Ghana - Country history and economic development

1470. Portuguese traders arrive on the coast of what is now Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast, and begin to establish trading settlements.

1553. The British begin trading along the coast, to be joined in due course by German, Danish, and Dutch traders.

1821. The British take control of all the forts along the coast.

1844. Britain signs agreement with local chiefs, which enables Britain to establish the colony of the Gold Coast.

1868. Dutch possessions are transferred to the British, and the British begin conquest of the interior. British occupation is fiercely resisted, particularly by the Fante Confederation (an alliance of coastal kingdoms) and the Ashanti.

1900. The British finally defeat the Ashanti and war ends.

1920. A number of political parties begin to emerge, dedicated to regaining African independence. Representing different regions, these parties are not nationally based.

1947. The United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) is formed, but without representatives from some key areas in the north.

1948. Kwame Nkrumah, general secretary of the UGCC, breaks away to found the Convention People's Party (CPP), which quickly becomes a voice for the nation and for the first time draws the northern people into politics.

1949. Exasperated by the slow progress towards self-government, Nkrumah calls for a national strike. Seeking to contain the situation, the British haul Nkrumah before the courts and sentence him to jail.

1951. The CPP wins elections for Legislative Assembly while Nkrumah is in jail. He is released to become leader of the Executive Council and the Legislature.

1957. On March 6, Ghana becomes the first African country to gain independence from European control, with Nkrumah as prime minister.

1958. The Constitution Act and the Preventative Detention Act are passed, giving Nkrumah wide extra-constitutional powers to suppress opposition. Regional assemblies are dissolved.

1960. Ghana approves a republican constitution with Nkrumah as president.

1961. Ghana becomes a one-party state, with the CPP as the sole political party.

1965. The cedi is introduced as a unit of currency, replacing the Ghana pound. In the first elections, the CPP wins all parliamentary seats with an unchallenged slate.

1966. The Akosombo dam, built over the Volta river at a cost of US$414 million, is completed. Nkrumah is overthrown while on a visit to Peking by a military coup led by Emanuel Kotoka, Akwasi Arifa, and John Harley. The National Liberation Council (NLC) assumes power.

1967. The new cedi is introduced with a devalued rate of exchange. Kotoka is killed in an abortive counter-coup. Ghana joins the West African Economic Community.

1969. The constitution of the second republic is adopted. In national elections, the Progress Party (PP) led by K.A. Busia wins absolute majority; a 3-man presidential commission consisting of Harley, Arifa, and A.K. Okran is appointed to serve as head of state.

1970. The presidential troika is abolished; Edward Akufo-Addo is elected president.

1972. The Busia government is overthrown by military coup under Ignatius Acheampong. The National Redemption Council (NRC) assumes supreme power and nationalizes mining and textile firms.

1974. Agreement is reached with creditor nations, giving Ghana a liberal repayment schedule.

1975. The Supreme Military Council (SMC) is created as the highest legislative and administrative body in the state, with a reconstituted NRC as a subordinate cabinet.

1977. Acheampong promises return to civilian rule by 1979.

1978. Fredrick Akuffo, Acheampong's deputy, assumes power in a bloodless coup. Local assembly elections are held and the National Assembly is established.

1979. A 6-year ban on political parties is lifted. Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings leads a coup of junior officers, and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) takes power. A new constitution is adopted as a prelude to return to civilian rule. In presidential elections Hilla Limann, candidate of the People's National Party (PNP), is elected.

1981. Rawlings seizes power for second time in a bloodless coup, suspends the National Assembly, political parties, and Council of State. He sets up a Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) with himself as chairman.

1983. Nigeria expels over 1.5 million Ghanaian residents. The government devalues the cedi by over 1,400 percent in line with IMF requirements.

1990. A pro-democracy organization, the Movement for Freedom and Justice, demands a national referendum to establish a multi-party system.

1992. A draft constitution is approved in a referendum. Political associations are allowed and 6 opposition movements are granted recognition. In November, presidential elections return Rawlings with 58.3 percent of the vote. The December parliamentary elections return the NDC with 189 out of 200 seats.

1995. Riots in Accra in February over the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) lead to 4 deaths and the withdrawal of the tax.

1996. Rawlings wins re-election and the NDC retains a majority in parliament.

1999. Fall in gold prices upsets Ghana's economic recovery.

2000. John Agyekum Kufour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is elected as president, and the NPP gains a majority in parliament.

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