Ghana

Driving Directions Ghana

GHANA is located on the southern coast of West Africa between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. In 1957, as the former British Gold Coast, it became the first black African state to achieve independence from European colo­nial rule.

The country has palm-fringed beaches of white sand along the Gulf of Guinea, and where the great River Volta meets the sea, there are peaceful blue lagoons. A coastal, grassy plain gives way to a dense jungle in the southwest and savannah country and woodland in the interior and north.

There is a range of modest-sized mountains (up to 900 meters or 2,950 feet) along the eastern border with Togo. The landscape becomes harsh and barren near the border with Burkina Faso in the far north. Forested areas have been greatly reduced and cleared during the 20th century, although some efforts were made to halt this process.

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The country’s two main rivers, the Black Volta and White Volta unite in central, eastern Ghana to form the River Volta, which then flows southwards to the sea. Construction of the Akosombo Dam on the lower reaches of the river led to the creation the world’s largest humanmade lake, Lake Volta.

A tropical climate prevails, but the north is drier than the south. There is one main rainy season from April to July and a minor one from September to November. Natural vegetation is varied but severely depleted, and there has been a consequent decline in the numbers of some wild animals. Species include monkeys, warthog, buffalo, leopard, elephant, snakes, and tropical birds. Most of Ghana’s towns are in the south, but rapid growth has turned many of them into unplanned, sprawling shantytowns.

Agriculture and mining are the country’s principal economic activities. Ghana’s most important crop is cocoa beans, and others include coffee, palm kernels, coconut oil, copra, shea nuts, and bananas, all of which are exported. Fishing is also of major importance and has increased in recent years.

Ghana has important mineral resources, notably gold, diamonds, manganese, and bauxite. Independence gained in 1957, and the country has, at times, been troubled by periods of political instability, but it appears to have become more settled during the 1990s.

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Ghana faces the Gulf of Guinea in the great bulge of West Africa. The average elevation is relatively low, mostly between sea level and about 305 meters (1,000 feet). Ghana has five major geographical regions. In the southern part of the country are the low plains, part of the belt that extends along the Gulf of Guinea’s entire coastal area. To the north of these plains are three distinct regions: the Ashanti Uplands, the Volta Basin, and the Akwapim-Togo Ranges. The fifth region, the high plains, occupies the northern and northwestern parts of the country. These plains also form part of a belt generally stretching from east to west through West Africa.

Ghana’s coast stretches for 528 kilometers (328 miles) along the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. It is characterized by strong surfs, which make landing ships difficult, except at artificially constructed harbors.

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