Despite being rich in mineral resources, and endowed with a good education system and efficient civil service, Ghana fell victim to corruption and mismanagement soon after independence in 1957.
In 1966 its first president and pan-African hero, Kwame Nkrumah, was deposed in a coup, heralding years of mostly-military rule. In 1981 Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings staged his second coup.
The country began to move towards economic stability and democracy.
In April 1992 a constitution allowing for a multi-party system was approved in a referendum, ushering in a period of democracy.
A well-administered country by regional standards, Ghana is often seen as a model for political and economic reform in Africa. Cocoa exports are an essential part of the economy; Ghana is the world’s second-largest producer.
The discovery of major offshore oil reserves was announced in June 2007, encouraging expectations of a major economic boost. However, oil is not expected to flow for some years.
Ghana has a high-profile peacekeeping role; troops have been deployed in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and DR Congo.