Officially known as the Republic of Ghana, it was Europe’s first trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa – initially trading in gold and then later as a primary supplier of slaves. Although it was subsequently colonized by the British, it later became the first country in Africa to obtain independence from its colonizer (BBC News). Ghana came into existence in 1957 when what was then known as the Gold Coast acquired its independence from the British. Situated along the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa (see U. S. State Department map reproduced below), the country occupies an area of about 238,538 sq.
km. composed of plains, rainforest, and some scrubland (U. S. State Department). Its capital city is Accra (population: 3 million) and the other principal cities are Kumasi, with an estimated population of 1 million, Tema (500,000), and Sekondi-Takoradi (population: 370,000). English has been designated official language of the Ghanaians but several dialects are spoken like Akan, which is spoken by about 49% of the population, Mole-Dagbani (16%), Ewe (13%), Ga-Adangbe (8%), and Guan, the dialect of 4% of the population.
Sixty-nine percent of its estimated population of 23 million are Christians while 15. 6% are Muslims. Indigenous religious beliefs are being practiced by 8. 5% of Ghanaians. Although it existed as a democratic republic since its independence in 1957, the constitution of Ghana took effect only on January 7, 1993 (U. S. State Department). The cultural practices of Ghanaians which are mainly related to “conception, childbirth, and childrearing” consist of some harmful customs and traditions. One of these is “female genital mutilation (FGM).
” This is a procedure which is conducted to partially or totally remove the external genitalia of a girl to turn her into a real woman. Another is a belief in dietary taboos which often leads to anemia or nutritional deficiency on the part of pregnant women. In Ghana, when a marriage does not produce an offspring after two years, it is considered defective. After a woman gives birth, the Ghanaians believe that burying the placenta near the house of the family would prevent the child from growing up into an errant or rebellious individual.
In addition, they would wait for eight days after birth before naming the child and treating the umbilical cord with herbal preparations (Nyinah). Ghana is rich in natural resources with gold and cocoa being two of its major dollar earners. Its other export products are timber, diamonds, aluminum, tuna, manganese ore, and bauxite. In spite of this, the country still relies heavily on the assistance of international financial and technical institutions to remain viable.
Thirty-five percent of its gross domestic product comes from the agricultural sector which also accounts for 55% of total employment in the country, mostly in the form of small landowners. Aside from seeking debt relief in 2002 under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program, Ghana was also one of the beneficiaries of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative which came into force in 2006 (CIA World Factbook). As of 2006, total exports reached an estimated $3. 9 billion while imports totaled $6. 8 billion.
Identified trade partners were the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, France, Spain, Nigeria, the Netherlands, and Togo (U. S. State Department). Statistics gleaned by Global Health Reporting. org from the CIA World Factbook and a report published by UNAIDS in May 2006 about the global epidemic on AIDS showed that as at end of 2005, an estimated 29,000 had already died from AIDS in Ghana, leaving behind them about 170,000 children below 17 years old who had lost one or both parents to the disease.
The same sources also revealed that by the end of 2005, there were 320,000 Ghanaians who were living with HIV/AIDS, 25,000 of whom were children below 14 years old. Aside from AIDS, another major health concern of the country is malaria. With about three million new cases being reported every year, malaria accounts for approximately 61% of total hospital admissions in the country among children below five years old (Global Health Reporting. org).
In its fight against AIDS, malaria, and other diseases which have been plaguing Ghanaians, the country has received varying degrees of support from international organizations such as the World Health Organization, Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Accra Daily Mail, 3/17 as cited in Global Health Reporting.
org). On March 17, 2008, a campaign named “Voices for Malaria-Free Future” was launched in the country to educate the people about the techniques and the key concepts and practices used in fighting malaria. Rosemary Ardayfio, who represented the media in the launching ceremony, announced the formation of the Media Malaria Network composed of journalists from the print and online organizations.
Ardayfio explained that aside from recognizing the role of the different media organizations in malaria advocacy, the network specifically aims “to disseminate information about the use of insecticide-treated nets and appropriate medication” (Global Health Reporting. org). Ghana was among the 177 countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol which aims to require industrialized countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases to prevent global warming (UNFCCC).
In addition, Ghana was also a party to other international agreements governing hazardous wastes, biodiversity, endangered species, law of the sea, ship pollution, environmental modification, ozone layer protection, wetlands, and tropical timber (CIA World Factbook). The Republic of Ghana faces a bright future. It is endowed with plenty of natural resources. Its leadership has commitment itself to free and compulsory basic education. In fact, its “free, compulsory, universal basic education (FCUBE)” which was launched in 1996 has been labeled the “most ambitious pre-tertiary education programs in West Africa” (U.
S. State Department). It has also been described as a “well-administered country by regional standards” and considered a model for economic and political reforms in the region. And, most of all, a major oil reserve was discovered in 2007 (BBC News). For these reasons alone, the country and its people have no reason to remain impoverished. Works Cited BBC News. “Country profile: Ghana. ” International version. 6 February 2008. 22 March 2008. <http://news. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1023355. stm> CIA World Factbook. “Ghana. ” 6 March 2008. 22 March 2008. https://www. cia.
gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gh. html Global Health Reporting. org. “Ghana. ” 22 March 2008. http://globalhealthreporting. org/countries/ghana. asp? collID=11&id=144&malID=187 &tbID=188&hivIC=189&malIC=190&tbIC=191&map=192&con=Ghana&p=1 Nyinah, S. “Cultural practices in Ghana. ” World Health. March-April 1997. 22 March 2008. <http://www. popline. org/docs/1204/126178. html> UNFCCC. “Kyoto Protocol. ” 22 March 2008. <http://unfccc. int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830. php> U. S. State Department. “Background note: Ghana. ” January 2008. 22 March 2008. <http://www. state. gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2860. htm>