The Capital

 

Accra, capital and largest city of Ghana, southeastern Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Accra is an important commercial, manufacturing, and communications center. It is the site of an international airport and a focus of the country's railroad system, including a link to nearby Tema, which since 1962 has served as the city's deepwater port. Industries include vehicle and appliance assembly, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of foodstuffs, textiles, metal and wood products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals.

A sprawling city, Accra presents a varied appearance, with buildings of modern, colonial, and traditional African architecture. Of note here are the 17th-century Christiansborg Castle, now the residence of the chief of state, and the National Museum (1957). Several research and technical institutes are located in Accra, and the University of Ghana (1948) is in the nearby town of Legon. The site of what is now Accra was occupied by villages of the Ga, the local people, when the Portuguese first visited here in the late 15th century. During the 17th century the Portuguese were forced to withdraw by the Dutch, who, along with the Danes and the English, founded rival trading posts, which became the settlements of Ussher Town, Christiansborg, and James Town, respectively.

In the 19th century Britain purchased Dutch and Danish rights in the area, and in 1876 Christiansborg was made the capital of the Gold Coast Colony. The three separate towns grew and gradually coalesced to form the city of Accra. Much of the modern city's layout was planned in the 1920s, and since then growth has been rapid. Accra remained the capital city, when in 1957 the Gold Coast Colony became the independent state of Ghana.