Overview of Accra


Geography of Accra


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Ghana is one of the only countries in West Africa that has a history with little conflict and much democracy. As such, it has been a long standing darling of foreign investors and humanitarian workers. With good resources, good amenities and a decent national structure, the country acts as a comfortable hub for West African activity. Ghana is one of Africa's most developed countries, and it consistently ranks high on markers of peace, security, ease of doing business, media freedom and governance - though of course, it is not without its challenges.

Ghana has a total population of over 24 million. The country's official language is English, however the Akan languages (Twi, Asante Twi, Akuapem, Mfantse and Nzema) are the most commonly spoken. There are roughly 80 languages spoken throughout the country. The Ashanti people make up the largest ethnic group, and the vast majority of residents are Christian (71%). Ghana has a history of large migrant and refugee populations, given the high levels of conflict in neighbouring countries, making their current population all the more diverse.

Accra is the capital city of Ghana however Kumasi - home of the Ashanti Kingdom - is currently the most populated. Accra is the centre for all national political activity, and most businesses. The rural regions are the heart of commercial activity.

As a country, Ghana has a thriving film scene, and a passionate football (soccer) culture. The country's rich history, vibrant cultures and stunning natural sights make it a growing favourite with intrepid travellers.

Ghana

Ghana is a relatively prosperous and stable West African state, located between Togo and Cote d'Ivoire. Much of the country's activity is located along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, where a single connecting highway joins East and West. The capital city - Accra - is located on the eastern side of this highway and numerous other seaside towns spring off it. With the exception of Kumasi - the home of the Ashanti kingdom - the northern part of the country is sparsely populated. The primary draw to these regions are cocoa production, agriculture and the elephants of Molé National Park near Burkina Faso.

Regions or Major Cities

Ghana is roughly divided into four regions.

  • Coastal Region (southernmost edge of Ghana) - most populated and most active.
  • Ashanti Region (south-western Ghana) - forested, and home to the Ashanti Kingdom
  • Volta Basin (south-eastern Ghana) - surrounds Lake Volta and the estuaries
  • Northern Plains (northern Ghana) - drier and most remote region of the country

Major cities in Ghana include:

  • Accra (capital city - coastal)
  • Sekonde-Takoradi (Coastal).
  • Cape Coast (Coastal)
  • Elmina (Coastal)
  • Kumasi (Ashanti)
  • Tamale (Northern Plains)

Climate

Ghana is located a few degrees north of the equator and as such, it has a mild tropical climate. Temperatures stay fairly steady year round, with an average range sitting between 21°C to 28°C (70°F to 82°F).

They country experiences two main seasons: rainy and dry. In the south, the rainy season spans from April to mid-November. In the North, the rainy season begins a bit earlier (March) and lasts through the entire month of November. Within this period, the wettest months occur between April and June. The most pleasant months for travel are generally between November and April.

Time Zone

The whole of Ghana is located in Greenwich Mean Time Zone (UTC +00:00). This zone encompasses much of West Africa.

Ghana, along with much of Africa, does not observe daylight savings.

Accra

Accra is the capital city of Ghana. Though the central business district is located relatively close to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the Greater Accra region sprawls inland, as well east and west along the coast. The city's immediate population is well over 2 million (2.27 million in 2012), but the population of the Greater Accra Region is closer to 5 million. The city is extremely youthful - over half of the residents are under 24 years of age. It is also a very diverse city, as nearly half of the residents are from other African countries.

Technically, the city spans from the Nautical College in the east, across to Mallam junction and the Lafa stream in the west. The northern border is marked by The Great Hall of the University of Ghana. Within these borders, there are 9 slums and countless neighbourhoods.

A little chaotic and often muffled by a bit of smog, Accra is perhaps best described as “a grower” as the city takes time to understand. However, as the logic of the tro-tro (the local minibus) becomes clear, the pulse of the city will begin to feel just a little more normal. With patience and humour, the charm of Accra is most definitely discoverable.

Climate

Accra has a tropical savannah climate, with a rainy and dry season. The rainy season is divided into two periods (April to mid-July and October), with the former being far more wet.

Temperatures remain relatively consistent year round, hovering between 24°C and 28°C. There isn't a lot of variation between day and night temperatures, and air pockets over the city will often make it feel warmer than it actually is. March is the hottest month, while August is generally the coolest and most humid.

For up to date weather, consult the Weather Network.

Districts

Accra is technically divided into 11 regions, although rapid growth has made these regions less relevant. The primary areas include:

  • Accra Central: Includes the Central Business District, Osu and Oxford Street( popular with expats and tourists), and many of the city's oldest neighborhoods
  • Accra North: Largely a residential and business area, with many foreign embassies
  • Accra East: Largely a residential area
  • Accra West: Largely a residential and business area, and includes the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

Other areas that are worth noting include:

  • Legon: A suburb of Accra, where the lush and relaxing University of Ghana is located
  • Oxford Street: A popular and pulsing area in Osu, loved for its restaurants and night clubs
  • Accra Mall: A modern mall, located on the outskirts of the city
  • Labadi Beach: The most popular beach in the city for tourists and locals alike
  • Jamestown: The oldest part of Accra, and the central fishing area

Update 11/05/2015


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