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This article is about the Accra Metropolitan Area, which serves as the capital of Ghana. For the metropolitan district, which serves as the administrative boundaries of the City of Accra and capital of the Greater Accra Region, see Accra Metropolis District.
Clockwise from top: Airport City, Downtown Accra, Independence Square
|Coordinates: 5°33′N0°12′W / 5.550°N 0.200°W / 5.550; -0.200Coordinates: 5°33′N0°12′W / 5.550°N 0.200°W / 5.550; -0.200|
|Region||Greater Accra Region|
|Districts||Accra Metropolitan District, Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal District, La Dade Kotopon Municipal District|
|• City||139.67 km2 (53.93 sq mi)|
|• Urban||225.67 km2 (87.13 sq mi)|
|• Metro||894 km2 (345 sq mi)|
|Elevation||61 m (200 ft)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0)|
|Postcode districts||GA, GL, GZ|
The Accra Metropolitan Area or simply Accra is the capital of Republic of Ghana, with an estimated urban population of 2.27 million as of 2012[update]. Its core, the City of Accra, is coterminous with the Accra Metropolitan District and covers an area of 86.78 sq mi (139km2). Since 2007, Accra has also referred to the metropolitan area around this core, encompassing the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal district and La Dade Kotopon Municipal district which were carved out of the Accra Metropolitan District.
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. Originally built around three different settlements, including a port (Jamestown), it served as the capital of the British Gold Coast between 1877 and 1957. Once merely a 19th-century suburb of Victoriaborg, Accra has since transitioned into a modern metropolis; the city's architecture reflects this history, ranging from 19th-century architecture buildings 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.
In 2010, the Globalization and World Cities Research Networkthink tank designated Accra a Gamma-minus-level world city, indicating a growing level of international influence and connectedness.
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 night life in Accra.
The word Accra is derived from the Akan word Nkran meaning "ants", a reference to the numerous anthills seen in the countryside around Accra. The name specifically refers to soldier ants, and was applied to both the town and people by the Twi speakers.
The name of Accra in the Ga language is Ga or Gaga, the same name as that of the Ga people and a cognate with Nkran. The word is sometimes rendered with the nasalised vowels as Gã or Gãgã. Historian Carl Christian Reindorf confirmed this etymology, proposing a link between the martial qualities and migratory behaviour of the local ants and those of the Ga people. The link between the ethonym and ants was explicitly reflected in the recognition of anthills as sacred places. Often ringed by sacred fences (aklabatsa), the tall red mounds dotting Accra's hinterland were seen as microcosms of human community and as nodal points between the known world and the world of the dead.
While the Ga used the reference to the invasive species of dark-brown swarming ants to connote military prowess and their ancient conquest of Guang speakers residing in the Accra Plains, the Akan-speaking appropriation and translation of this metaphor had a less than generous meaning. Instead of viewing Ga speakers as a formidable military force, the Akan-speaking term "Nkran" cast Ga peoples as pests or nuisances to be controlled or exterminated.
The name Ga is actually a cognate of the name Akan, one of a few words in which [g] corresponds to [k] in Akan.Ga also gave its name to the Ga districts surrounding Accra.
The name Accra was given to Nkran by Europeans. An earlier spelling used by the Danes was Akra.
See also: Timeline of Accra
The main Ga group known as the Tumgwa We led by Ayi Kushie arrived by sea. When the Guan (Lartehs) on the coast saw them on their canoes at sea, they looked like ants. Hence, the Lartehs refer to them as Nkran (ants). Nkran was later corrupted by the Danes to Akra, then to present-day Accra. Nkran in the Ga language is Gaga, thus they also started calling themselves Ga. Due to their sheer numbers, the indigenous Lartehs thus relocated to the Akuapem ridge. The Ga are also part of the main Guan group that started the initial migration from the Nubia Empire.
Initially, Accra was not the most prominent trading centre; the trade hubs of the time were the ports at Ada and Prampram, along with the inland centres of Dodowa and Akuse. The Dutch built the nearby outposts of Ussher Fort while the British and the Swedes built James Fort and Christiansborg castles, respectively. By the 17th century, Portugal, France and Denmark, had constructed forts in the city.
