Travel in Ghana
Ghana is a country rich in history and rising to prominence as a model and leader in West Africa, that encompasses a territory diverse in both natural resources and traditional customs. In addition to the national language, English, its population of over twenty-five million speaks 56 dialects within nine major indigenous languages spread among seven major ethnic groups. The result is a society of diverse culture and traditions characterized, nonetheless, by a unifying warmth and hospitality that has earned Ghana the reputation of being the friendliest country in Africa.
With vast natural and mineral reserves, Ghana has been an important center of trade for centuries, several of which sadly included the nefarious slave-trade. Many millions of slaves passed through Ghana's infamous castle dungeons in transit to the new world. The modern Ghanaian economy can be traced to colonial efforts to restore 'legitimate trade' following the abolition of slavery, when human cargo was replaced by the gold, cocoa, timber, diamonds, limestone, bauxite, manganese, iron ore, and granite that form the basis of its export industry today. Ghana is the second largest producer of gold and cocoa in Africa. With 11% forest cover, Ghana is also Africa's third largest producer of timber and second largest exporter of wood and wood products. Ghana also possesses rich marine fishing resources, with thriving tuna and game fishing industries. While Ghana has twice the per capita output of its poorer West African neighbors, it remains relatively dependent on external financial and technical assistance, a fact that, when coupled with the heavy presence of multinational corporations, makes for an interesting study in international and comparative law and policy.
The political history of modern Ghana begins in 1957, when it became the first African colony to be granted independence in the post-war era. Originally a parliamentary democracy, the country underwent decades of alternating military and civilian regimes before electing the democratic Fourth Republic in 1992. The Constitution, enacted by national referendum in 1991, establishes a multiparty parliamentary democracy, in which a unitary state is governed by a President (and Cabinet) and a Unicameral National Assembly. Its legal system is based on the English Common Law. The Constitution also makes provision for the recognition of traditional customary law and institutions. Government administration is decentralized at the local level through regional councils and assemblies.
The Summer Program is held in Ghana's capital city, Accra.
Accra is the largest city in the country, with a population of over two million and a mix of stately national monuments, modern skyscrapers, vast markets and an amiable and relaxed state-of-mind. Lying right on the Atlantic coast, Accra offers picture-postcard beaches, charming neighborhoods, garden cafes, live-music venues and abundant cultural and historical attractions. Accra is also just hours from the country's most famous tourism destinations in the Eastern, Volta and Ashanti regions, and along the Western Coast. In addition to their academic coursework and field trips, students will also have opportunities to visit these other regions and attractions on the weekends, either on their own or through optional informal field trips to Ghana's many historic and cultural landmarks, including:
- The twin coastal towns of Cape Coast and Elmina, whose stunning beaches are also home to two critical World Heritage Site monuments, the Cape Coast and St. George slave castles, which are the largest and best-preserved slave-holding fortress museums in West Africa;
- Ghana's beautiful Lake Volta region, famed for its scenic river tours, majestic waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries and traditional artisanry;
- The city of Kumasi, the second largest in Ghana and capital of the Kingdom of the Ashanti, an ethnic group historically among the most influential in Ghana, famous for its powerful pre-Colonial empire and rich culture; and
- Kakum National Park, the most extensive rainforest preserve in Ghana and site of Africa's only canopy walk: a series of walkways and platforms suspended 100 feet in the air that offers a true bird's eye view of the forest and its many wild inhabitants.