people, establishing the Swedish Gold Coast, and Denmark-Norway, establishing the Danish Gold Coast. Portuguese merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it Gold Coast.
More than thirty forts and castles were built by the Portuguese, Swedish, Dano-Norwegians, Dutch and German merchants; the latter German people establishing the German Gold Coast. In 1874 Great Britain established control over some parts of the country assigning these areas the status of British Gold Coast. Many military engagements occurred between the British colonial powers and the various Akan nation-states and the AkanKingdom of Ashanti defeated the British a few times in the Anglo-Ashanti wars against the United Kingdom that lasted for 100 years, but eventually lost with the War of the Golden Stool in the early 1900s.
Independence (1957). Kwame Nkrumah was the first Prime Minister of Ghana declared on 1 July 1960. He was the first African head of state to promote Pan-Africanism. His ideology was communism andsocialism.
Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by a military coup while Nkrumah was abroad. A series of alternating military and civilian governments from 1966 to 1981 ended with the ascension of Jerry John Rawlings of the PNDC) in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the Constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. The economy suffered a severe decline soon after, old economic policies were changed, and economic growth soon recovered from the mid–2000s.
21st century. Winning the 2000 and 2004 Ghanaian elections was John Agyekum Kufuor (first time that power had been transferred from one legitimately elected head of state and head of government to another.
Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator, therefore giving it a warm climate. Ghana spans an area of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), and has an Atlantic coastline that stretches 560 kilometres (350 miles) on the Gulf of Guinea in Atlantic Ocean to its south. It lies between latitudes 4° and 12°N, and longitudes 4°W and 2°E; and the Prime Meridian passes through Ghana, specifically through the industrial port town of Tema. Ghana is geographically closer to the “centre” of the Earth than any other country in the World; even though the notional centre, (0°, 0°) is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 614 km off the south-east coast of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea.
Grasslands mixed with south coastal shrublands and forests dominate Ghana, with forest extending northward from the south-west coast of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. A primary location for mining of industrial minerals and timber. Ghana encompasses plains, waterfalls, low hills, rivers, Lake Volta, the world’s largest artificial lake, Dodi Island andBobowasi Island on the south Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana.
Climate. Tropical with two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season. Average high 27.5°C. Average low °C 23. Average rainfall mm (inches) 16.
Rivers. Ghana has a vast river system with an array of tributaries. Lake Volta in Eastern Ghana, is the largest reservoir in the world.
Wildlife. Ghana has an array of wildlife that can be seen at zoos and national parks in Ghana, although populations have been drastically reduced by habitat loss and poaching.
Climate. There are two main seasons in Ghana, the wet and the dry seasons. Northern Ghana experiences its rainy season from March to November while the south, including the capital Accra, experiences the season from April to Mid-November.
Ghana is a unitary presidential constitutional democracy with a parliamentary multi-party system and former alternating military occupation.
The 2012 Fragile States Index indicated that Ghana is ranked the 67th in the world and 5th in Africa after Mauritius, 2nd Seychelles, 3rd Botswana, and 4th South Africa. Ghana ranked as the 64th least corrupt and politically corrupt country and 5th in Africa
Foreign relations. Ghana has been devoted to ideals of nonalignment, favours international and regional political and economic co-operation, and is an active member of the United Nations and the African Union.
Ghana has a great relationship with the United States. Many Ghanaian diplomats and politicians hold positions in international organisations including Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan.
Law Enforcement. Ghana is among the sovereign states of West Africa used by drug cartels and drug traffickers, usually from South America. West Africa is completely weak in terms of border control and the big drug cartels from Colombia and Latin America have chosen Africa as a way to reach Europe.” There is not a wide or popular knowledge about the narcotics industry and intercepted narcotics within Ghana itself, due to the industry’s operations and involvement in the underground economy. Underdeveloped institutions, porous open borders, and the existence of established smuggling organisations contribute to Ghana’s position in the narcotics industry.
Military. Today, Ghana is a regional power and regional hegemon.
Ghana currently has a prototype nuclear power plant. Ghana remains the safest and most trustworthy country in sub-Saharan Africa to pioneer it.
Ghana is an average natural resource enriched country possessing industrial minerals, hydrocarbons and precious metals. 8.7% GDP growth in 2012.
The Akosombo Dam, built on the Volta River in 1965, along with Bui Dam, Kpong Dam, and several other hydroelectric dams provide hydropower.
Ghana also produces high quality cocoa, is the 2nd largest producer of cocoa globally.
Ghana is classified as a middle income country. Services account for 50% of GDP, followed by manufacturing (24.1%), extractive industries (5%), and taxes.
Manufacturing. The Ghana economy is an emerging digital-based mixed economy hybrid similarly to that of Taiwan with an increasing primary manufacturing and exportation of digital technology goods along with assembling and exporting automobiles and ships, diverse resource rich exportation of industrial minerals, agricultural products primarily cocoa, petroleum and natural gas, and industries such as information and communications technology primarily via Ghana’s state digital technology corporation
Petroleum and natural gas production. Ghana produces and exports sweet crude oil and natural gas.
