The Republic of Ghana, roughly equivalent to Oregon in size, lies almost in the center of the countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea. To the east lies Togo, beyond which are Benin and Nigeria. On the west is Cote d’Ivoire, and to the north, Burkina Faso. Ghana’s coastline on the south stretches for a distance of about 560 kilometers. Mountains are few, but there are several hills that rise to a maximum of 900 meters. These include the Akwapim-Togo ranges that extend from Pokoasi, a few kilometers north of Accra. Formerly a British colony, Ghana attained independence on March 6, 1957 and became a republic within the British Commonwealth on July 1, 1960. Although English is the official and commercial language, several African languages and dialects are spoken in Ghana, including Twi, Fanti, Ga, Ewe, Dagbani, Hausa, Gonja and Nzima.
Since the attainment of its independence, when the Gold Coast became Ghana, efforts have always been made to preserve the country’s rich cultural history and traditional institutions, which can be traced to the ancient Ghana Empire. For this reason, the institutions of chieftaincy and the ceremonies attached to it are kept very much alive. Various ethnic groups hold traditional festivals periodically that include drumming, singing and dancing. Traditional crafts include kente and adinkra, wood carving, brass and bronze carving, and pottery. In addition to a rich oral literary tradition which features tales, legends, proverbs and songs, Ghana has a corps of talented novelists, poets and dramatists such as Kofi Awoonor (formerly Ghana’s Ambassador to the United Nations), Ayi Kwei Armah, Attuwei Okai, Kofi Aniyidoho, Ama Ata Aidoo, Efua Sutherland and Mohamed Ben Abdallah, who have made significant contributions to world literature.
Accra is Ghana’s capital and largest city. Originally a small fishing village, Accra became the capital of the Gold Coast in 1877. Probably because of its 300-year contact with the European world, the city was the first to develop foreign business offices, hospitals and schools. Luxury items arrived at Accra’s docksides before being transported on to other colonial towns. Modern Accra, with a population of about one million, is the key city for all of the nation’s governmental and business activities. Major roads, airlines, railways, buses and ocean liners serve the capital, connecting it to most other large cities in Ghana, such as Cape Coast, Takoradi, Kumasi, Keta, Wenchi and Tamale. Merging with several other coastal towns, Accra has developed into the Accra-Tema metropolis, forming the country’s chief commercial, industrial and transportation center. The indigenes of this area and their language are called Ga.
Housing and Meals
Housing is arranged in university residence hall facilities at the University of Ghana, Legon and in comparable places for trips outside of Accra. Students share double rooms; bathroom and shower facilities are shared by other students on the same floor. Kitchenettes are available in the residence hall, or you may purchase meals from the university cafeteria or local restaurants.