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Country Guides for Africa


Ghana Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. A long series of coups resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of 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. He was succeeded by John KUFUOR, who defeated former Vice President Atta MILLS in a free and fair election.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal.Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to West Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of West Africa, are at risk for malaria. All travelers should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended and may be required for entry into certain of these countries. If you travel to West Africa, the easiest and safest thing to do is get a yellow fever vaccination and a signed certificate. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Meningococcal meningitis, for travel to most of these countries from December through June.
  • Yellow fever.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times. Large gatherings such as political rallies and street demonstrations should be avoided. U.S. citizens should be aware that Ghanaian authorities sent troops to the Northern Region of Ghana in March 2002, imposed a curfew, and declared a state of emergency to quell ethnic violence. The state of emergency in the Northern Region remains in effect, and the situation remains volatile. American citizens are urged to avoid unnecessary travel to the Northern Region of Ghana while the state of emergency remains in effect.

CRIME: Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and various types of scams are the most common forms of crime confronting visitors. U.S. travelers have reported instances of these types of theft in crowded market areas, beaches and parks, and at tourist attractions. Instances of violent crime, such as rape and armed robbery, have risen over the last year. At least three foreign visitors have been raped in the last six months during home invasions/burglaries. American students studying in Ghana have reported an increase in burglaries of university housing. Several Americans have been the victims of theft at gunpoint during the last year. Travelers who limit their display of jewelry and handle their cash discreetly reduce their vulnerability to crime. Travelers are advised to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents.

While major U.S. and international credit cards are accepted widely across the country, credit card fraud is pervasive. Travelers are strongly advised to avoid using credit cards and to settle bills using traveler's checks or cash. Travelers who elect to use their credit cards in Ghana should employ all available precautions.

In recent years, U.S. citizens have reported substantial financial losses from certain transactions involving gold and other precious metals. The government of Ghana maintains strict regulations on these natural resources. All agents must be licensed and all transactions must be certified. See Customs Restrictions, below.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad provides useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Pamphlets are available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at or in hard copy from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402,

BUSINESS FRAUD: Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Ghana.

Recently American citizens have consulted the Embassy regarding questionable business offers described to them by electronic mail sent by Ghana-based individuals. Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction: for example, fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. Reports have also reached the Embassy of fraudulent charities soliciting contributions through the Internet or direct mail. If you receive such business offers or charity requests, you are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Embassy for an assessment of the offer's credibility. To check on a business's legitimacy in the U.S., contact the Ghana Desk Officer at the International Trade Administration, Room 2037, Dept. of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, (202) 482-1358, fax: (202) 482-5198 or the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRADE. Americans already in Ghana may contact the U.S. Embassy at telephone (233) (21) 775-347 or 775-348.

For additional information, please consult the Department of State's publication Advance Fee Business Scams, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

Source: U.S. Department of State

tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north

Source: CIA World Factbook

Ghana's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required, as is evidence of a yellow fever vaccination. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Ghana, 3512 International Drive, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 686-4520, website, or from the Ghanaian Consulate General, 19 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 832-1300. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Ghanaian embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

For information on what can be taken into and out of Ghana, please see the section on Customs Restrictions, below.

DUAL NATIONALITY: The Government of Ghana treats a U.S.-Ghanaian citizen as a Ghanaian only. If a U.S.-Ghanaian dual national runs afoul of Ghanaian law, the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide consular assistance may be limited. In addition to being subject to all Ghanaian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Ghanaian citizens. For additional information, please see the Dual Nationality flyer on the Consular Affairs website at

Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Ghana is 0 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Ghana would be 5:00 pm

The unit of currency in Ghana is the cedi (GHC).

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

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