The name Ghana is derived from the Ghanaian Empire, or Wagadou as they called it. This empire was located somewhat further north in the Sahel zone. It existed between the 8th and 11th centuries and was an important regional economic power. This empire existed until the Almoravid leader and propagator of Islam Abu Bakr ibn Umar seized the capital in 1076.

After the fall of the empire, part of the Akan peoples, such as the Ashanti and the Fante, emigrated to the south. Several states were founded, such as the Ashanti federation and some Fante states. Most of the area was unified in the 16th century under the Ashanti confederation. At first this was a loose alliance of states, but later it became a centralized state, with a high degree of bureaucracy around Kumasi.

The first contact between the local tribes and the Europeans took place in 1470. The Europeans called the area the “Gold Coast”. In the 17th century, the Dutch also came to the country; in 1598 they received permission to open a trading post at Moore, later Fort Nassau. In 1637, Fort Elmina was captured from the Portuguese and for many years was the center of the Dutch presence on the Gold Coast. The fort remained in Dutch hands until 1872.

In the nineteenth century, the British invaded Ghana and after having fought a battle, the inhabitants of what would later become Ghana had to admit defeat in 1901. The area was given the status of a British colony, known as the Gold Coast.

On March 6, 1957, colonial rule came to an end and it was renamed Ghana. Kwame N’krumah became the first Prime Minister; making it the first colonized country in Africa to regain its independence. On July 1, 1960, the country became a republic with Kwame Nkrumah as president, but remained a member of the British Commonwealth. However, the non-aligned leftist Nkrumah was overthrown by Colonels Afrifa and Kotoka during a state visit to North Vietnam and China on February 24, 1966 in a CIA-backed [source?] coup. Afrifa was briefly head of state from 1968 to 1969, but in the 1970s military regimes alternated with unsuccessful civilian governments.

On June 4, 1979, a left-wing military coup led by a young Air Force Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings followed. Initially, the military only oversaw the civilian government, but in 1981 it seized full power and Rawlings became president. His policies had a positive effect on economic recovery and he was popular with ordinary Ghanaians despite his lack of respect for human rights. Rawlings provided a constitution and a restoration to a democratic system. From December 29, 1992, Ghana became a democracy with Rawlings as elected president.

In 2000, Rawlings was unable to run for office because he had already served two terms as president. His successor was the leader of the largest opposition party, John Agyekum Kufuor, who also served two terms. In 2009, John Atta Mills became the democratically elected president of Ghana. However, Atta Mills passed away during his first presidential term and was succeeded by John Dramani Mahama.

The current president since the last election in 2016 is Nana Akufo-Addo.