U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Ghana, February 1998

Released by the Office of West African Affairs, Bureau of African 
Affairs

Official Name: Republic of Ghana

PROFILE
Geography
Area: 238,538 sq. km. (92,100 sq. mi.); about the size of Illinois and 
Indiana combined. 
Cities: Capital--Accra (metropolitan area pop. 3 million est.). Other 
cities--Kumasi (1 million est.), Tema (250,000 est.), Sekondi-Takoradi 
(200,000 est.). 
Terrain: Plains and scrubland, rain forest, savanna. 
Climate: Tropical. 

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ghanaian(s). 
Population (1997 est.): 17.7 million. 
Density: 74/sq. km. (192/sq. mi.). 
Annual growth rate (1996 est.): 2.3%. 
Ethnic groups: Akan, Ewe, Ga. 
Religions: Christian 35%, indigenous beliefs 31%, Muslim 27%, other 7%. 
Languages: English (official), Akan 44%, Mole-Dagbani 16%, Ewe 13%, Ga-
Adangbe 8%. Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy--64.5%. 
Health: Infant mortality rate (1996 est.)-- 80/1,000. Life expectancy--
56 yrs. 
Work force: 4 million: Agriculture and fishing--54.7%. Industry--18.7%. 
Sales and 
clerical--15.2%. Services, transportation, and communications--7.7%. 
Professional--3.7%. 

Government
Type: Democracy. 
Independence: March 6, 1957. 
Constitution: Entered into force January 7, 1993. 
Branches: Executive--President popularly elected for a maximum of two 
four-year terms. Legislative--unicameral Parliament popularly elected 
for four-year terms. Judicial--Independent, Supreme Court Justices 
nominated by President with approval of Parliament. Subdivisions: 10 
regions. 
Political parties: National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party, 
People's Convention Party, National Convention Party, People's National 
Convention, et alia. Names, slogans, and symbols of parties existing 
prior to 1992 are banned by law. 
Suffrage: Universal at 18. 
Flag: Three horizontal stripes of red, gold, and green, with a black 
star in the center of the gold stripe.

Economy
GDP (1997): $6.01 billion. 
Real GDP growth rate (1997): 5.5%. 
Per capita GDP (1997): $340. 
Inflation rate (1997): 27%. 
Natural resources: Gold, timber, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish. 
Agriculture: Products--cocoa, coconuts, coffee, pineapples, cashews, 
pepper, other food crops, rubber. Land--70% arable and forested. 
Business and industry: Types--mining, lumber, light manufacturing, 
fishing, aluminum, tourism. Trade (1997): Exports--$1.6 billion: cocoa 
($600 million), aluminum, gold, timber, diamonds, manganese. Imports--
$1.9 billion: petroleum ($272 million), food, industrial raw materials, 
machinery, equipment. Major trade partners--U.K., Germany, U.S., 
Nigeria. 
Official exchange rate (Dec. 1997): 2,295 cedis=US$1. 
Fiscal year: Calendar year.


GEOGRAPHY

Ghana is located on West Africa's Gulf of Guinea only a few degrees 
north of the Equator. Half of the country lies less than 152 meters (500 
ft.) above sea level, and the highest point is 883 meters (2,900 ft.). 
The 537-kilometer (334-mi.) coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore 
backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and 
streams, most of which are navigable only by canoe. A tropical rain 
forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills and many streams and 
rivers, extends northward from the shore, near the Cote d'Ivoire 
frontier. This area, known as the "Ashanti," produces most of the 
country's cocoa, minerals, and timber. North of this belt, the country 
varies from 91 to 396 meters (300-1,300 ft.) above sea level and is 
covered by low bush, park-like savanna, and grassy plains. 

The climate is tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and 
comparatively dry; the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north, 
hot and dry. There are two distinct rainy seasons in the south--May-June 
and August-September; in the north, the rainy seasons tend to merge. A 
dry, northeasterly wind, the Harmattan, blows in January and February. 
Annual rainfall in the coastal zone averages 83 centimeters (33 in.). 
Volta Lake, the largest man-made lake in the world, extends from the 
Akosombo Dam in southeastern Ghana to the town of Yapei, 520 kilometers 
(325 mi.) to the north. The lake generates electricity, provides inland 
transportation, and is a potentially valuable resource for irrigation 
and fish farming.

