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Ghana-Christianity and Islam in Ghana





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Ghana Index

The presence of Christian missionaries on the coast of Ghana has been dated to the arrival of the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. It was the Basel/Presbyterian and Wesleyan/Methodist missionaries, however, who, in the nineteenth century, laid the foundation for the Christian church in Ghana. Beginning their conversions in the coastal area and among the Akwapim, these missionaries established schools as "nurseries of the church" in which an educated African class was trained. Almost all major secondary schools today, especially exclusively boys and girls schools, are mission- or church-related institutions. Although churches continue to influence the development of education in the country, church schools have been opened to all since the state assumed financial responsibility for formal instruction under the Education Act of 1960.

Various Christian denominations are well represented in Ghana. The Volta Region has a high concentration of Evangelical Presbyterians. Many Akwapim are Presbyterians, and the Methodist denomination is strongly represented among the Fante. The Roman Catholic Church is fairly well represented in Central Region and Ashanti Region. Although no official figures exist to reflect regional distribution of the various denominations, it is generally agreed that the southern part of the nation is more Christian, while the north is more Islamic.

The unifying organization of Christians in the country is the Ghana Christian Council, founded in 1929. Representing the Methodist, Anglican, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Evangelical Presbyterian, African Methodist Episcopal Zionist, Christian Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, F'Eden, and Baptist churches, and the Society of Friends, the council serves as the link with the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical bodies. The National Catholic Secretariat, established in 1960, also coordinates the different in-country dioceses. These Christian organizations, concerned primarily with the spiritual affairs of their congregations, have occasionally acted in circumstances described by the government as political. Such was the case in 1991 when both the Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Ghana Christian Council called on the military government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to return the country to constitutional rule. The Roman Catholic newspaper, The Standar, was often critical of government policies.

In the north, Islam predominates. Islam is based on what Muslims believe are the divine revelations received in seventhcentury Arabia by the Prophet Muhammad. His life is recounted as the early history of the religion, beginning with his travels from the Arabian town of Mecca about 610. His condemnation of the polytheistic practices of the people of Mecca caused him to become an outcast. In 622 Muhammad was invited to the town of Yathrib, which became known as Medina (the city) through its association with him. The move, or hijra, known in the West as the hegira, marks the beginning of the Islamic Era and the Islamic calendar, as well as the inauguration of Islam as a powerful force in history. In Medina, Muhammad continued his preaching, ultimately defeated his detractors in battle, and consolidated his influence as both temporal and spiritual leader of most Arabs before his death in 632.

After Muhammad's death, his followers compiled those of his words that were regarded as coming directly from God into the Qura, the holy scripture of Islam. Other sayings and teachings as well as precedents of his behavior as recalled by those who knew him became the hadith ("sayings"). From these sources, the faithful constructed the Prophet's customary practice, or sunna, which they endeavor to emulate. The Quran, hadith, and sunna form a comprehensive guide to the spiritual, ethical, and social life of the faithful in most Muslim countries.

The God preached by Muhammad was previously known to his countrymen. Rather than introducing a new deity, Muhammad denied the existence of the pantheon of gods and spirits worshipped before his prophethood and declared the omnipotence of God, the unique creator. Muhammad is the "Seal of the Prophets," the last of the prophetic line. His revelations are said to complete for all time the series of revelations that were given earlier to Jews and Christians. Islam reveres as sacred only the message, not the Prophet. It accepts the concepts of guardian angels, the Day of Judgment, resurrection, and the eternal life of the soul.

The central requirement of Islam is submission to the will of God (Allah), and, accordingly, a Muslim is a person who has submitted his will to God. The most important demonstration of faith is the shahad (profession of faith), which states that "There is no God but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his prophet." Sala (daily prayer), zaka (almsgiving), saw (fasting), and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) are also required of all Muslims.

The spread of Islam into West Africa, beginning with ancient Ghana in the ninth century, was mainly the result of the commercial activities of North African Muslims (see The Precolonial Period , ch. 1). The empires of both Mali and Songhai that followed ancient Ghana in the Western Sudan adopted the religion. Islam made its entry into the northern territories of modern Ghana around the fifteenth century. Mande or Wangara traders and clerics carried the religion into the area. The northeastern sector of the country was also influenced by Muslims who escaped the Hausa jihads of northern Nigeria in the early nineteenth century.

