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Ghana Old History

 

Between the 1100s and up to the 1700s, about 100 small states were developed in the area that today constitutes Ghana. In the 15th century, the mighty Ashanti kingdom attracted European merchants who were looking for gold, ivory and slaves. The British eventually came to dominate what they called the Gold Coast, which in 1901 became a British colony. Gradually, a political resistance to colonial power emerged within a well-educated upper class. In 1957 Ghana became independent under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah.

The earliest finds from simple communities in the area that today constitute Ghana are estimated to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old. The first smaller state formations probably arose during the 12th century. These little kingdoms were mainly developed around a lively trade in gold, ivory and slaves.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Ghana, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

In the 18th century there were hundreds of small states in the area, of which the most powerful were Ashanti and Fanti. The two kingdoms often ended up in armed conflict with each other over the lucrative trade.

From the end of the 15th century, trade also attracted Europeans. Portuguese and British were among those who established trading stations along the coast, and in the 17th century there were also Swedes and Danes there. By the early 19th century, the British had out-competed the other Europeans. The slave trade continued until the 1830s when it was banned.

Old History of Ghana

Lucrative colony

Ashanti long resisted fierce opposition from the British, but the kingdom suffered a severe defeat when the capital of Kumasi with its powerful palace was conquered by 1874. Kumasi was burned down by the British, who, however, were impressed by the city's library with all its books in many languages. The fighting continued until 1901, when the whole area became British under the name Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast developed into one of the UK's most successful and profitable colonies. The British maintained the domestic system of chieftains and controlled the colony through indirect rule. The colonial power invested heavily on railways, ports, gold mines and cocoa plantations. In 1913, cocoa was the most important export commodity. Investments in the colony came from wealthy international businessmen.

The development led to relatively high prosperity in the Gold Coast and among the indigenous population a well-educated, politically conscious upper class eventually emerged. It was within this group that resistance to colonial power grew and a nationalist movement was formed. Resistance to the British increased after World War II when more social groups joined the nationalist movement, including the soldiers who fought for the British during the war.

Nkrumah leads Ghana to independence

In 1949, the radical Socialist Assembly People's Party (CPP) was formed with Kwame Nkrumah as leader. Nkrumah advocated a free Africa of the United States, and through his political work for this vision he came to play a major role in the African liberation from colonialism.

Nkrumah was imprisoned in 1950, the same year that the British gave the Gold Coast some autonomy. In 1951 elections were held for a local parliament. The CPP won by strong support from the middle class youth. Nkrumah was released and formed government in 1952.

In a UN-supervised referendum in 1956, the British part of the neighboring Togoland chose to join the Gold Coast. In 1957, the colony became independent under the name Ghana ("War King"), which was taken from a medieval kingdom further north in West Africa.

2010

December

Oil recovery begins

Ghana begins oil extraction in the Jubilee field six miles off the coast.

 
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