PEOPLE

Ghana's population is concentrated along the coast and in the principal 
cities of Accra and Kumasi. Most Ghanaians descended from migrating 
tribes that probably came down the Volta River valley at the beginning 
of the 13th century. Ethnically, Ghana is divided into small groups 
speaking more than 50 languages and dialects. Among the more important 
linguistic groups are the Akans, which include the Fantis along the 
coast and the Ashantis in the forest region north of the coast; the 
Guans, on the plains of the Volta River; the Ga- and Ewe-speaking 
peoples of the south and southeast; and the Moshi-Dagomba-speaking 
tribes of the northern and upper regions. English, the official and 
commercial language, is taught in all the schools. 

Primary and junior secondary school education is tuition-free and 
mandatory. The Government of Ghana support for basic education is 
unequivocal. Article 39 of the Constitution mandates the major tenets of 
the free, compulsory, universal basic education (FCUBE) initiative. 
Launched in 1996, it is one of the most ambitious pre-tertiary education 
programs in West Africa. Since 1987, the Government of Ghana has 
increased its education budget by 700%. Basic education's share has 
grown from 45% to 60% of that total.
Students begin their 6-year primary education at age six. Under 
educational reforms implemented in 1987, they pass into a junior 
secondary school system for 3 years of academic training combined with 
technical and vocational training. Those continuing move into the 3-year 
senior secondary school program. Entrance to one of the five Ghanaian 
universities is by examination following completion of senior secondary 
school. School enrollment totals almost 
3 million.

HISTORY

The history of the Gold Coast before the last quarter of the 15th 
century is derived primarily from oral tradition that refers to 
migrations from the ancient kingdoms of the western Soudan (the area of 
Mauritania and Mali). The Gold Coast was renamed Ghana upon independence 
in 1957 because of indications that present-day inhabitants descended 
from migrants who moved south from the ancient kingdom of Ghana. 
The first contact between Europe and the Gold Coast dates from 1470, 
when a party of Portuguese landed. In 1482, the Portuguese built Elmina 
Castle as a permanent trading base. The first recorded English trading 
voyage to the coast was made by Thomas Windham in 1553. During the next 
three centuries, the English, Danes, Dutch, Germans, and Portuguese 
controlled various parts of the coastal areas. 

In 1821, the British Government took control of the British trading 
forts on the Gold Coast. In 1844, Fanti chiefs in the area signed an 
agreement with the British that became the legal steppingstone to 
colonial status for the coastal area. 

From 1826 to 1900, the British fought a series of campaigns against the 
Ashantis, whose kingdom was located inland. In 1902, they succeeded in 
establishing firm control over the Ashanti region and making the 
northern territories a protectorate. British Togoland, the fourth 
territorial element eventually to form the nation, was part of a former 
German colony administered by the United Kingdom from Accra as a League 
of Nations mandate after 1922. In December 1946, British Togoland became 
a UN Trust Territory, and in 1957, following a 1956 plebiscite, the 
United Nations agreed that the territory would become part of Ghana when 
the Gold Coast achieved independence. 

The four territorial divisions were administered separately until 1946, 
when the British Government ruled them as a single unit. In 1951, a 
constitution was promulgated that called for a greatly enlarged 
legislature composed principally of members elected by popular vote 
directly or indirectly. An executive council was responsible for 
formulating policy, with most African members drawn from the legislature 
and including three ex officio members appointed by the governor. A new 
constitution, approved on April 29, 1954, established a cabinet 
comprising African ministers drawn from an all-African legislature 
chosen by direct election. In the elections that followed, the 
Convention People's Party (CPP), led by Kwame Nkrumah, won the majority 
of seats in the new Legislative Assembly. In May 1956, Prime Minister 
Nkrumah's Gold Coast government issued a white paper containing 
proposals for Gold Coast independence. The British Government stated it 
would agree to a firm date for independence if a reasonable majority for 
such a step were obtained in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly after a 
general election. This election, held in 1956, returned the CPP to power 
with 71 of the 104 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Ghana became an 
independent state on March 6, 1957, when the United Kingdom relinquished 
its control over the Colony of the Gold Coast and Ashanti, the Northern 
Territories Protectorate, and British Togoland. 

