Population: Estimated at 17.2 million in mid-1994, up
from about 6.7 million in 1960; approximately half under age
fifteen. Growth rate more than 3 percent per year since 1980. 1990
population density sixty-three persons per square kilometer;
density highest in southwestern third of country, thinnest in
center, higher in north. About 33 percent urban in 1992.
Ethnolinguistic Groups: Approximately 100 ethnolinguistic
groups, all further subdivided into numerous cultural and
linguistic units. Major ethnic groups are the Akan, Ewe, MoleDaghane , Guan, and Ga-Adangbe. Languages belong either to Kwa or to
Gur subfamily of Niger-Congo language family. Kwa speakers, found
to south of Volta River, include the Akan, Ewe, and Ga-Adangbe. Gur
speakers live north of Volta River and include the Grusi, Gurma,
and Mole-Dagbane. English is official language used in government,
large-scale business, national media, and school beyond primary
level. Akan, Ewe, Ga, Nzema, Dagbane, and Hausa (a trade language
from Nigeria) also used in radio and television broadcasting.
Religion: According to 1985 estimate, 62 percent
Christian, 15 percent Muslim, 22 percent indigenous or
nonbelievers. Christians composed of Protestants (25 percent,
Methodists and Presbyterians especially numerous), Roman Catholics
(15 percent), Protestant Pentecostals (8 percent), and Independent
African Churches (about 14 percent). Muslims mostly Sunni.
Christianity predominates in center and south, Islam in north.
Health: Large number of infectious diseases endemic to
tropics, including cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, anthrax,
pertussis, yellow fever, hepatitis, trachoma, and malaria. Other
diseases include schistosomiasis, guinea worm, dysentery,
onchocerciasis, venereal diseases, and poliomyelitis. Malnutrition
also widespread. Average life expectancy fifty-six years in 1993.
Severe shortage of hospital beds and doctors. Since late 1980s,
government has emphasized immunization and primary health care
programs. Incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
second highest in West Africa and rising.
Education: Education system consists of primary (six
years), junior secondary (three years), senior secondary (three
years) after reforms of mid-1980s eliminated former middle schools,
polytechnic institutions, and four universities. Universal
education remains an unrealized goal, but most children have access
to primary and junior secondary schools. Local vernacular is
language of instruction on primary level, English thereafter. All
students pay textbook fees. Enrollments for 1990-91: primary 1.8
million, junior secondary 609,000, senior secondary 200,000. In
1989-90 about 11,500 students attended polytechnic schools.
Enrollment in universities at Legon, Kumasi, and Cape Coast totaled
9,251 in 1989-90; in 1993 a fourth university opened at Tamale. In
early 1990s, the government instituted fees for boarding and
lodging, provoking student demonstrations. Adult literacy rate
reportedly about 40 percent in 1989.
Data as of November 1994