1. The Chief Justice of Ghana is Ms Georgina Theodora Wood (born June 8, 1947). Ghana’s first female Speaker of Parliament is Joyce Adeline Bamford-Addo (born 26 March 1937).
2. Samia Nkrumah, daughter of Kwame Nkrumah, “the father of Independence”, is the only CPP (Convention People’s Party, founded by Nkrumah in the late 1940s) representative in Parliament.
3. Ghana produces around 17 % of the world’s total cocoa production. It is second to the Ivory Coast, the largest producing nation, which produces just over 40%.
4. According to the Global Peace Index, Ghana is the most peaceful nation in Africa and ranked 40th internationally, just after Latvia, Malaysia and Vietnam. (By the way, Iceland is ranked No. 1 and Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, last, at 140, 139 and 138, respectively.)
5. Ghanaians speak over 40 languages throughout its ten regions. English is the official language, but most people speak several languages as well.
6. Ghana has held four democratic and peaceful elections since, and including, the 1996 election.
7. If you’re name is not John, don’t even think about running for President. All Presidents elected (or instated) since 1992 were “Johns”: Jerry John Rawlings—1992-2000; John Agyekum Kufuor—2000-2008; and John Evans Atta Mills—2008 and counting!
8. And if it’s not Mahama, forget the Vice Presidency. Since 2001, Ghana has elected two Mahamas as Vice Presidents: Mr Aliu Mahama—2001-2008, and Mr John Dramani Mahama—2008.
9. Freedom of Worship is a constitutional right in Ghana and there is virtually no conflict between Christians, Muslims, Traditionalists and other minority religions. In fact, if you visit a school, you’re likely to see teachers instruct their students, in big letters on the board: “Love your Muslim brothers and sisters as you love your Christian brothers and sisters…”
10. In terms of corruption, Ghana is ranked 67th in the 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International. (By the way, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden are equal first (least corrupt), and Somalia is last at No. 180, just after Haiti, Iraq and Myanmar.)
11. The Ghana Cedi is the official currency. 1 GC = about US$ 0.80. Although the currency redenomination happened in July 2007, most street traders still talk in terms of the old Cedi, quoting prices in thousands (to the chagrin of new arrivals). 10,000 now equals 1 Ghana Cedi. 100 pesewas (think cents to the dollar) equals 1 Ghana Cedi. The old 5000 is now 50 pesewas, 1000 (or “thousand”, as you’ll hear on the street) is 10 pesewas. If a trader responds, “hundred…” to your question about a price, and you don’t expect the thing to cost about 80 dollars (100 Cedis), then they’re probably talking “hundred thousand,” as in about 10 Cedis—they habitually drop the “thousand” (while talking in old thousands!). So you’ll hear “twenty” for “twenty thousand” (2 Cedis), “fifty” for “fifty thousand” and so on.
12. Oil was discovered off the coast of Ghana in 2007 by Kosmos Energy (USA) and Tullow Oil (UK). First oil will be produced from Jubilee Field in 2010. In a lay person’s language, Ghana may take about 38% of oil to be pumped, in cash or in oil. A daily production of 200,000 barrels which could be achieved in about 5 years after commencement of production could give Ghana a total revenue of approximately US$1.6 billion per annum. Ghanaians and observers hope that Ghana’s administration can learn from other African nations’ mistakes.
13. Ghana boasts the “oldest” European building in sub-Saharan Africa, “Elmina Castle” sits on the Atlantic shores in the Central Region and was built in 1482 by the Portuguese. The Portuguese dubbed it Elmina (The gold mines), because of the abundant gold supply found along the coasts of what is now Ghana, although Ghanaians, especially Fantis, still refer to the town as “Edina”, its Fanti name. Sadly, the “castle” became the centre of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in West Africa under the Portuguese and Dutch (and, for a short time, the British), and is now a UN-listed memorial to the darkest chapter in African colonial history.
14. Ghanaians’ favourite food is (arguably!) fufu, a sticky ball of pounded cassava, plantain or yam, plopped in a bowl of spicy palm, light or ground nut soup, usually taken with goat meat, fish or chicken.
15. Kejetia market in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region, is West Africa’s largest open air market. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts—beads, cloth, and sandals—to second-hand jeans and clothing, and every kind of made-in-China plastic kitchen accoutrement you probably won’t ever need. There is also an overwhelming variety of fruit and vegetables and a meat corner where young boys balance roughly chopped hunks of meat on wooden plates on their heads.
If you want to buy a Ghana travel guide, check out the link to our guide here.