Today we know the country of the Republic of Ghana as a small country in West Africa, which achieved independence in 1957, and is currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world (estimated growth of 20% in 2011 alone).
But what of the history of Ghana?
The country is named after the Ghana Empire which existed until the mid 13th century. However, the modern country was made up of the Gold Coast and British Togoland and was home to the Ashanti Empire, whereas the Ghana Empire itself existed in an area where we now have Mauritania, Mali and Senegal and the nearest it got to modern Ghana was about 500 miles north of the present country.
The word Ghana itself means “Warrior King” and the name Guinea is derived from this word as well. Another name for the ancient Ghana Empire was Wagadou or Ouagadou, and more often the longer name was used Ouagadougou which means “where people get honour and respect”, this is used by Burkina Faso as the name for their capital city, though the territory of Burkina Faso is also outside the area ruled by the Ghana Empire.
The reason for the links in the name is probably down to the theory that the Ashanit Empire itself was made up of migrants from the Ghana Empire after it’s demise in the 13th century, though this is based mostly on linguistic similarities than any written evidence.
So instead of the Republic of Ashanti, we now have the Republic of Ghana.