|History & People | The Ashanti | Ghana Facts|
Ghana is one of the five African nations along the northern coastline of the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered on the west by Cote d'Ivoire, on the north by Burkina Faso, and on the east by Togo. The country consists mostly of low-lying savannah regions, with a central belt of forest. Ghana's distinguishing geographic feature is the Volta River, on which was built the Akosombo dam in 1964. The damming of the Volta created the enormous Lake Volta, which occupies a sizeable portion of Ghana's southeastern territory.
Lake Volta is also the site of Kujani National Park, though Ghana's best-known park is Mole, located in the north. Unfortunately, neither Lake Volta nor the river itself have yet been developed for touring--although lake cruises are offered, the great majority of water traffic consists of cargo ships.
Rainfall is fairly heavy, particularly from April through September.
Ghana's rich history centers on the once-great Ashanti empire, which
rose to power during the late 17th century and continued to prosper as
a center of the 18th century slave trade. The Ashanti capital, Kumasi,
was during this period one of the finest and most advanced cities
in Africa, and the Ashanti state even employed significant numbers
of Europeans as advisors and administrators. The European presence in Ghana
is also marked by the multitude of colonial forts that dot its coastline
strongholds that anchored the European trade in gold, ivory, and slaves.
Although Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, was largely considered a
British territory by the latter half of the 19th century, it wasn't until
1900 that the British succeeded in defeating the Ashanti and the area's
other strong kingdoms.
If Ghana was late in coming under European control, it was also
the first African nation to win back its independence, in 1957. However,
corruption and internal military strife proved to be apparently intractable
problems, and Ghana went
Most of Ghana's 17 million people practice either Christianity or Islam, which are prevalent depending on the region. Christianity prospers in the south, while Islam dominates the rural north. Local religions also endure in Ghana, and are often practiced syncreticaly with the mainstream religions.
The country's main holiday, Akwasidee, comes from the Ashanti religious
calendar, and features an ornate ceremony involving the Ashanti king, known
as the Asantehene.