Ghana is situated on the southern coast of the West African bulge and is bordered to the east by Togo, to the west by the Ivory Coast, to the south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and northwest by Burkina Fasso.
The coastline consists mostly of a low sandy, foreshore behind which stretches the coastal plain, except in the west where the forest comes down to the sea. The forest belt, which extends northward from the western coast and then eastward into Ashanti for about 170 miles, is broken up into heavily wooded hills and steep ridges. North of the forest is undulating savanna drained by the Black Volta and White Volta rivers, which join and flow south to the sea through a narrow gap in the hills. Ghana's highest point is 2,9000 feet in a range of hills on the eastern border. Apart from the Volta, only the Pra and the Ankobra rivers permanently pierce the sand dunes, most of the other rivers terminate in brackish lagoons. There are no natural harbours.
Ancient Ghana derived power and wealth from gold and the introduction of the camel during the Trans-Saharan trade increased the quantity of goods that were transported. Majority of the knowledge of Ghana comes from the Arab writers. Al-Hamdani, for example, describes Ghana as having the richest gold mines on earth. These mines were situated at Bambuk, on the upper Senegal river. The Soninke people also sold slaves, salt and copper in exchange for textiles, beads and finished goods. They built their capital city, Kumbi Saleh, right on the edge of the Sahara and the city quickly became the most dynamic and important southern terminus of the Saharan trade routes. Kumbi Saleh became the focus of all trade, with a systematic form of taxation. Later on Audaghust became another commercial centre.
Ghana became a Republic in 1960 with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, leader of the Convention Peoples' Party as the country's first President.
Constitutional government in Ghana was restored in 1969, but the Government of the Progress Party led by Dr. K. A. Busia which formed the 2nd Republic was similarly overthrown in 1972. Dr. Hilla Limann and the Peoples' National Party (3rd Republic) met a similar fate in 1979. Constitutional rule was re-established (4th Republic) in 1992. Under the Provisions of the 1992 Constitution, the President and members of the National Assembly are elected by universal adult suffrage.
Ghanians come from six main ethnic groups: the Akan (Ashanti and Fanti), the Ewe, the Ga-Adangbe, the Mole-Dagbani, the Guan, and the Gurma. Ghana is a country that celebrates festivals. There are several rites and rituals that are performed throughout the year in various parts of the country. They cover the right of passage child-birth, puberty, marriage and death. To the majority of people, these celebrations provide all that is satisfying to their communities and families.
Cultural tourism programme called The Slave Route has been initiated by African countries and UNESCO to rehabilitate, restore and promote the heritage handed down by the slave trade. Countries all over Africa are conserving buildings, sites and memories of this iniquitous period in order that today's tourist can appreciate the dark impact of this era.
Ghanaian festivals reveal some common features and beliefs. The first and foremost is the belief in life after death and in the nearness of dead ancestors to their living descendants. Some of the major festivals are the Odwira, celebrated by the Akan people of Akwapim, Akwamu, Denkyira and Akyem; the Yam Festival, celebrated by the Akan people of Aburi-Akwapim and several Ewe groups of the Volta Region; the Aboakyir festival of the Effutus of Winneba; the Akwambo festival, celebrated by the Fantes of Agona and Gomoa; the Hobgetsotso festival of the Ewe people of Anlo; the Homowo festival, celebrated by the Gas of Greater Accra; the Damba festival of the Northern and Upper Regions of Ghana; the Bakatue festival, celebrated by the people of Elmina; the Nmayem festival of the people of Odumasi-Krobo; the Asafotufiam festival of the people of Ada and the Adae and Akwasidae festivals of the people of Asante.
The major languages of Ghana are Twi, Fante, Ga, Hausa, Dagbani, Ewe and Nzema. English is the official language of Ghana.