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Ghana, country of western Africa, situated on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.Although relatively small in area and population, Ghana is one of the leading countries of Africa, partly because of its considerable natural wealth and partly because it was the first black African country south of the Sahara to achieve independence from colonial rule.The only extensive areas of young rocks less than about 136 million years old are in the wide, lagoon-fringed delta of the Volta, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Accra, and in the extreme southwest of the country, along the Axim coast.In the east the predominant rocks are less than 65 million years old, though there is a patch of Cretaceous sediments (about 65 to 145 million years old) near the Ghana-Togo border.Direct sea trade with Europe, established in the 15th century, had much impact on the area’s inhabitants, many of whom actively traded with the Portuguese, Dutch, British, and other Europeans.

Most of the remainder of the country consists of Paleozoic deposits (about 250 to 540 million years old), which are thought to rest on older rocks.Along the north and south, and to some extent along the west, the uplifted edges of the basin give rise to narrow plateaus between 1,000 and 2,000 feet (300 and 600 metres) high, bordered by impressive scarps.The most outstanding are the Kwahu (Mampong) Scarp ( Kwahu Plateau) in the south and the Gambaga Scarp in the north.The highest points in Ghana are found there, including Mount Afadjato (2,903 feet [885 metres]), Mount Djebobo (2,874 feet [876 metres]), and Mount Torogbani (2,861 feet [872 metres]), all situated east of the Volta River near the Togo border.These ranges are part of the Accra Plains, which are underlain by some of the oldest Precambrian rocks known—mostly gneisses (coarse-grained rocks in which bands containing granular minerals alternate with bands containing micaceous minerals); in places they rise above the surface to form inselbergs (prominent steep-sided hills left after erosion).

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Along the coast are numerous lagoons, most of them formed at the mouths of small streams.