In subsequent reorganizations, the country was divided into 10 regions, 
which currently are subdivided into 110 districts. The original Gold 
Coast Colony now comprises the Western, Central, Eastern, and Greater 
Accra Regions, with a small portion at the mouth of the Volta River 
assigned to the Volta Region; the Ashanti area was divided into the 
Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions; the Northern Territories into the 
Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions; and British Togoland 
essentially is the same area as the Volta Region.

Post-Independence Politics

After independence, the CPP government under Nkrumah sought to develop 
Ghana as a modern, semi-industrialized, unitary socialist state. The 
government emphasized political and economic organization, endeavoring 
to increase stability and productivity through labor, youth, farmers, 
cooperatives, and other organizations integrated with the CPP. The 
government, according to Nkrumah, acted only as "the agent of the CPP" 
in seeking to accomplish these goals. 

The CPP's control was challenged and criticized, and Prime Minister 
Nkrumah used the Preventive Detention Act (1958), which provided for 
detention without trial for up to 5 years (later extended to 10 years). 
On July 1, 1960, a new constitution was adopted, changing Ghana from a 
parliamentary system with a prime minister to a republican form of 
government headed by a powerful president. In August 1960, Nkrumah was 
given authority to scrutinize newspapers and other publications before 
publication. This political evolution continued into early 1964, when a 
constitutional referendum changed the country to a one-party state. 

On February 24, 1966, the Ghanaian Army and police overthrew Nkrumah's 
regime. Nkrumah and all his ministers were dismissed, the CPP and 
National Assembly were dissolved, and the constitution was suspended. 
The new regime cited Nkrumah's flagrant abuse of individual rights and 
liberties, his regime's corrupt, oppressive, and dictatorial practices, 
and the rapidly deteriorating economy as the principal reasons for its 
action.

Post-Nkrumah Politics

The leaders of the February 24 coup established the new government 
around the National Liberation Council (NLC) and pledged an early return 
to a duly constituted civilian government. Members of the judiciary and 
civil service remained at their posts and committees of civil servants 
were established to handle the administration of the country. 

Ghana's government returned to civilian authority under the Second 
Republic in October 1969 after a parliamentary election in which the 
Progress Party, led by Kofi A. Busia, won 105 of the 140 seats. Until 
mid-1970, the powers of the chief of state were held by a presidential 
commission led by Brigadier A.A. Afrifa. In a special election on August 
31, 1970, former Chief Justice Edward Akufo-Addo was chosen president, 
and Dr. Busia became prime minister. 

Faced with mounting economic problems, Prime Minister Busia's government 
undertook a drastic devaluation of the currency in December 1971. The 
government's inability to control the subsequent inflationary pressures 
stimulated further discontent, and military officers seized power in a 
bloodless coup on January 13, 1972.

The coup leaders, led by Col. I.K. Acheampong, formed the National 
Redemption Council (NRC) to which they admitted other officers, the head 
of the police, and one civilian. The NRC promised improvements in the 
quality of life for all Ghanaians and based its programs on nationalism, 
economic development, and self-reliance. In 1975, a government 
reorganization resulted in the NRC's replacement by the Supreme Military 
Council (SMC), also headed by now-General Acheampong. 

Unable to deliver on its promises, the NRC/SMC became increasingly 
marked by mismanagement and rampant corruption. In 1977, General 
Acheampong brought forward the concept of union government (UNIGOV), 
which would make Ghana a non-party state. Perceiving this as a ploy by 
Acheampong to retain power, professional groups and students launched 
strikes and demonstrations against the government in 1977 and 1978. The 
steady erosion in Acheampong's power led to his arrest in July 1978 by 
his chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Frederick Akuffo, who replaced him as head 
of state and leader of what became known as the SMC-2. 

Akuffo abandoned UNIGOV and established a plan to return to 
constitutional and democratic government. A Constitutional Assembly was 
established, and political party activity was revived. Akuffo was unable 
to solve Ghana's economic problems, however, or to reduce the rampant 
corruption in which senior military officers played a major role. On 
June 4, 1979, his government was deposed in a violent coup by a group of 
junior and non-commissioned officers--Armed Forces Revolutionary Council 
(AFRC)--with Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings as its chairman. 

