So I just got my official pre-departure packet for my trip to Ghana! In it includes all sorts of interesting information I shall share in multiple posts, but I will share the content of what I think is the most important first: The brief history of Ghana they provided us! Enjoy!
"Ghana, a West African nation bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Togo, was formerly a British colony known as the Gold Coast. Like many modern states of West Africa, Ghana is fundamentally a creation of European colonial influence, thus prior to the colonial era, the territory of the Gold Coast was not a cohesive ethnic or political entity. Liile historical record exists of the Gold Coast territory before Portuguese colonists landed in 1470 and began a period of colonization in which European powers controlled most of the coastline. What is now Ghana was the epicenter of European maritime trade out of West Africa and it was the Ashanti Empire that gave political and social cohesion to much of this area. During British control, which began in the 1800s, the colonial government signed a formal agreement with Ashanti chiefs establishing political control and economic trade.
A significant aspect of modern-‐day Ghana’s history was its role in the global slave trade, which in reality was long in existence prior to the arrival of Europeans to West Africa's coast. Human slaves were traded from the earliest days of the trans-‐Saharan caravans in the form of captives taken from inter-‐tribal warfare, and well through the height of the infamous trans-‐Atlantic slave trade as the most lucrative Colonial export. The human costs of the slave trade are well known, yet similarly devastating were the effects on West African society as a whole as traditional industries, social structures, and political relationships were forced to give way to the unparalleled profitability of trade in human slaves.
In a movement led by Pan-‐Africanist Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana became the first sub-‐Saharan colony to achieve independence on March 6, 1957, taking its name from its ancestral African empire. On February 24, 1966, the Ghanaian Army and police overthrew Nkrumah's regime. Over the next few years, political instability continued with a series of military coups that led to an increasingly mismanaged and corrupt government system. Mounting economic problems also forced several regimes to undertake drastic currency devaluations and austerity measures under the pressure of foreign debt. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) led by Lt. Jerry Rawlings defined much of Ghana's political development through the 1980s and 90s. In December 1982, Rawlings announced a plan to decentralize government from Accra to the regions, the districts, and local communities, but maintain overall control by appointing secretaries with executive powers and who would chair regional and district councils. This organizational system still exists today and strongly influences development initiatives and government funding of projects in Ghana.
Ghana's post-‐independence economic story has been a difficult one, but over the last 20 years, political stability and economic growth has been the long-‐term trend. Ghana is on track to meet the Millennium Development goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. Real GDP growth averaged 4% in the mid-‐1980s and has increased to about 5% over the past decade. Inflation declined after a rapid increase in 2009. The macroeconomy remains under pressure from large fiscal and trade deficits, however the discovery of major offshore oil reserves in June 2007 brought expectations of a major economic boost. Production officially began at the end of 2010, but some analysts expressed concern over the country's ability to manage its new industry and avert the so-‐called “resource curse”, as laws governing the oil sector had not yet been passed. In July 2009, Ghana secured a 600 million dollar three-‐year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), amid concerns about the impact of the global recession on poorer countries. Ghana's national economy has shown resilience and growth in recent years, yet the distribution of these benefits throughout Ghanaian society and particularly in its lower-‐income, rural communities remains stagnant."