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Ghana

Ghana

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Coordinates7°49′N 1°03′W

Republic of Ghana
Motto: “Freedom and Justice”

Anthem: God Bless Our Homeland Ghana

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Location of Ghana
Capital
and largest city
Accra
5°33′N 0°12′W
Official languages English[1][2]
Recognised national languages
Ethnic groups
(2010[2][3])
Demonym(s) Ghanaian
Government
Nana Akufo-Addo
Mahamudu Bawumia
Legislature Parliament
Independence from the United Kingdom
6 March 1957
1 July 1960
28 April 1992
Area
• Total
239,567 km2 (92,497 sq mi) (80th)
• Water (%)
4.61 (11,000 km; 4,247 mi2)
Population
• 2016 estimate
28,308,301[4] (45th)
• 2010 census
24,200,000[5]
• Density
101.5/km2 (262.9/sq mi) (103rd)
GDP (PPP) 2020 estimate
• Total
$226 billion[6]
• Per capita
$7,343[6]
GDP (nominal) 2020 estimate
• Total
$69.757 billion[6]
• Per capita
$2,266[6]
Gini (2012) 42.4[7]
medium
HDI (2018) Increase 0.596[8]
medium · 142nd
Currency Ghanaian cedi (GHS)
Time zone UTC (GMT)
Driving side right
Calling code +233
ISO 3166 code GH
Internet TLD .gh

Ghana (/ˈɡɑːnə/ (About this soundlisten)), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the westBurkina Faso in the northTogo in the east, and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.[9]

The first permanent state in the territory of present-day Ghana dates back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti.[10] Beginning in the 15th century, the Portuguese Empire, followed by numerous other European powers, contested the area for trading rights, until the British ultimately established control of the coast by the late 19th century. Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. It became independent of the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957.[11][12][13]

Ghana’s population of approximately 30 million[14] spans a variety of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups.[4] According to the 2010 census, 71.2% of the population was Christian, 17.6% was Muslim, and 5.2% practised traditional faiths.[15] Its diverse geography and ecology ranges from coastal savannahs to tropical rain forests.

Ghana is a unitary constitutional democracy led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government.[16] Ghana’s growing economic prosperity and democratic political system have made it a regional power in West Africa.[17] It is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Group of 24 (G24) and the Commonwealth of Nations.[18]

Etymology[edit]

The etymology of the word Ghana means “warrior king” and was the title accorded to the kings of the medieval Ghana Empire in West Africa, but the empire was further north than the modern country of Ghana, in the region of Guinea.[19]

History[edit]

16th-century Akan Terracotta, Metropolitan Museum of Art

An 1850 map showing the Akan Kingdom of Ashanti within the Guinea region and surrounding regions in West Africa

18th-century Ashanti brass kuduo. Gold dust and nuggets were kept in kuduo, as were other items of personal value and significance. As receptacles for their owners’ kra, or life force, kuduo were prominent features of ceremonies designed to honor and protect that individual.

Medieval kingdoms[edit]

Ghana was already recognized as one of the great kingdoms in Bilad el-Sudan by the ninth century.[20]

Ghana was inhabited in the Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery by a number of ancient predominantly Akan kingdoms in the Southern and Central territories. This included the Ashanti Empire, the Akwamu, the Bonoman, the Denkyira, and the Mankessim Kingdom.[21]

Although the area of present-day Ghana in West Africa has experienced many population movements, the Akans were firmly settled by the 5th century CE.[22][23] By the early 11th century, the Akans were firmly established in the Akan state called Bonoman, for which the Brong-Ahafo Region is named.[22][24]

From the 13th century, Akans emerged from what is believed to have been the Bonoman area, to create several Akan states of Ghana, mainly based on gold trading.[25] These states included Bonoman (Brong-Ahafo Region), Ashanti (Ashanti Region), Denkyira (Western North region), Mankessim Kingdom (Central region), and Akwamu (Eastern region).[22] By the 19th century, the territory of the southern part of Ghana was included in the Kingdom of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-saharan Africa prior to the onset of colonialism.[22]

The Kingdom of Ashanti government operated first as a loose network, and eventually as a centralised kingdom with an advanced, highly specialised bureaucracy centred in the capital city of Kumasi.[22] Prior to Akan contact with Europeans, the Akan people created an advanced economy based on principally gold and gold bar commodities then traded with the states of Africa.[22][26]

The earliest known kingdoms to emerge in modern Ghana were the Mole-Dagbani states.[22] The Mole-Dagomba came on horseback from present-day Burkina Faso under a single leader, Naa Gbewaa.[27] With their advanced weapons and based on a central authority, they easily invaded and occupied the lands of the local people ruled by the Tendamba (land god priests), established themselves as the rulers over the locals, and made Gambaga their capital.[28] The death of Naa Gbewaa caused civil war among his children, some of whom broke off and founded separate states including DagbonMampruguMossiNanumba and Wala.[29][30]

European contact (15th century)[edit]

The Portuguese established the Portuguese Gold Coast with the construction of Elmina Castle (Castelo da Mina) by Diogo de Azambuja in 1482, making it the oldest European building in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Akan trade with European states began after contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century.[31] Early European contact by the Portuguese people, who came to the Gold Coast region in the 15th century to trade and then established the Portuguese Gold Coast (Costa do Ouro), focused on the extensive availability of gold.[32] The Portuguese built a trading lodge at a coastal settlement called Anomansah (the perpetual drink) which they renamed São Jorge da Mina.[32]

In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Don Diego d’Azambuja to build the Elmina Castle, which was completed in three years.[32] By 1598, the Dutch had joined the Portuguese in the gold trade, establishing the Dutch Gold Coast (Nederlandse Bezittingen ter Kuste van Guinea) and building forts at Fort Komenda and Kormantsi.[33] In 1617, the Dutch captured the Olnini Castle from the Portuguese, and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony).[33]

Other European traders had joined in gold trading by the mid-17th century, most notably the Swedes, establishing the Swedish Gold Coast (Svenska Guldkusten), and Denmark-Norway, establishing the Danish Gold Coast (Danske Guldkyst or Dansk Guinea).[34] Portuguese merchants, impressed with the gold resources in the area, named it Costa do Ouro or Gold Coast.[34] Also beginning in the 17th century — in addition to the gold trade — Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French traders also participated in the Atlantic slave trade in this area.[35]

The first Anglo-Ashanti war, 1823–31

More than thirty forts and castles were built by the PortugueseSwedishDano-NorwegiansDutch and German merchants; the latter Germans establishing the German Gold Coast (Brandenburger Gold Coast or Groß Friedrichsburg).[36] In 1874 Great Britain established control over some parts of the country, assigning these areas the status of British Gold Coast.[37] Many military engagements occurred between the British colonial powers and the various Akan nation-states. The Akan Kingdom of Ashanti defeated the British a few times in the 100-year-long Anglo-Ashanti wars but eventually lost with the War of the Golden Stool in the early 1900s.[38][39][40]

Transition to independence[edit]

Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana

A postage stamp of Gold Coast overprinted for Ghanaian independence in 1957
File:Ghana (1957-03-07 A New Nation).ogv
Celebrations marking Ghana’s independence on 6 March 1957

In 1947, the newly formed United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) led by “The Big Six” called for “self-government within the shortest possible time” following the Gold Coast legislative election, 1946.[34][41] Kwame Nkrumah was the first Prime Minister of Ghana and the first President of Ghana and formed the Convention People’s Party (CPP) with the motto “self-government now”.[34]

Nkrumah won a majority in the Gold Coast legislative election, 1951 for the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly in 1952. Nkrumah was appointed leader of the Gold Coast’s government business.[34] The Gold Coast region declared independence from the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957 and established the nation of Ghana.[11][12][13]

On 6 March 1957 at 12 am. Nkrumah declared Ghana’s establishment and autonomy. On 1 July 1960, following the Ghanaian constitutional referendum and Ghanaian presidential election, Nkrumah declared Ghana as a republic as the first President of Ghana.[34] 6 March is the nation’s Independence Day and 1 July is now celebrated as Republic Day.[42][43]

At the time of independence Nkrumah declared, “My first objective is to abolish from Ghana poverty, ignorance, and disease. We shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and by the quality of their education; by the availability of water and electricity in our towns and villages; and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs. The welfare of our people is our chief pride, and it is by this that the government will ask to be judged.”.[44]

The flag of Ghana, consisting of the colours red, gold, green, and a black star, became the new flag in 1957 when Gold Coast gained its name Ghana.[45] It was designed by Theodosia Salome Okoh; the red represents the blood that was shed towards independence, the gold represents the industrial minerals wealth of Ghana, the green symbolises the rich grasslands of Ghana, and the black star is the symbol of the Ghanaian people and African emancipation.[46]

Nkrumah was the first African head of state to promote the concept of Pan-Africanism, which he had been introduced to during his studies at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania in the United States, at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his “Back to Africa Movement”.[34] Nkrumah merged the teachings of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the naturalised Ghanaian scholar W. E. B. Du Bois into the formation of 1960s Ghana.[34]

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, as he became known, played an instrumental part in the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement, and in establishing the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute to teach his ideologies of communism and socialism.[47] His life achievements were recognised by Ghanaians during his centenary birthday celebration, and the day was instituted as a public holiday in Ghana (Founder’s Day).[48]

Operation Cold Chop and aftermath[edit]

The government of Nkrumah was subsequently overthrown by a coup by the Ghana Armed Forces codenamed “Operation Cold Chop”. This occurred while Nkrumah was abroad with Zhou Enlai in the People’s Republic of China, on a fruitless mission to Hanoi in Vietnam to help end the Vietnam War. The coup took place on 24 February 1966, led by Col. Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka. The National Liberation Council (NLC) was formed, chaired by Lt. General Joseph A. Ankrah.[49]

A series of alternating military and civilian governments, often affected by economic instabilities,[50] ruled Ghana from 1966 to 1981, ending with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in 1981.[51] These changes resulted in the suspension of the Constitution of Ghana in 1981, and the banning of political parties in Ghana.[52] The economy soon declined, so Rawlings negotiated a structural adjustment plan changing many old economic policies, and economic growth soon recovered during the mid-1980s.[52] A new Constitution of Ghana restoring multi-party system politics was promulgated in Ghanaian presidential election, 1992; Rawlings was elected as president of Ghana then, and again in Ghanaian general election, 1996.[53]

21st century[edit]

Traditional chiefs in Ghana in 2015

Winning the 2000 Ghanaian electionsJohn Agyekum Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was sworn into office as president of Ghana on 7 January 2001, and attained the presidency again in the 2004 Ghanaian elections, thus also serving two terms (the term limit) as president of Ghana and thus marking the first time under the fourth republic that power was transferred from one legitimately elected head of state and head of government to another.[53]

Nana Akufo-Addo, the ruling party candidate, was defeated in a very close election by John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) following the Ghanaian presidential election, 2008.[54][55]. Mills died of natural causes and was succeeded by vice-president John Dramani Mahama on 24 July 2012.[56]

Following the Ghanaian presidential election, 2012, John Dramani Mahama became President-elect and was inaugurated on 7 January 2013.[57] Ghana was a stable democracy.[53]

As a result of the Ghanaian presidential election, 2016,[58] Nana Akufo-Addo became President-elect and was inaugurated as the fifth President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and eighth President of Ghana on 7 January 2017.[59]

Historical timeline[edit]

Nana Akufo-Addo John Dramani Mahama John Atta Mills John Kufuor Jerry Rawlings Jerry Rawlings Hilla Limann Jerry Rawlings Fred Akuffo Ignatius Acheampong Edward Akufo-Addo Nii Amaa Ollennu Akwasi Afrifa Joseph Arthur Ankrah Kwame Nkrumah

Geography and geology[edit]

Ghana is located on the Gulf of Guinea, only a few degrees north of the Equator, therefore giving it a warm climate.[60] Ghana spans an area of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), and has an Atlantic coastline that stretches 560 kilometres (350 miles) on the Gulf of Guinea in Atlantic Ocean to its south.[60] It lies between latitudes 4°45’N and 11°N, and longitudes 1°15’E and 3°15’W. The Prime Meridian passes through Ghana, specifically through the industrial port town of Tema.[60] Ghana is geographically closer to the “centre” of the Earth geographical coordinates than any other country; even though the notional centre, (0°, 0°) is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 614 km (382 mi) off the south-east coast of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea. Grasslands mixed with south coastal shrublands and forests dominate Ghana, with forest extending northward from the south-west coast of Ghana on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean 320 kilometres (200 miles) and eastward for a maximum of about 270 kilometres (170 miles) with the Kingdom of Ashanti or the southern part of Ghana being a primary location for mining of industrial minerals and timber.[60]

Ghana encompasses plainswaterfalls, low hills, rivers, Lake Volta, the world’s largest artificial lake, Dodi Island and Bobowasi Island on the south Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana.[61] The northernmost part of Ghana is Pulmakong and the southernmost part of Ghana is Cape Three Points.[60]

Climate[edit]

The climate of Ghana is tropical and there are two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

Government[edit]

Parliament House of Ghana seat of the Government of Ghana, the Supreme Court of Ghana and Judiciary of Ghana buildings, Osu Castle is the de facto residence of presidency and The Flagstaff House is the official residence and presidential palace.

First President of the Republic of Ghana Nkrumah and presidents of the 4th Republic of Ghana RawlingsKufuorMills and Mahama.

Ghana is a unitary presidential constitutional democracy with a parliamentary multi-party system. Ghana alternated between civilian and military governments until January 1993, when the military government gave way to the Fourth Republic of Ghana after presidential and parliamentary elections in late 1992. The 1992 constitution of Ghana divides powers among a Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces (President of Ghana), parliament (Parliament of Ghana), cabinet (Cabinet of Ghana), council of state (Ghanaian Council of State), and an independent judiciary (Judiciary of Ghana). The Government of Ghana is elected by universal suffrage after every four years.[63]

Nana Akufo-Addo won the Presidency in the Ghanaian general election held on 7 December 2016, defeating incumbent John Mahama. He was sworn in on 7 January 2017.

The 2012 Fragile States Index indicated that Ghana is ranked the 67th least fragile state in the world and the 5th least fragile state in Africa after Mauritius, 2nd Seychelles, 3rd Botswana, and 4th South Africa. Ghana ranked 112th out of 177 countries on the index.[64] Ghana ranked as the 64th least corrupt and politically corrupt country in the world out of all 174 countries ranked and Ghana ranked as the 5th least corrupt and politically corrupt country in Africa out of 53 countries in the 2012 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.[65][66] Ghana was ranked 7th in Africa out of 53 countries in the 2012 Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African government, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens.[67] Nkrumah was a Ghanaian nationalist leader who led the country from 1957 to 1966. Nkrumah’s political journey started when he entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1935. He graduated with master’s degrees from Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania. He formed the Convention Peoples’ Party. The party initiated a “positive action” campaign involving non-violent protests, strikes and non-cooperation with the British authorities. Nkrumah was arrested and sentenced to one year imprisonment during this time. In the Gold Coast’s February 1951 general election, he was elected to Parliament and released from prison to become leader of government business. He became Prime Minister of the Gold Coast in 1952s leadership was authoritarian but he improved the infrastructure of the country and his Africanisation policies created better career opportunities for Ghanaians. He was deposed in a coup in 1966.

Foreign relations[edit]

Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat and United Nations Secretary-General 1997–2006

Since independence, Ghana has been devoted to ideals of nonalignment and is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Ghana favours international and regional political and economic co-operation, and is an active member of the United Nations and the African Union.[68]

Ghana has a strong relationship with the United States. Three recent US presidents–Bill ClintonGeorge W. Bush, and Barack Obama—made diplomatic trips to Ghana. Many Ghanaian diplomats and politicians hold positions in international organisations, including Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, International Criminal Court Judge Akua Kuenyehia, and former President Jerry John Rawlings and former President John Agyekum Kuffour, who both served as diplomats of the United Nations.[63]

In September 2010, Ghana’s former President John Atta Mills visited China on an official visit. Mills and China’s former President Hu Jintao, marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations, at the Great Hall of the People on 20 September 2010.[69] China reciprocated with an official visit in November 2011, by the Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of ChinaZhou Tienong who visited Ghana and met with Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama.[70]

The Islamic Republic of Iran and the 6th President of IranMahmoud Ahmadinejad met with the 12th President of GhanaJohn Dramani Mahama on 16 April 2013 to hold discussions with President John Dramani Mahama on strengthening the Non-Aligned Movement and also co–chair a bilateral meeting between Ghana and Iran at the Ghanaian presidential palace Flagstaff House.[71][72][73][74][75] The Government of Ghana reciprocated with an official state visit on 5 August 2013 by the Vice-President of GhanaKwesi Amissah-Arthur, who met with the Vice-President of Iran, Eshaq Jahangiri on the basis of autarky and possible bilateral trade at the Islamic Republic of Iran‘s presidential palaceSa’dabad Palace.[76]

Law enforcement and police[edit]

The Ghana Police Service (GPS) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are the main law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Ghana, and are responsible for the detection of crime, maintenance of law and order and the maintenance of internal peace and security.[77] The Ghana Police Service has eleven specialised police units including a Militarized police Rapid deployment force (RDF) and Marine Police Unit (MPU).[78][79] The Ghana Police Service operates in 12 divisions: ten covering the ten regions of Ghana, one assigned specifically to the seaport and industrial hub of Tema, and the twelfth being the Railways, Ports and Harbours Division.[79] The Ghana Police Service’s Marine Police Unit and Division handles issues that arise from the country’s offshore oil and gas industry.[79]

The Ghana Prisons Service and the sub-division Borstal Institute for Juveniles administers incarceration in Ghana.[80] Ghana retains and exercises the death penalty for treason, corruption, robbery, piracy, drug trafficking, rape, and homicide.[81][82] 27 convicts (all men) were sentenced to death in Ghana in 2012 and the Ghana Prisons Service statistics of the total number of convicts sentenced to death in Ghana as of December 2012 was 162 men and 4 women,[81] with a total prison inmate population of 13,983 convicts as of 22 July 2013.[83] “The new sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations call for the international community to come together to promote the rule of law; support equal access to justice for all; reduce corruption; and develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels.”[84]

Ghanaian Drug War and The Narcotic Control Board[edit]

Ghana is among the sovereign states of West Africa used by drug cartels and drug traffickers (shown in orange).

Ghana is used as a key narcotics industry transshipment point by traffickers, usually from South America as well as some from other African nations.[85] “West Africa is completely weak in terms of border control and the big drug cartels from Colombia and Latin America have chosen Africa as a way to reach Europe.”[86]

There is not a wide or popular knowledge about the narcotics industry and intercepted narcotics within Ghana itself, due to the industry’s operations and involvement in the underground economy. The social context within which narcotic trafficking, storage, transportation, and repacking systems exist in Ghana and the state’s location along the Gulf of Guinea within the Atlantic Ocean – only a few degrees north of the Equator – makes Ghana an attractive country for the narcotics business.[85][87]

The Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) has impounded container ships at the Sekondi Naval Base in the Takoradi Harbour. These ships were carrying thousands of kilograms of cocaine, with a street value running into billions of Ghana cedis. However, drug seizures saw a decline in 2011.[85][87]

Drug cartels are using new methods in narcotics production and narcotics exportation, to avoid Ghanaian security agencies.[85][87] Underdeveloped institutions, porous open borders, and the existence of established smuggling organisations contribute to Ghana’s position in the narcotics industry.[85][87] John Atta Mills, president between 2009 and 2012, initiated ongoing efforts to reduce the role of airports in Ghana’s drug trade.[85]

Military[edit]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inspects Honor Guards mounted by the Ghana Air Force at the Flagstaff House the Presidential Palace of Ghana in Greater Accra on 1 March 2016.

In 1957, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) consisted of its headquarters, support services, three battalions of infantry and a reconnaissance squadron with armoured vehicles.[88] Ghanaian Prime Minister and President Kwame Nkrumah aimed at rapidly expanding the GAF to support the United States of Africa ambitions. Thus in 1961, 4th and 5th Battalions were established, and in 1964 6th Battalion was established, from a parachute airborne unit originally raised in 1963.[89]

Today, Ghana is a regional power and regional hegemon.[17] In his book Shake Hands with the DevilCanadian Forces commander Roméo Dallaire highly rated the GAF soldiers and military personnel.[88]

The military operations and military doctrine of the GAF are conceptualised on the Constitution of Ghana, Ghana’s Law on Armed Force Military Strategy, and Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) agreements to which GAF is attestator.[90][91][92] GAF military operations are executed under the auspices and imperium of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) Minister for Defence.[90][93]

Although Ghana is relatively peaceful and is often considered to be one of the least violent countries in the region, Ghana has experienced political violence in the past and 2017 has thus far seen an upward trend in incidents motivated by political grievances.[94]

In 2017, Ghana signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.[95]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Ghana is divided into 10 (now 16) administrative regions, sub-divided into 275 districts:[96][97][98]

 

Human rights[edit]

Homosexual acts are prohibited by law in Ghana.[99] According to 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, 96% of Ghanaians believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.[100] Sometimes old women in Ghana are accused of witchcraft, particularly in rural Ghana. Issues of witchcraft mainly remain as speculations based on superstitions within families. In some parts of northern Ghana, there exists what are called witch camps. This is said to house a total of around 1,000 people accused of witchcraft.[101] The Ghanaian government has announced that it intends to close the camps.[101]

While women in Ghana are given equal rights under the constitution of Ghana, disparities in education, employment, and healthcare for women remain prevalent.