Ghana’s Jubilee Oilfield which contains up to 3 billion barrels (480,000,000 m3) of sweet crude oil was discovered in 2007, among the many other offshore and inland oilfields in Ghana. Ghana is believed to have up to 5 billion barrels (790,000,000 m3) to 7 billion barrels (1.1×109 m3) of petroleum in reserves, which is the fifth largest in Africa and the 21st to 25th largest proven reserves in the world. It also has up to 1.7×1011 cubic metres (6×1012 cu ft) of natural gas in reserves, which is the sixth largest in Africa and the 49th largest natural gas proven reserves in the world. Oil and gas exploration off Ghana’s eastern coast on the Gulf of Guinea is ongoing, and the amount of both crude oil and natural gas continues to increase. The Government of Ghana has drawn up plans to nationalise Ghana’s entire petroleum and natural gas reserves to increase government revenue.
Mining. Known for its industrial minerals, Ghana is the world’s 7th largest producer of gold; producing over 102 metric tons of gold and the 10th largest producer of gold in the world in 2012; producing 89 metric tons of gold and Ghana is the designated 2nd largest producer of gold on the Africa continent behind South Africa. Ghana has the 9th largest reserves of diamonds in the world. Industrial minerals and exports from South Ghana are gold, silver, timber, diamonds, bauxite, and manganese; South Ghana also has a great deposit of barites; basalts; clays; dolomites; feldspars; granites; gravels; gypsums; iron ores; kaolins; laterites; limestones; magnesites; marbles; micas; phosphates; phosphorus; rocks; salts; sands; sandstones; silver; slates; talcs; and uranium that are yet to be fully exploited.
Real estate. The real estate and housing market of Ghana has become an important and strategic economic sector, particularly in the urban centres of south Ghana such as Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tema.
Trade and exports. The Takoradi Harbour seaport was established in 1928 and is Ghana’s main export outlet. Ghana maintains one of the worlds fastest growing and expanding shipping industry. Tema Harbour is Africa’s largest manmade harbour.
Electricity. Shortages of electricity have led to dissent increasing the interest in renewables. Ghana plans to become a major regional exporter of electrical power using oil from the Jubilee oil field.
Economic transparency. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index of 2013, out of 177 countries, Ghana ranked 63rd with Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Ghana had a score of 46 on a scale where a 0–9 score means highly corrupt, and a 90–100 score means very clean. Local reports claim that Ghana loses US$4.5 billion every year (annually) as a result of economic corruption and crime. The incumbent president is however seen to be fighting corruption after ordering investigations into scandals.
Science and technology. Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to launch a cellular mobile network in 1992. It was also one of the first countries in Africa to be connected to the internet and to introduce ADSL broadband services.
Innovations and HOPE City. Hope City is a technology park to be completed in 2016 and one of its towers will become Africa’s tallest building.
DEMOGRAPHICS. 98% percent — are Black. Ghana is a multiethnic country. The largest ethnic group is the Ashanti people.
Religion. 71.2% Christian (28.3% are Pentecostal, 18.4% Protestant, 13.1% Catholic and 11.4% other). 17.6% Muslims (51% Sunni, 16% Ahmadiyya, and 8% Shia).
Population. In 2010, the population was 24.2 million. The Ashanti Region had the most,
Legal immigration. Due to recent legal immigration of skilled workers who possess Ghana Cards, there is a small population of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Middle Eastern and European nationals.
Illegal immigration. In 2010, there were a large number of economic migrants and Illegal immigrants 14.6% (or 3.1 million) of Ghana’s 2010 population (predominantly Nigerians, Burkinabe citizens, Togolese citizens, and Malian citizens). In 1969, deported over 3 million aliens and illegal immigrants in 3 months. In 2013, there was a mass deportation of illegal miners, more than 4,000 of whom were Chinese nationals.
Language. There are eleven languages that have the status of government-sponsored languages: four are Akan ethnic languages (Asante Twi, Akuapem Twi, Mfantse and Nzema), two are Mole-Dagbani ethnic languages (Dagaare and Dagbanli). The rest are Ewe, Dangme, Ga, Gonja, and Kasem.
English is the official language of the state and is widely used as a lingua franca. English speakers will have no trouble communicating their needs anywhere in the country. Ghanaians usually speak English quite fluently, albeit with some quirks.
There over 40 distinct languages spoken in Ghana including Twi/Fante in the Ashanti and Fante regions, Ga in Greater Accra, Ewe east of Lake Volta, Dagbani, and so on. “Obruni”, the Akan word for foreigner, which literally means “white man”, is generally shouted at any tourist in the more heavily trafficked areas, black or white, male or female.
In the northern regions and among Ghanaian Muslims in general, the Hausa language is also used as a lingua franca.
Religion. Christian 68.8% (71.2% Pentecostal/Charismatic, 24.1% Protestant, 18.6% Catholic
Muslim 15.9%. Traditional 8.5%
Fertility and reproductive health
Fertility rate of Ghana declined from 3.99 (2000) to 3.28 (2010) with 2.78 in urban region and 3.94 in rural region.
As of 2010, the maternal mortality rate was 350 deaths/100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate was 38.52 deaths/1,000 live births.
According to a 2013 UNICEF report, 4% of women in Ghana have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). The practice has been made illegal in the country. Ghana is also the birth country of anti-FGM campaigner Efua Dorkenoo.
