Accra (; Twi: Nkran; Dagbani: Ankara; Ga: Ga or Gaga) is the capital of Ghana covering an area of 225.67 km2 (87.13 sq mi) with an estimated urban population of 4.2 million as of 2020. It is organized into 12 local government districts – 11 municipal districts and the Accra Metropolitan District, which is the only district within the capital to be granted city status. “Accra” usually refers to the Accra Metropolitan Area, which serves as the capital of Ghana, while the district under the jurisdiction of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly is distinguished from the rest of the capital as the “City of Accra”. In common usage, however, the terms “Accra” and “City of Accra” are used interchangeably.
The intersection of the Lafa stream and Mallam junction serves as the western border of Accra, the Great Hall of the University of Ghana forms Accra’s northern border, while the Nautical College forms the eastern border. The Gulf of Guinea forms the southern border.
Formed from the merger of distinct settlements around British Fort James, Dutch Fort Crêvecoeur (Ussher Fort), and Danish Fort Christiansborg as Jamestown, Usshertown, and Christiansborg respectively, Accra served as the capital of the British Gold Coast between 1877 and 1957 and has since transitioned into a modern metropolis. The capital’s architecture reflects this history, ranging from 19th-century colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers and apartment blocks.
Accra is the Greater Accra Region‘s economic and administrative hub, and serves as the anchor of the larger Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), which is inhabited by about 4 million people, making it the thirteenth-largest metropolitan area in Africa. Strategic initiatives, such as transportation, are coordinated between the local government authorities, while the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, based in West Ridge, is responsible for the administration of the 60 km2 (23 sq mi) City of Accra only.
Accra is the most densely populated city in Ghana. The central business district of Accra contains the city’s main banks and department stores, as well as an area known as the Ministries, where Ghana’s government administration is concentrated. Economic activities in Accra include the financial and commercial sectors, fishing, and the manufacture of processed food, lumber, plywood, textiles, clothing, and chemicals. Tourism is becoming a thriving source of business for those in arts and crafts, historical sites, and local travel and tour agents. The Oxford Street in the district of Osu has grown to become the hub of business and nightlife in Accra.
In 2020, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network think tank designated Accra as a “Gamma −” level global city, indicating a growing level of international influence and connectedness.
Accra is the political and economic capital of modern Ghana on the Gold Coast. Between 1500 and 1578, a fortress operated by the Portuguese stood at the site of modern Accra. This fort provided the Europeans with an outlet for trade, particularly in slaves, with the Ga people, themselves recent migrants from the inland hills of the region. While the Ga destroyed this fort in 1578, by the mid seventeenth century, a group of Ga, known as the Accra, had settled on the site. In 1642, the Dutch expelled the Portuguese from the Gold Coast and established a new trading post at Accra. In the early 1660s, the Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading to Africa (later the Royal African Company) established a series of posts in the region sparking a war between the English and the Dutch over the Gold Coast trade monopoly. After the treaty of Breda in 1672, the victorious English established their own trading post at Accra which was eventually expanded into a fortress.
During the years 1873 through 1874, the British waged a war against the inland Asante Empire. British victory in the conflict confirmed their supremacy in the area and the Gold Coast Colony was officially established. In 1877, the colonial capital was moved from the traditional center of British power at Cape Coast to Accra. Throughout the colonial era, Accra maintained its importance as a center for trade. Even after the construction of a deep water port at Takoradi in 1928, Accra’s surf port remained economically important. During the Second World War, Accra became a crucial link in the Allied transportation network between the European and East Asian regions of conflict. To accommodate this transportation, the airport was significantly expanded to meet the needs of the increased air traffic. After the war, Accra became a flashpoint for anti-colonial sentiment when a group of veterans, unhappy with their treatment, marched on the seat of government at Christiansborg Castle. The protesters were fired upon by the police and three died. This triggered a wave of riots expressing dissatisfaction with colonial rule and further fostered nationalist sentiment.
After Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African colony to gain independence in 1957, nationalist leader and first Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah assured the local population that Accra would remain the capital. In 1966 a military and police coup removed Kwame Nkrumah’s government from power, ending what is known as the First Republic. Since this first coup, Accra has played stage to a succession of both military regimes and elected governments, until 1992 when a new constitution was approved by which the country has been governed since. Modern Accra does suffer the perennial problems of traffic congestion, housing shortages, and pollution that plague other African capitals such as Lagos or Nairobi, however, it remains relatively affluent and stable. Today, the Accra metropolis is home to over 1.5 million people.
OURCE OF THE AUTHOR’S INFORMATION:
Roger S. Gocking, The History of Ghana (Westport, Connecticut:
Greenwood, 2005); Steven J. Slam and Toyin Falola, Culture and Customs
of Ghana (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 2002); W. E. F. Ward, A
History of Ghana (London: Ruskin House, 1958).
Anacker, C. (2010, July 05). Accra, Ghana (ca. 1500- ). BlackPast.org. https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/accra-ghana-ca-1500/
Was this article helpful?