Economy[edit]

Key sectors[edit]

Ghana petroleum and commoditiesexports in percentage.

Ghana is an average natural resource enriched country possessing industrial mineralshydrocarbons and precious metals. It is an emerging designated digital economy with mixed economy hybridisation and an emerging market with 8.7% GDP growth in 2012. It has an economic plan target known as the “Ghana Vision 2020”. This plan envisions Ghana as the first African country to become a developed country between 2020 and 2029 and a newly industrialised country between 2030 and 2039.[clarification needed] This excludes fellow Group of 24 member and Sub-Saharan African country South Africa, which is a newly industrialised country.[102] Ghana’s economy also has ties to the Chinese yuan renminbi along with Ghana’s vast gold reserves. In 2013, the Bank of Ghana began circulating the renminbi throughout Ghanaian state-owned banks and to the Ghana public as hard currency along with the national Ghana cedi for second national trade currency.[103] Between 2012 and 2013, 37.9 percent of rural dwellers were experiencing poverty whereas only 10.6 percent of urban dwellers were.[104] Urban areas hold greater opportunity for employment, particularly in informal trade, while nearly all (94 percent) of rural poor households participate in the agricultural sector.[105]

The state-owned Volta River Authority and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation are the two major electricity producers.[106] The Akosombo Dam, built on the Volta River in 1965, along with Bui DamKpong Dam, and several other hydroelectric dams provide hydropower.[107][108] In addition, the Government of Ghana has sought to build the second nuclear power plant in Africa.

The Ghana Stock Exchange is the 5th largest on continental Africa and 3rd largest in sub-saharan Africa with a market capitalisation of GH¢ 57.2 billion or CN¥ 180.4 billion in 2012 with the South Africa JSE Limited as first.[109] The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) was the 2nd best performing stock exchange in sub-saharan Africa in 2013.[110]

Ghana also produces high-quality cocoa.[111] It is the 2nd largest producer of cocoa globally,[111][112] and was projected to become the world’s largest producer of cocoa in 2015.[113]

Ghana is classified as a middle income country.[6][114] Services account for 50% of GDP, followed by manufacturing (24.1%), extractive industries (5%), and taxes (20.9%).[106]

Manufacturing[edit]

The Ghana economy is an emerging digital-based mixed economy hybrid with an increasing primary manufacturing and export of digital technology goods along with assembling and exporting automobiles and ships, diverse resource rich exportation of industrial minerals, agricultural products primarily cocoa, petroleum and natural gas,[115] and industries such as information and communications technology primarily via Ghana’s state digital technology corporation Rlg Communications which manufactures tablet computers with smartphones and various consumer electronics.[106][116]

Petroleum and natural gas production[edit]

Jubilee oil field of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and National Petroleum Authority located off the coast of the Western Region in Ghana in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Ghana produces and exports an abundance of hydrocarbons such as sweet crude oil and natural gas.[117][118] The 100% state-owned filling station company of Ghana, Ghana Oil Company (GOIL) is the number 1 petroleum and gas filling station of Ghana and the 100% state-owned state oil company Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) oversees hydrocarbon exploration and production of Ghana’s entire petroleum and natural gas reserves. Ghana aims to further increase output of oil to 2.2 million barrels (350,000 m3) per day and gas to 34,000,000 cubic metres (1.2×109 cu ft) per day.[119]

Ghana’s Jubilee Oilfield which contains up to 3 billion barrels (480,000,000 m3) of sweet crude oil was discovered in 2007, among the many other offshore and inland oilfields in Ghana.[120] Ghana is believed to have up to 5 billion barrels (790,000,000 m3) to 7 billion barrels (1.1×109 m3) of petroleum in reserves,[121] which is the fifth largest in Africa and the 21st to 25th largest proven reserves in the world. It also has up to 1.7×1011 cubic metres (6×1012 cu ft) of natural gas in reserves,[122] which is the sixth largest in Africa and the 49th largest natural gas proven reserves in the world. Oil and gas exploration off Ghana’s eastern coast on the Gulf of Guinea is ongoing, and the amount of both crude oil and natural gas continues to increase. The Government of Ghana has drawn up plans to nationalise Ghana’s entire petroleum and natural gas reserves to increase government revenue.[123]

Industrial minerals mining[edit]

Known for its industrial minerals, Ghana is the world’s 7th largest producer of gold; producing over 102 metric tons of gold and the 10th largest producer of gold in the world in 2012; producing 89 metric tons of gold. Ghana is the 2nd largest producer of gold on the Africa continent behind South Africa.[124] Ghana has the 9th largest reserves, and is the 9th largest producer, of diamonds in the world.[citation needed] Industrial minerals and exports from South Ghana are gold, silver, timber, diamonds, bauxite, and manganese. South Ghana also has great deposits of baritebasaltclaydolomitefeldspargranitegravelgypsum, iron ore, kaolinlateritelimestonemagnesitemarblemicaphosphatesphosphorusrocks, salts, sandsandstone, silver, slatetalc, and uranium that are yet to be fully exploited.[125] The Government of Ghana has drawn up plans to nationalise Ghana’s entire mining industry to increase government revenues.[126][127]

Real estate[edit]

villa in East Ridge

The real estate and housing market of Ghana has become an important and strategic economic sector, particularly in the urban centres of south Ghana such as Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi and Tema.[128][129][130] Kumasi is growing at a faster rate than Accra, and there is less competition in its real estate market.[128] The gross rental income tax of Ghana is withheld at 10%, capital gains are taxed at 15% with a 5% gift tax imposed on the transfer of properties and Ghana’s real estate market is divided into 3 areas: public sector real estate development, emerging private sector real estate development, and private individuals.[128][129] The activities of these 3 groups are facilitated by the Ghanaian banks and the primary mortgage market which has demonstrated enormous growth potential.[129] Recent developments in the Ghanaian economy has given birth to a boom in the construction sector, including the housing and public housing sector generating and injecting billions of dollars annually into the Ghanaian economy.[128][129] The real estate market investment perspective and attraction comes from Ghana’s tropical location and robust political stability.[128][129] An increasing number of the Ghanaian populace are investing in properties and the Ghana government is empowering the private sector in the real estate direction.[128][129]

Trade and exports[edit]

Ghana Export Treemap by Product (2017) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity[131]

In July 2013, International Enterprise Singapore opened its 38th global office in Accra, to develop trade and investment on logistics, oil and gas, aviation, transportation and consumer sectors.[132] Singapore and Ghana also signed four bilateral agreements to promote public sector and private sector collaboration, as Ghana aims to predominantly shift its economic trade partnership to East Asia and Southeast Asia.[132] The economic centre is IE Singapore‘s second office in Africa, coming six months after opening in Johannesburg, South Africa in January 2013.[132] Ghana’s labour force in 2008 totalled 11.5 million Ghanaian citizens.[133][134] Tema Harbour is Africa’s largest manmade harbour and Takoradi Harbour along with Tema harbour in Ghana handles goods and exports for Ghana. They are also traffic junctions where goods are transhipped; the Tema harbour handles the majority of the nation’s export cargo and most of the country’s chief exports is shipped from Takoradi harbour.[135][136] The Takoradi harbour and Tema harbour are operated by the state-owned Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority.[135][136]

Electricity generation sector[edit]

Severe shortages of electricity in 2015 & 2016 led to dumsor (persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outages),[137] increasing the interest in renewables.[138] As of 2019, there is now a surplus of electricity which now presents a new set of financial challenges.[139]

Economic transparency[edit]

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index of 2018, out of 180 countries, Ghana was ranked 78th, with a score of 41 on a scale where a 0–9 score means highly corrupt, and a 90–100 score means very clean. This was based on perceived levels of public sector corruption.[140]

In 2013, out of 177 countries, Ghana was ranked 63rd with Cuba and Saudi Arabia with a score of 46.[141] Previously in 2012, the country ranked 64 and scored 45. Thus, Ghana’s public sector scored lower in 2013 than in 2012, according to CPI’s scores.

Local reports have claimed that Ghana loses US$4.5 billion annually from nominal gross domestic product (Nominal GDP) growth as a result of economic corruption and economic crime by the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Ghana led by John Dramani Mahama.[142] It is also said Ghana has lost an additional US$2.5 billion from nominal gross domestic product (Nominal GDP) growth between the months of January 2013 to October 2013 through economic corrupt practices under the Mahama administration.[143]

The incumbent president is however seen to be fighting corruption by some government members,[144] and a fellow politician of an opposition party,[145] after ordering investigations into scandals. Nonetheless others believe his actions are not sufficient in some cases.[146]

John Addo Kufuor, son of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, and Kojo Annan, son of former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, have been named in association with the Panama Papers.[147]

Science and technology[edit]

Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to launch a cellular mobile network (1992). It was one of the first countries in Africa to be connected to the internet and to introduce ADSL broadband services.[148]

Space and satellite programmes[edit]

The Ghana Space Science and Technology Centre (GSSTC) and Ghana Space Agency (GhsA) oversee the space exploration and space programmes of Ghana. GSSTC and GhsA worked to have a national security observational satellite launched into orbit in 2015.[149][150] The first practical step in its endeavor was a CanSat launched on 15 May 2013, a space programme spearheaded by the All Nations University College (ANUC) in Koforidua. The CanSat was deployed 200 metres (660 feet) high from a helium-filled balloon and took some aerial images as well as temperature readings. As its next step in advancing space science and satellite technology in the sub-region, an amateur ground station has been designed and built by the university. It has successfully tracked and communicated with several (amateur) radio satellites in orbit including the International Space Station, receiving slow-scan TV images on 18 and 20 December 2014. The miniaturized earth observational satellite is to be launched into orbit in 2017.[151]

Ghana’s annual space exploration expenditure has been 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP), to support research in science and technology. In 2012, Ghana was elected to chair the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (Comsats); Ghana has a joint effort in space exploration with South Africa’s South African National Space Agency (SANSA).[149]

Cybernetics and cyberwarfare[edit]

The use of computer technology for teaching and learning began to receive government of Ghana‘s attention from the late 1990s.[152] The information and communications technology in education policy of Ghana requires the use of information and communications technology for teaching and learning at all levels of the education of Ghana system.[152] The Ministry of Education (MOE) supports institutions in teaching of information and communications technology literacy.[152] Majority of secondary, and some basic schools of Ghana have computer laboratories.[152]

Ghana’s intention to become the information technology hub of West Africa has led the government of Ghana to enact cyber crime legislation and enhance cyber security practices.[153] Acting on that goal, in 2008 Ghana passed the Electronic Communications Act and the Electronic Transactions Act, which established the legal framework for governing information technology.[153] In November 2011, the Deputy Minister for Communications and Technology announced the development of a national cyber security strategy, aimed at combating cyber crime and securing critical infrastructure.[153]

In June 2012, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) announced a national computer emergency response team “strategy” designed to co-ordinate government response to cyberattacks, both internal and external.[153] The agency also established computer emergency response teams for each municipal, metropolitan, and district assembly to improve co-ordination and information-sharing on cyberspace threats.[153] Ghana is ranked 2nd on continental Africa and 7th globally in cyber warfarecyberterrorismcyber crime, and internet crime.[154]

Health and biotechnology[edit]

The Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine is an agency of the Ministry of Health that was set up in the 1970s for both R&D and as a practical resource (product production & distribution/provision) primarily in areas of biotechnology related to medicinal plants. This includes both herbal medicine and work on more advanced applications. It also has a secondary role as an educational resource for foreign students in health, biotechnology and related fields.

Education[edit]

Overview[edit]

Ghanaian education system is divided in three parts:Basic Education, secondary cycle and tertiary education. “Basic Education” lasts 11 years (ages 4‒15).[155] It is divided into Kindergarten (2 years), Primary School (2 module of 3 years) and Junior High (3 years). Junior High School (JHS) ends with the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).[155][156] Once the BECE achieved, the pupil can pursue into secondary cycle.[157] Hence, the pupil has the choice between general education (assumed by Senior High School) and vocational education (assumed by technical Senior High School, Technical and Vocational Institutes, completed by a massive private and informal offer). Senior High School lasts three years and ends on the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The WASSCE is prerequisite to be enrolled into a university bachelor’s degree programme.[158] Polytechnics are opened to vocational students, from SHS or from TVI.[159]

A Bachelor’s degree usually lasts 4 years, can be followed by a 1- or 2-year master’s degree, which can be concluded in 3 years by a PhD[160] A polytechnic lasts 2 or 3 years.[159] Ghana also possesses numerous colleges of education.[161] The Ghanaian education system from Kindergarten up to an undergraduate degree level takes 20 years.[162]

The academic year usually goes from August to May inclusive.[163] The school year in primary education lasts 40 weeks in Primary School and SHS, and 45 weeks in JHS.[164]

Enrollment[edit]

Ratio of females to males in education system.
Females and males out of education system.

With over 95% of its children in school, Ghana currently has one of the highest school enrollment rates in all of Africa.[165][166] The ratio of females to males in the total education system was 0.98, in 2014.[167]

Foreign students[edit]

Ghana’s education system annually attracts a large number of foreign students particularly in the university sector.[168][169]

Funding of education[edit]

The government largely funds basic education comprising public primary schools and public junior high schools. Senior high schools were subsidised by the government until September 2017/2018 academic year that senior high education became free.[170] At the higher education level, the government funds more than 80% of resources provided to public universities, polytechnics and teacher training colleges.

As part of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education, Fcube, the government supplies all basic education schools with all their textbooks and other educational supplies like exercise books. Senior high schools are also provided with all their textbook requirement by the government. Private schools acquire their educational material from private suppliers.[171]

Kindergarten and education structure[edit]

Education structure of Ghana

The female and male ages 15–24 years literacy rate in Ghana was 81% in 2010, with males at 82%,[172] and females at 80%.[173]

Ghanaian children begin their education at the age of three or four starting from kindergarten (nursery school and preschool), then to elementary school (primary school), high school (junior high school and senior high school) and finally university. The average age at which a Ghanaian child enters primary school is 6 years.[165]

Ghana has a free education 6-year primary school education system beginning at age six,[174] and, under the educational reforms implemented in 1988 and reformed in 2007, they pass on to a 3-year junior high school system. At the end of the third year of junior high, there is a mandatory “Basic Education Certificate Examination“. Those continuing must complete the 4-year senior high school programme (which has been changed to three years) and take an admission exam to enter any university or tertiary programme. The Ghanaian education system from nursery school up to an undergraduate degree level takes 20 years.[162]

In 2005, Ghana had 12,130 primary schools, 5,450 junior secondary schools, 503 senior secondary schools, 21 public training colleges, 18 technical institutions, two diploma-awarding institutions and 6 universities.[175][176]

In 2010, there were relatively more females (53.0%) than males (40.5%) with primary school and JSS (junior secondary school) / JHS (junior high school) as their highest level of education.[2]

Elementary[edit]

The Ghanaian Ministry of Education and the Ghanaian National Accreditation Board provide free education at the elementary school (primary school) level, and most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to high school education (junior high school and senior high school).[174] These numbers can be contrasted with the single university and handful of secondary and primary schools that existed at the time of independence in 1957. Ghana’s spending on education has varied between 28–40% of its annual budget in the past decade. All teaching is done in English, mostly by qualified Ghanaian educators.[162]

The courses taught at the primary or basic school level include English, Ghanaian language and culture, mathematics, environmental studies, social studies, Mandarin and French as an OIF associated-member,[177] integrated or general science, pre-vocational skills and pre-technical skills, religious and moral education, and physical activities such as Ghanaian music and dance, and physical education.[162]

High school[edit]

The senior high level school curriculum has core subjects and elective subjects of which students must take four the core subjects of English language, mathematics, integrated science (including science, agriculture and environmental studies) and social studies (economics, geography, history and government).[162]

High school students also choose four elective subjects from five available programmes: agriculture programme, general programme (arts or science option), business programmevocational programme and technical programme.[162] Apart from most primary and secondary schools which choose the Ghanaian system of schooling, there are also international schools such as the Takoradi International School, Tema International School, Galaxy International School, The Roman Ridge School, Lincoln Community School, Faith Montessori School, American International School, Alpha Beta Christian CollegeGhana Christian International High School, Association International School, New Nation School, SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, Vilac International School, Akosombo International School (which offers Cambridge O level certificate), North Legon Little Campus and International Community School, which offer the International BaccalaureatAdvanced Level General Certificate of Education and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).[175]

University[edit]

Front view of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) North Campus in Winneba
Main entrance to the University of Ghana‘s Balme Library in Accra

There are eight national public universities in Ghana: the University of GhanaKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyUniversity of Cape CoastUniversity of EducationUniversity for Development StudiesUniversity of Mines and TechnologyUniversity of Professional Studies, AccraUniversity of Energy and Natural Resources, and University of Health and Allied Sciences.[178]

Ghana has a growing number of accredited private universities including Lancaster University, GhanaGhana Technology University CollegeAshesi University CollegeMethodist University College GhanaCentral University CollegeAccra Institute of TechnologyRegent University College of Science and TechnologyValley View University, Catholic University College, Presbyterian university college, and Zenith University College.[179]

The oldest university in Ghana, the University of Ghana, was founded in 1948. It had 29,754 students in 2008. Its programmes in the arts, humanities, business, and the social sciences, as well as medicine, are among the best in the country[180].[citation needed] Many universities—including Harvard UniversityCornell University, and Oxford University—have special study-abroad programmes with Ghanaian schools and provide their students the opportunity to study abroad at Ghanaian universities. New York University has a campus in Accra.[181]

The University of Ghana has seen a shift of its traditionally best students to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.[182] Since Ghana’s independence, the country has been one of the most educational in sub-Saharan Africa. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been chancellor of the University of Ghana since 2008.[182]

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the second university to be established in the country, is the premier university of science and technology in Ghana and West Africa.[162]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1950 5,036,000
1960 6,635,000 +31.8%
1970 8,735,000 +31.7%
1980 11,056,000 +26.6%
1990 14,773,000 +33.6%
2000 19,279,000 +30.5%
2010 24,780,000 +28.5%
2019 30,418,000 +22.8%
source:[183][184]

Population pyramid 2016

Ghana is a multiethnic country.[2] The largest ethnic group is the Ashanti people. Ghana’s territorial area within West Africa was unoccupied and uninhabited by humans until the 10th century BC.[185] By the 10th century AD. The Guans were the first settlers in Ghana long before the other tribes came. Akans had established Bonoman (Brong Ahafo region) and were joined by the current settlers and inhabitants by the 16th century.

In 2010, the population of Ghana was 72.2% Christian (24.3% Pentecostal, 18.4% Protestant, 13.1% Catholic and 11.4% other). Approximately 18.6% of the population of Ghana are Muslim,[16] (51% Sunni, 16% Ahmadiyya, and 8% Shia).[186][187] Just over 10,000 Ghanaians practice Hinduism, with most of them being indigenous converts. Hinduism in Ghana was popularized by Swami Ghana Nanda ji, who opened several temples in the nation. The temple of Lord Shiva in Accra is one of the largest where there are celebrations to Ganesh Chaturthi, Rath Yatra, and other Hindu observations.

The Bahá’í religious community, established in Ghana in 1951, today includes more than 100 communities and over 50 local Bahá’í administrative councils, called Local Spiritual Assemblies.[188]

As of 2014, there are 375,000 registered legal skilled workers (permanent residents) or foreign workers/students (i.e. Ghana Card holders) inhabitants with an annually 1.5 million transited airport layovers. In its first post-colonial census in 1960, Ghana had a population of 6.7 million.[189] The median age of Ghanaian citizens is 30 years old and the average household size is 3.6 persons. The Government of Ghana states that the official language of Ghana is English,[1] and is spoken by 67.1% of the inhabiting population of Ghana.[2]

Population[edit]

Ghana Card (Ghanaian electronic ID Card) – obverse with chip

As of 22 June 2019, Ghana has a population of 30,083,000.[190] Around 29 percent of the population is under the age of 15, while persons aged 15–64 make up 57.8 percent of the population.[191] The Ashanti Region had the most, (Akan) (Ashanti) (4.7 million in Ashanti, 2.3 million in Brong-Ahafo, 2.2 million in Central, 2.6 million in Eastern, 2.3 million in Western, and 4 million in the seat of government in Greater Accra geographically and legally part of Eastern then administered separately on 23 July 1982).[186] As of 2010, 4.1 million persons reside in the Northern territories (2.4 million in Northern, 1 million in Upper East, and 0.7 million in Upper West).[186]

As of 2010, 2.1 million persons reside in Ewe territory Volta.[186]

Ethnic Groups in Ghana
Ethnic Groups percent
Akan
47.5%
Mole-Dagbani
16.6%
Ewe
13.9%
Ga-Dangme
7.4%
Gurma
5.7%
Guan
3.7%
Grusi
2.5%
Mande
1.1%
Other
1.4%

Immigration[edit]

Due to the recent legal immigration of skilled workers who possess Ghana Cards, there is a small population of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Middle Eastern and European nationals.