Universal health care and health care
Ghana has a universal health care system strictly designated for Ghanaian nationals. Health care is very variable throughout Ghana and in 2012, over 12 million Ghanaian nationals were covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (Ghana) (NHIS). Urban centres are well served, and contain most of the hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies in Ghana. There are over 200 hospitals in Ghana and Ghana is a destination for medical tourism.
In 2013, life expectancy at birth had increased to an average of 66 years with males at 66 years and females at 67 years, and in 2013 infant mortality decreased to 39 per 1,000 live births. There was an estimation of 15 physicians and 93 nurses per 100,000 persons in 2010. 5.2% of Ghana’s GDP was spent on health in 2010, and all Ghanaian citizens have the right to access primary health care.
As of 2012, the HIV/AIDS prevalence was estimated at 1.40% among adults aged 15–49.
Education. With over 95% of its children in school, Ghana currently has one of the highest school enrollment rates in all of Africa. Foreign students. Ghana’s education system annually attracts a large number of foreign students particularly in the university sector.
15–24 years literacy rate was 81% in 2010.
There are eight national public universities in Ghana. The oldest university in Ghana, the University of Ghana, was founded in 1948. It had 29,754 students in 2008.
Ghanaian culture is a diverse mixture of the practices and beliefs of many different Ghanaian ethnic groups.
Literature. The Ghanaian national literature radio programme and accompanying publication Voices of Ghana was one of the earliest on the African continent. The most prominent Ghanaian authors are novelists; J. E. Casely Hayford, Ayi Kwei Armah and Nii Ayikwei Parkes, who gained international acclaim with the books, Ethiopia Unbound (1911),The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) and Tail of the Blue Bird (2009), respectively.
Adinkra. During the 13th century, Ghanaians developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Hand-printed and hand-embroidered adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the then Ghanaian royalty for devotional ceremonies. Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived from a proverb, a historical event, human attitude, ethology, plant life-form, or shapes of inanimatE and man-made objects. These are graphically rendered in stylised geometric shapes. The meanings of the motifs may be categorised into aesthetics, ethics, human relations, and concepts.
The Adinkra symbols have a decorative function as tattoos but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment. There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs. In the words of Anthony Appiah, they were one of the means in a pre-literate society for “supporting the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief”.
Traditional clothing. Along with the Adinkra cloth Ghanaians use many different cloth fabrics for their traditional attire. The different ethnic groups have their own individual cloth. Different symbols and different colours mean different things. The most well known is the Kente cloth. Kente is a very important Ghanaian national costume and clothing and these cloths are used to make traditional and modern Ghanaian Kente attire. Kente is a ceremonial cloth hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom and strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths. Cloths come in various colours, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions. Kente is more important than just a cloth and it is a visual representation of history and also a form of written language through weaving.
Modern clothing. Contemporary Ghanaian fashion include traditional and modern styles and fabrics and has made its way into the African and global fashion scene. The cloth known as African print fabric was created out of Dutch wax textiles, it is believed that in the late 1800s, Dutch ships on their way to Asia stocked with machine-made textiles that mimicked Indonesian Batik stopped at many West African ports on the way. The fabrics did not do well in Asia. However, in West Africa mainly Ghana where there was an already established market for cloths and textiles, the client base grew and it was changed to include local and traditional designs, coloUrs and patterns to cater to the taste of the new consumers. Today outside of Africa it is being called “Ankara” and it has a client base well beyond Ghana and Africa as a whole. It is very popular among Caribbean peoples and African Americans – celebrities such as Solange Knowles and sister Beyoncé have been seen wearing African print attire. Many European and American designers are now using African prints and it has gained a Global interest. European luxury fashion houseBurberry created a collection around Ghanaian styles. American musician Gwen Stefani has repeatedly incorporated African prints into her clothing line and can often be seen wearing it. Internationally acclaimed Ghanaian-British designer Ozwald Boateng introduced African print suits in his 2012 collection.
Music and dance. The music of Ghana is diverse and varies between different ethnic groups and regions. Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments such as the talking drum ensembles, Akan Drum, goje fiddle and koloko lute, court music, including the Akan Seperewa, the Akan atumpan, the Ga kpanlogo styles, and log xylophones used in asonko music. The most well known genres to have come from Ghana are African jazz which was created by Ghanaian artist Kofi Ghanaba. and its earliest form of secular music is called highlife. Highlife originated in the late 19th century and early 20th century and spread throughout West Africa. In the 1990s a new genre of music was created by the youth incorporating the influences of highlife, Afro-reggae, dancehall and hiphop. This hybrid was called Hiplife. Ghanaian artists such as “Afro Roots” singer, activist and songwriter Rocky Dawuni, R&B and soul singer Rhian Benson and Sarkodie have had international success. In December 2015, Rocky Dawuni became the first Ghanaian musician to be nominated for a Grammy award in the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album category for his 6th studio album titled Branches of The Same Tree released 31 March 2015.
Ghanaian dance is as diverse as its music, and there are traditional dances and different dances for different occasions. The most known Ghanaian dances are those for celebrations. These dances include the Adowa, Kpanlogo, Azonto, Klama, and Bamaya.
Film. Popular actors of Ghanaian ancestry; Van Vicker, and international actors Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba.
