|Area||total: 239,460 sq km |
land: 230,940 sq km
water: 8,520 sq km
|Population||20,244,154 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||English (official), African languages (including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga)|
|Religion||indigenous beliefs 21%, Muslim 16%, Christian 63%|
Ghana is in West-Africa.
- Greater Accra
- Upper East
- Upper West
- Accra -- Capital
- Bolgatanga -- Capital of the Upper East Region
- Cape Coast -- Capital of the Central Region
- Kumasi -- Regional capital and centre of the Ashanti Kingdom
- Takoradi -- Coastal town in the Eastern
- Tamale -- Capital of the Northern Region
- Wa -- Capital of the Upper West Region
- Ho -- Capital of the Volta Region
- Mole National Park -- Good for wildlife
- Kakum National Park -- Rainforest with Canopy walk
- Cape Coast Castle -- UNESCO Heritage site, display of a slave castle and the headquarters for the British colonial government of the Gold Coast.
Ghana is a very friendly country, ideal for first time travellers to Africa, the people are generally very helpful and welcoming. While their laidback attitude and lack of organised tourist sights/trips can be a little annoying to begin with, before you have been there for very long you realise that it is one of the delights of this country.Ghana is also rich in Gold. The People may have been portrayed as primitive but it is different when on gets to experience the rich culture. A very stable country with great potential for grow.
All International flights are through Kotoka International airport at Accra, it is very central and there are always lots of taxis available, a taxi ride anywhere in the city shouldn't cost more than 25,000 cedis (July 2004). North American Airlines flies non-stop one a week from New York City (JFK). British Airways and Ghana Airways fly from London Heathrow. The Royal Dutch airlines (KLM) fly daily from Schiphol, Amsterdam. Lufthansa and Alitalia maintain daily direct flights from Frankfurt and Milan respectively, with a short stop in Lagos, Nigeria. Emirates flies daily non-stop from Dubai in the Middle East (with connections to Asia and the Far East). Ethiopian Airlines flies four weekly non-stops from Addis Ababa (with stopover, you can visit another African country). Also, South African Airways flies four times a week non-stop from Johannesburg -- though this will involve substantial backtracking unless you live in Australia or somewhere down under. The lowest fares to Ghana outside of Africa are usually from London, but that doesn't necessarily mean British Airways is the cheapest (i.e. a transfer inside continental Europe may be required).
No international rail connections exist.
Ghana's national bus company STC run services to/from capital cities of some nearby countries.
There are scheduled domestic flights 3 - 4 times a week between Accra, Kumasi and Tamale in the North.And also filght to out side the country too is available now.
There are rail links between Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi. The train is slow, but can be better than road between Takoradi and Kumasi.
Roads are variable. In Accra most are fairly good. Significant improvements are being made on the main road between Accra and Kumasi. Most of the roads outside Accra apart from the major ones are dirt tracks. The road between Techiman and Bole is particularly bad and should be avoided if possible. For travel on most roads in the North of the country a 4x4 is required, a saloon car will cope with some of them in the dry season but is not recommended
STC is the main coach company. They operate long distance domestic and international services. Probably the safest way to travel long distance, and are also pretty quick compared to other options, although even on these services breakdowns are reasonably frequent. STC operate between Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale, Cape Coast and other main cities. 'Express' or 'Air-conditioned' services are quicker and a lot more comfortable than the ordinary services and are now available on the Accra-Kumasi, Accra-Tamale, Accra-Bolgatanga routes.
Several other companies also operate bus services between the major towns, these include OSA and Kingdom Travel, their service is marginally more reliable than tro-tros but there isn't much in it.
A 'Tro-tro' is a term that covers almost any sort of vehicle that has been adapted to fit in as many people as possible. They along with 'shared' taxis will run along fixed routes and have fixed fares, and will rarely run with less than capacity [so be prepared to wait]. They are inexpensive (should be about 500-1500 cedis, or $.55-1.65), but have a questionable safety record and frequently breakdown, (this is however not a problem since they will break down in a route where other tro-tro's run, so you can just grab another one). Although they generally run point to point they will usually pick and drop on route if required. They are often the only option between remote towns but are not recommended for long journeys.