In 2010, the Ghana Immigration Service reported a large number of economic migrants and Illegal immigrants inhabiting Ghana: 14.6% (or 3.1 million) of Ghana’s 2010 population (predominantly Nigerians, Burkinabe citizens, Togolese citizens, and Malian citizens). In 1969, under the “Ghana Aliens Compliance Order” (GACO) enacted by the Prime Minister of Ghana Kofi Abrefa Busia;[192] Government of Ghana with BGU (Border Guard Unitdeported over 3,000,000 aliens and illegal immigrants in three months as they made up 20% of the population at the time.[192][193] In 2013, there was a mass deportation of illegal miners, more than 4,000 of them Chinese nationals.[194][195]

Languages[edit]

Ashanti greeting phrases; “akɔaba” (welcome) and “ɛte sɛn” (how is it?) in Ashanti Twi

English is the official language and lingua franca.[196][197]

Additionally, there are eleven languages that have the status of government-sponsored languages:

Of these, Akan is the most widely spoken.[200]

Since Ghana is surrounded by French-speaking countriesFrench is widely taught in schools and universities, as well as a language used for commercial and international economic exchanges. Since 2006, Ghana has been an associate member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie,[201] the global organisation that unites French-speaking countries (84 nations on 6 continents). In 2005, over 350 000 Ghanaian children studied French in schools. Since then, its status has progressively been updated to a mandatory language in every high school.[202]

Religion[edit]

Religious affiliation in Ghana
Affiliation 2000 Census[15] 2010 Census[15][203] 2014 DHS Survey[204][note 1]
Christian 68.8% 71.2% 76.9%
Pentecostal/Charismatic 24.1% 28.3% 36.3%
Protestant 18.6% 18.4% 13.5%[note 2]
Catholic 15.1% 13.1% 10.4%
Other Christian 11.0% 11.4% 16.7%
Muslim 15.9% 17.6% 16.4%
Traditional 8.5% 5.2% 2.6%[note 3]
None 6.1% 5.3% 4.3%
Other 0.7% 0.8% 0.0%
Notes
  1. ^ The DHS survey surveyed only those between the ages of 15 and 59
  2. ^ The DHS survey used Anglican/Methodist/Presbyterian in place of “Protestant”
  3. ^ The DHS survey combined “Traditional” with “Spiritualist”

Ghana is a largely Christian country, although a sizable Muslim minority exists. Traditional (indigenous) beliefs are also practiced.

Fertility and reproductive health[edit]

The fertility rate of Ghana declined from 3.99 (2000) to 3.28 (2010) with 2.78 in urban region and 3.94 in rural region.[205] The United Nations reports a fertility decline from 6.95 (1970) to 4.82 (2000) to 3.93 live births per woman in 2017.[206]

As of 2010, the maternal mortality rate was 350 deaths/100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate was 38.52 deaths/1,000 live births.[203]

According to a 2013 UNICEF report,[207] 4% of women in Ghana have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). The practice has been made illegal in the country.[208] Ghana is also the birth country of anti-FGM campaigner Efua Dorkenoo.

Crime[edit]

Crime in Ghana is investigated by the Ghana Police Service. Ghana had a murder rate of 1.68 per 100,000 population in 2011.[209]

Universal health care and life expectancy[edit]

Ghana has a universal health care system strictly designated for Ghanaian nationals, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).[210] Health care is very variable throughout Ghana and in 2012, over 12 million Ghanaian nationals were covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (Ghana) (NHIS).[211] Urban centres are well served, and contain most of the hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies in Ghana. There are over 200 hospitals in Ghana and Ghana is a destination for medical tourism.[212] In 2010, there were 0.1 physicians per 1,000 people and as of 2011, 0.9 hospital beds per 1,000 people.[191]

The 2014 estimate of life expectancy at birth had increased to an average of 65.75 years with males at 63.4 years and females at 68.2 years,[213] and in 2013 infant mortality decreased to 39 per 1,000 live births.[214] Sources vary on life expectancy at birth; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 62 years for men and 64 years for women born in 2016.[215]

There was an estimation of 15 physicians and 93 nurses per 100,000 persons in 2010.[216] 5.2% of Ghana’s GDP was spent on health in 2010,[217] and all Ghanaian citizens have the right to access primary health care.[218]

As of 2012, the HIV/AIDS prevalence was estimated at 1.40% among adults aged 15–49.[219]

Culture[edit]

Ghanaian culture is a diverse mixture of the practices and beliefs of many different Ghanaian ethnic groups. The 2010 census reported that the largest ethnic groups are the Akan (47.3 percent), the Mole-Dagbani (16.6 percent), the Ewe (13.9 percent), the Ga-Dangme (7.4 percent), the Gurma (5.7) and the Guan (3.7 percent).[205] The Akan make up a majority of the population in the Central (81.7 percent), Western (78.2 percent), Ashanti (74.2 percent), Brong Ahafo (58.9 percent) and Eastern (51.1 percent) regions.[205]

Food and drink[edit]

Ghanaian cuisine and gastronomy is diverse, and includes an assortment of soups and stews with varied seafoods and most Ghanaian soups are prepared with vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.[220] Fish is important in the Ghanaian diet with tilapia, roasted and fried whitebaitsmoked fish and crayfish all being common components of Ghanaian dishes.[220]

Banku (Akple) is a common Ghanaian starchy food made from ground corn (maize),[220] and cornmeal based staples, dokonu (kenkey) and banku (akple) are usually accompanied by some form of fried fish (chinam) or grilled tilapia and a very spicy condiment made from raw red and green chillies, onions and tomatoes (pepper sauce).[220] Banku and tilapia is a combo served in most Ghanaian restaurants.[220] Fufu is the most common exported Ghanaian dish in that it is a delicacy across the African diaspora.[220]

Literature[edit]

The Ghanaian national literature radio programme and accompanying publication Voices of Ghana was one of the earliest on the African continent. The most prominent Ghanaian authors are novelists; J. E. Casely HayfordAyi Kwei Armah and Nii Ayikwei Parkes, who gained international acclaim with the books, Ethiopia Unbound (1911), The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) and Tail of the Blue Bird (2009), respectively.[221] In addition to novels, other literature arts such as Ghanaian theatre and poetry have also had a very good development and support at the national level with prominent Ghanaian playwrights and poets Joe de Graft and Efua Sutherland.[221]

Adinkra[edit]

During the 13th century, Ghanaians developed their unique art of adinkra printing. Hand-printed and hand-embroidered adinkra clothes were made and used exclusively by the then Ghanaian royalty for devotional ceremonies. Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived from a proverb, a historical event, human attitude, ethologyplant life-form, or shapes of inanimate and man-made objects. These are graphically rendered in stylised geometric shapes. The meanings of the motifs may be categorised into aesthetics, ethics, human relations, and concepts.[221]

The Adinkra symbols have a decorative function as tattoos but also represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages that convey traditional wisdom, aspects of life or the environment. There are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs. In the words of Anthony Appiah, they were one of the means in a pre-literate society for “supporting the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief”.[222]

Traditional clothing[edit]

Along with the Adinkra cloth Ghanaians use many different cloth fabrics for their traditional attire.[223] The different ethnic groups have their own individual cloth. The most well known is the Kente cloth.[223] Kente is a very important Ghanaian national costume and clothing and these cloths are used to make traditional and modern Ghanaian Kente attire.[223]

Different symbols and different colours mean different things.[223] Kente is the most famous of all the Ghanaian cloths.[223] Kente is a ceremonial cloth hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom and strips measuring about 4 inches wide are sewn together into larger pieces of cloths.[223] Cloths come in various colours, sizes and designs and are worn during very important social and religious occasions.[223]

In a cultural context, kente is more important than just a cloth and it is a visual representation of history and also a form of written language through weaving.[223] The term kente has its roots in the Akan word kɛntɛn which means a basket and the first kente weavers used raffia fibres to weave cloths that looked like kenten (a basket); and thus were referred to as kenten ntoma; meaning basket cloth.[223] The original Akan name of the cloth was nsaduaso or nwontoma, meaning “a cloth hand-woven on a loom”; however, “kente” is the most frequently used term today.[223]

Modern clothing[edit]

Contemporary Ghanaian men’s fashion with Kente and other traditional styles
Contemporary Ghanaian women’s fashion with African print/Ankara and other fabrics

Contemporary Ghanaian fashion includes traditional and modern styles and fabrics and has made its way into the African and global fashion scene. The cloth known as African print fabric was created out of Dutch wax textiles, it is believed that in the late 1800s, Dutch ships on their way to Asia stocked with machine-made textiles that mimicked Indonesian Batik stopped at many West African ports on the way. The fabrics did not do well in Asia. However, in West Africa – mainly Ghana where there was an already established market for cloths and textiles – the client base grew and it was changed to include local and traditional designs, colours and patterns to cater to the taste of the new consumers.[224] Today outside of Africa it is called “Ankara” and it has a client base well beyond Ghana and Africa as a whole. It is very popular among Caribbean peoples and African Americans; celebrities such as Solange Knowles and her sister Beyoncé have been seen wearing African print attire.[225] Many designers from countries in North America and Europe are now using African prints and it has gained a global interest.[226] British luxury fashion house Burberry created a collection around Ghanaian styles.[227] American musician Gwen Stefani has repeatedly incorporated African prints into her clothing line and can often be seen wearing it.[228] Internationally acclaimed Ghanaian-British designer Ozwald Boateng introduced African print suits in his 2012 collection.[229]

Music and dance[edit]

File:Traditional Adowa dance form and music performance.ogv

Traditional Adowa dance form and music performance.

The music of Ghana is diverse and varies between different ethnic groups and regions. Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments such as the talking drum ensembles, Akan Drumgoje fiddle and koloko lute, court music, including the Akan Seperewa, the Akan atumpan, the Ga kpanlogo styles, and log xylophones used in asonko music.[230] The most well known genres to have come from Ghana are African jazz, which was created by Ghanaian artist Kofi Ghanaba,[231] and its earliest form of secular music, called highlife.[230] Highlife originated in the late 19th century and early 20th century and spread throughout West Africa.[230] In the 1990s a new genre of music was created by the youth incorporating the influences of highlife, Afro-reggae, dancehall and hiphop.[230] This hybrid was called hiplife.[230] Ghanaian artists such as “Afro Roots” singer, activist and songwriter Rocky Dawuni, R&B and soul singer Rhian Benson and Sarkodie have had international success.[232][233] In December 2015, Rocky Dawuni became the first Ghanaian musician to be nominated for a Grammy award in the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album category for his 6th studio album titled Branches of The Same Tree[234] released 31 March 2015.

Ghanaian dance is as diverse as its music, and there are traditional dances and different dances for different occasions.[235] The most known Ghanaian dances are those for celebrations. These dances include the AdowaKpanlogoAzonto, Klama, Agbadza, Borborbor and Bamaya.[235]

Film[edit]

Popular actor of Ghanaian ancestryVan Vicker, and international actors Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba

Ghana has a budding and thriving film industry. Ghana’s film industry dates as far back as 1948 when the Gold Coast Film Unit was set up in the Information Services Department.[236] Some internationally recognised films have come from Ghana. In 1970, I Told You So was one of the first Ghanaian films to receive international acknowledgement and received great reviews from The New York Times.[237] It was followed by the 1973 Ghanaian and Italian production The African Deal also known as “Contratto carnale” featuring Bahamian American actor Calvin Lockhart.[238] 1983’s Kukurantumi: the Road to Accra, a Ghanaian and German production directed by King Ampaw, was written about by famous American film critic Vincent Canby.[239] In 1987, Cobra Verde, another Ghanaian and German production directed by Werner Herzog, received international acclamation and in 1988, Heritage Africa won more than 12 film awards.

In recent times there have been collaborations between Ghanaian and Nigerian crew and cast and a number of productions turned out. Many Ghanaian films are co-produced with Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, and some are distributed by Nigerian marketers. Also, Nigerian filmmakers often feature Ghanaian actors and actresses in their movies and Ghanaian filmmakers feature Nigerian actors and actresses in theirs. Nadia BuariYvonne NelsonLydia Forson and Jackie Appiah all popular Ghanaian actresses and Van Vicker and Majid Michel both popular Ghanaian actors, have starred in many Nigerian movies. As a result of these collaborations, Western viewers often confuse Ghanaian movies with Nollywood and count their sales as one; however, they are two independent industries that sometimes share Nollywood. In 2009, Unesco described Nollywood as the second-biggest film industry in the world after Bollywood.[240]

Media[edit]

Ghana mass media, news and information provided by television.

The media of Ghana are amongst the most free in Africa. Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of the press and independence of the media, while Chapter 2 prohibits censorship.[241] Post-independence, the government and media often had a tense relationship, with private outlets closed during the military governments and strict media laws that prevented criticism of government.[242]

Press freedoms were restored in 1992, and after the election in 2000 of John Agyekum Kufuor the tensions between the private media and government decreased. Kufuor supported press freedom and repealed a libel law, but maintained that the media had to act responsibly.[243] The Ghanaian media has been described as “one of the most unfettered” in Africa, operating with little restriction. The private press often carries criticism of government policy.[244]

Sports[edit]

Black Stars, the Ghana national football team.

Association football (or soccer) is the top spectator sport in Ghana and the national men’s football team is known as the Black Stars, with the under-20 team known as the Black Satellites.[245] Ghana has won the African Cup of Nations four times, the FIFA U-20 World Cup once, and has participated in three consecutive FIFA World Cups in 2006, 2010, and 2014.[245] In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ghana became the third African country to reach the quarter-final stage of the World Cup after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002.[246] Ghana national U-20 football team, known as the Black Satellites, is considered to be the feeder team for the Ghana national football team. Ghana is the first and only country on the Africa continent to be crowned FIFA U-20 World Cup Champions,[245] and two-time runners up in 1993 and 2001. The Ghana national U-17 football team known as the Black Starlets are two-time FIFA U-17 World Cup champions in 1991 and 1995, two-time runners up in 1993 and 1997.[247]

Black Stars goal celebration.

Ghanaian football teams Asante Kotoko SC and Accra Hearts of Oak SC are the 5th and 9th best football teams on the Africa continent and have won a total of five Africa continental association football and Confederation of African Football trophies; Ghanaian football club Asante Kotoko SC has been crowned two-time CAF Champions League winners in 19701983 and five-time CAF Champions League runners up, and Ghanaian football club Accra Hearts of Oak SC has been crowned 2000 CAF Champions League winner and two-time CAF Champions League runners up, 2001 CAF Super Cup champions and 2004 CAF Confederation Cup champions.[248] The International Federation of Football History and Statistics crowned Asante Kotoko SC as the African club of the 20th century.[248] There are several club football teams in Ghana that play in the Ghana Premier League and Division One League, both administered by the Ghana Football Association.[249]

Ghanaian winter sports Olympic team at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics

Ghana competed in the Winter Olympics in 2010 for the first time. Ghana qualified for the 2010 Winter Olympics, scoring 137.5 International Ski Federation points, within the qualifying range of 120–140 points.[250] Ghanaian skierKwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, nicknamed “The snow leopard“, became the first Ghanaian to take part in the Winter Olympics, at the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,[251] taking part in the slalom skiing.[252]

Ghana finished 47th out of 102 participating nations, of whom 54 finished in the Alpine skiing slalom.[253][254] Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong broke on the international skiing circuit, being the second black African skier to do so.[255]

Ghanaian athletes have won a total of four Olympics medals in thirteen appearances at the Summer Olympics, three in boxing, and a bronze medal in association football, and thus became the first country on the Africa continent to win a medal at association football.[256]

The country has also produced a number of world class boxers, including Azumah Nelson a three-time world champion and considered as Africa’s greatest boxer,[257][258] Nana Yaw Konadu also a three-time world champion,[258] Ike Quartey,[258] and Joshua Clottey.[258]

Ghana’s women’s football team won bronze at the Africa Women Cup of Nations 2016 edition in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The team beat South Africa 1–0.[259]

Ghana will host the 2023 African Games in Accra.

Cultural heritage and architecture[edit]

Accra, 2019

Accra, 2019

There are two types of Ghanaian traditional construction: the series of adjacent buildings in an enclosure around a common are common and the traditional round huts with grass roof.[260] The round huts with grass roof architecture are situated in the northern regions of Ghana (NorthernUpper East and Upper West regions), while the series of adjacent buildings are in the southern regions of Ghana (AshantiBrong-AhafoCentralEasternGreater Accra and Western regions).[260]

Ghanaian postmodern architecture and high-tech architecture buildings are predominant in the Ghanaian southern regions, while the Ghanaian heritage sites are most evident by the more than thirty forts and castles built in Ghana. Some of these forts are Fort William and Fort Amsterdam. Ghana has museums that are situated inside castles, and two are situated inside a fort.[261] The Military Museum and the National Museum organise temporary exhibitions.[261]

Ghana has museums that show a in-depth look at specific Ghanaian regions, there are a number of museums that provide insight into the traditions and history of their own geographical area in Ghana.[261] The Cape Coast Castle Museum and St. Georges Castle (Elmina Castle) Museum offer guided tours. The Museum of Science and Technology provides its visitors with a look into the domain of Ghanaian scientific development, through exhibits of objects of scientific and technological interest.[261]

National symbols[edit]

The tawny eagle appears on the coat of arms of Ghana.

The coat of arms depicts two animals: the tawny eagle (Aquila rapax, a very large bird that lives in the savannas and deserts;[262] 35% of Ghana’s landmass is desert, 35% is forest, 30% is savanna) and the lion (Panthera leo, a big cat); a ceremonial sword, a heraldic castle on a heraldic sea, a cocoa tree and a mine shaft representing the industrial mineral wealth of Ghana, and a five-pointed black star rimmed with gold representing the mineral gold wealth of Ghana and the lodestar of the Ghanaian people.[263] It also has the legend Freedom and Justice.[263]

The flag of Ghana consists of three horizontal bands (strips) of red (top), gold (middle) and green (bottom); the three bands are the same height and width; the middle band bears a five-pointed black star in the centre of the gold band, the colour red band stands for the blood spilled to achieve the nation’s independence: gold stands for Ghana’s industrial mineral wealth, and the color green symbolises the rich tropical rainforests and natural resources of Ghana.[45][263]

Tourism[edit]

In 2011, 1,087,000 tourists visited Ghana.[265] Tourist arrivals to Ghana include South Americans, Asians, Europeans, and North Americans.[266] The attractions and major tourist destinations of Ghana include a warm, tropical climate year-round, diverse wildlife, waterfalls such as Kintampo waterfalls and the largest waterfall in west Africa, Wli waterfalls, Ghana’s coastal palm-lined sandy beaches, caves, mountains, rivers, and reservoirs and lakes such as Lake Bosumtwi and the largest man-made lake in the world by surface area, Lake Volta, dozens of forts and castlesWorld Heritage Sites, nature reserves and national parks.[266]

The World Economic Forum statistics in 2010 showed that out of the world’s favourite tourist destinations, Ghana was ranked 108th out of 139 countries.[267] The country had moved two places up from the 2009 rankings. In 2011, Forbes magazine, published that Ghana was ranked the eleventh most friendly country in the world. The assertion was based on a survey in 2010 of a cross-section of travellers. Of all the African countries that were included in the survey, Ghana ranked highest.[267] Tourism is the fourth highest earner of foreign exchange for the country.[267] In 2017, Ghana ranks as the 43rd–most peaceful country in the world.[268]

To enter Ghana, it is necessary to have a visa authorised by the Government of Ghana. Travelers must apply for this visa at a Ghanaian embassy; this process can take approximately two weeks. By law, visitors entering Ghana must be able to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate.[269]

According to Destination Pride[270] – a data-driven search platform used to visualize the world’s LGBTQ+ laws, rights and social sentiment – Ghana’s Pride score is 22 (out of 100).[271]

Panorama view of Kakum National Park, located in the coastal environs of the Central region on the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, covers an area of 375 square kilometres (145 sq mi). Established in 1931 as a game reserve and nature reserve, it was gazetted as a national park only in 1992 after an initial survey of avifauna was conducted. The national park is covered with tropical rainforest.[272][273][274] Kakum National Park is the only national park in Africa with a canopy walkway, which is 350 metres (1,150 ft) long and connects seven canopy tree tops which provides access to the rainforests.[273][275]

Tourism Landmarks, National Border, Region and Terrestrial plain of the 4th Republic of Ghana
Coastal Plain AccraApamCape CoastElminaKakum National ParkKokrobiteNzulezoSekondi-TakoradiAda Foah The Gulf of Guinea coastal plain with the seat of government and capital city, several several castles and forts and the best preserved rainforest in Ghana
Ashanti-Kwahu KoforiduaKumasiObuasiSunyani Forested hills and the ancient Kingdom of Ashanti
Volta Basin Tamale massive and world’s largest Lake Volta, the river system that feeds it and Ghana eastern border crossing
Northern Plains WaBolgatangaMole National Park Savanna plains and north Ghana trade route and border crossing

Map of Ghana with national bordergeographical regions and terrestrial plains colour-coded

Settlements
Accra Seat of Government and Capital city.
Bolgatanga Paga Crocodile Pond location.
Cape Coast Cape Coast Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Elmina Coastal town with a quite harrowing fort Elmina Castle.
Koforidua Aburi Botanical Gardens location.
Kumasi Traditional centre of the Kingdom of Ashanti.
Obuasi The Earth‘s 9th largest gold mine location; and Mining town.
Sekondi-Takoradi Renowned surfing beaches such as Busua Beach,[264] and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Tamale Largest settlement in the Kingdom of Dagbon and gateway to Mole National Park.

