Ghana Country Guide

The people of Ghana are probably the friendliest people of West Africa. After a few hours at the capital city Accra, you are sure to feel embraced by the warmth and hospitality of the Ghanaians. It is almost as if the people have soaked in the warmth from the warm waters and winds of the Gulf of Guinea.

Our Ghana Country Guide will give you all the travel information you need to know to plan your holiday in Ghana, while our Ghana Destination Guide will give you some handy information about some of the exciting things to see and do during your visit. Joining a Ghana tour is a safe and easy way to explore the country!

Check out the latest travel information from YouTube.

Ghana Country Guide

Follow the links below or scroll further down the page for some handy details to help you plan your holiday in Ghana:

Communication Top

Telephone

Country code: 233

Mobile Telephone

A good mobile network exists around major towns but is pretty unreliable elsewhere, if it exists at all. Most companies offer roaming services.

Internet

Most towns have Internet facilities although the connection is usually rather slow at 56K. Faster access is available in hotels. With the popularity of the Internet growing rapidly, services are gradually improving.

Post

Letters via airmail to Europe often take more than a fortnight to be delivered.

Media

Ghana supports a free press. Private media companies work under very few restrictions and freely criticise government policies. Radio phone-in programmes are lively and popular. Advertising revenue being limited, there is a lot of competition for it among private radio stations. The national television and radio networks are run by the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

Press

English dailies and weeklies are easily available. The Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic are the state-run daily papers, while The Mirror is a weekly. The Daily Guide and The Ghanaian Chronicle are private dailies.

TV

GBC runs Ghana TV (GTV); Metro TV is partly private and partly public; other players in the market are the privately owned TV3 and cable operator Multichoice.

Radio

Programmes in both local languages and English are broadcast on GBC-run Radio 1; other GBC channels are Radio2, and Unique FM, which is Accra's local station. Adom FM, Vibe FM, Happy FM, and Space FM are a few of the multitude of private channels available. FM radio in Accra also broadcasts Radio France Internationale and BBC World Service.

Currency and Money Top

Official currency of Ghana: Ghanaian cedi (GHC); 1 cedi = 100 pesewas. Cedi banknotes are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50; coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 pesewas, and 1 GHC.

Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport, at some commercial banks, and foreign exchange bureaus. Exchange facilities are available at all major towns. Visitors are advised to keep all exchange receipts so as to be able to re-exchange the currency when leaving Ghana.

Bank Hours

- Monday to Friday: 08:30 hours to 15:00 hours.
- Saturday: 09:00 hours to 14:00 hours GMT.

ATMs are located outside most large banks in Ghana although there are limits on the amount of cedis that can be withdrawn at one time. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at forex bureaus and banks located in Accra. Traveller's cheque exchange rates are often lower than for cash. Credit cards such as Visa, Diners Card, and American Express cards are widely accepted. Travellers should, however, be aware that credit card fraud is not uncommon. British pounds, Euros and US dollars are the currencies that exchange at the best rates.

Currency exchange

With a liberalised exchange rate system, foreign currency is easily available through forex bureaus, banks, and other authorised dealers. Cash is exchanged at better rates than traveller's cheques.

Credit / debit cards

Most leading hotels, restaurants, other businesses, and banks accept credit cards. Your debit or credit card company can give you detailed information about all the services available, including merchants who will accept your card. Cash advances may be given by some banks against leading cards.

Traveller's cheques

Carry traveller's cheques in Pounds Sterling or US Dollars for the best exchange rates and to avoid any charges.

Currency restrictions

Travellers are permitted to import only as much local currency as they were allowed to take out of Ghana earlier. This information must be recorded in the passport/travel documents and it must be declared as well. While leaving, any unused local currency can be re-exchanged provided the traveller can provide proof of legal exchange. It is recommended that travellers save all exchange receipts.

There is a limit of $5000 on export of local currency in Ghana. There is no limit on import of foreign currency, provided a declaration has been made on exchange control form T5. It must be retained to record all transactions. There is a limit of US $5000 on export of foreign currency.

Click here to view the latest Ghanaian Cedi exchange rate from OANDA.com.

Electricity Top

Ghana runs off a 230V/ 50Hz system. Socket types will vary between the old British round 3-pins and the new British rectangular 3-pin electrical socket.

Embassy Locations Top

To view a list of Ghanaian embassies around the world, as well as foreign embassies within Ghana, check out http://www.embassy-worldwide.com/.

General Information Top

Population: 23,382,848 (July 2008 est.)
Total Area: 239,460 sq km
Capital: Accra
Time Zone: UTC 0

Click here to view the current time in Ghana.

