Ghana’s past is incredibly complex. The area now known as Ghana has been conquered by many African kingdoms and European nations over the past 2,000 years.

The ancient Ghana Empire was actually located further north and west than present-day Ghana and included Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal.

Toward the beginning of the medieval times, the empire was driven toward the coast by the rising Mali Empire. Later, during the Renaissance period, this clan of tribes – known as the Akan people – formed the Ashanti Empire, with their main seat being in the central woodlands of Kumasi. They became powerful and wealthy due to trading in gold and were pioneers in making contact with the Europeans.

Although they were given a run for their money by many other kingdoms that make up modern Ghana, the Ashanti were able to maintain control over the coastal area for many years. This allowed them to trade with the Portuguese, Dutch and the British.

In the early 20th century the British claimed the area as part of their commonwealth, naming it the “Gold Coast”. During this time the country grew into a prosperous nation through the production of non-endemic crops like cocoa and coffee, and through the establishment of many schools.

In 1957, Ghana became the first self-governing country on the African continent under president Kwame Nkrumah. Their new flag incorporated the Pan African colors of red, yellow, green and black. Many other African countries followed suit.

Their coat of arms was created to proudly display the black star, a symbol of Ghana’s emancipation. The national currency was changed from Pounds to Cedis. Today Ghana’s president is Nana Akufo-Addo and a dollar will buy you 4.86 Cedis, meaning that Ghana is an affordable location for most foreigners.