See also[edit]

Uncategorized

Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle

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Elmina Castle
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Elmina Castle - Ghana.jpg
Official name Elmina Castle (St. George’s Castle / Fort St. Jorge)
Location ElminaCentral RegionGhana
Part of Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions
Criteria Cultural: (vi)
Reference 34-011
Inscription 1979 (3rd session)
Coordinates 5°04′57″N 1°20′53″WCoordinates5°04′57″N 1°20′53″W

Elmina Castle is located in Ghana

Elmina Castle
Location of Elmina Castle in Ghana

St. George Castle

Elmina Castle in the Blaeu-Van der Hem Atlas.

Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 as Castelo de São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine Castle), also known as Castelo da Mina or simply Mina (or Feitoria da Mina) in present-day ElminaGhana (formerly the Gold Coast). It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara.[1] First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, after an unsuccessful attempt to the same extent in 1596, and took over all of the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain.[2]

The Gold Coast, which is now Ghana, gained its independence in 1957 from Britain, and had control of the castle.[3] Elmina Castle is a historical site, and was a major filming location for Werner Herzog‘s 1987 drama film Cobra Verde. The castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.[4]

History[edit]

Pre-Portuguese[edit]

The people living along the West African coast at Elmina around the fifteenth century were presumably Fante. The Fante ethnicity bears an uncertain relationship to “Akan,” itself a word connoting originality from the root word, “kan”, to be first or original. Among their ancestors were merchants and miners trading gold into the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds from medieval times. The ancestors of the Akan-speakers of the forests however undoubtedly came from north of the forest.

The people on the West African coast were organized into numerous populations that were drawn according to kinship lines. Family was extremely important in society, and family heads were united in communities under a recognized local authority. Along the Gold Coast alone, more than twenty independent kingdom-states existed. Elmina lay between two different Fante kingdoms, Fetu and Eguafo. West Africans nurtured ancient connections to other parts of the world. Common metals trade, iconic artistic forms, and agricultural borrowing show that trans-Saharan and regional coastal connections thrived. The Portuguese in 1471 were the first Europeans to visit the Gold Coast as such, but not necessarily the first sailors to reach the port.

Portuguese arrival[edit]

Amina.jpg Lázaro Luis 1563.jpg
Two 16th-century maps of the west African coast, showing A mina (the mine)

The Portuguese first reached what became known as the Gold Coast in 1471. Prince Henry the Navigator first sent ships to explore the African coast in 1418. The Portuguese had several motives for voyaging south. They were attracted by rumors of fertile African lands that were rich in gold and ivory. They also sought a southern route to India so as to circumvent Arab traders and establish direct trade with Asia. In line with the strong religious sentiments of the time, another focus of the Portuguese was Christian proselytism. They also sought to form an alliance with the legendary Prester John, who was believed to be the leader of a great Christian nation somewhere in Africa.

These motives prompted the Portuguese to develop the Guinea trade. They made gradual progress down the African coast, each voyage reaching a point further along than the last. After fifty years of coastal exploration, the Portuguese finally reached Elmina in 1471, during the reign of King Afonso V. However, because Portuguese royalty had lost interest in African exploration as a result of meager returns, the Guinea trade was put under the oversight of the Portuguese trader, Fernão Gomes. Upon reaching present day Elmina, Gomes discovered a thriving gold trade already established among the natives and visiting Arab and Berber traders. He established his own trading post, and it became known to the Portuguese as “A Mina” (the Mine) because of the gold that could be found there.

Construction of the castle[edit]

Elmina Castle viewed from the sea in 1572, by Georg Braun. Notice Portuguese ships in the foreground and African houses/town shown the in left-hand corner and in various areas around the fort.

Trade between Elmina and Portugal grew throughout the decade following the establishment of the trading post under Gomes. In 1481, the recently crowned João II decided to build a fort on the coast in order to ensure the protection of this trade, which was once again held as a royal monopoly. King João sent all of the materials needed to build the fort on ten caravels and two transport ships. The supplies, which included everything from heavy foundation stones to roof tiles, were sent, in pre-fitted form, along with provisions for six hundred men. Under the command of Diogo de Azambuja, the fleet set sail on 12 December 1481 and arrived at Elmina, in a village called Of Two Parts[5] a little over a month later, on 19 January 1482. Some historians note that Christopher Columbus was among those to make the voyage to the Gold Coast with this fleet.

Upon arrival, Azambuja contracted a Portuguese trader, who had lived at Elmina for some time, to arrange and interpret an official meeting with the local chief, Kwamin Ansah (interpreted from the Portuguese, “Caramansa“). Concealing his self-interest with elegant manners and friendliness, Azambuja told the chief of the great advantages in building a fort, including protection from the very powerful king of Portugal. During the meeting, Azambuja and Chief Kwamin Ansah both participated in a massive peace ritual that included a feast, musicians, and many participants, both Portuguese and native.[5] Chief Kwamin Ansah, while accepting Azambuja, as he had any other Portuguese trader who arrived on his coast, was wary of a permanent settlement. However, with firm plans already in place, the Portuguese would not be deterred. After offering gifts, making promises, and hinting at the consequences of noncompliance, the Portuguese finally received Kwamin Ansah’s reluctant agreement.

When construction began the next morning, the chief’s reluctance was proved to be well-founded. In order to build the fort in the most defensible position on the peninsula, the Portuguese had to demolish the homes of some of the villagers, who consented only after they had been compensated. The Portuguese also tried to quarry a nearby rock that the people of Elmina, who were animists, believed to be the home of the god of the nearby River Benya. Prior to the demolition of the quarry and homes, Azambuja sent a Portuguese crew member, João Bernaldes with gifts to deliver to Chief Kwamin Ansah and the villagers. Azambuja sent brass basins, shawls, and other gifts in hopes of winning the goodwill of the villagers, so they would not be upset during the demolition of their homes and sacred rocks. However, João Bernaldes did not deliver the gifts until after construction began, by which time the villagers became upset upon witnessing the demolition without forewarning or compensation.[5] In response to this, the local people forged an attack that resulted in several Portuguese deaths. Finally, an understanding was reached, but continued opposition led the Portuguese to burn the local village in retaliation. Even in this tense atmosphere, the first story of the tower was completed after only twenty days; this was the result of having brought so much prefabricated building materials. The remainder of the fort and an accompanying church were completed soon afterward, despite resistance.

Immediate impact[edit]

“The Castle of St. George d’Elmina, one side of it” in 1704.

The fort was the first prefabricated building of European origin to have been planned and executed in Sub-Saharan Africa. Upon its completion, Elmina was established as a proper city. Azambuja was named governor, and King João added the title “Lord of Guinea” to his noble titles. São Jorge da Mina took on the military and economic importance that had previously been held by the Portuguese factory at Arguim Island on the southern edge of the Moorish world. At the height of the gold trade in the early sixteenth century, 24,000 ounces of gold were exported annually from the Gold Coast, accounting for one-tenth of the world’s supply.

The new fort, signifying the permanent involvement of Europeans in West Africa, had a considerable effect on Africans living on the coast. At the urging of the Portuguese, Elmina declared itself an independent state whose Governor then took control of the town’s affairs. The people of Elmina were offered Portuguese protection against attacks from neighboring coastal tribes, with whom the Portuguese had much less genial relations (even though they were friendly with the powerful trading nations in the African interior.) If any locals attempted to trade with a nation other than Portugal, the Portuguese reacted with aggressive force, often by forming alliances with the betraying nation’s enemies. Hostility between groups increased, and the traditional organization of native societies suffered, especially after the Portuguese introduced them to fire-arms, which made the dominance of the stronger nations easier.

Trade with the Europeans helped make certain goods, such as cloth and beads, more available to the coastal people, but European involvement also disrupted traditional trade routes between coastal people and northern people by cutting out the African middlemen. The population of Elmina swelled with traders from other towns hoping to trade with the Portuguese, who gradually established a West-African monopoly.

West African Slave Trade[edit]

Elmina Castle Renovation, August 2006

From the outset, the Portuguese authorities determined that São Jorge da Mina would not engage directly in the slave trade, as they did not wish to disrupt the gold mining and trade routes of its hinterland with the wars necessary to capture free people and enslave them. Instead, the Portuguese had slaves shipped to São Jorge da Mina from elsewhere, notably the Slave Coast (Benin) and São Tomé. São Jorge da Mina served as a transshipment entrepôt.

By the seventeenth century, most trade in West Africa concentrated on the sale of slaves. São Jorge da Mina played a significant part in the West African Slave Trade. The castle acted as a depot where enslaved Africans were brought in from different Kingdoms in West Africa. The Africans, often captured in the African interior by the slave-catchers of coastal peoples, were sold to Portuguese and later to Dutch traders in exchange for goods such as textiles and horses.

In 1596, the Dutch made a first unsuccessful attempt at capturing the castle, succeeded by a successful one in 1637,[6] after which it was made the capital of the Dutch Gold Coast. During the period of Dutch control, new, smaller fortress were built on a nearby hill to protect St. George Castle from inland attacks; this fort was called Fort Coenraadsburg. The Dutch continued the triangular Atlantic slave route until 1814, when they abolished the slave trade, pursuant to the Anglo-Dutch Slave Trade Treaty. The slaves were held captive in the castle before exiting through the castle’s infamous “Door of No Return” to be transported and resold in newly colonized Brazil and other Portuguese colonies. Up to 1,000 male and 500 female slaves were shackled and crammed in the castle’s dank, poorly ventilated dungeons, with no space to lie down and very little light. Without water or sanitation, the floor of the dungeon was littered with human waste and many captives fell seriously ill. The men were separated from the women, and the captors regularly raped some of the helpless women. The castle also featured confinement cells — small pitch-black spaces for prisoners who revolted or were seen as rebellious. Once the slaves set foot in the castle, they could spend up to three months in captivity under these dreadful conditions before being shipped off to the New World. An environment of harsh contrasts, the castle also had some extravagant chambers, devoid of the stench and misery of the dungeons only a couple of meters below. For example, the governor’s and officers’ quarters were spacious and airy, with beautiful parquet floors and scenic views of the blue waters of Atlantic. There was also a chapel in the castle enclosure for the officers, traders and their families as they went about their normal day-to-day life completely detached from the unfathomable human suffering they were consciously inflicting.

In 1872 the British took over the Dutch territory and the fort pursuant to the Anglo-Dutch Sumatra treaties of 1871.

Renovation[edit]

The castle was extensively restored by the Ghanaian government in the 1990s. Renovation of the castle continues. Today, Elmina’s economy is sustained by tourism and fishing. Elmina Castle is preserved as a Ghanaian national museum and the monument was designated as a World Heritage Monument under UNESCO in 1979. It is a place of pilgrimage for many African Americans seeking to connect with their long lost heritage.[7] The bridge leading into the castle was one of the highest priority tasks in the project. As of August 2006, the bridge renovation has been completed and construction on the upper terraces continues.

3D documentation with terrestrial laser scanning[edit]

In 2006, the Zamani Project documented Elmina Castle with terrestrial 3D laser scanning. The 3D model, a panorama tour, elevations, sections and plans of Elmina Castle are available on the project’s website.[8] The non-profit research group specialises in 3D digital documentation of tangible cultural heritage. The data generated by the Zamani Project creates a permanent record that can be used for research, education, restoration, and conservation.[9][10][11]

Gallery[edit]

See also

Uncategorized

African Union

African Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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African Union
Motto: 
“A United and Strong Africa”
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting the African Union and its member states (green).
Dark green: member states
Political centres
Largest city Lagos
Official languages
Demonym(s) African
Type Continental union
Membership 55 member states
Leaders
Cyril Ramaphosa
Moussa Faki[3]
Roger Nkodo Dang
Legislature Pan-African Parliament
Establishment
25 May 1963; 56 years ago
3 June 1991
9 September 1999
• African Union founded
9 July 2002
Area
• Total
29,922,059[4] km2 (11,552,972 sq mi)
Population
• 2020 estimate
Increase 1,321,000,000[note 1]
GDP (PPP) 2020 estimate
• Total
Increase $7.573 trillion[5][note 2]
• Per capita
Increase $5,733[5]
GDP (nominal) 2020 estimate
• Total
Increase $2.587 trillion[5][note 3]
• Per capita
Increase $1,958[5]
HDI (2019) 0.538
low
Internet TLD .africa c
Website
au.int

The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa. The AU was announced in the Sirte Declaration in SirteLibya, on 9 September 1999, calling for the establishment of the African Union. The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis AbabaEthiopia, and launched on 9 July 2002 in DurbanSouth Africa.[6] The intention of the AU was to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments; the OAU was disbanded on 9 July 2002. The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU’s secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa. The largest city in the AU is LagosNigeria, while the largest urban agglomeration is CairoEgypt.

The African Union has just over 1 billion people and an area of around 29 million km2 (11 million sq mi) and includes popular world landmarks, including the Sahara desert and the Nile river.[7] The primary languages spoken include ArabicEnglishFrenchPortugueseSpanishSwahili, and other languages of Africa. Within the African Union, there are official bodies such as the Peace and Security Council and the Pan-African Parliament.

Overview[edit]

The objectives of the AU are the following:

  1. To achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations.
  2. To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States.
  3. To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.
  4. To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples.
  5. To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  6. To promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.
  7. To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.
  8. To promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.
  9. To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.
  10. To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.
  11. To promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples.
  12. To coordinate and harmonise the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union.
  13. To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology.
  14. To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.

The African Union is made up of both political and administrative bodies. The highest decision-making organ is the Assembly of the African Union, made up of all the heads of state or government of member states of the AU. The Assembly is chaired by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt. The AU also has a representative body, the Pan African Parliament, which consists of 265 members elected by the national legislatures of the AU member states. Its president is Roger Nkodo Dang.

Other political institutions of the AU include:

The AU Commission, the secretariat to the political structures, is chaired by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa. On 15 July 2012, Ms. Dlamini-Zuma won a tightly contested vote to become the first female head of the African Union Commission, replacing Jean Ping of Gabon.

Other AU structures are hosted by different member states:

The AU’s first military intervention in a member state was the May 2003 deployment of a peacekeeping force of soldiers from South Africa, Ethiopia, and Mozambique to Burundi to oversee the implementation of the various agreements. AU troops were also deployed in Sudan for peacekeeping during Darfur conflict, before the mission was handed over to the United Nations on 1 January 2008 UNAMID. The AU has also sent a peacekeeping mission to Somalia, of which the peacekeeping troops are from Uganda and Burundi.

The AU has adopted a number of important new documents establishing norms at continental level, to supplement those already in force when it was created. These include the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003), the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its associated Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance.[8]

History[edit]

The historical foundations of the African Union originated in the First Congress of Independence African States, held in AccraGhana, from 15 to 22 April 1958. The conference aimed at forming the Africa Day, to mark the liberation movement each year concerning the willingness of the African people to free themselves from foreign dictatorship, as well as subsequent attempts to unite Africa, including the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on 25 May 1963, and the African Economic Community in 1981.[9] Critics argued that the OAU in particular did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it the “Dictators’ Club”.[10]

The idea of creating the AU was revived in the mid-1990s under the leadership of Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi: the heads of state and government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration (named after Sirte, in Libya) on 9 September 1999, calling for the establishment of an African Union. The Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted, and at Lusaka in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted. During the same period, the initiative for the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), was also established.

The African Union was launched in Durban on 9 July 2002, by its first chairperson, South African Thabo Mbeki, at the first session of the Assembly of the African Union. The second session of the Assembly was in Maputo in 2003, and the third session in Addis Ababa on 6 July 2004.

Since 2010, the African Union eyes the establishment of a joint African space agency.[11][12][13][14]

Barack Obama was the first-ever sitting United States president to speak in front of the African Union in Addis Ababa, on 29 July 2015. With his speech, he encouraged the world to increase economic ties via investments and trade with the continent, and lauded the progresses made in education, infrastructure and economy. But he also criticised a lack of democracy and leaders who refuse to step down, discrimination against minorities (including LGBT people, religious groups and ethnicities) and corruption. He suggested an intensified democratisation and free trade, to significantly increase living quality for Africans.[15][16]

Treaties[edit]

Signed
In force
Document
1961
1962
1963
1965
OAU Charter
1991
N/A
Abuja Treaty
1999
2002
Sirte Declaration
Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif
Organisation of African Unity (OAU) African Economic Community: (AEC)
Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
East African Community (EAC)
Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)
Casablanca Group African Union (AU)
Monrovia Group

Geography[edit]

Member states of the African Union cover almost the entirety of continental Africa, except for several territories held by Spain (Canary IslandsPlazas de soberanía); France (MayotteRéunionScattered Islands in the Indian Ocean); Portugal (MadeiraSavage Islands); and the United Kingdom (Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha). Consequently, the geography of the African Union is wildly diverse, including the world’s largest hot desert (the Sahara), huge jungles and savannas, and the world’s longest river (the Nile).

The AU presently has an area of 29,922,059 square kilometres (11,552,972 sq mi), with 24,165 kilometres (15,015 mi) of coastline. The vast majority of this area is on continental Africa, while the only significant territory off the mainland is the island of Madagascar (the world’s fourth-largest island), and the Sinai peninsula accounting for slightly less than 2% of the total.

Demographics[edit]

Population[edit]

The total population of the African Union as of 2017 is estimated at more than 1.25 billion, with a growth rate of more than 2.5% p.a.[citation needed]

Languages[edit]

According to the Constitutive Act of the African Union, its working languages are Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili and other African languages “if possible”.[17] A protocol amending the Constitutive Act, adopted in 2003 but as of June 2016 not yet ratified by a two-thirds majority of member states, would add Spanish, Swahili and “any other African language” and declare all “official” (rather than “working”) languages of the African Union.[18] The Executive Council shall determine the process and practical modalities for the use of official languages as working languages.

Founded in 2001 under the auspices of the AU, the African Academy of Languages promotes the usage and perpetuation of African languages among African people. The AU declared 2006 the Year of African Languages.[19][20] 2006 also marked Ghana’s 55th anniversary since it founded the Bureau of Ghana Languages originally known as Gold Coast Vernacular Literature Bureau.

Politics[edit]

Map of the African Union.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the African Union

The African Union has a number of official bodies:

Pan-African Parliament (PAP)
To become the highest legislative body of the African Union. The seat of the PAP is at MidrandJohannesburg, South Africa. The Parliament is composed of 265 elected representatives from all 55 AU states, and intended to provide popular and civil-society participation in the processes of democratic governance. Its president is Roger Nkodo Dang, of Cameroon.
Assembly of the African Union
Composed of heads of state and heads of government of AU states, the Assembly is currently the supreme governing body of the African Union. It is gradually devolving some of its decision-making powers to the Pan African Parliament. It meets once a year and makes its decisions by consensus or by a two-thirds majority. The current chair of the AU is South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
African Union Commission (or Authority)
The secretariat of the African Union, composed of ten commissioners and supporting staff and headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In a similar fashion to its European counterpart, the European Commission, it is responsible for the administration and coordination of the AU’s activities and meetings.
Court of Justice of the African Union
The Constitutive Act provides for a Court of Justice to rule on disputes over interpretation of AU treaties. A protocol to set up this Court of Justice was adopted in 2003 and entered into force in 2009. It was, however, superseded by a protocol creating an African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which will incorporate the already established African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (see below) and have two chambers: one for general legal matters and one for rulings on the human rights treaties.
Executive Council
Composed of ministers designated by the governments of member states. It decides on matters such as foreign trade, social security, food, agriculture and communications, is accountable to the Assembly, and prepares material for the Assembly to discuss and approve. It is chaired by Shawn Makuyana of Zimbabwe (2015– ).
Permanent Representatives’ Committee
Consisting of nominated permanent representatives of member states, the Committee prepares the work for the Executive Council, similar the role of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union.
Peace and Security Council (PSC)
Proposed at the Lusaka Summit in 2001 and established in 2004 under a protocol to the Constitutive Act adopted by the AU Assembly in July 2002. The protocol defines the PSC as a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and effective response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa. Other responsibilities conferred to the PSC by the protocol include prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, post-conflict peace building and developing common defence policies. The PSC has fifteen members elected on a regional basis by the Assembly. Similar in intent and operation to the United Nations Security Council.
Economic, Social and Cultural Council
An advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives, similar to the European Economic and Social Committee. The chair of ECOSOCC, elected in 2008, is Cameroonian lawyer Akere Muna of the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).
Specialised Technical Committees
Both the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act provide for Specialised Technical Committees to be established made up of African ministers to advise the Assembly. In practice, they have never been set up. The ten proposed themes are: Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters; Monetary and Financial Affairs; Trade, Customs, and Immigration; Industry, Science and Technology; Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Transport, Communications, and Tourism; Health; Labour, and Social Affairs; Education, Culture, and Human Resources.
Financial institutions

These institutions have not yet been established, however, the Steering Committees working on their founding have been constituted. Eventually, the AU aims to have a single currency (the Afro).

