Ghana, a country in West Africa, derives it name from the ancient kingdom of Ghana. The modern day Ghana is now about 300 miles south of the original location and is what was formerly known as the Gold Coast. It is located on West Africa's Gulf in Guinea and is bordered by the Ivory Coast on the East and Togo on the west and Burkina Faso in the north and encompasses a landmass, that is slightly smaller then the state of Oregon(92, 100 sq. mi.). It also includes the largest man made lake in the world (8,520 sq km), Lake Volta in the northern part of the country. It is only a few degrees north of the Equator.
Ghana 's climate is tropical, warm and comparatively dry along the southeast coast but hot and humid in the southwest and hot and dry in the north. During the months of January and February, the country experiences the Harmattan, which are dry, dusty winds that blow down from the Sahara desert in the north. Visibility at that time of year can be a problem particularly at night. There are two distinct rainy seasons in the south, May & June and August & September. In the North, the rainy seasons tend to merge. The terrain is mostly characterized as low plains savanna. Its natural resources in order of importance is gold, timber, cocoa, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish and rubber are major sources of foreign exchange.
Nearly half of the population of the country is under 14 years of age with an average life expectancy of 57 years. Ghana is currently facing a severe drought in the north, which is affecting subsistence farming and fishing, the primary livelihood (61%) but is also affecting the availability of potable water everywhere. Deforestation, poaching and overgrazing of the savanna are other current environmental issues. High unemployment (20%), food shortages, extreme poverty and a high inflation rate (28%) are challenges that the Republic of Ghana, a constitutional democracy headed by John Rawlings, Ghana's elected President is facing. The legal system is based on English common law and practices being that Ghana was previously an English Colony but received its independence on March 6th, 1957 (Independence Day). English, the official & commercial language in taught in all the schools but there are over 50 native languages and dialects spoken throughout the country, which is predominated by the native languages of Ewe, Akan, Moshi-Dagomba and Ga. Accra, Ghana's capital, has 3 million inhabitants. Kumasi, a major city in the north has a million people. The remaining 14 million people reside in the rural areas that border the coast, lake Volta and its tributaries. Their religious beliefs are primarily indigenous (38%), Muslim (30%) and Christian (24%).
The United States enjoys a close relationship with Ghana since their Independence. The U.S. is among Ghana's principal trading partners. U.S. companies with major investments include Mobil, Coca Cola, S.C. Johnson, Ralston Purina, Star-Kist, Pfizer, IBM, NCR, to name a few. Close relationships are maintained between educational and scientific institutions, and cultural links, particularly between Ghanaians and African-Americans, are strong. Travel within the country is considered to be safe. A passport is required.
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