Ghana has a budding and thriving film industry. Ghana’s film industry dates as far back as 1948. In 1970, I Told You So was one of the first Ghanaian films to receive international acknowledgement. It was followed by the 1973 Ghanaian and Italian production The African Deal. 1983’s Kukurantumi: the Road to Accra. In 1987, Cobra Verde another Ghanaian and German production directed by Werner Herzog.
In recent times there has been some collaboration between Ghanaian and Nigerian crew and cast with a number of productions being turned out. Many Ghanaian films are co-produced with Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. In 2009, Unesco described Nollywood as being the second-biggest film industry in the world after Bollywood.
Media. The media of Ghana are amongst the most free in Africa. The Constitution freedom of the press and independence of the media and prohibits censorship. Post-independence, the government and media often had a tense relationship, with private outlets closed during the military governments and strict media laws that prevent criticism of government. Media freedoms were restored in 1992. The Ghanaian media has been described as “one of the most unfettered” in Africa, operating with little restriction on private media. The private press often carries criticism of government policy.
Association soccer is the most spectated sport in Ghana. Ghana has won the African Cup of Nations four times, the FIFA U-20 World Cup once, and has participated in three consecutive FIFA World Cups dating back to 2006. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ghana became the third African country to reach the quarter-final stage
Ghana competed in the Winter Olympics in 2010 for the first time. Ghanaian skier, Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, nicknamed “The Snow Leopard”, became the first Ghanaian to take part in the Winter Olympics, in 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.
Ghanaian athletes have won a total of four Olympics medals in thirteen appearances at the Summer Olympics, three in boxing, and a bronze medal in association football, and thus became the first country on the Africa continent to win a medal at association football.
The country has also produced quite a few quality boxers, including Azumah Nelson a three-time world champion and considered as Africa’s greatest boxer, Nana Yaw Konadu also a three-time world champion.
Cultural heritage and architecture. There are two types of Ghanaian traditional construction; The series of adjacent buildings in an enclosure around a common are common and the traditional round huts with grass roof. The round huts with grass roof architecture are situated in the northern regions of Ghana (Northern, Upper East andUpper West regions), while the series of adjacent buildings are in the southern regions of Ghana (Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra and Western regions).
Ghanaian postmodern architecture and high-tech architecture buildings are predominant in the Ghanaian southern regions, while the Ghanaian heritage sites are most evident by the more than thirty forts and castles built in Ghana: Fort William and Fort Amsterdam. Ghana has museums that are situated inside castles, and two are situated inside a fort.
National symbols. The tawny eagle appears on the coat of arms of Ghana
Air. All International flights are through Kotoka International airport at Accra (ACC). Very central with Airport Shuttles and lots of taxis available to connect you to other parts of the City.
Delta Airlines serves Accra from New York City (JFK) everyday. This flight continues on to Liberia four times per week (Monrovia service ends 31 August 2014.) Delta discontinued its nonstop service from Atlanta to Accra.
British Airways (daily) and Virgin Atlantic (5x weekly) fly from London Heathrow.
KLM flies daily from Schiphol, Amsterdam.
Lufthansa and Alitalia maintain daily direct flights from Frankfurt and Milan respectively, with a short stop in Lagos, Nigeria.
Emirates flies daily non-stop from Dubai in the Middle East (with connections to Asia and the Far East).
Ethiopian Airlines flies four weekly non-stops from Addis Ababa (with stopover, you can visit another African country).
Egypt Air flies non-stop to Accra.
South African Airways flies four times a week non-stop from Johannesburg.
Angola Airlines. If coming from Brazil or nearby, the flight from Rio to Luanda, Angola would be the shortest, then non-stop to Accra.
Turkish Airlines flies from İstanbul to Accra with four flights per week, since january 2012 non-stop.
Royal Air Maroc also has several flights a week to Accra out of Casablanca.
The lowest fares to Ghana outside of Africa are usually from London, but that doesn’t necessarily mean British Airways is the cheapest
Afriqiyah Airways was one of the cheapest airlines maintaining flights to Accra, from London Gatwick via Tripoli, but flights were halted in Feb 2011 and have not yet resumed.
Brussels Airlines with 2 weekly flights out of Brussels will also stop flying from 25 March 2012.
TAP from Portugal also flies 4 times a week to Accra and will add an additional flight soon. Those living in North America might be able to save by getting a cheap ticket to London from their home country.
Land Crossings. Keep in mind while at the border crossings is to keep your cameras stowed in your packs; both Ghanian and Togolese border guards are sure to take your camera if they spot you snapping a photo, or at the least give you a good chiding.
Togo. The border at Aflao with Togo is an entertaining scene. It appears very disorderly and human traffic seems to flow freely. However it is unlikely that a white person can pass through without all the formalities. The border guards are professional enough where you will not be asked for bribes. The Togolese 7-day transit visa is a lovely cheap 5,000 CFA (2011). Change your money before crossing, if you need to buy a visa. Ideally, change your money at a bank in Aflao (even better to do it in advance at a ForEx in Accra) or Lomé.
Cote d’Ivoire at Elubo takes less time to cross but Ivorian guards seem much more keen on the rules.