Taxis are prevalent, and as a tourist you will find they find you quick enough if you need one. To charter a taxi is more expensive than to share one. Always settle on a fare before getting in. A taxi for a very short route should be circa 10.000 cedis ($1.10), longer 15-20.000 ($1.65-2.20) and 25.000 ($2.75) should be enough for anywhere in the city. About 1 in every 10 taxi drivers will probably try to cheat you for a higher price if you're a foreigner. In Accra and the major cities most taxis that will stop for you assume you require a charter taxi and unless you are on a very strict budget it's usually easiest to do this. In more remote areas shared taxis are most common.
Ghanaians are generally taught in English, and as a tourist you will find few who can't speak at least some English. English is the official language and, along with the Twi language, unites different language groups around the country. If you are white you will get used to the standard call of "Obrunee" -- which means anyone of that is not-black, including all whites, Chinese, Indians, etc. -- From children and sometimes adults as you walk down the street; it is not meant to be offensive in any way and is generally accompanied by 'How are you?'
The local currency is the Cedi (GHC) and is used everywhere, US Dollars are accepted by some of the major tourist hotels but you shouldn't rely on this. EURO in cash are the most useful currency to take with you and you will sometimes find that bars/restaurants will be willing to change them for you if you need Cedis outside banking hours.
Approximate exchange rates as of January, 2006, are:
- British Pound: 1 - 16,400 Cedi
- US Dollar: 1 - 9,000 Cedi
- EURO: 1 - 11,000 Cedi
There are many Forex Bureaus in Accra, and a few in the other major cities. It is very difficult to change travellers cheques and certainly almost impossible outside Accra and Kumasi. VISA cards are accepted at major hotels and there are ATMs in Accra and Kumasi which accept VISA. At the main branch of Barclays Bank in Accra you can get a cash advance on your VISA or MasterCard provided you have your passport with you.
Bargaining is very much expected in the markets. Large cities such as Accra have markets open every day, but travelers get the true flavor of the country if they have the opportunity to visit a village market on the day of the week that it is open. Most goods will be staple goods, but cloth, beads, musical instruments, bags, and even CD's are usually available.
Food is extremely cheap in Ghana. A great African meal in a restaurant can cost as little as $2-3 (20,000-30,000 cedis). For instance, a lobster and shrimp dinner can cost a mere $3.
A softdrink can be had on the beach for 2000 cedis (25 cents).
Cheap, decent hotel rooms can run as low as 50,000 cedis ($5). A better room can go as low as 130,000 cedis ($14).
There are not many schools in Ghana but those that there are, are well stocked and the school-children know how to write neatly and speak English very well. There are normally 46 in one class.
Ghana is currently a very safe country, stable and relatively low crime levels compared to other West African countries. There is an increase in armed robbery, some of which targeting tourists and ex-pats. Take sensible precautions but be assured it is quite safe. However, corruption is absolutely rampant. There are police checkpoints everywhere and the cops usually just want money.
The AIDS/HIV rate is high as in many sub-Saharan African countries. Do not have unprotected sex. Be aware that malaria is widespread and you must take sufficient malaria protection. Yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into the country. Also you should avoid contact with still freshwater as there is a risk of bilharzia.
Some restaurants will approach European health standards, but be prepared to pay for this. Smaller restaurants, often called "chop bars," may not take such precautions.
Because of the tropical climate near the coast, travelers will need to stay hydrated. Bottled water is available in larger cities. Voltic Water has been a reliable brand, but do check to make sure the seal has not been broken.
Do try and pick up on respectful practice (such as not eating or offering with your left hand), but in general Ghanaians are quite accepting of tourists getting it wrong. Ghana is a very conservative Christian country in an odd 1900 holy-roller Presbyterian way in their own African style. Ghanians are often shocked at seeing such things as Western women in bikinis at hotel pools. Going topless on the beaches is not advised. A 5000 cedi (50 cent) tip for the usual tipping services will be much appreciated.
Telephone and postal services can be unreliable within Ghana itself but international post, at least to and from Accra is reasonably reliable (approx a week either way to the UK for example). The mobile network is good in urban areas.
- Ghana Tourism (http://www.ghanatourism.gov.gh/) Ghana Tourism
- Ghana Association of Travel and Tourist Agents (http://www.gattagh.com/) Ghana Association of Travel and Tourist Agents