Human rights
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in existence since 1986, is established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) rather than the Constitutive Act of the African Union. It is the premier African human rights body, with responsibility for monitoring and promoting compliance with the African Charter. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established in 2006 to supplement the work of the Commission, following the entry into force of a protocol to the African Charter providing for its creation. It is planned that the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will be merged with the Court of Justice of the African Union (see above).
African Energy Commission

Membership[edit]

All UN member states based in Africa and on African waters are members of the AU, as is the disputed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Morocco, which claims sovereignty over the SADR’s territory, withdrew from the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor, in 1984 due to the admission of the SADR as a member. However, on 30 January 2017, the AU admitted Morocco as a member state.[21]

Members[edit]

Regions of the African Union:
Northern Region (Sahara) ,  Southern Region (Kalahari) ,  Eastern Region (Nile) ,  Western Regions A and B (Niger and Volta Niger) ,  Central Region (Congo)

Governance[edit]

The principal topic for debate at the July 2007 AU summit held in Accra, Ghana, was the creation of a Union Government,[22] with the aim of moving towards a United States of Africa. A study on the Union Government was adopted in late 2006,[23] and proposes various options for “completing” the African Union project. There are divisions among African states on the proposals, with some (notably Libya) following a maximalist view leading to a common government with an AU army; and others (especially the southern African states) supporting rather a strengthening of the existing structures, with some reforms to deal with administrative and political challenges in making the AU Commission and other bodies truly effective.[24]

Following a heated debate in Accra, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government agreed in the form of a declaration to review the state of affairs of the AU with a view to determining its readiness towards a Union Government.[25] In particular, the Assembly agreed to:

  • Accelerate the economic and political integration of the African continent, including the formation of a Union Government of Africa;
  • Conduct an audit of the institutions and organs of the AU; review the relationship between the AU and the RECs; find ways to strengthen the AU and elaborate a timeframe to establish a Union Government of Africa.

The declaration lastly noted the “importance of involving the African peoples, including Africans in the Diaspora, in the processes leading to the formation of the Union Government.”

Following this decision, a panel of eminent persons was set up to conduct the “audit review”. The review team began its work on 1 September 2007. The review was presented to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the January 2008 summit in Addis Ababa. No final decision was taken on the recommendations, however, and a committee of ten heads of state was appointed to consider the review and report back to the July 2008 summit to be held in Egypt.[26] At the July 2008 summit, a decision was once again deferred, for a “final” debate at the January 2009 summit to be held in Addis Ababa.

Role of African Union[edit]

Somaliland Cape Verde Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic South Sudan Liberia Guinea Sierra Leone Ghana Nigeria Gambia Ivory Coast Benin Guinea-Bissau Senegal Togo Burkina Faso Niger Morocco Tunisia Libya Mauritania Algeria Egypt Somalia Comoros Eritrea Sudan Djibouti Ethiopia Uganda Rwanda Burundi Democratic Republic of the Congo Kenya São Tomé and Príncipe Chad Cameroon Central African Republic Republic of the Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Angola Mozambique Namibia South Africa Botswana Eswatini Zimbabwe Mauritius Zambia Malawi Seychelles Madagascar Tanzania Lesotho Community of Sahel-Saharan States Arab Maghreb Union Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa East African Community Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries Southern African Development Community Southern African Customs Union Economic Community of Central African States Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa West African Economic and Monetary Union Liptako–Gourma Authority Mali Economic Community of West African States Intergovernmental Authority on Development African Union Mano River Union West African Monetary Zone

The image above contains clickable links

Euler diagram showing the relationships among various multinational African entitiesv • t • e

One of the key debates in relation to the achievement of greater continental integration is the relative priority that should be given to integration of the continent as a unit in itself or to integration of the sub-regions. The 1980 Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa and the 1991 treaty to establish the African Economic Community (also referred to as the Abuja Treaty), proposed the creation of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the basis for African integration, with a timetable for regional and then continental integration to follow.[27]

Currently, there are eight RECs recognised by the AU, each established under a separate regional treaty. They are:

The membership of many of the communities overlaps, and their rationalisation has been under discussion for several years—and formed the theme of the 2006 Banjul summit. At the July 2007 Accra summit the Assembly finally decided to adopt a Protocol on Relations between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities.[28] This protocol is intended to facilitate the harmonisation of policies and ensure compliance with the Abuja Treaty and Lagos Plan of Action time frames.

Selection of the chairperson[edit]

In 2006, the AU decided to create a Committee “to consider the implementation of a rotation system between the regions” in relation to the presidency. Controversy arose at the 2006 summit when Sudan announced its candidacy for the AU’s chairmanship, as a representative of the East African region. Several member states refused to support Sudan because of tensions over Darfur (see also below). Sudan ultimately withdrew its candidacy and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo was elected to a one-year term. At the January 2007 summit, Sassou-Nguesso was replaced by President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, despite another attempt by Sudan to gain the chair. 2007 was the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, a symbolic moment for the country to hold the chair of the AU—and to host the mid-year summit at which the proposed Union Government was also discussed. In January 2008, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania took over as chair, representing the East African region and thus apparently ending Sudan’s attempt to become chair—at least till the rotation returns to East Africa.[29] The current chair is Egypt.

List of chairpersons[edit]

Muammar Gaddafi embracing Tanzanian President Kikwete after assuming the chairmanship

Chairpersons of the African Union
Name Beginning of term End of term Country
Thabo Mbeki 9 July 2002 10 July 2003  South Africa
Joaquim Chissano 10 July 2003 6 July 2004  Mozambique
Olusegun Obasanjo 6 July 2004 24 January 2006  Nigeria
Denis Sassou-Nguesso 24 January 2006 24 January 2007  Republic of the Congo
John Kufuor 30 January 2007 31 January 2008  Ghana
Jakaya Kikwete 31 January 2008 2 February 2009  Tanzania
Muammar al-Gaddafi 2 February 2009 31 January 2010  Libya
Bingu wa Mutharika[30][31] 31 January 2010 31 January 2011  Malawi
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo[32] 31 January 2011 29 January 2012  Equatorial Guinea
Yayi Boni 29 January 2012 27 January 2013  Benin
Hailemariam Desalegn 27 January 2013 30 January 2014  Ethiopia
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz 30 January 2014 30 January 2015  Mauritania
Robert Mugabe 30 January 2015 30 January 2016  Zimbabwe
Idriss Déby 30 January 2016 30 January 2017  Chad
Alpha Condé 30 January 2017 28 January 2018  Guinea
Paul Kagame[33] 28 January 2018 10 February 2019  Rwanda
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi 10 February 2019 10 February 2020  Egypt
Cyril Ramaphosa[34] 10 February 2020 Incumbent  South Africa

Headquarters[edit]

The main administrative capital of the African Union is in Addis AbabaEthiopia, where the African Union Commission is headquartered. A new headquarters complex, the AU Conference Center and Office Complex (AUCC), was inaugurated on 28 January 2012, during the 18th AU summit.[35] The complex was built by China State Construction Engineering Corporation as a gift from the Chinese government, and accommodates, among other facilities, a 2,500-seat plenary hall and a 20-story office tower. The tower is 99.9 meters high to signify the date 9 September 1999, when the Organisation of African Unity voted to become the African Union.[36] The building cost US$200 million to construct.[37]

Espionage accusations[edit]

On 26 January 2018, five years after the building’s completion, the French Newspaper Le Monde[38] published an article stating that the Chinese government had heavily bugged the building, installing listening devices in the walls and furniture and setting up the computer system to copy data to servers in Shanghai daily.[37] The Chinese government denied that they bugged the building, stating that the accusations were “utterly groundless and ridiculous.”[37] Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn rejected the French media report.[39] Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the African Union Commission, said the allegations in the Le Monde’s report were false. “These are totally false allegations and I believe that we are completely disregarding them.”[40] The African Union replaced its Chinese supplied servers and started encrypting its communications following the event.[41]

African Union summits[edit]

Session Host country Host city Date Theme Notes
33rd[42]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 9 February 202010 February 2020[43] “Silencing the guns: creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development’”[42] Agreement for African Continental Free Trade Agreement to become operational across the continent in July 2020.[44] Agreements also reached to reduce gender gap and inequality in Africa and to “silence guns” on the continent.[44]
12th Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA[45]  Niger Niamey 48 July 2019 “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa” Launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement
32nd[46]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 1011 February 2019 “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”
11th Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA[47]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 518 November 2018 Agreement reached on reorganization AU Commission[47]
31st[48]  Mauritania Nouakchott 25 June2 July 2018 “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”
10th Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA[49]  Rwanda Kigali 1721 March 2018 “Creating One African Market” Agreement reached on the AfCFTA
30th[50]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2229 January 2018 “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”
29th[51]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 27 June4 July 2017 “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”
28th[52]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2231 January 2017 “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth” Morocco rejoins the AU after 33 years
27th[53]  Rwanda Kigali 1018 July 2016 “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women” Launch of African Union Passport
26th[54]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2131 January 2016 “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”
Third India-Africa Forum Summit  India New Delhi 26–29 October 2015 Reinvigorated Partnership-Shared Vision
25th[55][56]  South Africa Johannesburg 715 June 2015 “Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” Featured Angelina Jolie[57]
24th[58]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2331 January 2015 “Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”
2nd Africa-Turkey Summit[59][60]  Equatorial Guinea Malabo 1921 November 2014 “A new model of partnership to enhance a sustainable development and integration of Africa”
23rd[61]  Equatorial Guinea Malabo 2027 June 2014 “Year of Agriculture and food security”
22nd[62][63]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2131 January 2014 “Year Agriculture and food security, Marking 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)”
ICC – Extraordinary Summit[64]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 1112 October 2013 “Africa’s relationship with the ICC This was in regards to the ICC’s non-adherence to AU calls to drop certain charges against sitting leaders and claims that it was disproportionally targeting Africans.[65]
21st[66]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 1927 May 2013 “Panafricanism and African Renaissance” 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Organisation of African Unity
20th[67]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2728 January 2013 “Panafricanism and African Renaissance”
Diaspora Summit[68]  South Africa Sandton 2325 May 2012 “Towards the realisation of a united and integrated Africa and its diaspora”
19th[69]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 916 July 2012 “Boosting Intra-African trade”
18th[70]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2330 January 2012 “Boosting Intra-African trade”
17th[71]  Equatorial Guinea Malabo 23 June1 July 2011 “Youth empowerment for sustainable development”
2nd Africa-India Summit[72]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2025 May 2011 “Enhancing partnership: shared vision”
16th[73]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2431 January 2011 “Towards greater unity and integration through shared values”
15th[74]  Uganda Kampala 1927 July 2010 “Maternal, Infant, and Child Health and Development in Africa”
14th[75]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 25 January2 February 2010 “Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development”
13th[76]  Libya Sirte 24 June3 July 2009 “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”
12th[77]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 26 January3 February 2009 “Infrastructure Development in Africa”
11th[78]  Egypt Sharm el-Sheikh 24 June1 July 2008 “Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation”
10th[79]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 25 January2 February 2008 “Industrial Development of Africa”
9th[80]  Ghana Accra 25 June6 July 2007 “Grand Debate on the Union Government”
8th[81]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 2230 January 2007 1. Science, Technology and Scientific Research for Development
2. Climate change in Africa
7th[82]  Gambia Banjul 25 June2 July 2006 “Rationalisation of Recs and Regional Integration”
6th[83]  Sudan Khartoum 1624 January 2006 “Education and Culture”
5th[84]  Libya Sirte 2829 June 2005
Extraordinary summit on UN Reform[85]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 4 August 2005
4th[86]  Nigeria Abuja 2431 January 2005
3rd[87]  Ethiopia Addis Ababa 68 July 2004
2nd[88]  Mozambique Maputo 212 July 2003
1st[89]  South Africa Durban 2810 July 2002 “Peace, Development and Prosperity: The African Century” Notable events include the launch of the African Union.[90]

Foreign relations[edit]

The individual member states of the African Union coordinate foreign policy through this agency, in addition to conducting their own international relations on a state-by-state basis. The AU represents the interests of African peoples at large in intergovernmental organisations (IGOs); for instance, it is a permanent observer at the United Nations General Assembly. Both the African Union and the United Nations work in tandem to address issues of common concerns in various areas. The African Union Mission in United Nations aspires to serve as a bridge between the two Organisations.

Membership of the AU overlaps with other IGOs and occasionally these third-party organisations and the AU will coordinate matters of public policy. The African Union maintains special diplomatic representation with the United States and the European Union.

In 2016, the Union introduced continent-wide passports.[91]

Upon the election of Donald Trump for the presidency of the U.S., in 2017, the latter passed an executive order for a ban on citizens from seven countries with suspected links to terrorism, that concerns three African countries. During the 28th African Union Summit, in Ethiopia, African leaders criticised the ban[92] as they expressed their growing concerns for the African Economy, under Trump’s policies.

Africa–China relations[edit]

One of the leading economic partners of the continent has been the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In September 2018, the bloc held its third Forum on China–Africa Cooperation summit in Beijing, China.

Economy[edit]

The AU’s future goals include the creation of a free trade area, a customs union, a single market, a central bank, and a common currency (see African Monetary Union), thereby establishing economic and monetary union. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community with a single currency by 2023.[93]

Indicators[edit]

The following table shows various data for AU member states, including area, population, economic output and income inequality, as well as various indices, including human development, viability of the state, perception of corruption, economic freedom, state of peace, freedom of the press and democratic level.

Country Land Area(km²) 2015[94] Population2018[95][96] GDP (PPP)(Intl. $) 2015[94] GDP (PPP)per capita (Intl. $) 2015[94] HDI2014[97] FSI2016[98] CPI2016[99] IEF2016[100] GPI2016[101] WPFI2016[102] DI2016[103]
 Algeria 2,381,741 42,228,408 548,293,085,686 13,823 0.736 78.3 34 50.06 2.21 41.69 3.56
 Angola 1,246,700 30,809,787 173,593,223,667 6,938 0.532 90.5 18 48.94 2.14 39.89 3.40
 Benin 112,760 11,485,044 21,016,184,357 1,932 0.48 78.9 36 59.31 2.00 28.97 5.67
 Botswana 566,730 2,254,068 33,657,545,969 14,876 0.698 63.5 60 71.07 1.64 22.91 7.87
 Burkina Faso 273,600 19,751,466 28,840,666,622 1,593 0.402 89.4 42 59.09 2.06 22.66 4.70
 Burundi 25,680 11,175,374 7,634,578,343 300 0.4 100.7 20 53.91 2.50 54.10 2.40
 Cape Verde 4,030 543,767 3,205,197,585 6,158 0.646 71.5 59 66.46 N/A 19.82 7.94
 Cameroon 472,710 25,216,267 68,302,439,597 2,926 0.512 97.8 26 54.18 2.36 40.53 3.46
 Central African Republic 622,980 4,666,368 2,847,726,468 581 0.35 112.1 20 45.23 3.35 33.60 1.61
 Chad 1,259,200 15,477,729 28,686,194,920 2,044 0.392 110.1 20 46.33 2.46 40.59 1.50
 Comoros 1,861 832,322 1,098,546,195 1,393 0.503 83.8 24 52.35 N/A 24.33 3.71
 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 2,267,050 84,068,091 56,920,935,460 300 0.433 21 46.38 3.11 50.97 1.93
 Congo, Republic of the 341,500 5,244,359 27,690,345,067 5,993 0.591 92.2 20 42.80 2.25 35.84 2.91
 Côte d’Ivoire 318,000 25,069,230 74,916,780,423 3,300 0.462 97.9 34 60.01 2.28 30.17 3.81
 Djibouti 23,180 958,923 2,911,406,226 3,279 0.47 89.7 30 55.96 2.29 70.90 2.83
 Egypt 1,010,407 98,423,598 1,173,000,000,000 10,250 0.69 90.2 34 55.96 2.57 54.45 3.31
 Equatorial Guinea 28,050 1,308,975 32,317,928,931 38,243 0.587 85.2 N/A 43.67 1.94 66.47 1.70
 Eritrea[104] 101,000 3,452,786 8,845,000,000b 600b 0.391 98.6 18 42.7 2.46 83.92 2.37
 Eswatini 17,200 10,452,834,007 8,122 0.531 87.6 N/A 59.65 2.07 52.37 3.03
 Ethiopia 1,104,300 109,224,414 152,057,290,468 1,530 0.442 97.2 34 51.52 2.28 45.13 3.60
 Gabon 257,670 2,119,275 32,539,376,597 18,860 0.684 72 35 58.96 2.03 32.20 3.74
 Gambia, The 10,120 2,280,094 3,140,820,062 1,578 0.441 86.8 26 57.14 2.09 46.53 2.91
 Ghana 227,540 29,767,102 108,393,071,924 3,955 0.579 71.2 43 63.00 1.81 17.95 6.75
 Guinea 245,720 12,414,293 14,316,884,358 1,135 0.411 103.8 27 53.33 2.15 33.08 3.14
 Guinea-Bissau 28,120 1,874,303 2,521,743,682 1,367 0.42 99.8 16 51.81 2.26 29.03 1.98
 Kenya 569,140 51,392,565 133,592,522,053 2,901 0.548 98.3 26 57.51 2.38 31.16 5.33
 Lesotho 30,360 2,108,328 5,914,437,068 2,770 0.497 80.9 39 50.62 1.94 28.78 6.59
 Liberia 96,320 4,818,973 3,533,313,381 500 0.43 95.5 37 52.19 2.00 30.71 5.31
 Libya[105] 1,759,540 6,678,559 94,010,000,000b 14,900b 0.724 96.4 14 N/A 3.20 57.89 2.25
 Madagascar 581,800 26,262,313 33,354,200,458 1,376 0.51 84.2 26 61.06 1.76 27.04 5.07
 Malawi 94,280 18,143,217 19,137,290,349 1,112 0.445 87.6 31 51.8 1.82 28.12 5.55
 Mali 1,220,190 19,077,749 33,524,899,739 1,905 0.419 95.2 32 56.54 2.49 39.83 5.70
 Mauritania[106] 1,030,700 4,403,313 16,190,000,000b 4,400b 0.506 95.4 27 54.8 2.30 24.03 3.96
 Mauritius 2,030 1,267,185 23,817,914,134 18,864 0.777 43.2 54 74.73 1.56 27.69 8.28
 Morocco 446,300 36,029,093 257,398,957,178 7,365 0.628 74.2 37 61.27 2.09 42.64 4.77
 Mozambique 786,380 29,496,004 31,326,751,237 1,120 0.416 87.8 27 53.19 1.96 30.25 4.02
 Namibia 823,290 2,448,301 24,043,436,006 9,778 0.628 71.1 52 61.85 1.87 15.15 6.31
 Niger 1,266,700 22,442,831 17,857,377,171 897 0.348 98.4 35 54.26 2.24 24.62 3.96
 Nigeria 910,770 195,874,685 1,168,000,000,000 5,639 0.514 103.5 28 57.46 2.88 35.90 4.50
 Rwanda 24,670 1,230,197 19,216,033,048 1,655 0.483 91.3 54 63.07 2.32 54.61 3.07
 São Tomé and Príncipe 960 211,028 575,391,345 3,023 0.555 72.9 46 56.71 N/A N/A N/A
 Senegal 192,530 15,854,323 34,398,281,018 2,274 0.466 83.6 45 58.09 1.98 27.99 6.21
 Seychelles 460 97,096 2,384,515,771 25,525 0.772 60.2 N/A 62.2 N/A 30.60 N/A
 Sierra Leone 72,180 7,650,150 9,511,431,824 1,474 0.413 91 30 52.31 1.81 29.94 4.55
 Somalia[107] 627,340 15,008,226 5,900,000,000c 600c N/A 114 10 N/A 3.41 65.35 N/A
 South Africa 1,213,090 57,792,518 742,461,000,000 12,393 0.666 69.9 45 61.9 2.32 21.92 7.41
 South Sudan 619,745 10,975,927 21,484,823,398 1,741 0.467 113.8 11 N/A 3.59 44.87 N/A
 Sudan 1,886,086 41,801,533 165,813,461,495 4,121 0.479 111.5 14 N/A 3.27 72.53 2.37
 Tanzania 885,800 56,313,438 130,297,806,032 2,510 0.521 81.8 32 58.46 1.90 28.65 5.76
 Togo 54,390 7,889,093 10,018,697,437 1,372 0.484 85.8 32 53.64 1.95 30.31 3.32
 Tunisia 155,360 11,565,201 121,200,025,401 10,770 0.721 74.6 41 57.55 1.95 31.60 6.40
 Uganda 200,520 42,729,036 67,856,334,117 1,738 0.483 97.7 25 59.26 2.15 32.58 5.26
 Western Sahara[108] 266,000 567,402 906,500,000d 2,500d N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
 Zambia 743,390 17,351,708 58,400,082,027 3,602 0.586 86.3 38 58.79 1.78 35.08 5.99
 Zimbabwe 386,850 14,438,802 26,180,942,292 500 0.509 100.5 22 38.23 2.32 40.41 3.05
 African Union 30,370,000 1,275,920,972 5,457,724,064,668 4,602 0.524d 88.99d 31.51d 55.55d 2.27 37.89 4.30
Country Land Area (km²) 2015 Population 2018 GDP (PPP)(Intl. $) 2015 GDP (PPP)per capita (Intl. $) 2015 HDI2014 FSI2016 CPI2016 IEF2016 GPI2016 WPFI2016 DI2016

a External data from 2016. b External data from 2015. c External data from 2014. d AU total used for indicators 1 through 3; AU weighted average used for indicator 4; AU unweighted average used for indicators 5 through 12.

