Ghana’s economic wealth lies in its rich gold deposits and cocoa farms, but for the traveller its real value is in its people. Once an integral part of the slave trade it is today home to six main tribal groups, including the prolific Ashanti, one of the world’s few matrilineal societies. Relics of the slave trade can still be seen today and the coast is dotted with medieval forts and UNESCO heritage sites.
Today, Ashanti crafts are famed throughout West Africa, while the villages act as social and religious hubs as well as economic centres; if you are lucky enough to be given the chance, witnessing village ceremonies can be an enchanting and awe-inspiring experience. Ghana has its far share of natural beauty, too; a gorgeous coastline to the south, rich rainforests to the west and rolling grassy plains to the east mean there is something for everybody.
Business can seem formal and even ceremonial at times, but Ghanaians are warm and friendly people who pride themselves on being excellent hosts. Ghanaian life is a public affair and the streets are alive with activity; don’t expect to get any real peace during your stay. Instead, to get the most out of this wonderful country, immerse yourself in the culture and maintain an open mind and a friendly smile.
Kotaka in Accra is the only international airport. There are daily links to London and weekly flights to New York but routes elsewhere are limited. Cheap, regular buses run to Togo and Ivory Coast, while the longer journey to Burkina Faso will cost around $30 from Accra or $20 from Kumasi.
The fastest and most reliable transport in Ghana is bus; however, late departures are still frequent. Trains are available but are slower and no cheaper. Accra and Kamasi are linked by twice daily flights at $80 and Lake Volta is serviced by a regular passenger boat.
Climate: Tropical. Hot all year, rainy season April-June and to a lesser extent September-November. Temperature: Max (32°C) February, Min 24° (August). Rainfall: Max 195mm June, Min 10mm (January, August).
Currency: Ghana Cedi (GHS)
Business etiquette: Greet with a handshake and a smile, maintaining eye contact. Titles are important, address hosts using title and surname. Present and receive business cards and gifts with the right hand, never the left. Appointments are necessary and punctuality is important.
Tipping: Tipping not required; 5-10 percent for excellent service only.
Duty free: 1.1l of spirits or wine; 284ml of perfume.
Safety: Areas of northern Ghana are considered dangerous. Avoid large public gatherings such as football matches or rallies.
Laws: Serious offences such as murder carry the death sentence. Homosexual acts are illegal; minimum seven years in prison. Possession of pornography and dressing in military clothing are also illegal.
Healthcare: Vaccinations required for diphtheria, hepatitis A, malaria, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever. Emergency health services extremely limited, health care available in major towns but health insurance is essential.
Socket type: Type D