1. It is Africa’s second-largest gold producer
In 2016, Ghana produced 90 tons of gold; only South Africa – with 140 tons – produced more gold on the continent. The gold mining industry accounts for five percent of the country’s GDP. Other minerals that it produces include bauxite, manganese, and diamonds. During the colonial period, Ghana was known as the Gold Coast, because of the abundance of the mineral there.

2. It was one of Africa’s first independent countries
Ghana became independent from the United Kingdom in 1957. Initially Queen Elizabeth II was the head of state, but following a referendum in 1960, nearly 90% of Ghanaians voted for the country to become a republic. Kwame Nkrumah, who was the first Prime Minister of Ghana, subsequently became its first President. The only other independent countries in sub-Saharan Africa at the time were Ethiopia, Liberia, and South Africa.

3. Its democracy is the fourth-strongest in Africa
Ghana has the fourth-strongest democracy in Africa, after Mauritius, Botswana, and South Africa. That’s according to the Democracy Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (a subsidiary of the respected newspaper, The Economist). The Heritage Foundation, an American think-tank, ranks Ghana as one of only eight countries in Africa which can be described as ‘free’. The country is noted for its free press, a vibrant civil-society sector, and political maturity.

4. It has the world’s biggest man-made lake
Lake Volta is the biggest man-made lake in the world, by surface area and fourth-biggest by volume. It covers nearly 4% of Ghana’s surface area. The lake was formed with the construction of the Akosombo Dam, which began in 1961, and was completed in 1965. Nearly 80 000 people had to be moved because of the formation of the large body of water.

5. Why its national flag features a black star
The Black Star Line was a shipping company established by the Pan-African intellectual and thinker, Marcus Garvey. Garvey, who had been born in Jamaica, established the shipping line in 1919 to facilitate the return of African-Americans and other members of the African diaspora to Africa, but the company collapsed in 1922. In homage to Garvey and his vision, Ghana placed a black star on its flag. The nickname of the Ghanaian national football team is also the Black Stars.

See also: Five things you didn’t know about…the DRC