Britain gradually acquired the interests of all other countries beginning in 1851, when Denmark sold Christiansborg (which they had acquired from the Swedes) and their other forts to the British. The Netherlands was the last to sell out, in 1871. In 1873, after decades of tension between the British and Ashantis, the British attacked and virtually destroyed Kumasi. The British then captured Accra in 1874, and in 1877, at the end of the second Anglo-Asante War, Accra replaced Cape Coast as the capital of the British Gold Coast. This decision was made because Accra had a drier climate relative to Cape Coast. Until this time, the settlement of Accra was confined between Ussher Fort to the east and the Korle Lagoon to the west.
As the newly established Gold Coast's administrative functions were moved to Accra (1877), an influx of British colonial administrator and settlers grew around the Christiansborg (modern Osu, Ministries, Ridge, Labone, and Cantonments) began, and the city began to expand to accommodate the new residents. Victoriaborg was formed in the late 19th century as an exclusively European residential neighbourhood, located to the east of the city limits of the time. The boundaries of Accra were further stretched in 1908. This expansion entailed the creation of a native-only neighbourhood, intended to accommodate members of the native population as a means of relieving congestion problems in the overcrowded city centre. Adabraka was thus established to the north of the city.
One of the most influential decisions in the history of the city was that of building the Accra-Kumasi railway in 1908. This was to connect Accra, the country's foremost port at that time, with Ghana's main cocoa-producing regions. In 1923, the railway was completed, and by 1924, cocoa was Ghana's largest export.
The British Gold Coast heavily influenced the shape that Accra during this period. For example, racial segregation of neighbourhoods was mandated by law until 1923, and all new buildings were required to be built out of stone or concrete. Despite these regulations, British settlers of the Gold Coast were very hesitant to invest any large amount of money into the city to maintain its infrastructure or improve public works. This did not change until the governorship of Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg during which period the three separate settlements (Osu, La and Jamestown) merged to become modern Accra. Guggisberg's administration laid out the present grid networked neighborhoods of Tudu, Adabraka and Asylum Down.
Among the achievements of Guggisberg was the building of a bridge across the Korle Lagoon in 1923, which opened the land west of the lagoon for settlement. Guggisberg also oversaw the building of a major hospital (Korle-Bu) and secondary school (Achimota). Such improvements led to an increase in Accra's population due to the migration of rural dwellers into the city, and the immigration of increasing numbers of British businessmen and administrators.
After World War II
In the years following World War II, the neighbourhoods of Ridge and Cantonments were planned as low-density developments for Europeans, while many rural migrants settled in neighbourhoods which had not yet been incorporated into Accra's municipal boundary, such as Nima and surrounding areas. Thus, the development of these neighbourhoods was unregulated by the government, creating a crowded and jumbled shanty-town landscape.
Another area of Accra that took shape at this time was the central business district (CBD). More administrative buildings were built on High Street, forming a massive judicial/administrative complex. Additionally, the expansion of the economy led to many more commercial buildings being built in the CBD.
In 1944, Accra's city planner Maxwell Fry devised a town plan, which was revised in 1958 by B.D.W. Treavallion and Alan Flood. Although the Fry/Trevallion plan was never followed through, it illustrated the British vision of how Accra should develop.
In the Fry/Treavallion plan, a reorganisation of the CBD was called for, as well as the development of the coastal region of the city. To reorganise the CBD, the planners decided to superimpose a tight street grid north of Fort Ussher.
To the east of this newly organised CBD, the planners hoped to preserve a broad, open space for a restaurant, country club, and polo and cricket fields. Additionally, the British planners intended to build large numbers of public squares, fountains, and ornamental pools and statues throughout the city, as well as a vast Parliament Complex in the city centre. Lastly, the Fry/Treavallion plan included plans to make the coastal region an extension of the exclusive European neighbourhood of Victoriaborg, and to create a recreational preserve for the elite. However, the British Gold Coast ended before the Fry/Treavallion plan was enacted.
When Kwame Nkrumah became Ghana's first postindependence Prime Minister in 1957, he created his own plan for Accra's development. Instead of creating spaces to serve the elite, Nkrumah sought to create spaces to inspire pride and nationalism in his people and people throughout Africa.
Rather than creating ornamental fountains and a large Parliament complex, Nkrumah decided to build landmarks such as Independence Square, the State House, and the Organisation of African Unity building, and to refurbish Christianborg Castle. Nkrumah decided to leave the Atlantic coastal region undeveloped, so as to not detract attention from the Community Centre or Independence Square, lending both spaces symbolic significance. The Nkrumah plan did not emphasise order nearly as much as the Fry/Treavallion plan did; whereas the British plan strove to lessen crowding in the commercial district and help relieve the overcrowding of neighbourhoods bordering the CBD, the Nkrumah plan allowed for continued compression of commercial establishments into the CBD, as well as increased migration into Jamestown.