Most Ghanaian Muslims are Sunni, following the Maliki version of Islamic law. Sufism, involving the organization of mystical brotherhoods (tariq) for the purification and spread of Islam, is not widespread in Ghana. The Tijaniyah and the Qadiriyah brotherhoods, however, are represented. The Ahmadiyah, a Shia (see Glossary) sect originating in nineteenth-century India, is the only non-Sunni order in the country.

Despite the spread of Islamism (popularly known as Islamic fundamentalism) in the Middle East, North Africa, and even in Nigeria since the mid-1970s, Ghanaian Muslims and Christians have had excellent relations. Guided by the authority of the Muslim Representative Council, religious, social, and economic matters affecting Muslims have often been redressed through negotiations. The Muslim Council has also been responsible for arranging pilgrimages to Mecca for believers who can afford the journey. In spite of these achievements, the council has not succeeded in taking initiatives for the upgrading of Islamic schools beyond the provision of basic Quranic instruction. This may explain the economic and technological gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Ghanaian Ahmadiyah Movement, which has established a number of vocational training centers, hospitals, and some secondary schools, is an exception.

Data as of November 1994



BackgroundFormed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was reelected in 2004. John Atta MILLS took over as head of state in early 2009.
LocationWestern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d'Ivoire and Togo
Area(sq km)total: 238,533 sq km
land: 227,533 sq km
water: 11,000 sq km
Geographic coordinates8 00 N, 2 00 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 2,094 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 549 km, Cote d'Ivoire 668 km, Togo 877 km

Coastline(km)539 km

Climatetropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Afadjato 880 m
Natural resourcesgold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone
Land use(%)arable land: 17.54%
permanent crops: 9.22%
other: 73.24% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)310 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)53.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.98 cu km/yr (24%/10%/66%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsdry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts
Environment - current issuesrecurrent drought in north severely affects agricultural activities; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; poaching and habitat destruction threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - noteLake Volta is the world's largest artificial lake
Population23,832,495
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 37.3% (male 4,503,331/female 4,393,104)
15-64 years: 59.1% (male 7,039,696/female 7,042,208)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 393,364/female 460,792) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 20.7 years
male: 20.5 years
female: 21 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.882% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)28.58 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)9.24 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 50% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 51.09 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 55.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 59.85 years
male: 58.98 years
female: 60.75 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)3.68 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Ghanaian(s)
adjective: Ghanaian
Ethnic groups(%)Akan 45.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Grusi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other 7.8% (2000 census)

Religions(%)Christian 68.8% (Pentecostal/Charismatic 24.1%, Protestant 18.6%, Catholic 15.1%, other 11%), Muslim 15.9%, traditional 8.5%, other 0.7%, none 6.1% (2000 census)
Languages(%)Asante 14.8%, Ewe 12.7%, Fante 9.9%, Boron (Brong) 4.6%, Dagomba 4.3%, Dangme 4.3%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.7%, Akyem 3.4%, Ga 3.4%, Akuapem 2.9%, other 36.1% (includes English (official)) (2000 census)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Ghana
conventional short form: Ghana
former: Gold Coast
Government typeconstitutional democracy
Capitalname: Accra
geographic coordinates: 5 33 N, 0 13 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions10 regions; Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, Western
Constitutionapproved 28 April 1992

Legal systembased on English common law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President John Evans Atta MILLS (since 7 January 2009); Vice President John Dramani MAHAMA (since 7 January 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President John Evans Atta MILLS (since 7 January 2009); Vice President John Dramani MAHAMA (since 7 January 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; president nominates members subject to approval by Parliament
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 7 December 2008 with a second round held 28 December 2008 (next to be held 7 December 2012)
election results: John Evans Atta MILLS elected president in run-off election; percent of vote - John Evans Atta MILLS 50.23%, Nana Addo Dankwa AKUFO-ADDO 49.77%

Legislative branchunicameral Parliament (230 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 December 2008 (next to be held 7 December 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDC 114, NPP 107, PNC 2, CPP 1, independent 4, other 2

Judicial branchSupreme Court

Political pressure groups and leadersChristian Aid (water rights); Committee for Joint Action or CJA (education reform); National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water or CAP (water rights); Oxfam (water rights); Public Citizen (water rights); Students Coalition Against EPA [Kwabena Ososukene OKAI] (education reform); Third World Network (education reform)
International organization participationACP, AfDB, AU, C, ECOWAS, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MONUC, NAM, OAS (observer), OIF (associate member), OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of red (top), yellow, and green, with a large black five-pointed star centered in the yellow band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia; similar to the flag of Bolivia, which has a coat of arms centered in the yellow band

