Country Listing

Ghana Table of Contents



Population: Estimated at 17.2 million in mid-1994, up from about 6.7 million in 1960; approximately half under age fifteen. Growth rate more than 3 percent per year since 1980. 1990 population density sixty-three persons per square kilometer; density highest in southwestern third of country, thinnest in center, higher in north. About 33 percent urban in 1992.

Ethnolinguistic Groups: Approximately 100 ethnolinguistic groups, all further subdivided into numerous cultural and linguistic units. Major ethnic groups are the Akan, Ewe, MoleDaghane , Guan, and Ga-Adangbe. Languages belong either to Kwa or to Gur subfamily of Niger-Congo language family. Kwa speakers, found to south of Volta River, include the Akan, Ewe, and Ga-Adangbe. Gur speakers live north of Volta River and include the Grusi, Gurma, and Mole-Dagbane. English is official language used in government, large-scale business, national media, and school beyond primary level. Akan, Ewe, Ga, Nzema, Dagbane, and Hausa (a trade language from Nigeria) also used in radio and television broadcasting.

Religion: According to 1985 estimate, 62 percent Christian, 15 percent Muslim, 22 percent indigenous or nonbelievers. Christians composed of Protestants (25 percent, Methodists and Presbyterians especially numerous), Roman Catholics (15 percent), Protestant Pentecostals (8 percent), and Independent African Churches (about 14 percent). Muslims mostly Sunni. Christianity predominates in center and south, Islam in north.

Health: Large number of infectious diseases endemic to tropics, including cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, anthrax, pertussis, yellow fever, hepatitis, trachoma, and malaria. Other diseases include schistosomiasis, guinea worm, dysentery, onchocerciasis, venereal diseases, and poliomyelitis. Malnutrition also widespread. Average life expectancy fifty-six years in 1993. Severe shortage of hospital beds and doctors. Since late 1980s, government has emphasized immunization and primary health care programs. Incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) second highest in West Africa and rising.

Education: Education system consists of primary (six years), junior secondary (three years), senior secondary (three years) after reforms of mid-1980s eliminated former middle schools, polytechnic institutions, and four universities. Universal education remains an unrealized goal, but most children have access to primary and junior secondary schools. Local vernacular is language of instruction on primary level, English thereafter. All students pay textbook fees. Enrollments for 1990-91: primary 1.8 million, junior secondary 609,000, senior secondary 200,000. In 1989-90 about 11,500 students attended polytechnic schools. Enrollment in universities at Legon, Kumasi, and Cape Coast totaled 9,251 in 1989-90; in 1993 a fourth university opened at Tamale. In early 1990s, the government instituted fees for boarding and lodging, provoking student demonstrations. Adult literacy rate reportedly about 40 percent in 1989.

Data as of November 1994