Language Top

Over 250 languages and dialects are spoken in Ghana. The official language, English, is used to conduct all business and government work, and it is the standard language of instruction for education.

The native language belongs to the Niger-Congo language family, which has two subfamilies. The predominant languages to the south of the Volta River are the Tamale languages, belonging to the Kwa subfamily. Akan, Ewe, and Ga-Dangme are some of the languages from the Kwa subfamily, which is used by around 75% of Ghanaians. Languages from the Gur subfamily dominate the north. Dagbani, Grusi, and Gurma belong to the Gur subfamily.

The nine government-sponsored languages are Akan, Ewe, Ga, Dangme, Dagbani, Dagare/Wale, Gonia, Nzema, and Kasem. Ghana's Muslims, comprising about 14% of the population, speak Hausa. Although not an official language, it is their language of preference.

Useful words and phrases

Travel Phrases

Today             Enne
Tomorrow       Echina
Yesterday       Enrah
I'm going         Me ko
We're going   Ye ko
Tonight           Annajoh
Lorry   Lore
Bus stop         Bossogyinabea

Greetings
Good morning           Mma ache
Good afternoon         Mma aha
Good evening            Mma adjo
Hello, You are welcome        A kwaaba
Anyone home?          Ebi wo fie?

Basic Conversation

Yes      Aan
No       Dabe
Please (lit. "I beg you")         Me pawocheo
What's your name?   Ye ferew sen?
My name is... Ye fere me...
Do you speak English? (lit. "White language")           Wote Borofo anna?
How are you?            Wo o te sen
I'm fine            Me ho ye
Come here (to children)       Bra
Go away (to children)            Koh
Where do you come from?  Wo fri he?
I come from... Me fri...
Thank you       Meda ase
You're welcome         Mme enna ase
I don't understand      Mnta se
I'm married     Ma ware
(Please) give me water        Ma me nsuo
I want/like...    Me pe...
I'm not well      Me nti apoh
I'm hungry       E komdeme

Numbers

1          Biako             
2          Abieng           
3          Abiesa           
4          Anang 
5          Anum            
             
6          Asia               
7          Asong            
8          Awotwe          
9          Akrong          
10        Du                  
11        Dubiako        
20        Aduonu         
30        Aduasa
40        Aduanang
100     Oha
200     Ahannu
300     Ahasa
400     Ahannang
500     Ahannum

Public Holidays Top

Follow the link to view a current list of public holidays in Ghana.

Religion Top

Ghanaians practise a high degree of religious toleration. Easter and Christmas are acknowledged as national holidays. In fact, in earlier days, vacations were planned around them. During these breaks, both Christians and non-Christians visited their families and friends living in rural areas. The Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, is observed by all Muslims.

All traditional occasions are observed by the relevant ethnic groups. Two such festivals are the Akan's fortnightly Adae, and the annual Odwira. Akan ancestors are honoured on these sacred occasions. During the annual Homowo, the Ga-Adangbe people get together in their hometowns to welcome the new members of the family and also to revere the dead. In all these festivals, the traditional elders strictly observe all the associated religious rituals.

Passports and Visas Top

Validity and Residence Period

A single entry visa holder must use the visa within three months of its issuing date, after which it expires. However, the actual length of stay permitted is decided at the port of entry by the Ghana Immigration Service.

Special Note for Multiple Entry Applicants

A multiple entry visa allows the holder to visit Ghana any number of times within six months of its issuing date. It, however, does not permit the holder to stay for six months at a stretch. On each visit, the length of stay allowed is decided at the port of entry by the Ghana Immigration Service.

Requirements for Visa Applicants

1. The applicant must have a valid passport with an expiry date at least six months away.

2. The applicant must submit one set of application forms, in quadruplicate. 

  a. The application form must be completed using BLOCK LETTERS.

  b. Four recent passport-sized photographs are required.

  c. A flight itinerary or a return air ticket must be included.

  d. An International Certificate for Yellow Fever is also required.

**Please note that incomplete forms and incorrect information will render your visa / permit application void.

Types of Visas

Business Visas

Applications for business visas must be accompanied by a letter from your organisation, clearing mentioning the reason for your visit and authorising your stay in Ghana. Two references must be provided as well. The references should include the names and addresses of your business associates and their respective organisations in Ghana. Your hotel can be used as a second reference only. The Consular Officer has the authority to insist on a letter of guarantee from your business associates in Ghana.

Visitors / Tourist Visas

Such applications must include the names and addresses of two references. Your hotel could be one of the references.

Study Visas

A letter from your college administrator mentioning the reasons for your visit must accompany the application. It must also mention your source of finance during your stay in Ghana. A letter of acceptance from the institution you will be attached with is also required. The institution can be used as your reference in Ghana. Mention its name and address clearly.