The modern city is centred on the original British, Danish, and Dutch forts and their surrounding communities: Jamestown near the British James Fort, Osu near the Danish fort of Christiansborg (now Osu Castle), and Ussherstown near the Dutch Ussher fort.
Tourist attractions include the National Museum of Ghana, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Archives of Ghana and Ghana's central library, the National Theatre, the Accra Centre for National Culture, and the Jamestown Lighthouse.
The Parliament, Supreme Court of Ghana, and the Bank of Ghana are also located in Accra.
The city is also a transportation hub, home to the Kotoka International Airport, and railway links to Tema, Sekondi-Takoradi and Kumasi. Accra has become a location for national and international business conferences, such as the BarCamp Ghana series, organised by GhanaThink Foundation.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Owing to its location in the Dahomey Gap, where the coast runs parallel to the prevailing moist monsoonal winds, Accra features a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classificationAw) that borders on a hot semi-arid climate (BSh). The average annual rainfall is about 730 mm, which falls primarily during Ghana's two rainy seasons. The chief rainy season begins in April and ends in mid-July, whilst a weaker second rainy season occurs in October. Rain usually falls in short intensive storms and causes local flooding in which drainage channels are obstructed.
Very little variation in temperature occurs throughout the year. The mean monthly temperature ranges from 25.9 °C (78.6 °F) in August (the coolest) to 29.6 °C (85.3 °F) in March (the hottest), with an annual average of 27.6 °C (81.7 °F). The "cooler" months tend to be more humid than the warmer months. As a result, during the warmer months and particularly during the windy harmattan season, the city experiences a breezy "dry heat" that feels less warm than the "cooler" but more humid rainy season.
As a coastal city, Accra is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, with population growth putting increasing pressure on the coastal areas. Drainage infrastructure is particularly at risk, which has profound implications for people's livelihoods, especially in informal settlements. Inadequate planning regulation and law enforcement, as well as perceived corruption in government processes, lack of communication across government departments and lack of concern or government co-ordination with respect to building codes are major impediments to progressing the development of Accra's drainage infrastructure, according to the Climate & Development Knowledge Network.
As Accra is close to the equator, the daylight hours are practically uniform during the year. Relative humidity is generally high, varying from 65% in the midafternoon to 95% at night. The predominant wind direction in Accra is from the WSW to NNE sectors. Wind speeds normally range between 8 and 16 km/h. High wind gusts occur with thunderstorms, which generally pass in squalls along the coast.
The maximum wind speed record in Accra is 107.4 km/h (58 knots). Strong winds associated with thunderstorm activity often cause damage to property by removing roofing material. Several areas of Accra experience microclimatic effects. Low-profile drainage basins with a north-south orientation are not as well ventilated as those oriented east-west.
Air is often trapped in pockets over the city, and an insulation effect can give rise to a local increase in air temperature of several degrees. This occurs most notably in the Accra Newtown sports complex areas.
|Climate data for Accra (Accra International Airport) 1961–1990, extremes 1936–1997|
|Record high °C (°F)||35.8|
|Average high °C (°F)||32.1|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||27.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||23.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||15.0|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||10.9|
|Average precipitation days||1||2||5||6||10||15||9||7||8||7||3||2||75|
|Average relative humidity (%)||77||78||79||80||81||85||84||83||81||82||80||80||81|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||210.8||206.2||213.9||219.0||210.8||141.0||145.7||155.0||171.0||226.3||237.0||241.8||2,378.5|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||6.8||7.3||6.9||7.3||6.8||4.7||4.7||5.0||5.7||7.3||7.9||7.8||6.5|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization (average high, low and precipitation)|
|Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes, humidity 1952–1967, mean temperature 1941–1994, and sun)|
The administration of Accra occurs at two levels. Citywide strategic initiatives, such as the urban transportation project, are coordinated between district authorities, while local administration is carried out by the respective district authority with jurisdiction.