The AFRC executed eight senior military officers, including former 
chiefs of state Acheampong and Akuffo; established Special Tribunals 
that, secretly and without due process, tried dozens of military 
officers, other government officials, and private individuals for 
corruption, sentencing them to long prison terms and confiscating their 
property; and, through a combination of force and exhortation, attempted 
to rid Ghanaian society of corruption and profiteering. At the same 
time, the AFRC accepted, with a few amendments, the draft constitution 
that had been submitted, permitted the scheduled presidential and 
parliamentary elections to take place in June and July, promulgated the 
constitution, and handed over power to the newly elected president and 
parliament of the Third Republic on September 24, 1979. 

The 1979 constitution was modeled on those of Western democracies. It 
provided for the separation of powers among an elected president and a 
unicameral parliament, an independent judiciary headed by a Supreme 
Court, which protected individual rights, and other autonomous 
institutions, such as the Electoral Commissioner and the Ombudsman. The 
new president, Dr. Hilla Limann, was a career diplomat from the north 
and the candidate of the People's National Party (PNP), the political 
heir of Nkrumah's CPP. Of the 140 members of parliament, 71 were PNP. 

The PNP government established the constitutional institutions and 
generally respected democracy and individual human rights. It failed, 
however, to halt the continuing decline in the economy; corruption 
flourished, and the gap between rich and poor widened. On December 31, 
1981, Flight Lt. Rawlings and a small group of enlisted and former 
soldiers launched a coup that succeeded against little opposition in 
toppling President Limann.

The PNDC Era

Rawlings and his colleagues suspended the 1979 constitution, dismissed 
the president and his cabinet, dissolved the parliament, and proscribed 
existing political parties. They established the Provisional National 
Defense Council (PNDC), initially composed of seven members with 
Rawlings as chairman, to exercise executive and legislative powers. The 
existing judicial system was preserved, but alongside it the PNDC 
created the National Investigation Committee to root out corruption and 
other economic offenses, the anonymous Citizens' Vetting Committee to 
punish tax evasion, and the Public Tribunals to try various crimes. The 
PNDC proclaimed its intent to allow the people to exercise political 
power through defense committees to be established in communities, 
workplaces, and in units of the armed forces and police. Under the PNDC, 
Ghana remained a unitary government. 

In December 1982, the PNDC announced a plan to decentralize government 
from Accra to the regions, the districts, and local communities, but it 
maintained overall control by appointing regional and district 
secretaries who exercised executive powers and also chaired regional and 
district councils. Local councils, however, were expected progressively 
to take over the payment of salaries, with regions and districts 
assuming more powers from the national government. In 1984, the PNDC 
created a National Appeals Tribunal to hear appeals from the public 
tribunals, changed the Citizens' Vetting Committee into the Office of 
Revenue Collection and replaced the system of defense committees with 
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. 

In 1984, the PNDC also created a National Commission on Democracy to 
study ways to establish participatory democracy in Ghana. The commission 
issued a "Blue Book" in July 1987 outlining modalities for district-
level elections, which were held in late 1988 and early 1989, for newly 
created district assemblies. One-third of the assembly members are 
appointed by the government. 

Under international and domestic pressure for a return to democracy, the 
PNDC allowed the establishment of a 258-member Consultative Assembly 
made up of members representing geographic districts as well as 
established civic or business organizations. The assembly was charged to 
draw up a draft constitution to establish a fourth republic, using PNDC 
proposals. The PNDC accepted the final product without revision, and it 
was put to a national referendum on April 28, 1992, in which it received 
92% approval. On May 18, 1992, the ban on party politics was lifted in 
preparation for multi-party elections. The PNDC and its supporters 
formed a new party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to contest 
the elections. Presidential elections were held on November 3 and 
parliamentary elections on December 29 of that year. Members of the 
opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections, however, which 
resulted in a 200 seat Parliament with only 17 opposition party members 
and two independents.

The Constitution entered into force on January 7, 1993, to found the 
Fourth Republic. On that day, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was 
inaugurated as President and members of Parliament swore their oaths of 
office. In 1996, the opposition fully contested the presidential and 
parliamentary elections, which were described as peaceful, free, and 
transparent by domestic and international observers. In that election, 
President Rawlings was re-elected with 57% of the popular vote. In 
addition, Rawlings' NDC party won 133 of the Parliament's 200 seats, 
just one seat short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the 
Constitution, although the election returns of two parliamentary seats 
face legal challenges. 

