10 Things You Didn’t Know About Accra

Accra has a culture and history as ancient and fascinating as any European capital. Myriad influences have molded it into the place it is today — a sprawling metropolis that stretches across beaches and delta, which holds many stories and secrets in its dusty, bustling streets. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Accra, Ghana

web dubois

Courtesy of Library of Congress

W.E.B. Dubois is buried there

The famous American sociologist and Pan-Africanist Dubois spent his last few years living in Accra. Unfortunately he passed away in 1963 at the age of 95. He was buried in Accra near his home that now serves as the Du Bois Memorial Centre — a must-see if you’re in the city.

Earthquakes almost destroyed the city

Like San Francisco, large earthquakes almost destroyed the city — multiple times no less. In 1862, a 6.5 earthquake rocked the city and almost every stone building in the city tumbled to the ground. Other major earthquakes took a toll on the city in the years of 1906 and 1939. There hasn’t been a major earthquake since, but the “big one” should be on people’s minds.

It served as the capital of the British Gold Coast

From 1877 to 1957, Accra served as the capital of the British Gold Coast, a period of almost 80 years. At the time, the city was rather small and just a suburb of Victoriaborg.

It’s an extremely young city

The population in Accra is one of the youngest in the world. 56% of the entire population is currently under 24 years old and the trend towards a young population shows no signs of stopping.

osu castle

Stig Nygaard / Wikimedia Commons

The capital building is a castle

The seat of government for Accra is located inside of a massive building called Osu Castle. The castle was built in the 1660’s by Danish settlers and has served as the center of the area’s government for centuries.

ant hill ghana


The city’s name is derived from ants

The name of the city, Accra, comes from the Akan word ‘nkran,’ meaning ants. This is a reference to all of the anthills that can be seen in the surrounding areas around Accra.

The area used to be home to Ga villages

The modern day site of Accra used to be home to several villages of the Ga tribe. The Ga people farmed the area for hundreds of years before colonial settlers came into the area.

Cocoa helped the city grow fast

Accra owes quite a bit of it’s growth to the cocoa trade. In 1908, the Accra-Kumasi railway was built that connected the largest port (Accra) with one of the country’s main growing regions (Kumasi). It took until 1923 to build the railway, but in another year, cocoa was already the largest export in Ghana.

It’s one of the hottest cities in Africa

While cities like Cairo get scorching hot during the summer, they usually cool off during winter. This is not the case in Accra, and the city averages highs of 81F(27C) and above the entire year. The all-time record low is only 59F(15C).

Its growth is fueled by high immigration

The population in Accra continues to swell, largely due to the influx of people from Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Over 35% of Accra’s population growth is due to new immigrants moving into the city.

More from AFKTravel:

10 Things That Surprise Foreigners About Ghana

VIDEO: A Master Kente Cloth Weaver In Ghana

Travel Tip: How To Get Around In Ghana

This article was originally published September 8, 2015.

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