Economy - overviewWell endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold and cocoa production, and individual remittances, are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture, which accounts for about 35% of GDP and employs about 55% of the work force, mainly small landholders. Ghana signed a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in 2006, which aims to assist in transforming Ghana's agricultural sector. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002, and is also benefiting from the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative that took effect in 2006. Thematic priorities under its current Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, which also provides the framework for development partner assistance, are: macroeconomic stability; private sector competitiveness; human resource development; and good governance and civic responsibility. Sound macro-economic management along with high prices for gold and cocoa helped sustain GDP growth in 2008.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$34.52 billion (2008 est.)
$32.17 billion (2007 est.)
$30.27 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$16.65 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)7.3% (2008 est.)
6.3% (2007 est.)
6.4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,500 (2008 est.)
$1,400 (2007 est.)
$1,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 37.3%
industry: 25.3%
services: 37.5% (2006 est.)
Labor force10.12 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 56%
industry: 15%
services: 29% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)11% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)28.5% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 32.8% (2006)
Distribution of family income - Gini index39.4 (2005-06)
40.7 (1999)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)32.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $5.256 billion
expenditures: $7.492 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)16.5% (2008 est.)
10.7% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$2.179 billion (31 December 2006)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$2.174 billion (31 December 2006)
Stock of domestic credit$4.179 billion (31 December 2006)
Market value of publicly traded shares$3.394 billion (31 December 2008)
$2.38 billion (31 December 2007)
$3.233 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$1.316 billion in loans and grants (2007)

Public debt(% of GDP)53.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
58.5% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - productscocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), peanuts, corn, shea nuts, bananas; timber
Industriesmining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing, cement, small commercial ship building

Industrial production growth rate(%)8.1% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$3.471 billion (2008 est.)
-$1.717 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$5.275 billion (2008 est.)
$4.172 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminum, manganese ore, diamonds, horticulture
Exports - partners(%)Netherlands 13.5%, Ukraine 11.8%, UK 8%, France 5.7%, US 5.2% (2008)
Imports$10.26 billion (2008 est.)
$8.066 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs
Imports - partners(%)China 15.6%, Nigeria 14.7%, India 7.4%, US 5.5%, France 4.4%, UK 4.4% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.028 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$2.831 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$5.055 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$4.891 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratescedis (GHC) per US dollar - 1.1 (2008 est.), 0.95 (2007), 9,174.8 (2006), 9,072.5 (2005), 9,004.6 (2004)
note: in 2007 Ghana revalued its currency with 10,000 old cedis equal to 1 new cedis

Currency (code)Ghana cedi (GHC)

Telephones - main lines in use143,900 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular11.57 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: outdated and unreliable fixed-line infrastructure heavily concentrated in Accra; competition among multiple mobile-cellular providers has spurred growth with a subscribership of 50 per 100 persons and rising
domestic: primarily microwave radio relay; wireless local loop has been installed
international: country code - 233; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); microwave radio relay link to Panaftel system connects Ghana to its neighbors (2008)
Internet country code.gh
Internet users997,000 (2008)
Airports11 (2009)
Pipelines(km)oil 5 km; refined products 309 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 62,221 km
paved: 9,955 km
unpaved: 52,266 km (2006)

Ports and terminalsTema
Military branchesGhanaian Army, Ghanaian Navy, Ghanaian Air Force (2008)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 5,802,096
females age 16-49: 5,729,939 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 3,849,113
females age 16-49: 3,840,083 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 272,954
female: 266,186 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)0.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
Disputes - internationalGhana struggles to accommodate returning nationals who worked in the cocoa plantations and escaped fighting in Cote d'Ivoire

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 35,653 (Liberia); 8,517 (Togo) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)6.746 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 5%
hydro: 95%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)5.702 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)249 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)435 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)7,399 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)56,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)4,843 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)45,380 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)15 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)22.65 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)1.9% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS260,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths21,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.9%
male: 66.4%
female: 49.8% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 9 years
male: 10 years
female: 9 years (2007)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)5.4% of GDP (2005)








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