GDP PER CAPITA, PPP$6,492
The former Gold Coast, named for its rich deposits of the precious metal, became the Republic of Ghana in 1957 when it gained independence from British colonial rule.
An ancient trade route once ran through west Africa, crossing through Ghana and neighbors Togo and Cote d’Ivoire. The discovery of gold made Ghana one of the first places in sub-Saharan Africa to attract European traders; it was also the first nation in the region to break colonial rule.
In this and many other ways, Ghana has been a model for others on the continent. Dozens of African nations declared independence within a decade of Ghana, and the country has been considered to exemplify stable democratic and, until recently, economic reform.
Former Air Force flight lieutenant Jerry Rawlings claimed power in 1981 and banned political parties until a new constitution took effect in 1992, making the nation a multi-party democracy. The nation elected Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as their next president in December 2016, he assumed office in January 2017.
Few trade barriers and a competitive business environment have strengthened Ghana’s economy, bolstered by rich reserves of natural resources. In addition to gold, oil and cocoa are major exports. Agriculture accounts for a large portion of gross domestic product and employment, but a quarter of Ghanaians live below the poverty line. Small-scale illegal mining is seen as threatening the country’s cocoa industry.
The country received a three-year, $918 million bailout from the International Monetary Fund in 2015 aimed to improve fiscal responsibility and macroeconomic growth in the quickly expanding economy. The country also struggles with maintaining consistent electricity to its citizens. Ghana spends 6 percent of its gross domestic product on education, among the highest in the world. Once an attractive destination for migrants, however, Ghana is losing much of its top talent to Europe and North America, shifting migration trends in the opposite direction.
Dozens of ethnic groups, each with unique customs and languages, coexist peacefully across the country and unite in their love of soccer, the national sport. About half of Ghana’s population lives rurally, spread across vast plains, rainforests to the west and man-made Lake Volta to the east.
Kumasi is a major metropolitan area near the center of the country, located about four hours north of capital city Accra. Known as the “Garden City of West Africa” for its lush flowers and vegetation, Kumasi is also the birthplace of Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Ghana is party to a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, the African Union and the World Trade Organization.