Culture[edit]

Symbols[edit]

Emblem of the African Union

The emblem of the African Union consists of a gold ribbon bearing small interlocking red rings, from which palm leaves shoot up around an outer gold circle and an inner green circle, within which is a gold representation of Africa. The red interlinked rings stand for African solidarity and the blood shed for the liberation of Africa; the palm leaves for peace; the gold, for Africa’s wealth and bright future; the green, for African hopes and aspirations. To symbolise African unity, the silhouette of Africa is drawn without internal borders.

The African Union adopted its new flag at its 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government taking place in Addis Ababa 2010. During the 8th African Union Summit which took place in Addis Ababa on 29 and 30 January 2007, the Heads of State and Government decided to launch a competition for the selection of a new flag for the Union. They prescribed a green background for the flag symbolising hope of Africa and stars to represent Member States.

Pursuant to this decision, the African Union Commission (AUC) organised a competition for the selection of a new flag for the African Union. The AUC received a total of 106 entries proposed by citizens of 19 African countries and 2 from the Diaspora. The proposals were then examined by a panel of experts put in place by the African Union Commission and selected from the five African regions for short listing according to the main directions given by the Heads of State and Government.

At the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, the Heads of State and Government examined the report of the Panel and selected one among all the proposals. The flag is now part of the paraphernalia of the African Union and replaces the old one.

The old flag of the African Union bears a broad green horizontal stripe, a narrow band of gold, the emblem of the African Union at the centre of a broad white stripe, another narrow gold band and a final broad green stripe. Again, the green and gold symbolise Africa’s hopes and aspirations as well as its wealth and bright future, and the white represents the purity of Africa’s desire for friends throughout the world. The flag has led to the creation of the “national colours” of Africa of gold and green (sometimes together with white). These colours are visible in one way or another in the flags of many African nations. Together the colours green, gold, and red constitute the Pan-African colours.

The African Union has adopted the anthem, “Let Us All Unite and Celebrate Together“.

Celebration[edit]

Africa Day, formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day, is an annual commemoration regarding the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), on 25 May 1963, and occurring on the same date of the month each year. Other celebrations include the following:

  • The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music: a week long celebration for harmony between cultures with dancing, Moroccan music, art exhibitions and films.[109]
  • The Knysna Oyster festival: held in Knysna and focused around sport, food and their oyster heritage.[110]
  • Lake of Stars Festival: three-day celebration that takes place in Lake Malawi, showcasing African music and welcoming people from around the world.[111]
  • Fête du Vodoun: also known as the Ouidah Voodoo Festival. It is centred around their rituals on voodoo temples, with entertainment that includes horse races and traditional drum performances.[112]
  • Umhlanga (ceremony): is mainly a private event for young women but on the sixth and seventh days the traditions are done publicly.[113]
  • Marsabit Lake Turkana Cultural Festival: held in Kenya and celebrates harmony amongst tribes with their culture, singing, dancing and traditional costumes.[114]

Current issues[edit]

The AU faces many challenges, including health issues such as combating malaria and the AIDS/HIV epidemic; political issues such as confronting undemocratic regimes and mediating in the many civil wars; economic issues such as improving the standard of living of millions of impoverished, uneducated Africans; ecological issues such as dealing with recurring famines, desertification, and lack of ecological sustainability; as well as the legal issues regarding Western Sahara.

AIDS in Africa[edit]

The AU has been active in addressing the AIDS pandemic in Africa. In 2001, the AU established AIDS Watch Africa to coordinate and mobilise a continent-wide response.[115] Sub-Saharan Africa, especially southern and eastern Africa, is the most affected area in the world. Though this region is home to only 6.2% of the world’s population, it is also home to half of the world’s population infected with HIV.[116] While the measurement of HIV prevalence rates has proved methodologically challenging, more than 20% of the sexually active population of many countries of southern Africa may be infected, with South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe all expected to have a decrease in life expectancy by an average of 6.5 years. The pandemic has had massive implications for the economy of the continent, reducing economic growth rates by 2–4% across Africa.[117]

In July 2007, the AU endorsed two new initiatives to combat the AIDS crisis, including a push to recruit, train and integrate 2 million community health workers into the continent’s healthcare systems.[118]

In January 2012, the African Union Assembly requested that the African Union Commission would work out “a roadmap of shared responsibility to draw on African efforts for a viable health funding with support of traditional and emerging partners to address AIDS dependency response.” Once created, the roadmap (as it is officially known) provided a group of solutions that would enhance the shared responsibility and global solidarity for AIDSTB, and Malaria responses in Africa by 2015. The roadmap was organised into three pillars which were: diversified financing, access to medicines, and enhanced health governance. The roadmap held stakeholders accountable for the realisation of these solutions between 2012 and 2015.

The first pillar, diversified financing, ensures that countries begin to develop a country specific financial sustainability plans with clear targets, and identify and maximise opportunities to diversify funding sources in order to increase the domestic resource allocation to AIDS and other diseases.

The second pillar, access to affordable and quality-assured medicines, tries to promote and facilitate investing in leading medicine hub manufacturers in Africa, accelerate and strengthen medicine regulatory harmonisation, and create legislation that would help to protect the knowledge of the researchers who develop these life-saving medicines.

The third pillar, enhanced leadership and governance, tries to invest in programs that support people and communities to prevent HIV and ensure that leadership at all levels is mobilised to implement the roadmap. There are several organisations that will ensure the smooth implementation of the roadmap, including NEPADUNAIDSWHO, and several other UN partners.[119]

Corruption[edit]

Daniel Batidam, an anti-corruption advisory board member of the African Union, resigned after stating that the organisation had “multiple irregularities” and that “issues have come up over and over again” regarding corruption. The African Union quickly accepted his resignation, with Batidam saying that it was a sign that mismanagement towards corruption will “continue with business as usual”.[120]

Libya[edit]

When the conflicts in Libya began in 2011, the African Union was initially criticised for not doing much to prevent the escalation of conflict in Libya. Additionally, the AU hesitated to take a side when the conflict in Libya began. There was some vagueness when it came to the African Union’s position in the conflict, it was unclear if they were fully supporting the Libyan regime or if they were instead supporting the Libyan citizens. This ambiguity occurred right around the time when there were several human right violations against the Libyan regime. It was later realised that the hesitation in the AU’s response to the Arab Spring in Libya was due to its lack of capacity and capability for engaging in democratic reforms.[121]

The AU attempted to mediate in the early stages of the 2011 Libyan civil war, forming an ad hoc committee of five presidents (Congolese President Denis Sassou NguessoMalian President Amadou Toumani TouréMauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel AzizSouth African President Jacob Zuma, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni) to broker a truce.[122] However, the beginning of the NATO-led military intervention in March 2011 prevented the committee from traveling to Libya to meet with Libyan leader and former head of the AU until 2010 Muammar Gaddafi.[123] As a body, the AU sharply dissented from the United Nations Security Council‘s decision to create a no-fly zone over Libya,[124] though a few member states, such as Botswana,[125] Gabon,[126] Zambia,[127] and others expressed support for the resolution.

As a result of Gaddafi’s defeat at the Battle of Tripoli, the decisive battle of the war, in August 2011, the Arab League voted to recognise the anti-Gaddafi National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of the country pending elections,[128] yet although the council has been recognised by several AU member states, including two countries that are also members of the Arab League,[129][130] the AU Peace and Security Council voted on 26 August 2011 not to recognise it, insisting that a ceasefire be agreed to and a national unity government be formed by both sides in the civil war.[131] A number of AU member states led by EthiopiaNigeria, and Rwanda requested that the AU recognise the NTC as Libya’s interim governing authority,[132][133] and several other AU member states have recognised the NTC regardless of the Peace and Security Council’s decision.[134][135] However, AU member states Algeria[136] and Zimbabwe[137] have indicated they will not recognise the NTC, and South Africa has expressed reservations as well.[138]

On 20 September 2011, the African Union officially recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of Libya.[139]

In post-Gaddafi Libya, the African Union believes it still has an important responsibility to the country despite its failure to contribute to the conflict when it originated. The AU is essentially fighting an uphill battle though because of their failure to support the Libyan rebels. Although the African Union is there to keep peace, it is not a long term solution. The goal, as stated by the AU, is to establish a Libyan government that is sustainable to ensuring the peace in Libya. To achieve some level of peace in Libya, the AU has to moderate peace talks which are aimed at achieving compromises and power sharing accommodations as well.[121]

Military[edit]

Togo[edit]

In response to the death of Gnassingbé Eyadéma, President of Togo, on 5 February 2005, AU leaders described the naming of his son Faure Gnassingbé the successor as a military coup.[140] Togo’s constitution calls for the speaker of parliament to succeed the president in the event of his death. By law, the parliament speaker must call national elections to choose a new president within sixty days. The AU’s protest forced Gnassingbé to hold elections. Under heavy allegations of election fraud, he was officially elected President on 4 May 2005.

Mauritania[edit]

On 3 August 2005, a coup in Mauritania led the African Union to suspend the country from all organisational activities. The Military Council that took control of Mauritania promised to hold elections within two years.[citation needed] These were held in early 2007, the first time that the country had held elections that were generally agreed to be of an acceptable standard. Following the elections, Mauritania’s membership of the AU was restored. However, on 6 August 2008, a fresh coup overthrew the government elected in 2007. The AU once again suspended Mauritania from the continental body.[141] The suspension was once again lifted in 2009 after the military junta agreed with the opposition to organise elections.[142]

Mali[edit]

In March 2012, a military coup was staged in Mali, when an alliance of Touareg and Islamist forces conquered the north, resulting in a coming to power of the Islamists. This resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Malian soldiers and the loss of control over their camps and positions.[143] After a military intervention with help from French troops, the region was in control of the Malian army. To reinstall local authorities, the AU helped to form a caretaker government, supporting it and holding presidential elections in Mali in July 2013.[144] In 2013, a summit for the African Union was held and it was decided that the African Union was going to enlarge their military presence in Mali. The AU decided to do this because of increasing tensions between al-Qaeda forces and the Mali army. There have been several rebel groups that are vying for control of parts of Mali. These rebel groups include the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the National Front for the Liberation of Azawad (FLNA), Ganda Koy, Ganda Izo, Ansar ad-Din, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AU forces have been tasked with counterinsurgency missions in Mali as well as governing presidential elections to ensure as smooth a transition of power as possible.[145]

Regional conflicts and peacekeeping[edit]

One of the objectives of the AU is to “promote peace, security, and stability on the continent”.[146] Among its principles is “Peaceful resolution of conflicts among Member States of the Union through such appropriate means as may be decided upon by the Assembly”.[147] The primary body charged with implementing these objectives and principles is the Peace and Security Council. The PSC has the power, among other things, to authorise peace support missions, to impose sanctions in case of unconstitutional change of government, and to “take initiatives and action it deems appropriate” in response to potential or actual conflicts. The PSC is a decision-making body in its own right, and its decisions are binding on member states.

Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act, repeated in article 4 of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act on the PSC, also recognises the right of the Union to intervene in member state in circumstances of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Any decision to intervene in a member state under article 4 of the Constitutive Act will be made by the Assembly on the recommendation of the PSC.

Since it first met in 2004, the PSC has been active in relation to the crises in Darfur, Comoros, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire and other countries. It has adopted resolutions creating the AU peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Darfur, and imposing sanctions against persons undermining peace and security (such as travel bans and asset freezes against the leaders of the rebellion in Comoros). The Council is in the process of overseeing the establishment of a “standby force” to serve as a permanent African peacekeeping force.[citation needed] Institute for Security Studies, South Africa, March 2008.

The founding treaty of the AU also called for the establishment of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), including the African Standby Force (ASF), which is to be deployed in emergencies. That means, in cases of genocide or other serious human-rights violations, an ASF mission can be launched even against the wishes of the government of the country concerned, as long as it is approved by the AU General Assembly. In the past AU peacekeeping missions, the concept was not yet applied, forces had to be mobilised from member states. The AU is planning on putting the concept into practise by 2015 at the earliest.[144][needs update]

Darfur, Sudan[edit]

In response to the ongoing Darfur conflict in Sudan, the AU has deployed 7,000 peacekeepers, many from Rwanda and Nigeria, to Darfur. While a donor’s conference in Addis Ababa in 2005 helped raise funds to sustain the peacekeepers through that year and into 2006, in July 2006 the AU said it would pull out at the end of September when its mandate expires.[148] Critics of the AU peacekeepers, including Dr. Eric Reeves, have said these forces are largely ineffective due to lack of funds, personnel, and expertise. Monitoring an area roughly the size of France has made it even more difficult to sustain an effective mission. In June 2006, the United States Congress appropriated US$173 million for the AU force. Some, such as the Genocide Intervention Network, have called for UN or NATO intervention to augment and/or replace the AU peacekeepers. The UN has considered deploying a force, though it would not likely enter the country until at least October 2007.[149] The under-funded and badly equipped AU mission was set to expire on 31 December 2006 but was extended to 30 June 2007 and merged with the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur in October 2007. In July 2009 the African Union ceased cooperation with the International Criminal Court, refusing to recognise the international arrest warrant it had issued against Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted in 2008 for war crimes.[150]

The AU struggled to have a strategic role in the independence talks and the reconciliation process of South Sudan, due to overwhelming interests of African and non-African powers, its influence is still limited and not consistent.[151]

Somalia[edit]

From the early 1990s up until 2000, Somalia was without a functioning central government. A peace agreement aimed at ending the civil war that broke out following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime was signed in 2006 after many years of peace talks. However, the new government was almost immediately threatened by further violence. In February 2007, the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) worked together to establish the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The purpose of AMISOM was to create a foundation that would hopefully provide aid to some of Somalia’s most vulnerable and keep the peace in the region. They are tasked with everything from protecting federal institutions to facilitating humanitarian relief operations. Much of the AU’s opposition comes from an Islamic extremist group named al-Shabaab.[152] To temporarily shore up the government’s military base, starting in March 2007, AU soldiers began arriving in Mogadishu as part of a peacekeeping force that was intended by the AU to eventually be 8,000 strong.[153] Eritrea recalled its ambassadors to the African Union on 20 November 2009[154] after the African Union called on the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on them due to their alleged support of Somali Islamists attempting to topple the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, the internationally recognised government of Somalia which holds Somalia’s seat on the African Union.[155] On 22 December 2009, the United Nations Security Council passed UNSCR 1907, which imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on Eritrean leaders, and asset freezes on Eritrean officials. Eritrea strongly criticised the resolution. In January 2011, Eritrea reestablished their mission to the AU in Addis Ababa.[156]

In the fall of 2011, AMISOM forces, along with Kenyan and Ethiopian forces launched a set of offensive attacks on the al-Shabaab. In these attacks, AMISOM forces were able to reclaim key cities including the Somali capital of Mogadishu. In September 2013, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, a political scientist, argued that with the help of AMISOM forces, they had made it “nearly impossible for al-Shabaab to hold territory even in its former strongholds in southern Somalia”. Although lots of progress has been made towards peace in the region, it should still be noted that African Union forces’ still get attacked regularly. Despite AMISOM being effective, it is vastly underfunded and many forces lack the resources required. Funding for humanitarian relief and the formation of armies tends to be vastly undercut.[152]

Anjouan, Comoros[edit]

A successful 2008 invasion of Anjouan by AU and Comoros forces to stop self-declared president Mohamed Bacar, whose 2007 re-election was declared illegal.[157] Prior to the invasion, France helped transport Tanzanian troops but their position in the disagreement was questioned when a French police helicopter was suspected of attempting to sneak Bacar into French exile.[158] The first wave of troops landed on Anjouan Bay on 25 March and soon took over the airfield in Ouani, ultimately aiming to locate and remove Bacar from office.[157] On the same day, the airport, capital, and second city were overrun and the presidential palace was deserted.[159] Bacar escaped and sought asylum in France and the government of Comoros demanded they return him so they may determine his consequence.[160] Many of Bacar’s primary supporters were arrested by the end of March, including Caabi El-Yachroutu Mohamed and Ibrahim Halidi. His asylum request was rejected in 15 May as France agreed to cooperate with the Comoran governments demand.[161] His presidential position was then occupied by Moussa Toybou after winning the election in 29 June.[162]

See also[edit]

Uncategorized

Christianity

Christianity

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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament.[1] It is the world’s largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.[2]

Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus’ apostles and their followers spread around Syria, the LevantEuropeAnatoliaMesopotamiaTranscaucasiaEgypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity slowly separated from Judaism. Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). Constantine converted to Christianity before his death (337). The early history of Christianity’s united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the “Great Church“. The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology,[3] while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Similarly, Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Latin Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the AmericasOceaniasub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.[4][5][6]

Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million/both together 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism).[7] Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the logos incarnated—who ministeredsuffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the “good news”, in the Bible (scripture). Describing Jesus’ life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of MatthewMarkLuke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel’s respected background.

Christianity and Christian ethics played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization,[8][9][10][11][12] particularly around Europe from late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Despite a decline in adherence in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian.[13] Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, the world’s most populous continents.[14] Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, especially in the Middle-East, North Africa and South Asia.[15][16][17]

Etymology

Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as ‘The Way’ (της οδου), probably coming from Isaiah 40:3, “prepare the way of the Lord.”[18][note 1] According to Acts 11:26, the term “Christian” (GreekΧριστιανός) was first used in reference to Jesus’s disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning “followers of Christ,” by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch.[24] The earliest recorded use of the term “Christianity” (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD.[25]

Beliefs

While Christians worldwide share basic convictions, there are also differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based.[26]

Creeds

An Eastern Christian icon depicting Emperor Constantine and the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (325) as holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds. They began as baptismal formulae and were later expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.

The Apostles’ Creed is the most widely accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic ChurchLutheranismAnglicanism, and Western Rite Orthodoxy. It is also used by PresbyteriansMethodists, and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 2nd and 9th centuries. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period. The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome.[27] Its points include:

The Nicene Creed was formulated, largely in response to Arianism, at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 respectively,[28][29] and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.[30]

The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451,[31] though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox,[32] taught Christ “to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably”: one divine and one human, and that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are nevertheless also perfectly united into one person.[33]

The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.”[34]

Most Christians (CatholicEastern OrthodoxOriental Orthodox, and Protestant alike) accept the use of creeds, and subscribe to at least one of the creeds mentioned above.[35]

Many Evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith, even while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. Most Baptists do not use creeds “in that they have not sought to establish binding authoritative confessions of faith on one another.”[36]:111 Also rejecting creeds are groups with roots in the Restoration Movement, such as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada, and the Churches of Christ.[37][38]:14–15[39]:123

Jesus

The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed by God as savior of humanity and hold that Jesus’ coming was the fulfillment of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The Christian concept of messiah differs significantly from the contemporary Jewish concept. The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesussinful humans can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.[40]

While there have been many theological disputes over the nature of Jesus over the earliest centuries of Christian history, generally, Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate and “true God and true man” (or both fully divine and fully human). Jesus, having become fully human, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, but did not sin. As fully God, he rose to life again. According to the New Testament, he rose from the dead,[41] ascended to heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father,[42] and will ultimately return[Acts 1:9–11] to fulfill the rest of the Messianic prophecy, including the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and the final establishment of the Kingdom of God.

According to the canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary. Little of Jesus’ childhood is recorded in the canonical gospels, although infancy gospels were popular in antiquity. In comparison, his adulthood, especially the week before his death, is well documented in the gospels contained within the New Testament, because that part of his life is believed to be most important. The biblical accounts of Jesus’ ministry include: his baptismmiracles, preaching, teaching, and deeds.