Employment Visas

The application must be submitted with an Employment Contract and proof of grant of Employment Quota in Ghana. Also required are two references, one of which should be the company or organisation offering you employment in Ghana.

Children Travelling On Parents' Passports

The accompanying parent's application must include four recent passport-sized photographs of each child. The application form should have the names and dates of birth of each child in the appropriate section. The fee for each child is to be paid separately.

Note:
It is recommended that you check the latest visa and passport requirements with your embassy before planning a trip to Ghana. These rules are subject to changes very often.

Geography Top

Ghana, located in the centre of the West African coast, has a land border of 2,093 km. 548 km of the border in the north is shared with Burkina Faso, 668 km in the west with Côte d'Ivoire, and 877 km in the east with Togo. All three nations are French-speaking. The Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea border Ghana in the south.

Ghana covers an area of 238,533 sq km, an area slightly smaller than Oregon, and almost equal to the United Kingdom. Stretching about 670 km inland, till about 11° north, the widest part of Ghana is between longitudes 1° 12' east and 3° 15' west. This is approximately 560 km. The equator is about 4° 30' south of Ghana's southern most point at Cape Three Point. The Greenwich Meridian passes through Tema on the eastern part of Ghana.

To view a map of Ghana, click on this link to WorldAtlas.com.

History Top

Ghana is situated in a region where many major civilizations thrived. Until the 13 century, the ancient empire of Ghana flourished at a location that is about 50 miles northwest of modern Ghana. The next civilization that thrived from the 13 century was that of the Akan people. This was followed by the Ashanti Empire, which prospered in the 18and 19 centuries.

In 1470, Portuguese traders spotted the area for the first time. Referred to as the Gold Coast, the English visited the area in 1553, the Dutch in 1595, and the Swedes in 1640. Although the British ruled over the Gold Coast from 1820, it was only in 1901, after squashing the uprising of the Ashanti, that Ghana became a British colony. In 1956, British Togoland, a former German colony, became part of Ghana by referendum. Ghana gained independence on 6 March 1957. The country was declared a republic on 1 July 1960, after a plebiscite.

Premier Kwarme Nkrumah organised the All-African People's Congress in the capital city Accra in 1958; in 1961, he organised the Union of African States with Guinea and Mali. By doing so, he tried to take leadership of the Pan-African movement. However, by leaning towards the Soviet Union and China, he built a dictatorial rule in Ghana. In February 1966, when Nkrumah was on a visit to Hanoi and Beijing, Gen. Emmanuel K. Kotoka led a successful military coup.

This was the beginning of many military coups. On 4 June 1979, Lt. Gen. Frederick Akuffo was overthrown by Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings. Rawlings did not try to prevent the people from electing a civilian president the following month, and the People's National Party candidate, Hilla Limann, became president. Rawlings' three months in power was one of Ghana's bloodiest times. Many business leaders and government officers were executed. Two years later, Rawlings charged the non-military government with corruption and led another coup.

He became chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council and began by scrapping the constitution. He started an austerity programme and over the next decade, brought down budget deficits. Rawlings handed over the country to civilian rule after that and successfully contested in the multiparty presidential elections of 1992 and 1996.

Ghana has been considered one of the most stable democracies of Africa since then. John Agyekum Kufuor won the elections in January 2001 and also in December 2004. Kufuor set up a National Reconciliation Commission in 2002 to assess the abuse of human rights during Ghana's military rule.

Health and safety Top

The health service of Ghana is quite good. There are sufficient clinics, hospitals, and polyclinics in most districts and all regional capitals. Accra and Kumasi have two teaching hospitals, both of which are equipped to treat special cases. In addition to the government-run medical facilities, there are many private and religious organisations that run clinics and hospitals in Ghana.

Psychic healing and herbal medicine are also practised. There is a government-run Herbal Medicine Hospital and Research Centre at Akwapim-Mawpong.

Visitors are required to take precautions against certain diseases and present the relevant certificates when required.

Everyone must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Although a cholera vaccination certificate is no longer a condition of entry to Ghana, travellers must take precautions against the disease. The rule was removed after WHO issued certain guidelines in 1973.

Precautions against malaria are strongly advised. The risk of malaria, especially in the malignant falciparum form, is present all over Ghana.

Although tap water available in the urban areas is hygienic, it is best to drink bottled water only.

Health Care

Travellers are advised to buy adequate health insurance. Most towns, villages and all the regional capitals have medical facilities.

Ghana Tourism recommends a few hospitals. They are Lister Hospital, Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, and Omni Health Services.