A country of western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea. It was inhabited in precolonial times by a number of ancient kingdoms, including an inland Ashanti kingdom and various Fante states along the coast. Trade with European states flourished after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the British established a crown colony, Gold Coast, in 1874. Ghana became independent in 1957. Accra is the capital and the largest city. Population: 16,944,000.