Traveling Luck for Ghana

Ghana is located in Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d'Ivoire and Togo.

Ghana has borders with Burkina Faso for 549km, Ivory Coast for 668km and Togo for 877km.

Land in Ghana is mostly low plains with dissected plateau in south-central area.

Ghanaian land covers an area of 239460 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Oregon

As for the Ghanaian climate; tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north.

Ghanaian(s) speak English (official), African languages (including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga).

Ghanaian National Map

Ghanaian Map

Regions of Ghana

Formed 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. A long series of coups resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and a ban on political parties. A new constitution, restoring multiparty politics, was approved in 1992. Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS, head of state since 1981, won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR, who defeated former Vice President Atta MILLS in a free and fair election, succeeded him.


Ghana Country Profile

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 34% of GDP and employs 60% of the work force, mainly small landholders. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002, but was included in a G-8 debt relief program decided upon at the Gleneagles Summit in July 2005. Priorities under its current $38 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) include tighter monetary and fiscal policies, accelerated privatization, and improvement of social services. Receipts from the gold sector helped sustain GDP growth in 2005 along with record high prices for Ghana's largest cocoa crop to date. Inflation should ease but remains a major internal problem. Ghana also remains a candidate country to benefit from Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding that could assist in transforming Ghana's agricultural export sector. A final decision on its MCC bid is expected in spring 2006.

Ghanaian natural resources include gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone

Lake Volta is the world's largest artificial lake

Ghanaian religion is Christian 63%, Muslim 16%, indigenous beliefs 21%.

Natural hazards in Ghana include dry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts.

Travel Advice on Ghana

Ghana

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Local Laws and Customs section (child custody).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • While most visits to Ghana are trouble-free, violent crime can occur at any time.  You are advised to exercise a high level of vigilance in public areas, and when travelling by road.

  • Localised outbreaks of civil unrest can occur at short notice due to ongoing local Chieftancy and land disputes.

  • Around 28,000 British tourists visit Ghana every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Ghana is for lost or stolen passports and financial self-help.

  • You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • You need to obtain a visa before travelling to Ghana.  Overstaying on your visa without proper authority is a serious matter and can lead to detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine is paid.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

Most visits to Ghana are trouble-free, provided sensible precautions are taken.  But there are incidents of crime, particularly in and around Accra and the other main urban areas.  You should avoid carrying large sums of money or valuables and be very wary when drawing cash from any of the cash points in central Accra.  There have been reported incidents of fraud involving the misuse of credit cards.  You should exercise vigilance, particularly after dark.  If possible, you should avoid travelling alone in taxis after dark because of attempted robberies.

Thefts of both luggage and travel documents occur at Kotoka International Airport, Accra and in the hotels across Ghana.  You should ensure your documents are kept secure at all times (including when leaving the airport) and that your baggage is never left unattended.

You should also be wary of all offers of unsolicited assistance at the airport unless from uniformed porters or officials.  All permanent staff at the airport wear a current ID card bearing their name and photograph.  ID cards without a photograph are not valid.

There have been attacks against ships in and around Accra's waters.   Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.

Foreign visitors and residents in Ghana are increasingly becoming targets by scam artists.  The scams come in many forms, and can pose great financial loss to victims.  Scam artists are also targeting individuals in the UK.  Relatives or friends in the UK should first check with the person who has travelled to Ghana before becoming involved in the transfer of money.  If you are concerned about someone who has travelled to Ghana you should contact the Consular Section of the British High Commission, Accra (E-mail: high.commission.accra@fco.gov.uk). Schemes in operation by West African criminal networks are designed to facilitate victims parting with money, known as advance fee or 419 fraud.  Scam artists are also known to be targeting internet dating/personal sites with the intention of soliciting money from victims.  For further information on advance fee fraud please see: http://www.met.police.uk/fraudalert.

Political Situation

There were organised protests in Accra in February 2006 against the Representation of the People Amendment Bill.  One demonstration turned violent and some demonstrators/police were injured.  This Bill was passed in Parliament on 23 February 2006.  No further demonstrations are planned but this could change as the debate develops on the implementation of the Act.

You should avoid all political rallies, demonstrations and large public gatherings.  You should keep in touch with daily developments through the local media.
Ghana Country Profile

Local Travel

As a result of ongoing local Chieftancy and land disputes isolated inter-ethnic violence and civil unrest can occur at any time. In particular, the situation in the Tamale municipality and Yendi District of the Northern Region of Ghana remains volatile. The burial of the late king (Ya Naa) took place on 10 April 2006, some four years after his murder, and the installation of a regent is scheduled to take place on 21 April 2006. There have been isolated instances of inter-ethnic violence since the burial, including most recently on 25 August 2006, when a group of young men clashed with the security services outside of the late king's palace resulting in the death of three protesters. If you are considering travelling to the Northern Region, you should remain alert to the potential for new outbreaks of fighting.  We recommend you keep in touch with daily developments through the local media.

Road Safety

Roads are mainly in a poor condition, particularly in rural areas.   Road travel can be extremely hazardous due to poor or non-existent street lighting.  We recommend you avoid travelling by road outside the main towns after dark, when the risk of accidents and robbery is greater.   Safety standards on small private buses and taxis are often low and do not meet UK standards.

