Northern Ghana is the most poor and traditional part of the country. It is subdivided in three regions: Northern Region, Upper East Region and Upper West Region. Northern Ghana is substantially less densely populated than south Ghana. Also the soil is less fertile and the level of education lower. Due to that, illiteracy is relatively high and the people who speak English are few in number.
The underdevelopment in the north compared with the south applies mostly to small villages. Then again, in cities like Tamale the underdevelopment is evident too.
This difference in development is due to several reasons. The less fertile northern savanna soil is one reason. The distance to the sea is another reason. Historically the people from the north were not so fortunate to be able to negotiate with Europeans. On top of that the Ashanti kingdom has ruled for centuries in this part of Africa and taken advantage of the surrounded tribes.
A last reason to be mentioned is the predominance of religion. Due to religious convictions and tradition girls are often not sent to school, hence the low level of education of girls.
Ghana is situated in west Africa, just north of the equator at the Gulf of Guinea. It is bordered by french-speaking countries Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo. According to African standards Ghana is a small country, about 7 times the size of the Netherlands.
Ghana is mostly flat. Mountains with a maximum altitude of 1000m can only be found in the central and eastern part of the country. The country is overall divided into two main zones: the humid tropical forests in the south and the dry savanna forests in the north.
The south part of the country was naturally covered with tropical rainforest, but many of this forest has been cut. Nowadays forests only cover one third of the total earthsurface. The northern savanna in Ghana exists of dry grassland and less dense, low forsests. Ghana has the largest artificial lake of the world: Lake Volta. This lake arose due to the construction of a weir in the Volta river and is very important for the supply of energy.
Some three hours driving up north from Tamale and just in range of the border with Burkina Faso lies Navrongo, which literally means: “where the foot hits the dry earth”.
Navrongo’s population is 20,000, the town forms the economic and administrative centre of the Kassena-Nankanii District in the Upper West Region of Ghana.
The atmosphere in Navrongo is very friendly, almost as if it were a small village. Facilities are limited and the pace of life is slow. The inhabitants in the region mainly live from farming. The Navrongo market, held every third day, is an essential part of daily life. The town plays a major role, accomodating many schools and even a department of the University of Development Studies. Navrongo is predominantly catholic, which is rather remarcable in the mainly islamic north of Ghana. The town even knows a real cathedral, built in 1966.