Death and resurrection

Crucifixion, representing the death of Jesus on the Cross, painting by Diego Velázquez, c. 1632

Christians consider the resurrection of Jesus to be the cornerstone of their faith (see 1 Corinthians 15) and the most important event in history.[43] Among Christian beliefs, the death and resurrection of Jesus are two core events on which much of Christian doctrine and theology is based.[44] According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified, died a physical death, was buried within a tomb, and rose from the dead three days later.[Jn. 19:30–31] [Mk. 16:1] [16:6]

The New Testament mentions several resurrection appearances of Jesus on different occasions to his twelve apostles and disciples, including “more than five hundred brethren at once”,[1Cor 15:6] before Jesus’ ascension to heaven. Jesus’ death and resurrection are commemorated by Christians in all worship services, with special emphasis during Holy Week, which includes Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The death and resurrection of Jesus are usually considered the most important events in Christian theology, partly because they demonstrate that Jesus has power over life and death and therefore has the authority and power to give people eternal life.[45]

Christian churches accept and teach the New Testament account of the resurrection of Jesus with very few exceptions.[46] Some modern scholars use the belief of Jesus’ followers in the resurrection as a point of departure for establishing the continuity of the historical Jesus and the proclamation of the early church.[47] Some liberal Christians do not accept a literal bodily resurrection,[48][49] seeing the story as richly symbolic and spiritually nourishing myth. Arguments over death and resurrection claims occur at many religious debates and interfaith dialogues.[50] Paul the Apostle, an early Christian convert and missionary, wrote, “If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless.”[1Cor 15:14][51]

Salvation

“The Law and the Gospel” by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1529); Moses and Elijah point the sinner to Jesus for salvation

Paul the Apostle, like Jews and Roman pagans of his time, believed that sacrifice can bring about new kinship ties, purity, and eternal life.[52] For Paul, the necessary sacrifice was the death of Jesus: Gentiles who are “Christ’s” are, like Israel, descendants of Abraham and “heirs according to the promise”.[Gal. 3:29][53] The God who raised Jesus from the dead would also give new life to the “mortal bodies” of Gentile Christians, who had become with Israel, the “children of God”, and were therefore no longer “in the flesh”.[Rom. 8:9,11,16][52]

Modern Christian churches tend to be much more concerned with how humanity can be saved from a universal condition of sin and death than the question of how both Jews and Gentiles can be in God’s family. According to Eastern Orthodox theology, based upon their understanding of the atonement as put forward by Irenaeus’ recapitulation theory, Jesus’ death is a ransom. This restores the relation with God, who is loving and reaches out to humanity, and offers the possibility of theosis c.q. divinization, becoming the kind of humans God wants humanity to be. According to Catholic doctrine, Jesus’ death satisfies the wrath of God, aroused by the offense to God’s honor caused by human’s sinfulness. The Catholic Church teaches that salvation does not occur without faithfulness on the part of Christians; converts must live in accordance with principles of love and ordinarily must be baptized.[54][55] In Protestant theology, Jesus’ death is regarded as a substitionary penalty carried by Jesus, for the debt that has to be paid by humankind when it broke God’s moral law. Martin Luther taught that baptism was necessary for salvation, but modern Lutherans and other Protestants tend to teach that salvation is a gift that comes to an individual by God’s grace, sometimes defined as “unmerited favor”, even apart from baptism.

Christians differ in their views on the extent to which individuals’ salvation is pre-ordained by God. Reformed theology places distinctive emphasis on grace by teaching that individuals are completely incapable of self-redemption, but that sanctifying grace is irresistible.[56] In contrast Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Arminian Protestants believe that the exercise of free will is necessary to have faith in Jesus.[57]

Trinity

The Trinity is the belief that God is one God in three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit[58]

Trinity refers to the teaching that the one God[59] comprises three distinct, eternally co-existing persons: the Father, the Son (incarnate in Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Together, these three persons are sometimes called the Godhead,[60][61][62] although there is no single term in use in Scripture to denote the unified Godhead.[63] In the words of the Athanasian Creed, an early statement of Christian belief, “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God”.[64] They are distinct from another: the Father has no source, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father. Though distinct, the three persons cannot be divided from one another in being or in operation. While some Christians also believe that God appeared as the Father in the Old Testament, it is agreed that he appeared as the Son in the New Testament, and will still continue to manifest as the Holy Spirit in the present. But still, God still existed as three persons in each of these times.[65] However, traditionally there is a belief that it was the Son who appeared in the Old Testament because, for example, when the Trinity is depicted in art, the Son typically has the distinctive appearance, a cruciform halo identifying Christ, and in depictions of the Garden of Eden, this looks forward to an Incarnation yet to occur. In some Early Christian sarcophagi the Logos is distinguished with a beard, “which allows him to appear ancient, even pre-existent.”[66]

The Trinity is an essential doctrine of mainstream Christianity. From earlier than the times of the Nicene Creed (325) Christianity advocated[67] the triune mystery-nature of God as a normative profession of faith. According to Roger E. Olson and Christopher Hall, through prayer, meditation, study and practice, the Christian community concluded “that God must exist as both a unity and trinity”, codifying this in ecumenical council at the end of the 4th century.[68][69]

According to this doctrine, God is not divided in the sense that each person has a third of the whole; rather, each person is considered to be fully God (see Perichoresis). The distinction lies in their relations, the Father being unbegotten; the Son being begotten of the Father; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and (in Western Christian theology) from the Son. Regardless of this apparent difference, the three “persons” are each eternal and omnipotent. Other Christian religions including Unitarian UniversalismJehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism, do not share those views on the Trinity.

The Greek word trias[70][note 2] is first seen in this sense in the works of Theophilus of Antioch; his text reads: “of the Trinity, of God, and of His Word, and of His Wisdom”.[74] The term may have been in use before this time; its Latin equivalent,[note 2] trinitas,[72] appears afterwards with an explicit reference to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in Tertullian.[75][76] In the following century, the word was in general use. It is found in many passages of Origen.[77]

Trinitarians

Trinitarianism denotes Christians who believe in the concept of the Trinity. Almost all Christian denominations and churches hold Trinitarian beliefs. Although the words “Trinity” and “Triune” do not appear in the Bible, theologians, beginning in the 3rd century, developed the term and concept to facilitate comprehension of the New Testament teachings of God as being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since that time, Christian theologians have been careful to emphasize that Trinity does not imply that there are three gods (the antitrinitarian heresy of Tritheism), nor that each hypostasis of the Trinity is one-third of an infinite God (partialism), nor that the Son and the Holy Spirit are beings created by and subordinate to the Father (Arianism). Rather, the Trinity is defined as one God in three persons.[78]

Nontrinitarianism

Nontrinitarianism (or antitrinitarianism) refers to theology that rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. Various nontrinitarian views, such as adoptionism or modalism, existed in early Christianity, leading to the disputes about Christology.[79] Nontrinitarianism later appeared again in the Gnosticism of the Cathars between the 11th and 13th centuries, among groups with Unitarian theology in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century,[80] in the 18th-century Enlightenment, and in some groups arising during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century.

Eschatology

The 7th-century Khor Virap monastery in the shadow of Mount AraratArmenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as the state religion, in AD 301[81]

The end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world, broadly speaking, is Christian eschatology; the study of the destiny of humans as it is revealed in the Bible. The major issues in Christian eschatology are the Tribulation, death and the afterlife, (mainly for Evangelical groups) the Millennium and the following Rapture, the Second Coming of Jesus, Resurrection of the Dead, Heaven, (for liturgical branches) Purgatory, and Hell, the Last Judgment, the end of the world, and the New Heavens and New Earth.

Christians believe that the second coming of Christ will occur at the end of time, after a period of severe persecution (the Great Tribulation). All who have died will be resurrected bodily from the dead for the Last Judgment. Jesus will fully establish the Kingdom of God in fulfillment of scriptural prophecies.[82][83]

Death and afterlife

Most Christians believe that human beings experience divine judgment and are rewarded either with eternal life or eternal damnation. This includes the general judgement at the resurrection of the dead as well as the belief (held by Catholics,[84][85] Orthodox[86][87] and most Protestants) in a judgment particular to the individual soul upon physical death.

In the liturgical branches (e.g. Catholicism or Eastern or Oriental Orthodoxy), those who die in a state of grace, i.e., without any mortal sin separating them from God, but are still imperfectly purified from the effects of sin, undergo purification through the intermediate state of purgatory to achieve the holiness necessary for entrance into God’s presence.[88] Those who have attained this goal are called saints (Latin sanctus, “holy”).[89]

Some Christian groups, such as Seventh-day Adventists, hold to mortalism, the belief that the human soul is not naturally immortal, and is unconscious during the intermediate state between bodily death and resurrection. These Christians also hold to Annihilationism, the belief that subsequent to the final judgement, the wicked will cease to exist rather than suffer everlasting torment. Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to a similar view.[90]

Practices

Samples of Catholic religious objects – the Bible, a crucifix and a rosary

Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptismEucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper), prayer (including the Lord’s Prayer), confessionconfirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations have ordained clergy and hold regular group worship services.

Communal worship

Justin Martyr described 2nd-century Christian liturgy in his First Apology (c. 150) to Emperor Antoninus Pius, and his description remains relevant to the basic structure of Christian liturgical worship:

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.[91]

Thus, as Justin described, Christians assemble for communal worship on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, though other liturgical practices often occur outside this setting. Scripture readings are drawn from the Old and New Testaments, but especially the gospel accounts. Often these are arranged on an annual cycle, using a book called a lectionary. Instruction is given based on these readings, called a sermon, or homily. There are a variety of congregational prayers, including thanksgiving, confession, and intercession, which occur throughout the service and take a variety of forms including recited, responsive, silent, or sung. The Lord’s Prayer, or Our Father, is regularly prayed.

A modern Protestant worship band leading a contemporary worship session

Some groups depart from this traditional liturgical structure. A division is often made between “High” church services, characterized by greater solemnity and ritual, and “Low” services, but even within these two categories, there is great diversity in forms of worshipSeventh-day Adventists meet on Saturday, while others do not meet on a weekly basis. Charismatic or Pentecostal congregations may spontaneously feel led by the Holy Spirit to action rather than follow a formal order of service, including spontaneous prayer. Quakers sit quietly until moved by the Holy Spirit to speak.

Some evangelical services resemble concerts with rock and pop music, dancing and use of multimedia. For groups which do not recognize a priesthood distinct from ordinary believers, the services are generally led by a ministerpreacher, or pastor. Still others may lack any formal leaders, either in principle or by local necessity. Some churches use only a cappella music, either on principle (for example, many Churches of Christ object to the use of instruments in worship) or by tradition (as in Orthodoxy).

Nearly all forms of churchmanship celebrate the Eucharist (Holy Communion), which consists of a consecrated meal. It is reenacted in accordance with Jesus’ instruction at the Last Supper that his followers do in remembrance of him as when he gave his disciples bread, saying, “This is my body”, and gave them wine saying, “This is my blood”.[92] Some Christian denominations practice closed communion. They offer communion to those who are already united in that denomination or sometimes individual church. Catholics restrict participation to their members who are not in a state of mortal sin. Most other churches practice open communion since they view communion as a means to unity, rather than an end, and invite all believing Christians to participate.

Worship can be varied for special events like baptisms or weddings in the service or significant feast days. In the early church, Christians and those yet to complete initiation would separate for the Eucharistic part of the worship. In many churches today, adults and children will separate for all or some of the service to receive age-appropriate teaching. Such children’s worship is often called Sunday school or Sabbath school (Sunday schools are often held before rather than during services).

Sacraments

2nd-century description of the Eucharist
And this food is called among us Eukharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.

Justin Martyr[91]

In Christian belief and practice, a sacrament is a rite, instituted by Christ, that confers grace, constituting a sacred mystery. The term is derived from the Latin word sacramentum, which was used to translate the Greek word for mystery. Views concerning both which rites are sacramental, and what it means for an act to be a sacrament, vary among Christian denominations and traditions.[93]

The most conventional functional definition of a sacrament is that it is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, that conveys an inward, spiritual grace through Christ. The two most widely accepted sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist (or Holy Communion), however, the majority of Christians also recognize five additional sacraments: Confirmation (Chrismation in the Orthodox tradition), Holy orders (ordination), Penance (or Confession), Anointing of the Sick, and Matrimony (see Christian views on marriage).[93]

Taken together, these are the Seven Sacraments as recognized by churches in the High Church tradition—notably CatholicEastern OrthodoxOriental OrthodoxIndependent CatholicOld Catholic, many Anglicans, and some Lutherans. Most other denominations and traditions typically affirm only Baptism and Eucharist as sacraments, while some Protestant groups, such as the Quakers, reject sacramental theology.[93] Christian denominations, such as Baptists, which believe these rites do not communicate grace, prefer to call Baptism and Holy Communion ordinances rather than sacraments.

In addition to this, the Church of the East has two additional sacraments in place of the traditional sacraments of Matrimony and the Anointing of the Sick. These include Holy Leaven (Melka) and the sign of the cross.[94]

Liturgical calendar

Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Christians, and traditional Protestant communities frame worship around the liturgical year. The liturgical cycle divides the year into a series of seasons, each with their theological emphases, and modes of prayer, which can be signified by different ways of decorating churches, colors of paraments and vestments for clergy,[95] scriptural readings, themes for preaching and even different traditions and practices often observed personally or in the home.

Western Christian liturgical calendars are based on the cycle of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church,[95] and Eastern Christians use analogous calendars based on the cycle of their respective rites. Calendars set aside holy days, such as solemnities which commemorate an event in the life of Jesus, Mary, or the saints, and periods of fasting, such as Lent and other pious events such as memoria, or lesser festivals commemorating saints. Christian groups that do not follow a liturgical tradition often retain certain celebrations, such as ChristmasEaster, and Pentecost: these are the celebrations of Christ’s birth, resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, respectively. A few denominations make no use of a liturgical calendar.[96]

Symbols

The cross and the fish are two common symbols of Jesus Christ; letters of the Greek word ΙΧΘΥΣ Ichthys (fish) form an acronym for “Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ”, which translates into English as “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior”

Christianity has not generally practiced aniconism, the avoidance or prohibition of devotional images, even if early Jewish Christians and some modern denominations, invoking the Decalogue’s prohibition of idolatry, avoided figures in their symbols.

The cross, today one of the most widely recognized symbols, was used by Christians from the earliest times.[97][98] Tertullian, in his book De Corona, tells how it was already a tradition for Christians to trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads.[99] Although the cross was known to the early Christians, the crucifix did not appear in use until the 5th century.[100]

Among the earliest Christian symbols, that of the fish or Ichthys seems to have ranked first in importance, as seen on monumental sources such as tombs from the first decades of the 2nd century.[101] Its popularity seemingly arose from the Greek word ichthys (fish) forming an acronym for the Greek phrase Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ),[note 3] (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior), a concise summary of Christian faith.[101]

Other major Christian symbols include the chi-rho monogram, the dove (symbolic of the Holy Spirit), the sacrificial lamb (representing Christ’s sacrifice), the vine (symbolizing the connection of the Christian with Christ) and many others. These all derive from passages of the New Testament.[100]

Baptism

The baptism of Jesus depicted by Almeida Júnior (1895)

Baptism is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which a person is admitted to membership of the Church. Beliefs on baptism vary among denominations. Differences occur firstly on whether the act has any spiritual significance. Some, such as the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, as well as Lutherans and Anglicans, hold to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which affirms that baptism creates or strengthens a person’s faith, and is intimately linked to salvation. Others view baptism as a purely symbolic act, an external public declaration of the inward change which has taken place in the person, but not as spiritually efficacious. Secondly, there are differences of opinion on the methodology of the act. These methods are: by immersion; if immersion is total, by submersion; by affusion (pouring); and by aspersion (sprinkling). Those who hold the first view may also adhere to the tradition of infant baptism;[102] the Orthodox Churches all practice infant baptism and always baptize by total immersion repeated three times in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[103][104] The Catholic Church also practices infant baptism,[105] usually by affusion, and utilizing the Trinitarian formula.[106]

Prayer

Jesus’ teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount displays a distinct lack of interest in the external aspects of prayer. A concern with the techniques of prayer is condemned as “pagan”, and instead a simple trust in God’s fatherly goodness is encouraged.[Mat. 6:5–15] Elsewhere in the New Testament, this same freedom of access to God is also emphasized.[Phil. 4:6][Jam. 5:13–19] This confident position should be understood in light of Christian belief in the unique relationship between the believer and Christ through the indweling of the Holy Spirit.[107]

In subsequent Christian traditions, certain physical gestures are emphasized, including medieval gestures such as genuflection or making the sign of the crossKneeling, bowing, and prostrations (see also poklon) are often practiced in more traditional branches of Christianity. Frequently in Western Christianity, the hands are placed palms together and forward as in the feudal commendation ceremony. At other times the older orans posture may be used, with palms up and elbows in.

Intercessory prayer is prayer offered for the benefit of other people. There are many intercessory prayers recorded in the Bible, including prayers of the Apostle Peter on behalf of sick persons[Acts 9:40] and by prophets of the Old Testament in favor of other people.[1Ki 17:19–22] In the Epistle of James, no distinction is made between the intercessory prayer offered by ordinary believers and the prominent Old Testament prophet Elijah.[Jam 5:16–18] The effectiveness of prayer in Christianity derives from the power of God rather than the status of the one praying.[107]

The ancient church, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, developed a tradition of asking for the intercession of (deceased) saints, and this remains the practice of most Eastern OrthodoxOriental OrthodoxCatholic, and some Anglican churches. Churches of the Protestant Reformation, however, rejected prayer to the saints, largely on the basis of the sole mediatorship of Christ.[108] The reformer Huldrych Zwingli admitted that he had offered prayers to the saints until his reading of the Bible convinced him that this was idolatrous.[109]

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”[110] The Book of Common Prayer in the Anglican tradition is a guide which provides a set order for church services, containing set prayers, scripture readings, and hymns or sung Psalms.

Scriptures

The Bible is the sacred book in Christianity.

Christianity, like other religions, has adherents whose beliefs and biblical interpretations vary. Christianity regards the biblical canon, the Old Testament and the New Testament, as the inspired word of God. The traditional view of inspiration is that God worked through human authors so that what they produced was what God wished to communicate. The Greek word referring to inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16 is theopneustos, which literally means “God-breathed”.[111]

Some believe that divine inspiration makes our present Bibles inerrant. Others claim inerrancy for the Bible in its original manuscripts, although none of those are extant. Still others maintain that only a particular translation is inerrant, such as the King James Version.[112][113][114] Another closely related view is biblical infallibility or limited inerrancy, which affirms that the Bible is free of error as a guide to salvation, but may include errors on matters such as history, geography, or science.

The books of the Bible accepted by the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches vary somewhat, with Jews accepting only the Hebrew Bible as canonical; however, there is substantial overlap. These variations are a reflection of the range of traditions, and of the councils that have convened on the subject. Every version of the Old Testament always includes the books of the Tanakh, the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Catholic and Orthodox canons, in addition to the Tanakh, also include the deuterocanonical books as part of the Old Testament. These books appear in the Septuagint, but are regarded by Protestants to be apocryphal. However, they are considered to be important historical documents which help to inform the understanding of words, grammar, and syntax used in the historical period of their conception. Some versions of the Bible include a separate Apocrypha section between the Old Testament and the New Testament.[115] The New Testament, originally written in Koine Greek, contains 27 books which are agreed upon by all churches.

Modern scholarship has raised many issues with the Bible. While the King James Version is held to by many because of its striking English prose, in fact it was translated from the Erasmus Greek Bible, which in turn “was based on a single 12th Century manuscript that is one of the worst manuscripts we have available to us”.[116] Much scholarship in the past several hundred years has gone into comparing different manuscripts in order to reconstruct the original text. Another issue is that several books are considered to be forgeries. The injunction that women “be silent and submissive” in 1 Timothy 2[117] is thought by many to be a forgery by a follower of Paul, a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 14,[118] which is thought to be by Paul, appears in different places in different manuscripts and is thought to originally be a margin note by a copyist.[116] Other verses in 1 Corinthians, such as 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 where women are instructed to wear a covering over their hair “when they pray or prophesies”,[119] contradict this verse.

A final issue with the Bible is the way in which books were selected for inclusion in the New Testament. Other gospels have now been recovered, such as those found near Nag Hammadi in 1945, and while some of these texts are quite different from what Christians have been used to, it should be understood that some of this newly recovered Gospel material is quite possibly contemporaneous with, or even earlier than, the New Testament Gospels. The core of the Gospel of Thomas, in particular, may date from as early as AD 50 (although some major scholars contest this early dating),[120] and if so would provide an insight into the earliest gospel texts that underlie the canonical Gospels, texts that are mentioned in Luke 1:1–2. The Gospel of Thomas contains much that is familiar from the canonical Gospels—verse 113, for example (“The Father’s Kingdom is spread out upon the earth, but people do not see it”),[121] is reminiscent of Luke 17:20–21[122][123]—and the Gospel of John, with a terminology and approach that is suggestive of what was later termed Gnosticism, has recently been seen as a possible response to the Gospel of Thomas, a text that is commonly labeled proto-Gnostic. Scholarship, then, is currently exploring the relationship in the Early Church between mystical speculation and experience on the one hand and the search for church order on the other, by analyzing new-found texts, by subjecting canonical texts to further scrutiny, and by an examination of the passage of New Testament texts to canonical status.