Air Safety

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel:  http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm

Charter flight services continue to operate from the UK to Ghana.  When making travel plans you should ensure that the travel company and airline are able to provide the services booked, or offer appropriate alternative arrangements in case of problems.

The service provided by some regional air carriers is reported to be unreliable.  Flights can be overbooked.  Airlines have altered scheduled stops and cancelled or postponed flights at short notice.  You may experience unexpected delays even after checking in.  We recommend that you reconfirm your seats according to your airline’s instructions and have the seat reconfirmation stamped on your ticket.  You should arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure times.

Following the crash (cause unknown) of a Boeing 737 operated by Bellview Airlines en route from Lagos to Abuja in October 2005 (killing all 117 passengers and crew) and a more recent emergency landing (hydraulic failure) by another Bellview operated Boeing 737 at Accra, the airline was grounded for a week by the Nigerian authorities.  Bellview's regional and international flights have now resumed.  However, we advise that these incidents are taken into consideration when planning any regional travel in West Africa.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

The Ghanaian Legal system is very much based on the British system.  Visitors and foreign residents must respect the laws of the land; otherwise you can expect to be dealt with in the same way as a Ghanaian citizen would.

Drugs are a growing problem in Ghana and the authorities are determined to tackle and control the problem.  Penalties for drugs related offences are severe.  There is no Prisoner Transfer Agreement between Ghana and the UK, so any sentence imposed would be spent in Ghana.

Ghana is a conservative and deeply religious country.  Although modern and progressive attitudes also prevail, respect must be shown for traditional values and morals.  Beachwear should be confined to the beach, and wearing immodest clothing in public is likely to cause offence or attract unwanted attention.  The wearing of military apparel such as camouflage clothing by civilians is prohibited.

Homosexuality in Ghana is illegal.  Although there is a small gay community, there is no "scene" and a large portion of Ghanaian society does not accept that such activity exists.

Photography near sensitive sites such as military installations or the airport is strictly prohibited.  Such sites may not be clearly marked and the application of restrictions is open to interpretation.  Photographers should ask permission if they want to take a photograph of a building where there are guards on duty outside.  Where there are not, unless there are notices forbidding photography, there should not be a problem, but caution should be exercised.  Permission should also be sought from people if you wish to take their photograph (a small tip or "dash" may be required!).  But beware of self-appointed officials trying to charge fees for tourists to take pictures of well-known sites of interest.

Ghanaian family law is very different from UK law and particular caution is needed when, for example, child custody becomes an issue.  Please see child abduction.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British passport holders require a visa to enter Ghana.  You can apply for a visa and obtain advice on entry requirements from the Ghanaian representation in the UK.  Passports should be valid for at least six months when submitted to the Ghanaian authorities for a visa.   Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and can lead to detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine is paid.

You may be asked to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival in the country.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Ghanaian representation in the UK.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

Medical facilities and communications are poor outside urban areas.  Emergency facilities are extremely limited.  For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation would be necessary.

Malaria is prevalent.  Before travelling, you should consult your doctor about suitable anti-malarial medication, and on arrival in Ghana ensure that you take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.

Waterborne diseases are also prevalent.  Outbreaks of cholera continue to occur across the country, mainly in rural areas of Ghana but also in parts of Accra and Kumasi.  Drinking water should be filtered and boiled or bought in brand bottles with unbroken seals.  Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards.

HIV/AIDS prevalence is around 4%.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at www.dh.gov.uk.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas please see: What We Can Do To Help.

If visiting any of the beaches along the southern coast of Ghana, you should be aware that swimming can be dangerous due to riptides.

If you are coming to Ghana to work in a volunteer programme or for work experience you must be fully aware of the terms and conditions of stay and be sure that you will be working for a reputable organisation before you commit yourself to travel.

On the whole Ghanaians are very welcoming and friendly toward foreign visitors.  You may be besieged with insistent offers of help, friendship guidance etc or may be left alone to do your own thing.  It is wise to be aware of, and cope with both scenarios.  Be friendly but firm if you are not happy with arrangements or any situation you find yourself in.  British nationals planning to stay in Ghana for six months or longer should register with the British High Commission.

Ghana does now recognise dual nationality.  In order for Ghanaian/British Nationals to avoid visas fees, they should register with the Interior Ministry in Ghana and be issued with a Dual Nationality card.  Production of this card at point of entry into Ghana will indicate that a visa and the corresponding fee are not required.   There are strict limitations on UK consular assistance available to dual nationals.

Accra is a passport issuing post.  Full and emergency passport issuing facilities are available.  It should be noted that passports cost more overseas than they do in the UK.

In large urban areas such as Accra and Kumasi, ATMs are commonplace and will accept most UK cash cards – but not Switch.  Credit cards are accepted at many hotels guesthouses and some shops, but credit card fraud is commonplace and you should exercise caution when using them.  Travellers' Cheques can be exchanged in large hotels, banks and Forex bureaux.

On arrival in Ghana, you should carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times, and put the original document in safe-keeping.  If driving, your driving licence should be carried at all times.

It is wise to reconfirm your flights even if you have been told by your Travel Agent/Airline that this is not necessary.