Burkina Faso, the main route is a bus from Ouaga to Bolgatonga/Tamale/Accra. Alternatively you can cross the border at Hamile Take a bus from Bobo-Dioulasso. You have to cross the border by foot (after leaving BF, you walk some 300 meters through no-men’s-land before reaching Ghana customs. Locals will be lingering around and will be looking to change money at fairly reasonable rates). Then take a Metro Mass bus to Wa (alternatively hop on a tro-tro and do the trip in stages). Be sure to taken an early bus from Bobo: if the bus has a delay, you may end up having to spend the night in Hamile. There is a place where you can get a room (10 Gh¢), the custom offficers can help you find it. It is the only option in town, but is not a very nice place to say the least: It is filthy and you probably don’t want to use the bathroom facilities.
Bus. Ghana’s national bus company, State Transport Corporation, runs an inter-city bus service within Ghana and to some major West African cities. A recent public-private partnership produced Metro Mass Company, which runs services within the capital city, Accra, and within other regions in Ghana.
ABC Transport, based in Nigeria has a daily air conditioned bus to Lagos.
Boat. Tamale to Accra.
Air. There are scheduled domestic flights 16 times a day between Accra and Kumasi, 9 times a day between Accra and Sekondi Takoradi, 8 times a day between Accra and Tamale and 2 times a day between Accra and Sunyani. There are also filghts to destinations outside the country. Current operating airlines are Starbow and African World Airlines. Antrak Air has temporarily suspended its services. CityLink does not exist anymore in Ghana, neither does Fly540.
Only one travel agent where you can book fully online and pay with European and American payment gateways: http://www.GhanaTicketService.com . Also booking on the websites of the airlines themselves is possible: http://www.flystarbow.com andhttp://www.flyafricaworld.com, but payment methods are limited there.
Train. There are rail links between Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi however, as of October 2010, all railways have been suspended except those traveling from Accra to Nsawam (four times a day, Monday through Saturday) and from Accra to Tema (twice a day, Monday through Saturday). These are mostly used as commuter trains for residents. The railway system is being renovated, so the other routes are expected to reopen to passengers when everything is complete.
Car. Roads are variable. In Accra most are fairly good. Significant improvements are being made on the main road between Accra and Kumasi. Most of the roads outside Accra apart from the major ones are dirt tracks. The road between Techiman and Bole is particularly bad and should be avoided if possible. For travel on most roads in the North of the country a 4×4 is required, a saloon car will cope with some of them in the dry season but is not recommended.
Also it should be noted that cars with foreign registration are not allowed to circulate between 6PM and 6AM. Only Ghanaian registered vehicles are allowed on the road at this time. Non compliance can result in fines and the impounding of the vehicle for the night.
Bus. STC is the main coach company. They operate long distance domestic and international services. Probably the safest way to travel long distance, and are also pretty quick compared to other options, although even on these services breakdowns are reasonably frequent. STC operate between Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale, Cape Coast and other main cities. ‘Express’ or ‘Air-conditioned’ services are quicker and a lot more comfortable than the ordinary services and are now available on the Accra-Kumasi, Accra-Tamale, Accra-Bolgatanga routes. Buy your tickets a day in advance though, often times they will be full if you wait until the day of travel. Also, expect to pay for your luggage based upon its weight. It should rarely be over 1/3 the price of the ticket.
Several other companies also operate bus services between the major towns, these include OSA, Metrobus and Kingdom Travel, their service is marginally more reliable than tro-tros but there isn’t much in it. Metrobus is by far the cheapest and best option going between Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast but not recommended for tamale due to the hassle of obtaining a ticket amongst the massive crowds seeking this destination.
The VIP bus company is now the major carrier between Accra, Kumasi, etc.
Tro-Tro. A ‘Tro-tro’ is a term that covers almost any sort of vehicle that has been adapted to fit in as many people, possessions, and occasionally livestock, as possible. Tro-tros are typically old, 12-passenger VW or Mercedes-Benz vans. Similarly to ‘shared’ taxis, tro-tros will run along fixed routes and have fixed fares, and will rarely run with less than capacity [so be prepared to wait]. They are inexpensive (cheaper than shared taxis and STC buses) and fares should reflect distance traveled, however they have a questionable safety record and frequently breakdown. Breakdowns however are usually not too much of a problem since they will break down in a route where other tro-tro’s run, so you can just grab another one. Although they generally run point to point they will usually pick and drop on route if required. They make runs within the city as well as intercity routes. They are often the only option between remote towns but are not recommended for long journeys. Tro-tros are an excellent way to meet Ghanaians, and are always great for a cultural adventure. Sometimes they will make you pay extra for luggage, and occasionally they will try to overcharge (very rarely).
If you feel like being an elite tro-tro rider, ask around for City Express, a newish service sporting the usual minivan, but with working brakes, non-stop travel, half the seats, and impressive air conditioning. It mostly runs between the larger cities along the coast, e.g., Takoradi, Accra, Aflao, et al.
Taxi. Taxis are prevalent, easy to spot,as a tourist just stand at the curb and make a small slowing down gesture with palm and arm straight down. To charter a taxi [take a drop] is more expensive than to share one [line taxi]. Prices are negotiable and almost always need to be bargained over. Always settle on a fare BEFORE getting in. Drivers often try to quote 2-3 times higher than the typical price, so don’t be shy about bargaining.
