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The Volta Region is the Eastern-most region of Ghana and borders the neighboring country of Togo. The main language spoken in this region of Ghana is Ewe and its different dialects. Ewe is also spoken in neighboring countries Togo and Benin. In fact, the Ewe people of Togo and Ghana were only divided geographically due to a May 1956 plebiscite that partitioned Ewe land between the Gold Coast and Togo.
The Volta region is filled with scenic beauty from the coastal beaches to the mountains. Ghana’s tallest mountain peak (2900 ft), Mt. Afadzato, is located in the Volta Region. The region is also adorned with Ghana’s tallest waterfall, Wli (over 160ft), in the Hohoe area.
Among the various celebrated festivals of the people of the region are the Hogbetsotso of the Anlos; the Agbamevoza of the Kpetoes and the Gbidukor Festival of the Gbi-Ewes. The Hogbetsotso marks the migration of the Anlo from Togo under the tyranny of King Agokorli to their present day Ghana home. The festival takes place in November. The Agbamevoza is celebrated by the people of Agotime- Kpetoe, who are well known for their kente weaving. The festival, held in August, celebrates their kente weaving traditions. There are a lot more festivals celebrated by the various groups in the Volta Region. One thing common to the festivals is that they are marked by pomp and pageantry, chiefs in palanquins, drumming, singing and dancing, and overall merry-making.
Sharing a border to the West of the Volta Region is the Eastern Region. These two regions are separated by the Volta River. Ghana derives most of its electricity needs from the Akosombo Dam located in this region. The Volta Lake, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes is also found here. A river boat cruise on the Volta River is something every visitor to the region has to experience. The cruise is brought to life with a live band and some good food.
The region is endowed with large tropical forests, some of which is visible on the Volta River boat cruise. The largest botanical garden in Africa, Aburi botanical gardens, is also found in the Eastern Region. The region is well known for producing cocoa, with the birthplace of cocoa found at Mampong-Akwapim. The region also lays claim to Ghana’s only commercial diamond mine at Akwatia.
One festival celebration of the people of Manya and Yilo Krobo, in Krobo Odumase and Somanya of the Eastern region is Dipo. This is an initiation rite of passage for young girls. The participating girls are dressed in adoring beads and are paraded semi nude. The festival is held in April and provides for young girls to transition from girls to womanhood. Girls are able to marry, have kids and raise a family only after undergoing the ritual.
Greater Accra Region
The capital of the Greater Accra Region is Accra, which is also the capital of Ghana. Accra has seen a lot of changes over the years and is now decorated with some of the modern facilities and infrastructure you see in other developed countries. It is by far the most developed city in Ghana with nice hotels, restaurants, night clubs and shopping malls. All these signs of the western world are juxtaposed with regular African life- street vendors, open space markets, jaywalking, and so on.
Accra can be described as the melting pot of West Africa- from hosting refugees from neighboring countries of Ivory Coast, Liberia and Togo; to serving as economic breadbasket for Africans from Cameroun, Nigeria, as well as to Europeans, Asians and Palestinians. Because Ghana is a bed of political stability in West Africa, a lot of people are drawn to it, and Accra ends up hosting most of them.
The coastal beaches of Accra offer some nice hotel accommodations and relaxing atmosphere. The city is also the last home and final resting place of W.E. Du Bois, the African American civil right activist. There’s also a place dedicated to Ghana’s first president- Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum; the seat of government, which was previously a slave castle, is also found in Accra. Makola market- open space market and National Arts and Craft Center are good places to find souvenirs and put your bargaining skills on display.
A few miles trip along the coast from Accra takes you to Tema, a port city. The port handles most of Ghana’s import and export activities. The city of Tema also provides for a lot of fishing.
Further along the coast is Ada and the estuary of the great River Volta. Here the fine beaches of the estuary and the Atlantic coast provide popular resort areas. Water sports and river trips make this a great place to relax, while the waters off the coast teem with game fish.
