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Introducing Ghana

Independence Square, Accra, Ghana © Rjruiziii

Formerly a colony known as the British Gold Coast, Ghana became the first black African nation south of the Sahara to achieve independence in 1957. It is a relatively small country on the west coast of Africa, situated between Togo and Côte d'Ivoire, and remains a somewhat unexplored tropical gem. This untapped destination abounds in history, culture, wildlife and beautiful scenery, and has a wide variety of tourist attractions. Throughout Ghana's 10 regions, visitors will be greeted with the warm-hearted smiles of its welcoming people.

Nature has been extremely generous to Ghana and the country's large national parks and reserves provide a sanctuary for the native flora and fauna. The grasslands of Mole National Park in the north are home to a variety of large animals, while birds and butterflies are particularly numerous in Ghana's forests. Rainforests such as that of Kakum National Park in the southern central region, where there is a canopy walkway and wonderful nature trails, provide a haven for eco-tourists. Miles of unspoilt beaches, waterfalls, rolling forested hills, rivers and lakes complete the portrait of a country that is a nature lover's delight.

The diverse ethnic groups of Ghana and the ancient traditions of its people have shaped one of the richest cultural environments in Africa and a holiday in Ghana might well include wonderful traditional festivals, dancing and music, and a wide variety of arts and crafts. The cultural heartland of the country is the Ashanti region, home to the nation's dominant tribe, the Ashanti, who are most famous today for their craftwork and ancient artistry in fabrics, particularly the colourful kente cloth.

Ghana's vibrant capital city, Accra, is the gateway to the country for tourists and is located in the smallest, yet most populated region on the Gulf of Guinea. This modern city is becoming increasingly popular with expats and has excellent accommodation, restaurants and nightlife, and colourful markets. It's also a good base from which to explore the Atlantic coast west of Accra, which boasts many fine palm-fringed beaches, resorts, ancient forts, castles, and fascinating fishing villages. The forts and castles along the coastline date back to the 15th century and have an intriguing history of European occupation, fierce battles and slavery. The Cape Coast Castle, Fort St Jago and Elim Castle are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Monuments.

Our Travel Expert

Ian M Packham is an award-winning travel writer, adventurer and after-dinner speaker. In love with travel generally, and all Africa has to offer, more specifically. He is the author of Encircle Africa: Around Africa by Public Transport, the account of his solo and unassisted circumnavigation of Africa by public transport, a journey of 13 months and 25,000 miles.

Ian's other adventures include travelling the length of Sri Lanka's longest river, walking the coast of the Isle of Man, and retracing the steps of his great uncle through North Africa and Italy during World War II.

>Read Ian's tips on Ghana
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