Also be aware that drivers NEVER know actual addresses, but instead navigate by landmarks, i.e. 1st traffic light after market, or Freddies corner by Circle. Essential to have mobile, call your destination, pass phone to driver so he can be given the right directions.
Line taxis follow specific routes and stop at the same places as trotros. Local people will be pleased to make sure you get the right one. Like trotros, they always run full, sometimes squeezing 4 or 5 into the back seat before taking off, but they are about 10% the cost of private taxis.
If this is your first visit to West Africa, be prepared for very different standards of vehicle condition.
Tourism. In 2011, 1,087,000 tourists visited Ghana: South Americans, Asians, Europeans, and North Americans. The attractions and major tourist destinations of Ghana include a warm, tropical climate year-round; diverse wildlife; exotic waterfalls such as Kintampo Waterfalls and the largest waterfall in west Africa, Wli Waterfalls; Ghana’s coastal palm-lined sandy beaches; caves; mountains, rivers; meteorite impact crater and reservoirs and lakes such as Lake Bosumtwi or Bosumtwi meteorite crater and the largest man-made lake in the world by surface area, Lake Volta; dozens of castles and forts; UNESCO World Heritage Sites; nature reserves and national parks.
The World Economic Forum statistics in 2010 showed that out of the world’s favourite tourist destinations, Ghana was ranked 108th out of 139 countries. Tourism is the fourth highest earner of foreign exchange for the country. In 2015, Ghana ranks as the 54th–most peaceful country in the world.
Ghana is a very friendly country, ideal for first time travellers to Africa. The people are generally very helpful and welcoming. While their laid back attitude and lack of organized tourist sights/trips can be a little annoying to begin with, before you have been there for very long you realize that it is one of the delights of this country. Tourism in Ghana is growing very quickly, and more tour operators are seeing increased requests for Ghana as a travel destination. Ghana is also rich in gold. This is a stable country with great potential for growth though much more needs to be done in terms of its infrastructure.
Coastal Plain (Accra, Apam, Cape Coast, Elmina, Kakum National Park, Kokrobite, Nzulezo,Sekondi-Takoradi, Ada) – the Gulf of Guinea coastal area with the capital city, several forts and the best preserved rainforest in the country
Ashanti-Kwahu (Koforidua, Kumasi, Obuasi, Sunyani) – forested hills and the ancient Ashanti kingdom
Volta Basin (Tamale) – massive Lake Volta, the river system that feeds it and border crossings to Togo
Northern Plains (Bolgatanga, Mole National Park, Wa) – savanna plains and the traditional trade routes wih Burkina Faso
Cities. Both the 1st and 2nd cities of Ghana offer plenty to see and to do.
• Accra — national capital and largest city. Accra offers history at the historic sites, such as Independence square, the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum and the WB Dubois Centre. Shopping in a number of markets, including Makola market in the centre of the city. Cultural treats include a number of museums and the national theatre. Outside of the city at Aburi are the extensive botantical gardens.
• Bolgatanga — Ghana’s gateway to Burkina Faso. Paga Crocodile Pond location.
• Cape Coast — Cape Coast slave castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site
• Elmina — coastal town with a quite harrowing slave fort, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
• Koforidua Botanical garden
• Kumasi — traditional centre of the Ashanti Kingdom and Ghana’s second largest city. Sights based around the history of the Ashanti, including the Manhiya Palace, the Asantehene’s Palace and Okomfo Anokye Sword.
• Obuasi — mining town. The Earth’s 9th largest gold mine location
• Tamale — largest city in the north and gateway to Mole National Park.
Sekondi-Takoradi. Ashantiland’s location of renowned surfing beaches such as Busua Beach, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
• Kakum National Park — rainforest area with a long canopy walk, delightful to be above the treetops, but rare to see any wildlife except birds. Monkeys as well as elephants and antelope are said to live in the region. There is a good little museum and a cafe at the park entrance.
• Eco Village Sognaayilli (Meet Africa) — a holiday with the local people in a traditional village in the Northern part of Ghana.
• Mole National Park — savannah with buffalo, monkeys, antelope, and reintroduced lions & elephants; both driving and walking safaris are popular, you can even camp for the night on the savannah.
• Nzulezo — a village of buildings built on stilts.
• Paga — a town in the north home to “sacred crocodiles” which are tame and live in several pools.
• Shai Hills Reserve — a great daytrip near Accra home to baboons, parrots, & antelope; you can tour the reserve on horseback.
• Wli Falls — in the lush Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary near the Togo border.
Historic sites. For many visitors the history of Ghana starts with the slave trade, and interaction with Europeans, but there was a long and rich history before that. Remnants of thriving civilisations can be seen in the Northern region, at both the Larabanga mosque which dates from the 15th century and the 16th century Nalerigu Defence Wall.
With the growth in power and prestige of the Ashanti Kingdom in the 17th and 19th Centuries, the capital Kumasi also grew and now contains a number of historic sights.
However the slave trade did leave its mark on Ghana, with forts built by the British, Dutch, Danish, Germans, Portuguese and Swedish dotted all along the coast. Excellent examples of these can be seen at both Cape Coastand Elmina, these forts give a glimpse of the time of slavery and a view of the last sight of Africa for thousands of people, as well as being Unesco World Heritage sites.