The Homowo festival is celebrated by the Ga people of Accra. The festival is held in July or August. The word Homowo basically means hooting at hunger. The essence of the festival is to give thanks to the gods for abundance of food. Just like any other Ghanaian festival, it involves drumming, dancing and merry making. However, a month before the festival begins, there’s a ban on noise making.
The capital city of the Ashanti Region is Kumasi. The Ashanti Region is deeply rooted in tradition and culture. The main language in the area is Akan (or Twi) and its many dialects. The Asantehene, the supreme chief of the Asante people lives in the Manhyia Palace where other local chiefs and subordinates come and pay him homage.
Located in this region are various craft villages- Bonwire for kente weaving; Ahwiaa for woodcarvings; Ntonso for Adinkra symbols; Pankrono for hand-crafted. Also in this region is Lake Bosumtwe, a lake formed as a result of a meteorite impact crater. The Obuasi gold mine (Ashanti gold) is located in this region.
Some of the festivals celebrated in this region include the Yaa Asantewaa Festival. This is celebrated in August by the People of Ejisu in the Juaben District. The festival is to mark the heroism of the Ashanti queen mother Nana Yaa Asantewaa, who fought against the British colonial forces. The Adae Kese Festival, another one of the festivals in this region, is a much more glorified version of the Adae Festival whenever it falls on a Sunday. The Adae festival is celebrated by the Ashantis every six weeks based on the Akan calendar. The essence of the festival is to mark achievements in the Ashantis’ history, pay homage to the Asantehene and pledge loyalty to the stool. The festival also serves the purpose of thanking the gods and asking for their blessings and protection. As usual, the occasion is marked with singing, drumming and dancing.
The capital city of the Central Region is Cape Coast. This is a tourist’s dream destination adorned with nice coastal beaches and rich in history and culture. The region is dotted with many remnants of Ghana’s colonial past. Here you can find the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles- both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Forts in the region include Fort William (Anomabu); Fort Patience; Ft Victoria; Ft. St. Jago (Elmina); Ft Amsterdam (Abandze). All these forts and castles played vital roles in Ghana’s slave trade past.
Another important attraction of this region is Kakum National Park. This virgin rainforest is home to much wildlife. It is also home to the famous Kakum canopy walkway- a series of suspended rope bridges over the forest trees.
Festivals in this area include the Bakatue and the Aboakyer festivals. The Bakatue (literally means the opening up of Benya Lagoon into the sea) festival, celebrates the beginning of the fishing season. It is celebrated by the people of Elmina. 'Aboakyer' (game hunting) festival is one of the most famous festivals celebrated by the chiefs and people of Winneba. It is celebrated to commemorate the migration of the people from the Ancient Western Sudan Empire to their current home. While migrating to their current home, the people had to make a sacrifice to the gods. This annual festival held on the first Saturday in May is to celebrate this past.
The capital city of the Western Region is Sekondi-Takoradi. It forms Ghana’s Western border to neighboring country Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Just as the Central Region, the Western Region coastline is dotted with several European forts. Forts include Ft Orange (Sekondi); Ft Metal Cross (Dixcove); Ft. Batenstein (Busua Beach near Dixcove); Ft. Good Hope; Ft. Gross-Friedrichsburg (Princesstown); Ft. St. Anthony (Axim); Ft. Appolonia (Beyin) and Ft. St. Sebastian. The availability of gold and other natural resources- manganese, bauxite, timber, etc, attracted European traders to this area. The main languages found in this area of Ghana are various dialects of Akan (Twi). These include Ahanta, Fante, Wassa, Nzema, and Sefwi.
The Nzulezu village, built completely on stilts is a great tourist sight. The villagers live in houses built on the Tano River. The region also offers great coastal beaches for relaxing or surfing.
One of the festivals to be found in this region is the Kundum festival celebrated by the Nzema and the Ahanta people around August. The festival is to give thanks to the gods for a bumper harvest and ask for their blessings in the coming year. Other festivals are Ohobaa and Yam festivals.