Accra spans three separate local government districts. The City of Accra, coterminous with the Accra Metropolitan District, once comprised the entire Accra Metropolitan Area, until the Ledzokuku-Krowor and La Dadekotopon districts were carved out as separate municipal districts. Accra covers an area of 225.67 sq mi (584.5 km2), of which the City of Accra covers 86.78 sq mi (224.8 km2). Accra is also the anchor of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), which is made up of the Accra Metropolitan District, Tema Metropolitan District, Ga South Municipal District, Ga East Municipal District, Ga West Municipal District, Adenta Municipal District, Ashaiman Municipal District, La Dadekotopon Municipal District, Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal District, and Kpone Katamanso District.
Accra Metropolitan District (City of Accra)
Main articles: Accra Metropolitan Assembly and Mayor of Accra
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly, which governs the City within the boundaries of the Accra Metropolitan District, has a mayoral council government system of the in which the mayor is vested with extensive executive powers. The mayor is appointed by the President of the Republic of Ghana and approved by the city council, although the public has expressed a desire to increase mayoral accountability by holding free mayoral elections. The Mayor of Accra is Mohammed Adjei Sowah, who was appointed by President Nana Akufo-Addo and approved unanimously by the AMA on 23 March 2017.
The Accra Assembly has 104 members. Of these, 70% are elected and 30% are government appointees. The Town and Country Planning Department is responsible for land-use planning in the metropolis.
To promote efficiency in the administrative machinery and also meet the ever pressing demands for amenities and essential services, Accra is divided into 10 sub-metropolitan areas:
- Ablekuma Central
- Ablekuma North
- Ablekuma South
- Ashiedu Keteke
- Ayawaso Central
- Ayawaso East
- Ayawaso West Wuogon
- Okaikoi North
- Okaikoi South
- Osu Klottey
Accra Metropolitan Area (Accra)
The Accra Metropolitan Area includes the City of Accra plus the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal District and La Dadekotopon Municipal District. The metropolitan area covers an area of 225.67 sq mi (584.5 km2) and has a population of 2,070,463.
Greater Accra Metropolitan Area
Main article: Neighborhoods of Accra
The Ring Road, extending from the Korle Lagoon in the west, north to Kwame Nkrumah Circle, following east to the juncture of Independence Avenue, and continuing on to Osu, forms a ring around the oldest districts of Accra, and separates central Accra from the outlying suburbs.
Central Accra includes the CBD, which consists of the historic districts of Usshertown, Tudu, Victoriaborg, West Ridge, and East Ridge, as well as the historic residential districts of Jamestown, Adabraka, Asylum Down, North Ridge and Christiansborg/Osu.
Although satellite business districts such as the Airport City have been established across the city, Central Accra remains the administrative and cultural centre of Accra, hosting government ministries, hotels, businesses, and financial institutions.
Central Accra's principal attractions include the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, the National Museum, Independence Square, the National Theatre, and the Ohene Djan Stadium.
Northern Accra is a residential and business district. The area contains the "37" Military Hospital, The Flagstaff House, several foreign embassies, Achimota School, Achimota Golf Park, and the University of Ghana's Legon campus, which serves as Accra's northern boundary.
Geographically, the areas north of Ring Road West and Central, east of Winneba/Graphic Road, west of Liberation Road, and the districts just north and south of the Kwame Nkrumah motorway are regarded as Northern Accra.
Eastern Accra is largely residential and geographically north of Ring Road East, stretching as far north as Kwame Nkrumah Motorway; the district is bordered to the west by Liberation Road.
Western Accra is largely a residential and business area. Whilst geographically less expansive than the northern and eastern reaches of the city as a result of the large saltponds of Tettegu and Aplaku, it nonetheless boasts one of Accra's most important landmarks, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Geographically, the areas west of Ring Road West, extending as far west as the saltponds and south of Graphic Road, are considered Accra West.
The period between 1960 and 1970 saw rapid industrialisation and expansion in Accra's manufacturing and commercial sectors. This contributed to high rural-urban migration to the city, and consequently a high population growth rate. The stagnation of the Ghanaian economy during the 1970s slowed the growth of Accra's population, as shown by the falling growth rate of the 1970–1984 intercensal years. Later, however, the decline in agriculture in rural communities in Ghana and rising industrialisation in urban regions, coupled with the late-1980s boom in the service sector, once again propelled immigration to Accra. The primacy of the Accra Metropolitan Area as the Greater Accra region's administrative, educational, industrial and commercial centre continues to be the major force for its population growth, with immigration contributing to over 35% of the Accra's population growth.