Nature. Ghana is blessed with an abundance of natural treasures, from beautiful beaches such as those at Kokrobite and Winneba, where you can relax with a cocktail, enjoy a stay at a beach front hotel or watch the fishermen at work. Alternatively you could take the waters inland instead, Volta Lake created by the damming of the River Volta at Akosombo in the mid 1960’s to provide a source of electricity to Ghana now also provides a wonderful viewing point from the dam itself or trips out onto the lake itself or you can take a trip on the River Volta instead at Ada.
In the Ashanti region not far from Kumasi is Lake Bosumtwi, a 10.5km diameter meteor impact crater lake, which was created by a meteor strike approximately 1 million years ago, as well a being extremely picturesque the lake holds a spiritual significance to the Ashanti, whose traditional belief asserts that souls of the dead meet the god Twi at the lake.
Also inland, are two more national treasures in the form of two world renowned national parks. Kakum National Park to walk of the elevated rope bridges within the forest, with the opportunity for bird watching and butterfly and other nature spotting or to Mole National Park to enjoy a safari experience, with the chance to see elephants, big cats and other animals on the savannah.
Kakum National Park, located in the central coast of the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, covers an area of 375 square kilometres. The national park is covered with tropical rainforest. Kakum National Park is the only national park in Africa with a canopy walkway, which is 350 metres long and connects seven canopy tree tops which provides access to the rainforests.
Festivals. Ghana has many festivals and events, including the Fetu Afahye Festival (first Saturday of September) in Cape Coast, the Bakatue Festival (first Tuesday in July) in Elmina, the Fire Festival (dates vary according to the Muslim calendar) of the Dagomba people in Tamale and various year-round Akan celebrations in Kumasi. Panafest, an arts festival, is celebrated biennially in Cape Coast.
Bargaining is very much expected in the markets. Large cities such as Accra have markets open every day, but travellers get the true flavour of the country if they have the opportunity to visit a village market on the day of the week that it is open. Most goods will be staple goods, but cloth, beads, musical instruments, bags, and even CD’s are usually available.
Kente cloth, drums and wooden designs, such as masks and “sacred stools” can be found on almost any street in any tourist area in Ghana.
The accra mall is a first class and commercial shopping centre situated on the spintex road of the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange.(www.accramall.com).
Adinkrah symbols & sacred stools. The sacred stools have traditional Adinkrah “motif” designs in them that can mean many things having to do with God, love, strength, community, and much more. Finding a guidebook which will tell you what each symbol means is advisable to prevent the possibility of buying a stool that doesn’t mean what you think it is. Gye Nyame is by far the most popular Adinkrah symbol. It means “Only God”. Other popular stools are the “Wisdom Knot” and the one with the character holding many sticks together, which cannot be broken, to symbolize the strength of community.
FOOD. Ghanaian cuisine and gastronomy is diverse, and includes an assortment of soups and stews with varied seafoods and most Ghanaian soups are prepared with vegetables, meat, poultry or fish. Traditional food is fun to try and easy to enjoy.
Fish is important in the Ghanaian diet with tilapia, roasted and fried whitebait, smoked fish and crayfish all being common.
Banku is a common Ghanaian starchy food made from ground corn (maize), and cornmeal based staples, dokonu (kenkey) and banku are usually accompanied by some form of fried fish (chinam) or grilled tilapia and a very spicy condiment made from raw red and green chillies, onions and tomatoes (pepper sauce). Banku and tilapia is a combo served in most Ghanaian restaurants.
Fufu is the most common exported Ghanaian dish in that it is a delicacy across the African diaspora. It is the most widely served traditional dish, consists of pounded balls of yam, plantain, or cassava served with soup, and a side of goat meat or fish.
Soups are typically made of groundnuts, palm nut, okra and other vegetables. “Light soup” is a tomato-based soup. Banku is a fermented corn version of the dish typically eaten with grilled tilapia fish or okra soup. Omo tuo is a version made from pounded rice, although it is only served on Sundays in many restaurants. These dishes are eaten with your hand by dipping the dough into the soup, and you are given a bowl of water with dishsoap to wash before eating (note that Ghanaians eat only with their right hands). A delicious alternative to the starch-and-soup combination is red-red, a bean stew served with a side of fried plantains.
Rice dishes are also common, but not considered a “real” meal by many Ghanaians, males especially. Jollof rice is a dish as varied as its chef, but generally consists of white rice cooked with vegetables, meat pieces, spices in a tomato based sauce. Waakye (pronounced “WA-chay”) is a mix of beans and rice, typically served with gari, a powder of ground cassava. Often rice dishes are served with shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes on the side with a dollop of Heinz salad cream or mayonnaise.
Plantains, yams, and sweet potatoes are prepared in various ways and serve as small snacks. Kelewele, a spiced fried plantain snack, is especially delicious. Fresh fruits such as pineapple, mango, papaya, coconut, oranges, and bananas are delightful when in season and come when applicable by the bag for as little as 10 pesawas.
There are also a number of Western and Chinese style restaurants available especially in Osu, a trendy suburb of Accra.
Drink. Drinking water from the tap is not generally considered to be safe, so choices include plastic bottled water, boiled or filtered tap water, and “pure water” sachets. These sachets are filtered and come in 500mL portions.
