Geographically, the Ghana Empire was approximately 500 miles (800 km) north and west of modern Ghana, and it ruled territories in the area of the Sénégal River and east towards the Niger River, in modern Senegal, Mauritania and Mali.
Ghana was adopted as the legal name for the Gold Coast combined with British Togoland upon gaining autonomy on 6 March 1957.
There is archaeological evidence showing that humans have lived in present-day Ghana since the Bronze Age. However, until the 11th century, the majority of modern Ghana's area was largely unoccupied. Although the area of present-day Ghana has experienced many population movements, the major ethnic groups in Ghana today were firmly settled by the 16th century.
By the early 11th century, the Akan were firmly established in a state called Bonoman, for which the Brong-Ahafo Region region is named.The Ga and Dagomba states were established by the 16th century.
From the 13th century, numerous groups emerged from what is believed to have been the Bonoman area, to create several Akan States, mainly based on gold trading. These states included Denkyira, Akwamu, and Akyem. By the 19th century, most of modern Ghanaian territory was included in the Empire of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa prior to colonial rule.
The Ashanti government operated first as a loose network, and eventually as a centralized kingdom with an advanced, highly specialized bureaucracy centred in Kumasi. It is said that at its peak, the Asantehene could field 500,000 troops, and it had some degree of military influence over all of its neighbours.
Early European contact by the Portuguese, who came to Ghana in the 15th century, focused on the extensive availability of gold. The Portuguese first landed at a coastal city inhabited by the Fante nation-state, and named the place Elmina. In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d'Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed in 3 years.
By 1598, the Dutch had joined them, building forts at Komeda and Kormantsi. In 1617, they captured the Olnini Castle from the Portuguese, and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders had joined in by the mid-17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. English merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it the Gold Coast, while French merchants, impressed with the jewellery worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west "Côte d'Ivoire", or Ivory Coast.
More than thirty forts and castles were built by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Spanish merchants. 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.
1840 – 17 October 1921, Yaa Asantewaa the queen mother of Ejisu of the Empire of Ashanti and leader of the 1900 "Empire of Ashanti rebellion" known as the War of the Golden Stool against British colonialism; Center: c. 1870 – 12 May 1931, Prempeh I the Asantehene and ruler of the Oyoko Abohyen Dynasty and the Akan people of the Empire of Ashanti from 26 March 1888 until his death in 1931; Right: The Empire of Ashanti Royal stool on a chair with its immediate caretaker on 31 January 1935
Many wars occurred between the colonial powers and the various nation-states in the area, including the 1806 Ashanti–Fante War, and the continuous struggle by the Ashanti against the British in many wars. The Ashanti defeated the British a few times, but eventually lost with the Ashanti-British War in the early 1900s.
Even under colonial rule, the chiefs and people often resisted the policies of the British; however, moves toward decolonization intensified after World War II. In 1947, the newly formed United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) called for "self-government within the shortest possible time."
After rioting increased in 1948, the members of the United Gold Coast Convention were arrested, including future prime minister and president Kwame Nkrumah. Later, Nkrumah formed his own party, the Convention People's Party (CPP) with the motto "self government now." Read Continue 2
He began a 'Positive Action' campaign and gained the support of rural and working-class people. He was again imprisoned for being the leader of a party that caused boycotts, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience. After winning a majority in the Legislative Assembly in 1952, Nkrumah was released and appointed leader of government business. After further negotiations with Britain, on 6 March 1957 at 12 a.m. Nkrumah declared Ghana "free forever".
Ghana has a population of about 24 million people. Ghana's first post-independence population census, in 1960, counted about 6.7 million inhabitants. The native and largest ethnic group is Akan.
45% of the population are Akan (which includes the Fante, Akyem, Ashanti, Kwahu, Akuapem, Nzema, Bono, Akwamu, Ahanta and others). About 28 million ethnic and Akan descendants are living outside of Ghana.