Accra

Accra
Downtown Accra
Downtown Accra
Accra is located in Ghana
Accra
Accra
Accra is located in Africa
Accra
Accra
Coordinates: 5°33′N 0°12′W / 5°33′N 0°12′W / 5.550; -0.200
Sovereign stateGhana
RegionGreater Accra Region
Districts
Settled15th century
Area
 • City of Accra60 km2 (23 sq mi)
 • Urban225.67 km2 (87.13 sq mi)
 • Metro894 km2 (345 sq mi)
Elevation
61 m (200 ft)
Population
 (2010)[4]
 • City of Accra1,665,086
 • Urban
2,270,000
 • Metro
4,300,000[3]
Demonym(s)Accran
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
Postcode districts
GA, GL, GZ
Area code(s)030

Accra ɑː/ is the capital and largest city of Ghana, covering an area of 225.67 km2 (87.13 sq mi) with an estimated urban population of 2.27 million as of 2012.[5] It is organized into 12 local government districts – 11 municipal districts and the Accra Metropolitan District, which is the only district within the capital to be granted city status.[6][7][8] "Accra" usually refers to the Accra Metropolitan Area, which serves as the capital of Ghana, while the district which is within the jurisdiction of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly is distinguished from the rest of the capital as the "City of Accra".[9] In common usage, however, the terms "Accra" and "City of Accra" are used interchangeably.

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.

Formed from the merger of distinct settlements around British Fort James, Dutch Fort Crêvecoeur (Ussher Fort), and Danish Fort Christiansborg as Jamestown, Usshertown, and Christiansborg respectively, Accra served as the capital of the British Gold Coast between 1877 and 1957 and has since transitioned into a modern metropolis. The capital's architecture reflects this history, ranging from 19th-century colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers and apartment blocks.[10]

Accra is the Greater Accra Region's economic and administrative hub, and serves as the anchor of the larger Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA),[11] which is inhabited by about 4 million people, making it the thirteenth-largest metropolitan area in Africa. Strategic initiatives, such as transportation, are coordinated between the local government authorities, while the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, based in West Ridge, is responsible for the administration of the 60 km2 (23 sq mi) City of Accra only.

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.

In 2010, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network think tank designated Accra as a Gamma level world city, indicating a growing level of international influence and connectedness.[12]

Etymology

The word Accra is derived from the Akan word Nkran meaning "ants", a reference to the numerous anthills seen in the countryside around Accra.[13] The name specifically refers to soldier ants, and was applied to both the town and people by the Twi speakers.[14][15]

The name of Accra in the local 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 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.[14]

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.[16]

The name Ga is actually a cognate of the name Akan, one of a few words in which [g] corresponds to [k] in Akan.[17] Ga also gave its name to the Ga districts surrounding Accra.[18]

The spelling Accra was given to Nkran by Europeans.[18] An earlier spelling used by the Danes was Akra.[19][20]