GOVERNMENT

The Constitution that established the Fourth Republic provided a basic 
charter for republican democratic government. It declares Ghana to be a 
unitary republic with sovereignty residing in the Ghanaian people. 
Intended to prevent future coups, dictatorial government, and one-party 
states, it is designed to establish the concept of powersharing. The 
document reflects lessons learned from the abrogated constitutions of 
the 1957, 1960, 1969, and 1979, and incorporates provisions and 
institutions drawn from British and American constitutional models. One 
controversial provision of the Constitution indemnifies members and 
appointees of the PNDC from liability for any official act or omission 
during the years of PNDC rule. The Constitution calls for a system of 
checks and balances, with power shared between a president, a unicameral 
parliament, a council of state, and an independent judiciary. 

Executive authority is established in the Office of the Presidency, 
together with his Council of State. The president is head of state, head 
of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. He also 
appoints the vice president. According to the Constitution, more than 
half of the presidentially appointed ministers of state must be 
appointed from among members of Parliament. 

Legislative functions are vested in Parliament, which consists of a 
unicameral 200-member body plus the Speaker. To become law, legislation 
must have the assent of the president, who has a qualified veto over all 
bills except those to which a vote of urgency is attached. Members of 
Parliament are popularly elected by universal adult suffrage for terms 
of four years, except in war time, when terms may be extended for not 
more than 12 months at a time beyond the four years. 

The structure and the power of the judiciary are independent of the two 
other branches of government. The Supreme Court has broad powers of 
judicial review. It is authorized by the Constitution to rule on the 
constitutionality of any legislation or executive action at the request 
of any aggrieved citizen. The hierarchy of courts derives largely from 
British juridical forms. The hierarchy, called the Superior Court of 
Judicature, is composed of the Supreme Court of Ghana, the Court of 
Appeal, the High Court of Justice, regional tribunals, and such lower 
courts or tribunals as Parliament may establish. The courts have 
jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters.

Principal Government Officials

President--Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings (ret.) 
Vice President--Dr. John Atta Mills
Minister of Foreign Affairs--James Victor Gbeho
Minister of Defense--Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu
Minister of Communications--Amb. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
Minister of Finance--Kwame Peprah
Minister of Food and Agriculture--Dr. Kwabena Adjei, MP
Minister of Justice--Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development--Kwamena Ahwoi 
Minister of Mines and Energy--Ferdinand Ohene-Kena
Minister of Trade and Industry--John Frank Abu, MP
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court--Justice Isaac Kobina Abban 
Speaker of Parliament--Justice Daniel F. Annan
First Deputy Speaker--Kenneth Dzirasah
Second Deputy Speaker--Freddie Blay
Majority Leader--J.H. Owusu-Acheampong
Deputy Majority Leader--Alhaji M. A. Seidu
Minority Leader--J.H. Mensah
Deputy Minority Leader--Gladys Asmah
Ambassador to the United States--Koby Koomson
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Jack Wilmont

Ghana maintains an embassy in the United States at 3512 International 
Drive, NW., Washington, D.C. 20008 (tel. 202-686-4500). Its permanent 
mission to the United Nations is located at 19 E. 47th Street., New 
York, N.Y. 10017 (tel. 212-832-1300).


ECONOMY

By West African standards, Ghana has a diverse and rich resource base. 
The country is mainly agricultural, however, with a majority of its 
workers engaged in farming. Cash crops consist primarily of cocoa and 
cocoa products,which typically provide about two-thirds of export 
revenues, timber products, coconuts and other palm products, shea nuts, 
which produce an edible fat, and coffee. Ghana also has established a 
successful program of nontraditional agricultural products for export, 
including pineapples, cashews, and pepper. Cassava, yams, plantains, 
corn, rice, peanuts, millet, and sorghum are the basic foodstuffs. Fish, 
poultry, and meat also are important dietary staples. 

Minerals--principally gold, diamonds, manganese ore, and bauxite--are 
produced and exported. The only commercial oil well has been closed 
after producing 3.5 million barrels over its seven-year life, but signs 
of natural gas are being studied for power generation, while exploration 
continues for other oil and gas resources. 

Ghana's industrial base is relatively advanced compared to many other 
African countries. Import-substitution industries include textiles; 
steel (using scrap); tires; oil refining; flour milling; beverages; 
tobacco; simple consumer goods; and car, truck, and bus assembly. 