Beer. Star and Club are two of the more popular beers served. For a more interesting and rewarding experience, visit a “spot,” a bar signified by the blue and white stripes on the outside of the building. These spots are prevalent in every city and even smaller towns. They are cheaper and you will undoubtedly be able to meet some local Ghanaians as well as hear the newest hip-life songs.
Be aware that the bottles that minerals or beer is served to you in are owned by the bottling company-if you do not return it to the seller, they stand to lose GH₵0.50 — more than you most likely paid for the drink. If you are not going to consume the drink at the “spot” or at the roadside stand, make sure you let the seller know. Often, you will be asked for a deposit which will be returned upon the return of the bottle.
Palm wine is a drink common in various parts of Africa, and is made from the sap of palm trees. It is best if you can find it somewhere where it has been freshly tapped.
If you’re looking for a bargain, Ghana probably isn’t it. Budget hotels don’t often provide a top sheet, so pack a sleeping liner.
Despite the high prevalence of malaria in Ghana, remarkably few hotels have mosquito nets; wear repellent and cull before you go to sleep.
Rooms with bathrooms are generally called ‘self-contained’. There are many wonderful places to stay in Ghana. There are many options including lavish hotels or more rustic places to stay.
Rent a house for longer stays (a few months). Advertised in local newspapers and frequented by expats – Koala supermarket, Ryan’s Irish pub etc.
LEARN. Universities. Three major public universities: University of Ghana, largest, located in Cape Coast) and Kumasi (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, or “Tech”). Smaller public universities include the University of Education at Winneba, the University of Development Studies with a main campus at Tamale and several other campuses around the north, and the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa, Western Region.
There are some good schools while others aren’t that great. Teachers are usually very strict and respect from the students is very important.
(http://www.gooverseas.com/study-abroad/ghana. Offers a short term formal study abroad program in Ghana. Learn the local language, deepen their understandings and increase their interaction with the Ghanaian culture and people.
WORK. A popular method of travelling around Ghana is to volunteer with the many organizations that Ghana boasts: Africa Calling, AIESEC University students, Disaster Volunteers of Ghana, Global-Cultural Solution (GCS), Ikando Volunteers, Light for Children, Meet Africa, Rob Booker Volunteer Organization (RVO), Thrive Africa UK, Volunteering Solutions in Ghana, Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa
Ultimate Voluntary Organization. Offers opportunities for teaching, football coaching and/or medical volunteering. This grassroots organization is near the Volta and provides volunteers with a real sense of what Ghana is all about.
Humanity Exchange. Funded program provides low cost volunteering with excellent provisions and support in Esiama, Western Ghana.
True Vision Ghana. A grassroots NGO that promotes the realization of rights of underprivileged children that are affected by HIV/AIDS in Wa, Ghana.
Ghana is currently a very safe, stable country with relatively low crime levels compared to other West African countries. Take sensible precautions but be assured it is quite safe.
Bywel’s bar in Osu, a frequent hangout of expats on Thursday nights, is target for muggings. Leave in a large group and enter a taxi immediately upon exiting the bar.
Gay Acceptance. Both female and male homosexuality is illegal.
Snatching mobile phones in the streets. Avoid using your mobile phone out in the open if you do not absolutely need to.
Health. Chloroquine-resistant malaria is widespread. You must take sufficient malaria protection including mosquito avoidance, mosquito repellents, and chemical prophylaxis.
Yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into the country. Vaccinations against Hepatitis A & B, Cholera and Typhoid fever are encouraged. The northern third of Ghana is a part of the Meningitis belt of Africa with a very high risk of meningitis especially during the dry windy periods from December to June. A polysaccharide vaccine is available for Meningitis types A, C, Y and W135.
AIDS/HIV rate is lower than other sub-Saharan African countries.
Schistosomiasis. Avoid contact with still freshwater.
Ghanaians are quite accepting of tourists getting it wrong. Greetings are of paramount importance. Ghanaians are not forgiving of people who do not take time to greet others. Sometimes greetings come in the form of a salute accompanied by a “good morning” or “good afternoon”. The expected response is the same. Inquiring how the person is doing is also a good idea. They are an affable lot.
Humor is entrenched in Ghanian culture and always the best way to deal with tricky situation: for example when calls of ‘Obroni’ (meaning white person) become too much, it’s fine to call back ‘Bebeni’ (meaning black person).
The only way to call somebody or get their attention is by hissing or making a ‘tsssss’ sound, this is also how people will try to get your attention.
Ghanian hand shake is a typical handshake, quickly followed by the snapping of thumb and middle finger. The technique will be introduced to you the first time you shake hands – it will take you by surprise as it involves sliding your hand down the other persons hand, taking their middle finger between your thumb and middle finger as they take your middle finger between their thumb and middle finger, then snapping your finger together as they do likewise. It is unique. Smile, make new friends, and give them a Ghanian handshake – they will smile and nod!
Post. Can be unreliable within Ghana but international post, at least to and from Accra is reasonably reliable.
Telephone. Mobile phone penetration is very good and good coverage even in remote areas. Visitors can obtain a cheap new phone and a local SIM card from any of the 6 providers [Vodafone, MTN,GLO, Expresso, Airtel and Tigo].
Internet. For laptops use USB sticks.
Urban areas, never too far away from an internet café. Many hotels also have wireless hotspots.