If an award were given for the country with the friendliest people in West Africa, Ghana would be a strong contender. Spend a few hours in the breezy capital at Accra, and you'll swear the wind and waves off the Gulf of Guinea have infused the land and people alike with equatorial warmth.
Even Ghanaians might admit that Accra's not the most beautiful place, but it's theirs. For a country that's borne the brutality of colonisation - from the stripping of its mineral wealth to the enslaving of its people - Ghana retains a remarkable sense of self.
Its craftspeople have a long, rich cultural history to draw from, and their work is thick with that tradition - be it the colourful kente cloth of the Ashanti or any of the stools, icons, beads or baskets you'll find in the major markets. Even the leftover forts and castles, recalling five centuries of European influence, today seem less like Ghana's ghosts than players in her narrative.
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Off the beaten track