Tourism has become one of Ghana's largest foreign income earners 
(ranking third in 1997), and the Ghanaian Government has placed great 
emphasis upon further tourism support and development.

Economic Development

At independence, Ghana had a substantial physical and social 
infrastructure and $481 million in foreign reserves. The Nkrumah 
government further developed the infrastructure and made important 
public investments in the industrial sector. With assistance from the 
United States, the World Bank, and the United Kingdom, construction of 
the Akosombo Dam was completed on the Volta River in 1966. Two U.S. 
companies built Valco, Africa's largest aluminum smelter, to use power 
generated at the dam. Aluminum exports from Valco are a major source of 
foreign exchange for Ghana. 

Many Nkrumah-era investments were monumental public works projects and 
poorly conceived, badly managed agricultural and industrial schemes. 
With cocoa prices falling and the country's foreign exchange reserves 
fast disappearing, the government resorted to supplier credits to 
finance many projects. By the mid-1960s, Ghana's reserves were gone, and 
the country could not meet repayment schedules. To rationalize, the 
National Liberation Council abandoned unprofitable projects, and some 
inefficient state-owned enterprises were sold to private investors. On 
three occasions, Ghana's creditors agreed to reschedule repayments due 
on Nkrumah-era supplier credits. Led by the United States, foreign 
donors provided import loans to enable the foreign exchange-strapped 
government to import essential commodities. 

Prime Minister Busia's government (1969-72) liberalized controls to 
attract foreign investment and to encourage domestic entrepreneurship. 
Investors were cautious, however, and cocoa prices began declining again 
while imports surged, precipitating a serious trade deficit. Despite 
considerable foreign assistance and some debt relief, the Busia regime 
also was unable to overcome the inherited restraints on growth posed by 
the debt burden, balance-of-payments imbalances, foreign exchange 
shortages, and mismanagement. 
Although foreign aid helped prevent economic collapse and was 
responsible for subsequent improvements in many sectors, the economy 
stagnated in the 10-year period preceding the NRC takeover in 1972. 
Population growth offset the modest increase in gross domestic product, 
and real earnings declined for many Ghanaians. 

To restructure the economy, the NRC, under General Acheampong (1972-78), 
undertook an austerity program that emphasized self-reliance, 
particularly in food production. These plans were not realized, however, 
primarily because of post-1973 oil price increases and a drought in 
1975-77 that particularly affected northern Ghana. The NRC, which had 
inherited foreign debts of almost $1 billion, abrogated existing 
rescheduling arrangements for some debts and rejected other repayments. 
After creditors objected to this unilateral action, a 1974 agreement 
rescheduled the medium-term debt on liberal terms. The NRC also imposed 
the Investment Policy Decree of 1975--effective on January 1977--that 
required 51 % Ghanaian equity participation in most foreign firms, but 
the government took 40% in specified industries. Many shares were sold 
directly to the public. 

Continued mismanagement of the economy, record inflation (more than 100% 
in 1977), and increasing corruption, notably at the highest political 
levels, led to growing dissatisfaction. The post-July 1978 military 
regime led by General Akuffo attempted to deal with Ghana's economic 
problems by making small changes in the overvalued cedi and by 
restraining government spending and monetary growth. Under a one-year 
standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January 
1979, the government promised to undertake economic reforms, including a 
reduction of the budget deficit, in return for a $68 million IMF support 
program and $27 million in IMF Trust Fund loans. The agreement became 
inoperative, however, after the June 4 coup that brought Flight 
Lieutenant Rawlings and the AFRC to power for 4 months.

In September 1979, the civilian government of Hilla Limann inherited 
declining per capita income; stagnant industrial and agricultural 
production due to inadequate imported supplies; shortages of imported 
and locally produced goods; a sizable budget deficit (almost 40% of 
expenditures in 1979); high inflation, "moderating" to 54% in 1979; an 
increasingly overvalued cedi; flourishing smuggling and other black-
market activities; unemployment and underemployment, particularly among 
urban youth; deterioration in the transport network; and continued 
foreign exchange constraints. 

