Ghana is a very friendly country, ideal for first time travellers to Africa. The people are generally very helpful and welcoming. While their laid back attitude and lack of organized tourist sights/trips can be a little annoying to begin with, before you have been there for very long you realize that it is one of the delights of this country.
Tourism in Ghana is growing very quickly, and more tour operators are seeing increased requests for Ghana as a travel destination. Ghana is also rich in gold. This is a stable country with great potential for growth though much more needs to be done in terms of its infrastructure.
Kwame Nkrumah was a champion of pan-Africanism and his popularity was a major concern for the West. It was no surprise that Nkrumah was subsequently overthrown by the military while he was abroad in February 1966. A series of subsequent coups from 1966 to 1981 ended with the ascension to power of the flamboyant Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. The economy suffered a severe decline soon after, and many Ghanaians migrated to other countries.
Rawlings changed many old economic policies and the economy soon began to recover. A new constitution restoring multi-party politics was instigated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president then and again in 1996. In 2009, John Atta Mills took office as president marking the second time that power had been transferred from one legitimately elected leader to another, and securing Ghana's status as a stable democracy.
There is archaeological evidence which shows that humans have lived in what is present day Ghana from about 1500 BC. Oral tradition has it that many of Ghana's current ethnic groups such as the multi-ethnic Akan, the Ga and the Ewe arrived around the 13th Century AD. However, the Dagombas are believed to be the first settlers, having been fully established by 1210 AD, before the arrival of other ethnic groups. Modern Ghanaian territory includes what was the Empire of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa before colonial rule.
Early European contact by the Portuguese, who came to Ghana in the 15th century, focused on the extensive availability of gold. By 1548, the Dutch had joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. Other European traders joined in by the mid 17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. British merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it the Gold Coast, while French merchants, impressed with the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west "Côte d'Ivoire", or Ivory Coast. The Gold Coast was known for centuries as 'The White Man's Grave' because many of the Europeans who went there died of malaria and other tropical diseases.
After the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate. Following conquest by the British in 1896, until independence in March 1957, the territory of modern Ghana excluding the Volta Region British Togoland, was known as the Gold Coast.
Many wars occurred between the colonial powers and the various nation-states in the area and even under colonial rule the chiefs and people often resisted the policies of the British. Moves toward de-colonization intensified after World War 2 and after an intense struggle, on 6 March 1957 elected parliamentary leader Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana as "free forever". The nation thus became the first sub-Saharan African country to regain its independence.