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The Republic of Ghana is a West African country with a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea. It is surrounded by Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Ghana achieved independence before any other black African country, as the Republic of Ghana was formed in 1957, having been previously known as the Gold Coast.

Archaeologists believe that the area of Ghana was inhabited as early as 40,000 years ago, including evidence of toolmaking, pottery, iron smelting, wooden canoes, and agriculture. Tribal groups were formed about 2,000 years ago. At one time, the whole of West Africa was a thick primary forest, and the Sahara Desert was much further away than it is today. Areas to the north and east of this forest were probably inhabited first, with later migrations into the nearly impenetrable forest areas.

Arab explorers described the ancient empire of Ghana in the 8th century. Concentrated about five hundred miles northwest of modern Ghana, this was the first great West African empire. From the 2nd to the 11th centuries, With a huge empire with a strong military and well organized trade routes, Ghana controlled the land around the current countries of Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal. Ghana palaces and universities at a time when Europe was in the medieval ages.

Eventually, the empire of Ghana declined. People from ancient Ghana probably migrated south to the current location of Ghana in order to avoid becoming subjugated by more powerful Islamic empires.

From the 12th century on, there was a settled population in what is now Ghana, who traded in gold and kola nuts with Timbuktu and elsewhere in North Africa. Although there were fishing communities along the coast, there were no coastal trades until after European countries entered the scene. Ghana existed, not as a nation with borders and a shared identity, but of various tribes who migrated in and out of the area, establishing tribal boundaries, alliances, and rivalries.

The Fante and the Ga-Adangbe inhabited the coastal areas, while the Ewe were in the mountains to the east, the Ashanti in the central forests, and the Moshi-Dagomba in the north. If not for the interference of European powers, Africa would not look like it does today, but would consist of more natural states for the various tribes. Instead, modern Africa is the result of European powers carving out the continent to fit their own purposes, and usually to the detriment of its inhabitants.

The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese, who came in 1471. Soon, they were followed by the British, French, Dutch, Germans, and even the Danish and Swedes. At first, the Europeans were content to trade guns, tobacco, alcohol, shells, and trinkets for the natural resources of Africa, which included its people. First, European guns fueled fierce wars between tribes.

Before long, the coast of West Africa was dotted with European forts, and the slave trade was underway. The African slave trade made wealthy men of white slave traders and plantation owner, while stripping Africa of its people and its human resources. It was the Africans themselves who sold other Africans into slavery by trading their captives of war, and they allowed the European slave traders to build slave castles along the coast. This continued for a period of about two centuries before Britain abolished slave trading, and that wasn't until it had lost its American colonies and its greatest market for slaves.

In 1822, Britain appointed a governor to the coastal territory, but he was beheaded by local inhabitants two years later. In 1844, Ghana became a British colony, as the Europeans divided the continent amongst themselves, creating artificial divisions that remain today.

The first large-scale inland Christian missionary movement began in the 1820s, although missionaries had been on the coast for centuries. These were the first Europeans who wanted to do something for the local population rather than taking something away from them, and they were largely well received. They built clinics, schools, and churches, and wrote textbooks in the native languages.

The Gold Coast was a British colony for 113 years. Although no longer engaged in the slave trade, Britain's interest was still in exploiting the natural resources of the Gold Coast, namely its gold, but also timber and cocoa, all of which were taken from the country in huge quantities.

Like many other African countries, the years after achieving independence were bloody ones. Ghana experienced several successful and attempted coups. It wasn't until 2000 that Ghana had its first election that resulted in a peaceful succession of power. Today, its government is considered stable, and one of the least corrupt in Africa. The language of the state is English, which is widely used by its people, along with several ethnic languages.


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