Limann's PNP government announced yet another (2-year) reconstruction 
program, emphasizing increased food production and productivity, 
exports, and transport improvements. Import austerity was imposed and 
external payments arrears cut. However, declining cocoa production 
combined with falling cocoa prices, while oil prices soared. No 
effective measures were taken to reduce rampant corruption and black 
marketing. 

When Rawlings again seized power at the end of 1981, cocoa output had 
fallen to half the 1970-71 level and its world price to one-third the 
1975 level. By 1982, oil would constitute half of Ghana's imports, while 
overall trade contracted greatly. Internal transport had slowed to a 
crawl, and inflation remained high. During Rawlings' first year, the 
economy was stagnant. Industry ran at about 10% of capacity due to the 
chronic shortage of foreign exchange to cover the importation of 
required raw materials and replacement parts. Economic conditions 
deteriorated further in early 1983 when Nigeria expelled an estimated 1 
million Ghanaians who had to be absorbed by Ghana. 

In April 1983, in coordination with the IMF, the PNDC launched an 
economic recovery program, perhaps the most stringent and consistent of 
its day in Africa, aimed at reopening infrastructural bottlenecks and 
reviving moribund productive sectors--agriculture, mining, and timber. 
The largely distorted exchange rate and prices were realigned to 
encourage production and exports. Increased fiscal and monetary 
discipline was imposed to curb inflation and to focus on priorities. 
Through November 1987, the cedi was devalued by more than 6,300%, and 
widespread direct price controls were substantially reduced.

The economy's response to these reforms was initially hampered by the 
absorption of one million returnees from Nigeria, the onset of the worst 
drought since independence, which brought on widespread bushfires and 
forced closure of the aluminum smelter and severe power cuts for 
industry and decline in foreign aid. In 1985, the country absorbed an 
additional 100,000 expellees from Nigeria. In 1987, cocoa prices began 
declining again; however, initial infrastructural repairs, improved 
weather, and producer incentives and support revived output in the early 
1990s. During 1984-88 the economy experienced solid growth for the first 
time since 1978. Renewed exports, aid inflows, and a foreign exchange 
auction have eased hard currency constraints. 

Since an initial August 1983 IMF standby agreement, the economic 
recovery program has been supported by three IMF standbys and two other 
credits totaling $611 million, $1.1 billion from the World Bank, and 
hundreds of millions of dollars more from other donors. In November 
1987, the IMF approved a $318-million, 3-year extended fund facility. 
The second phase (1987-90) of the recovery program concentrated on 
economic restructuring and revitalizing social services. The third 
phase, focused on financial transparency and macroeconomic stability is 
scheduled for March 1998. 

Ghana intends to achieve its goals of accelerated economic growth, 
improved quality of life for all Ghanaians, and reduced poverty through 
macroeconomic stability, higher private investment, broad-based social 
and rural development, as well as direct poverty-alleviation efforts. 
These plans are fully supported by the international donor community and 
have been forcefully reiterated in the 1995 government report, Ghana: 
Vision 2020. Privatization of state-owned enterprises continues, with 
about two-thirds of 300 parastatal enterprises sold to private owners. 
Other reforms adopted under the government's structural adjustment 
program include the elimination of exchange rate controls and the 
lifting of virtually all restrictions on imports. The establishment of 
an interbank foreign exchange market has greatly expanded access to 
foreign exchange. 

The medium-term macroeconomic forecast assumes political stability, 
successful economic stabilization, and the implementation of a policy 
agenda for private sector growth, and adequate public spending on social 
services and rural infrastructure. The ninth Consultative Group Meeting 
for Ghana ended November 5, 1997 after deliberations in Paris. Twenty-
four countries and donor entities were represented at this meeting 
called by the World Bank on behalf of the Ghanaian Government. The World 
Bank announced that, of the targeted disbursement level of $1.6 billion 
sought from the donor community for 1998-99, they foresaw only a $150 
million shortfall in commitments, and that this shortfall would be 
easily realized should Ghana rapidly enact its macroeconomic program. 