Brong Ahafo Region:
The capital city of the Brong Ahafo region is Sunyani. This region, located in the center of Ghana also shares a border with Ghana’s neighbor to the West- Cote D’Ivoire. This area of Ghana also forms the meeting point of north and South- it has some of the green vegetation of the South as well as some of the arid dry features of the north.
The area is home to Kintampo waterfalls and Buabeng Monkey Sanctuary. The monkey sanctuary, near Techiman features Colobus and Mona monkeys living in harmony with the people of the community. These monkeys are considered sacred and are not to be killed. Kintampo waterfalls, over 200ft tall is also a great attraction this region provides.
Some of the festivals in this region include Ntoa Fokuose (Festival of the god ‘Ntoa”), Kwafie and Apoo festivals. The Apoo festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Techiman, Nkoranza and Wenchi traditional areas. It is celebrated annually around March. During the festival, the locals openly divulge and criticize the wrong doing of others, including the local leaders and chiefs, as a way to foster openness and goodwill.
Tamale is the capital city of the Northern Region, the largest region in Ghana. It shares borders with both of Ghana’s neighbors to the West and East. It also borders the Brong Ahafo Region, Upper West, Upper East and the Volta Regions of Ghana. Although there is homogeny of religious sects in all parts of Ghana, the northern parts of Ghana are more heavily populated by Muslims. This is because the people of the South had the most interactions with the Europeans and their new form of religion- Christianity. Ethnic groups such as the Dagomba, Gonja, Nanumba, Mamprusi, and Komkombas are found in this area. Due to the flat nature of the land and its relative proximity to the Sahara desert, traditional thatch huts are common.
The Northern Region is home to Ghana’s largest, oldest and most developed national park- Mole National Park. Wildlife such as elephants, buffaloes, roan, kob, hartebeest, water bucks, reed buck and antelopes can be seen on a safari in the park. At the entrance to the park is the Larabanga Mosque, a 13th century Mosque, believed to have been built by Moorish traders. The Salaga slave market with its slave wells (wells where slaves were held before sales); slave shackles and pegs; slave cemetery are also found in this region of Ghana.
Two of the festivals in this region are Bugum Chugu and Damba. The Bugum Chugu is celebrated by the Dagbani, Gonja, Chokosi and Kokomba people in July whereas the Damba is celebrated by the Dagomba, Gonja, Mamprusi and Nanumba people in August.
Upper East Region:
The capital city of the Upper East Region is Bolgatanga. This region of Ghana shares boundaries with Togo to the East and Burkina Faso to the North. Just like the Northern and Upper East Regions, the vegetation in this part of Ghana is different from the South- the land here is flat with broad savannah grassland.
The people of the region also comprise mainly of Muslims. Thatch huts are commonplace. The huts provide cold comfort during the day when temperatures are generally high and warm during the cold nights.
The northern part of Ghana with its abundance of cattle provides leather and various leather products. There’s a great craft market at Bolgatanga. Of interest to visitors to the region is the Paga crocodile pond. The crocodiles here are friendly and great fun to play with.
Two festivals in the region are the Gologo festival – sacrifices are offered to the gods to request their blessings for rain and good harvest for the upcoming farming season. The festival is held in March; Fiok festival is celebrated in December by the Sandema of Builsa. The festival is a re-enactment of the ancient heroic exploits of the people. As usual, there’s drumming, singing and dancing.
Upper West Region:
The upper West Region borders Cote D’Ivoire to the West and Burkina Faso to the North. The capital city of this region is Wa. Ethnic groups found in this region include the Lobi, Wala, Dagarba and Sisala. The main language found in the region is Dagaare, spoken by majority of the people. The landscape here is similar to that found in the Northern and Upper East Regions. Majority of the population is Muslim and mud houses are common.
An important attraction in the region is the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary. This conservation effort by the people of the Wechiau community is also aided by the Calgary Zoo of Canada.
Festivals found in this region include the Kalibi festival by the Sankana (in April) and the Kobine festival by the people of Lawra in September.