Republic of Ghana
Ghana cedi (GH₵)
GMT (UTC +0)
This multicultural nation is in the western region of Africa, south of the Sahara. Bordered by the Togo in the east, Burkina Faso in the north, Ivory Coast in the west and the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana’s President is both head of state and head of the government. They now have one of Africa’s strongest economies, which together with their democratic political system have made them to a regional power in West Africa.
This country has succeeded in keeping its culture alive for centuries making it an amazing place to visit. Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savannahs to tropical jungles. Once known as the gold coast, Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa and today Ghana is also the second largest producer of cocoa beans in the world.
Geographically speaking, Ghana is located only a few degrees north of the Equator, giving it a warm climate that is relatively mild for its latitude. There are two main seasons, but to be on the safe side, expect everyday to be hot and the humidity to be high. During rainy days it usually just rains for a short while, but occasionally it can rain for the entire day. Temperatures tend to hover around 22-30°C.
The north experiences its rainy season from April to November. The south experiences two rainy seasons each year. The heaviest rain there is from April until June, and a lighter rain is possible during September and October. Rainfall ranges from 80 to 215 cm a year. You can still expect to experience hot days, in both the north and the south.
Hot winds from the Sahara desert blow into the northern part of Ghana in late December and continues until mid-February, this is called Harmattan. Some years this can be pleasant, as it dims the sun and decreases the humidity. Other years a bad Harmattan day will look like a big London fog, except it’s dust. The Harmattan is more intense in the north and this is a perfect time for wildlife viewing as animals congregate at the water holes during this period. Since the coast is in the south, you will likely find even more humid weather than in the north.
There are over 100 ethnic groups living in Ghana. The largest are Akan (45%), Moshi-Dagbani (17%) and Ewe (14%). The Ashanti tribe of Akan are the largest tribe and one of the few societies in West Africa where lineage is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. They were once famous for their luxury and wealth rules, but today are more known for their craft-work.
The bond of family is very strong in Ghana and it is the primary source of identity, loyalty and responsibility. Family obligations take precedence over pretty much everything else in life. The entire family shares loss of honour, or the pride of success, which makes the culture a collective one. People are respected because of their age, experience, wealth and position. Therefore, you can always see preferential treatment for the eldest member in the group.
The centuries old culture of Ghana has even managed to be reflected gastronomically! Most Ghanaian dishes are often served as thick stews or sauces with meat. It is common that dishes include home grown ingredients or local crops, even soups will contain some of the local groundnut or palm nut. Some stews and soups are tomato-based as tomato is another popular ingredient in the country. Most meals also include a starchy component such as boiled yams, rice or cassava as well.
There are quite a few ways to travel in Ghana, although not all drivers are licensed. Insurance and registration stickers are displayed in the front windshield of all vehicles, so use your judgement on the condition and appearance of the vehicle and the driver. Keep in mind that most of the road accidents in Ghana are caused by tires that are in bad condition, so choose wisely!
Buses are recommended for long distance journeys. They provide the best balance between safety, price, speed and comfort. Be prepared to pay a bit extra for luggage. Tickets for the buses can be sold out, sometimes days in advance, so book your ticket ahead of time whenever possible. All taxis in Ghana have orange corners for easy recognition. Always ask for the price before jumping into the car, then offer him the half of that. After that, you can work together through negotiation to find a happy medium.
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