The government repealed a 17.% value-added tax (VAT) shortly after its 
introduction in 1995, which resulted in wide-spread public protests. The 
government reverted to several previously imposed taxes, including a 
sales tax. The government has set in motion a program to reintroduce a 
VAT bill, with implementation in 1998 after an extensive public 
education campaign.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Ghana is active in the United Nations and many of its specialized 
agencies (including the World Trade Organization), the Nonaligned 
Movement, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the Economic 
Community of West African States. Generally, it follows the consensus of 
the Nonaligned Movement and the OAU on economic and political issues not 
directly affecting its own interests. Ghana has been extremely active in 
international peacekeeping activities under UN auspices in Lebanon, 
Afghanistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, and Pakistan, in addition to an eight-
year sub-regional initiative with its ECOWAS partners to develop and 
then enforce a cease-fire in Liberia. Ghana maintains friendly relations 
with all states, regardless of ideology.

U.S.-GHANAIAN RELATIONS

The United States has enjoyed good relations with Ghana at the 
nonofficial, personal level since Ghana's independence. Thousands of 
Ghanaians have been educated in the United States. Close relations are 
maintained between educational and scientific institutions, and cultural 
links, particularly between Ghanaians and African-Americans, are strong. 

After a period of strained relations in the mid-1980s, U.S.-Ghanaian 
official relations are stronger than at any other time in recent memory. 
Ghanaian parliamentarians and other government officials have through 
the U.S. International Visitor Program acquainted themselves with U.S. 
Congressional and state legislative practices and participated in 
programs designed to address other issues of interest. The U.S. and 
Ghanaian militaries have cooperated in numerous joint training 
exercises, culminating with Ghanaian participation in the African Crisis 
Response Initiative, an international activity in which the U.S. is 
facilitating the development of an interoperable peacekeeping capacity 
among African nations. In addition, there is an active bilateral 
international military and educational training program. The Office of 
the President of Ghana worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Accra to 
establish an American Chamber of Commerce to continue to develop closer 
economic ties in the private sector.
 
The United States is among Ghana's principal trading partners. The 
American privately owned VALCO aluminum smelter imports many of its 
supplies from, and exports almost all the aluminum ingots to, the United 
States. With a replacement value of more than $600 million, U.S. 
investments in Ghana form one of the largest stocks of foreign capital. 
VALCO--90% owned by Kaiser, and 10% by Reynolds--is by far the biggest 
investment, but other important U.S. companies operating in the country 
include Mobil, Coca Cola, S.C. Johnson, Ralston Purina, Star-Kist, A.H. 
Robins, Sterling, Pfizer, IBM, Carson Products, 3M, Pioneer Gold, 
Stewart & Stevenson, Price Waterhouse, Great Lakes Shipping, and 
National Cash Register (NCR). Several U.S. firms recently made or are 
considering investments in Ghana, primarily in gold mining, wood 
products, and petroleum. In late 1997, Nuevo Petroleum concluded an oil 
exploration agreement accounting for the last of Ghana's offshore 
mineral rights zones. Two other U.S. oil companies, Sante Fe and Hunt, 
are also engaged in offshore exploration. 

U.S. development assistance to Ghana in fiscal year 1997 totaled $52 
million, divided between small business enterprise, health, education, 
and democracy/governance programs. Ghana was the first country in the 
world to accept Peace Corps volunteers, and the program remains one of 
the largest. Currently, there are more than 150 volunteers in Ghana. 
Almost half work in education, and the others in various fields such as 
agroforestry, small business development, health education and water 
sanitation, as well as youth development.

Principal U.S. Officials

Ambassador--Edward Brynn
Deputy Chief of Mission--Sharon Lavorel-Rutherford
Director, Peace Corps--Harriet Lancaster
Public Affairs Officer--Brooks Robinson
Acting Director, USAID Mission--Thomas Hobgood
Consul--Rudolph Boone
Administrative Chief--Perry Adair
Political Chief--Stephanie Sullivan
Economic Chief--Robert Merrigan

The U.S. Embassy is located on Ring Road East, near Danquah Circle, 
Accra (tel. 233-21-775347/8/9). The mailing address is P.O. Box 194, 
Accra, Ghana. For American citizen services and visa questions, the 
Embassy Consular Section telephone number is 233-21-776602. 


TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel 
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate 
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of 
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by 
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information 
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:  
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). 
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will 
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. 
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is 
required). The CABB also carries international security information from 
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of 
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication 
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a 
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
4000. 

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas 
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country 
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication). 
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign 
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at 
http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published annually by the U.S. 
Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of 
State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign 
policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent 
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, 
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 
512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is 
available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the 
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information. 

[end of document]

 
 
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