Accra, the capital of GHANA, lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Gold Coast in West Africa. It is the commercial, educational, governmental, and cultural center of Ghana, the hub of the country's road and rail system, and the site of the Kotoka International Airport. The population is over 1.6 million.
The Portuguese, the first Europeans to visit the region, arrived in the early 1500s. They were followed in the 1600s by the Dutch and the British, who built two forts used in the SLAVE TRADE. The forts later grew into the city of Accra. Under the British, the city was the capital of the Gold Coast, which became Ghana in 1957. Present-day Accra is sharply divided into modern sectors and shantytowns.
Industries in Accra include brewing and distilling, fish and fruit canning, clothing, shoes, and pharmaceutical products. The city has an ocean port, but Tema, to the east, surpasses it in importance. Accra is home to the University of Ghana as well as schools for communications, science, and technology. The national museum and archives and the National Theater are all located in the city. In addition, live music performances, movie theaters, and facilities for visitors have contributed to a growing tourist industry in Accra. (See also Tourism.)