In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ghana

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews (Regional and Country Studies)
  • Reference Works and Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Primary Sources
  • Environment and Geography
  • Health and Health Care

African Studies Ghana
Rebecca Shumway, Jeremy Pool
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0190


The Republic of Ghana is a sovereign nation in West Africa with a population of approximately 27 million, roughly 10 percent of whom live in the capital city of Accra. In 1957, it was the first sub-Saharan African nation to regain its independence, after the period of British colonial rule, and it chose the name “Ghana” to replace its colonial name, “the Gold Coast.” The name honors the ancient Empire of Ghana, which was founded in the 4th century in modern Mauritania and Mali. Ghana’s current borders contain most of the territory covered by the Asante Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are the result of the unification of the colonial provinces of the Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti, the Northern Territories, and the United Nations Trust Territory of Trans-Volta Togoland. Ghana contains some eighty ethnolinguistic groups, with ethnic Akans comprising the largest group, representing 47 percent of the population, followed by the Mole-Dagbon, Ewe, Ga-Dangme, Gurma, and Guan peoples. The population is approximately 71 percent Christian and 18 percent Muslim, along with adherents of various indigenous and world religions. Scholarship pertaining to Ghana is particularly rich in the fields of history and anthropology.

General Overviews (Regional and Country Studies)

Several printed and online references provide introductory information about Ghana as a country and Ghanaians as a people. Berry 1995 surveys features of the government, economy, and cultures. The 2010 Ghana Population and Housing Census provides recent statistical data. Salm and Falola 2002 explains cultural aspects of Ghanaian life in historical perspective. Konadu and Campbell 2016 introduces the history, culture, and politics of Ghana through images and texts representing a variety of perspectives.

  • 2010 Population and Housing Census: Summary Report of Final Results. Accra: Ghana Statistical Service, 2012.

    A summary of the findings of the census conducted by the government of Ghana in 2010, including information about population and economic activity.

  • Berry, LaVerle Bennette. Ghana: A Country Study. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1995.

    A detailed report compiled by the US government including information on geography, history, people, economics, political conditions, and foreign affairs. Includes bibliographical references. Also available in digital form.

  • Embassy of Ghana.

    A website presenting country information and travel resources, maintained by the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC.

  • Konadu, Kwasi, and Clifton C. Campbell. The Ghana Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822374961

    Uses sources such as historical documents, poems, treaties, and fiction to convey the historical development of Ghana as a nation and its role in the formation of the African diaspora and 21st-century world affairs.

  • Salm, Steven J., and Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Ghana. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002.

    An overview of Ghana’s culture and history including religion, art, cuisine, kinship, and gender roles.

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