Catholic interpretation

St. Peter’s BasilicaVatican City, the largest church in the world and a symbol of the Catholic Church

In antiquity, two schools of exegesis developed in Alexandria and Antioch. The Alexandrian interpretation, exemplified by Origen, tended to read Scripture allegorically, while the Antiochene interpretation adhered to the literal sense, holding that other meanings (called theoria) could only be accepted if based on the literal meaning.[124]

Catholic theology distinguishes two senses of scripture: the literal and the spiritual.[125]

The literal sense of understanding scripture is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture. The spiritual sense is further subdivided into:

Regarding exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation, Catholic theology holds:

  • The injunction that all other senses of sacred scripture are based on the literal[126][127]
  • That the historicity of the Gospels must be absolutely and constantly held[128]
  • That scripture must be read within the “living Tradition of the whole Church”[129] and
  • That “the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome“.[130]

Protestant interpretation

The Luther Bible (shown above) was an early translation of the Bible by a Protestant. Another early unauthorized translation was Wycliffe’s Bible.

Qualities of Scripture

Protestant Christians believe that the Bible is a self-sufficient revelation, the final authority on all Christian doctrine, and revealed all truth necessary for salvation. This concept is known as sola scriptura.[131] Protestants characteristically believe that ordinary believers may reach an adequate understanding of Scripture because Scripture itself is clear in its meaning (or “perspicuous”). Martin Luther believed that without God’s help, Scripture would be “enveloped in darkness”.[132] He advocated for “one definite and simple understanding of Scripture”.[132] John Calvin wrote, “all who refuse not to follow the Holy Spirit as their guide, find in the Scripture a clear light”.[133] Related to this is “efficacy”, that Scripture is able to lead people to faith; and “sufficiency”, that the Scriptures contain everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.[134]

Original intended meaning of Scripture

Protestants stress the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture, the historical-grammatical method.[135] The historical-grammatical method or grammatico-historical method is an effort in Biblical hermeneutics to find the intended original meaning in the text.[136] This original intended meaning of the text is drawn out through examination of the passage in light of the grammatical and syntactical aspects, the historical background, the literary genre, as well as theological (canonical) considerations.[137] The historical-grammatical method distinguishes between the one original meaning and the significance of the text. The significance of the text includes the ensuing use of the text or application. The original passage is seen as having only a single meaning or sense. As Milton S. Terry said: “A fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture.”[138] Technically speaking, the grammatical-historical method of interpretation is distinct from the determination of the passage’s significance in light of that interpretation. Taken together, both define the term (Biblical) hermeneutics.[136]

Some Protestant interpreters make use of typology.[139]

Ecclesiology

History

Early Christianity

Apostolic Age

Chapel of Saint AnaniasDamascusSyria, an early example of a Christian house of worship; built in the 1st century AD

An early circular ichthys symbol, created by combining the Greek letters ΙΧΘΥΣ into a wheel, Ephesus, Asia Minor

The Monastery of St. Matthew, located atop Mount Alfaf in northern Iraq, is recognized as one of the oldest Christian monasteries in existence[140]

Kadisha ValleyLebanon, home to some of the earliest Christian monasteries in the world

Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism.[141][142] An early Jewish Christian community was founded in Jerusalem under the leadership of the Pillars of the Church, namely James the Just, the brother of the Lord, Saint Peter, and John. They had known Jesus, and, according to Paul, the arisen Christ had first appeared to James and Peter.

Jewish Christianity soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, posing a problem for its Jewish religious outlook, which insisted on close observance of the Jewish commands. Paul the Apostle solved this by insisting that salvation by faith in Christ, and participation in His death and resurrection, sufficed. At first he persecuted the early Christians, but after a conversion experience he preached to the gentiles, and is regarded as having had a formative effect on the emerging Christian identity as separate from Judaism. Eventually, his departure from Jewish customs would result in the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion.

Ante-Nicene period

This formative period was followed by the early bishops, whom Christians consider the successors of Christ’s apostles. From the year 150, Christian teachers began to produce theological and apologetic works aimed at defending the faith. These authors are known as the Church Fathers, and the study of them is called patristics. Notable early Fathers include Ignatius of AntiochPolycarpJustin MartyrIrenaeusTertullianClement of Alexandria and Origen.

According to the New Testament, Christians were from the beginning, subject to persecution by some Jewish and Roman religious authorities. This involved punishments, including death, for Christians such as Stephen[Acts 7:59] and James, son of Zebedee.[Acts 12:2] Further widespread persecution of the Church occurred under nine subsequent Roman emperors, most intensely under Decius and Diocletian.

Spread and acceptance in Roman Empire

An example of Byzantine pictorial art, the Deësis mosaic at the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople

Christianity spread to Aramaic-speaking peoples along the Mediterranean coast and also to the inland parts of the Roman Empire and beyond that into the Parthian Empire and the later Sasanian Empire, including Mesopotamia, which was dominated at different times and to varying extents by these empires.[143] The presence of Christianity in Africa began in the middle of the 1st century in Egypt and by the end of the 2nd century in the region around CarthageMark the Evangelist is claimed to have started the Church of Alexandria in about 43 CE; various later churches claim this as their own legacy, including the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.[144][145][146] Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity include TertullianClement of AlexandriaOrigen of AlexandriaCyprianAthanasius, and Augustine of Hippo.

King Tiridates III made Christianity the state religion in Armenia between 301 and 314[81][147][148], thus Armenia became the first officially Christian state. It was not an entirely new religion in Armenia, having penetrated into the country from at least the third century, but it may have been present even earlier.[149]

Constantine I was exposed to Christianity in his youth, and throughout his life his support for the religion grew, culminating in baptism on his deathbed.[150] During his reign, state-sanctioned persecution of Christians was ended with the Edict of Toleration in 311 and the Edict of Milan in 313. At that point, Christianity was still a minority belief, comprising perhaps only five percent of the Roman population.[151] Influenced by his adviser Mardonius, Constantine’s nephew Julian unsuccessfully tried to suppress Christianity.[152] On 27 February 380, Theodosius IGratian, and Valentinian II established Nicene Christianity as the State church of the Roman Empire.[153] As soon as it became connected to the state, Christianity grew wealthy; the Church solicited donations from the rich and could now own land.[154]

Constantine was also instrumental in the convocation of the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which sought to address Arianism and formulated the Nicene Creed, which is still used by the Catholic ChurchEastern OrthodoxyAnglican Communion, and many Protestant churches.[35] Nicaea was the first of a series of ecumenical councils, which formally defined critical elements of the theology of the Church, notably concerning Christology.[155] The Church of the East did not accept the third and following ecumenical councils and is still separate today by its successors (Assyrian Church of the East).

In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Byzantine Empire was one of the peaks in Christian history and Christian civilization,[156] and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in size, wealth, and culture.[157] There was a renewed interest in classical Greek philosophy, as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek.[158] Byzantine art and literature held a preeminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the West during this period was enormous and of long-lasting significance.[159] The later rise of Islam in North Africa reduced the size and numbers of Christian congregations, leaving in large numbers only the Coptic Church in Egypt, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Horn of Africa and the Nubian Church in the Sudan (Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia).

Early Middle Ages

With the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the papacy became a political player, first visible in Pope Leo‘s diplomatic dealings with Huns and Vandals.[160] The church also entered into a long period of missionary activity and expansion among the various tribes. While Arianists instituted the death penalty for practicing pagans (see the Massacre of Verden, for example), what would later become Catholicism also spread among the Hungarians, the Germanic,[160] the Celtic, the Baltic and some Slavic peoples.

Around 500, St. Benedict set out his Monastic Rule, establishing a system of regulations for the foundation and running of monasteries.[160] Monasticism became a powerful force throughout Europe,[160] and gave rise to many early centers of learning, most famously in IrelandScotland, and Gaul, contributing to the Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century.

In the 7th century, Muslims conquered Syria (including Jerusalem), North Africa, and Spain, converting some of the Christian population to Islam, and placing the rest under a separate legal status. Part of the Muslims’ success was due to the exhaustion of the Byzantine Empire in its decades long conflict with Persia.[161] Beginning in the 8th century, with the rise of Carolingian leaders, the Papacy sought greater political support in the Frankish Kingdom.[162]

The Middle Ages brought about major changes within the church. Pope Gregory the Great dramatically reformed the ecclesiastical structure and administration.[163] In the early 8th century, iconoclasm became a divisive issue, when it was sponsored by the Byzantine emperors. The Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787) finally pronounced in favor of icons.[164] In the early 10th century, Western Christian monasticism was further rejuvenated through the leadership of the great Benedictine monastery of Cluny.[165]

High and Late Middle Ages

Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont, where he preached the First Crusade

In the West, from the 11th century onward, some older cathedral schools became universities (see, for example, University of OxfordUniversity of Paris and University of Bologna). Previously, higher education had been the domain of Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools (Scholae monasticae), led by monks and nuns. Evidence of such schools dates back to the 6th century CE.[166] These new universities expanded the curriculum to include academic programs for clerics, lawyers, civil servants, and physicians.[167] The university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the Medieval Christian setting.[168]

Accompanying the rise of the “new towns” throughout Europe, mendicant orders were founded, bringing the consecrated religious life out of the monastery and into the new urban setting. The two principal mendicant movements were the Franciscans[169] and the Dominicans,[170] founded by St. Francis and St. Dominic, respectively. Both orders made significant contributions to the development of the great universities of Europe. Another new order was the Cistercians, whose large isolated monasteries spearheaded the settlement of former wilderness areas. In this period, church building and ecclesiastical architecture reached new heights, culminating in the orders of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and the building of the great European cathedrals.[171]

From 1095 under the pontificate of Urban II, the Crusades were launched.[172] These were a series of military campaigns in the Holy Land and elsewhere, initiated in response to pleas from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I for aid against Turkish expansion. The Crusades ultimately failed to stifle Islamic aggression and even contributed to Christian enmity with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.[173]

The Christian Church experienced internal conflict between the 7th and 13th centuries that resulted in a schism between the so-called Latin or Western Christian branch (the Catholic Church),[174] and an Eastern, largely Greek, branch (the Eastern Orthodox Church). The two sides disagreed on a number of administrative, liturgical and doctrinal issues, most notably papal primacy of jurisdiction.[175][176] The Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) attempted to reunite the churches, but in both cases, the Eastern Orthodox refused to implement the decisions, and the two principal churches remain in schism to the present day. However, the Catholic Church has achieved union with various smaller eastern churches.

In the thirteenth century, a new emphasis on Jesus’ suffering, exemplified by the Franciscans’ preaching, had the consequence of turning worshippers’ attention towards Jews, on whom Christians had placed the blame for Jesus’ death. Christianity’s limited tolerance of Jews was not new—Augustine of Hippo said that Jews should not be allowed to enjoy the citizenship that Christians took for granted—but the growing antipathy towards Jews was a factor that led to the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, the first of many such expulsions in Europe.[177][178]

Beginning around 1184, following the crusade against Cathar heresy,[179] various institutions, broadly referred to as the Inquisition, were established with the aim of suppressing heresy and securing religious and doctrinal unity within Christianity through conversion and prosecution.[180]

Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation

The Ninety-five Theses, which Luther published in 1517

The 15th-century Renaissance brought about a renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. During the ReformationMartin Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses 1517 against the sale of indulgences.[181] Printed copies soon spread throughout Europe. In 1521 the Edict of Worms condemned and excommunicated Luther and his followers, resulting in the schism of the Western Christendom into several branches.[182]

Other reformers like ZwingliOecolampadiusCalvinKnox, and Arminius further criticized Catholic teaching and worship. These challenges developed into the movement called Protestantism, which repudiated the primacy of the pope, the role of tradition, the seven sacraments, and other doctrines and practices.[181] The Reformation in England began in 1534, when King Henry VIII had himself declared head of the Church of England. Beginning in 1536, the monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland were dissolved.[183]

Thomas MüntzerAndreas Karlstadt and other theologians perceived both the Catholic Church and the confessions of the Magisterial Reformation as corrupted. Their activity brought about the Radical Reformation, which gave birth to various Anabaptist denominations.

Michelangelo‘s 1498-99 Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica; the Catholic Church was among the patronages of the Renaissance[184][185][186]

Partly in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church engaged in a substantial process of reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reform.[187] The Council of Trent clarified and reasserted Catholic doctrine. During the following centuries, competition between Catholicism and Protestantism became deeply entangled with political struggles among European states.[188]

Meanwhile, the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought about a new wave of missionary activity. Partly from missionary zeal, but under the impetus of colonial expansion by the European powers, Christianity spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Throughout Europe, the division caused by the Reformation led to outbreaks of religious violence and the establishment of separate state churches in Europe. Lutheranism spread into the northern, central, and eastern parts of present-day Germany, Livonia, and Scandinavia. Anglicanism was established in England in 1534. Calvinism and its varieties, such as Presbyterianism, were introduced in Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, and France. Arminianism gained followers in the Netherlands and Frisia. Ultimately, these differences led to the outbreak of conflicts in which religion played a key factor. The Thirty Years’ War, the English Civil War, and the French Wars of Religion are prominent examples. These events intensified the Christian debate on persecution and toleration.[189]

Post-Enlightenment

A depiction of Madonna and Child in a 19th-century Kakure Kirishitan Japanese woodcut

In the era known as the Great Divergence, when in the West, the Age of Enlightenment and the scientific revolution brought about great societal changes, Christianity was confronted with various forms of skepticism and with certain modern political ideologies, such as versions of socialism and liberalism.[190] Events ranged from mere anti-clericalism to violent outbursts against Christianity, such as the dechristianization of France during the French Revolution,[191] the Spanish Civil War, and certain Marxist movements, especially the Russian Revolution and the persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union under state atheism.[192][193][194][195]

Especially pressing in Europe was the formation of nation states after the Napoleonic era. In all European countries, different Christian denominations found themselves in competition to greater or lesser extents with each other and with the state. Variables were the relative sizes of the denominations and the religious, political, and ideological orientation of the states. Urs Altermatt of the University of Fribourg, looking specifically at Catholicism in Europe, identifies four models for the European nations. In traditionally Catholic-majority countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Austria, to some extent, religious and national communities are more or less identical. Cultural symbiosis and separation are found in Poland, the Republic of Ireland, and Switzerland, all countries with competing denominations. Competition is found in Germany, the Netherlands, and again Switzerland, all countries with minority Catholic populations, which to a greater or lesser extent identified with the nation. Finally, separation between religion (again, specifically Catholicism) and the state is found to a great degree in France and Italy, countries where the state actively opposed itself to the authority of the Catholic Church.[196]

The combined factors of the formation of nation states and ultramontanism, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, but also in England to a much lesser extent,[197] often forced Catholic churches, organizations, and believers to choose between the national demands of the state and the authority of the Church, specifically the papacy. This conflict came to a head in the First Vatican Council, and in Germany would lead directly to the Kulturkampf, where liberals and Protestants under the leadership of Bismarck managed to severely restrict Catholic expression and organization.

Christian commitment in Europe dropped as modernity and secularism came into their own,[198] particularly in the Czech Republic and Estonia,[199] while religious commitments in America have been generally high in comparison to Europe. The late 20th century has shown the shift of Christian adherence to the Third World and the Southern Hemisphere in general, with the West no longer the chief standard bearer of Christianity. Approximately 7 to 10% of Arabs are Christians,[200] most prevalent in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

Demographics

With around 2.4 billion adherents,[201][202] split into three main branches of Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox, Christianity is the world’s largest religion.[203] The Christian share of the world’s population has stood at around 33% for the last hundred years, which means that one in three persons on Earth are Christians. This masks a major shift in the demographics of Christianity; large increases in the developing world have been accompanied by substantial declines in the developed world, mainly in Europe and North America.[204] According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, within the next four decades, Christians will remain the world’s largest religion; and by 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion.[205]:60

A Christian procession in Brazil, the country with the largest Catholic population in the world

Trinity Sunday in Russia; the Russian Orthodox Church has experienced a great revival since the fall of communism.

As a percentage of Christians, the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy (both Eastern and Oriental) are declining in parts of the world (though Catholicism is growing in Asia, in Africa, vibrant in Eastern Europe, etc.), while Protestants and other Christians are on the rise in the developing world.[206][207][208] The so-called popular Protestantism[note 4] is one of the fastest growing religious categories in the world.[209][210] Nevertheless, Catholicism will also continue to grow to 1.63 billion by 2050, according to Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.[211] Africa alone, by 2015, will be home to 230 million African Catholics.[212] And if in 2018, the U.N. projects that Africa’s population will reach 4.5 billion by 2100 (not 2 billion as predicted in 2004), Catholicism will indeed grow, as will other religious groups.[213]

Christianity is the predominant religion in Europe, the Americas, and Southern Africa. In Asia, it is the dominant religion in Georgia, Armenia, East Timor, and the Philippines.[214] However, it is declining in many areas including the Northern and Western United States,[215] Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), northern Europe (including Great Britain,[216] Scandinavia and other places), France, Germany, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, and parts of Asia (especially the Middle East, due to the Christian emigration,[217][218][219] South Korea,[220] Taiwan,[221] and Macau[222]).

The Christian population is not decreasing in Brazil, the Southern United States,[223] and the province of Alberta, Canada,[224] but the percentage is decreasing. In countries such as Australia[225] and New Zealand,[226] the Christian population are declining in both numbers and percentage.

Despite the declining numbers, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western World, where 70% are Christians.[13] A 2011 Pew Research Center survey found that 76% of Europeans, 73% in Oceania and about 86% in the Americas (90% in Latin America and 77% in North America) identified themselves as Christians.[13][227][228][229] By 2010 about 157 countries and territories in the world had Christian majorities.[203]

However, there are many charismatic movements that have become well established over large parts of the world, especially Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[230][231][232][233][234] Since 1900, primarily due to conversion, Protestantism has spread rapidly in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America.[235] From 1960 to 2000, the global growth of the number of reported Evangelical Protestants grew three times the world’s population rate, and twice that of Islam.[236] A study conducted by St. Mary’s University estimated about 10.2 million Muslim converts to Christianity in 2015.[237] The results also state that significant numbers of Muslims converts to Christianity in Afghanistan,[238] Albania,[237] Azerbaijan,[239][240] Algeria,[241][242] Belgium,[243] France,[242] Germany,[244] Iran,[245] India,[242] Indonesia,[246] Malaysia,[247] Morocco,[242][248] Russia,[242] the Netherlands,[249] Saudi Arabia,[250] Tunisia,[237] Turkey,[242][251][252][253] Kazakhstan,[254] Kyrgyzstan,[237] Kosovo,[255] the United States,[256] and Central Asia.[257][258] It is also reported that Christianity is popular among people of different backgrounds in India (mostly Hindus),[259][260] and Malaysia,[261] Mongolia,[262] Nigeria,[263] Vietnam,[264] Singapore,[265] Indonesia,[266][267] China,[268] Japan,[269] and South Korea.[270]

In most countries in the developed world, church attendance among people who continue to identify themselves as Christians has been falling over the last few decades.[271] Some sources view this simply as part of a drift away from traditional membership institutions,[272] while others link it to signs of a decline in belief in the importance of religion in general.[273] Europe’s Christian population, though in decline, still constitutes the largest geographical component of the religion.[274] According to data from the 2012 European Social Survey, around a third of European Christians say they attend services once a month or more,[275] Conversely about more than two-thirds of Latin American Christians; according to the World Values Survey, about 90% of African Christians (in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwand], South Africa and Zimbabwe) said they attended church regularly.[275]

Christianity, in one form or another, is the sole state religion of the following nations: Argentina (Catholic),[276] Tuvalu (Reformed), Tonga (Methodist), Norway (Lutheran),[277][278][279] Costa Rica (Catholic),[280] the Kingdom of Denmark (Lutheran),[281] England (Anglican),[282] Georgia (Georgian Orthodox),[283] Greece (Greek Orthodox),[284] Iceland (Lutheran),[285] Liechtenstein (Catholic),[286] Malta (Catholic),[287] Monaco (Catholic),[288] and Vatican City (Catholic).[289]

There are numerous other countries, such as Cyprus, which although do not have an established church, still give official recognition and support to a specific Christian denomination.[290]

Demographics of major traditions within Christianity (Pew Research Center, 2010 data)[291]
Tradition Followers % of the Christian population % of the world population Follower dynamics Dynamics in- and outside Christianity
Catholic Church 1,094,610,000 50.1 15.9 Increase Growing Increase Growing
Protestantism 800,640,000 36.7 11.6 Increase Growing Increase Growing
Orthodoxy 260,380,000 11.9 3.8 Decrease Declining Decrease Declining
Other Christianity 28,430,000 1.3 0.4 Increase Growing Increase Growing
Christianity 2,184,060,000 100 31.7 Increase Growing Steady Stable
Regional median ages of Christians compared with overall median ages (Pew Research Center, 2010 data)[292]
Christian median age in region (years) Regional median age (years)
World 30
Sub-Saharan Africa 19 18
Latin AmericaCaribbean 27 27
AsiaPacific 28 29
Middle EastNorth Africa 29 24
North America 39 37
Europe 42 40

The global distribution of Christians: Countries colored a darker shade have a higher proportion of Christians.[293]

Denominations

Not shown: non-Nicenenontrinitarian, and some restorationist denominations

The four primary divisions of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox ChurchOriental Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.[39]:14[294] A broader distinction that is sometimes drawn is between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, which has its origins in the East–West Schism (Great Schism) of the 11th century. However, there are other present[295] and historical[296] Christian groups that do not fit neatly into one of these primary categories.

There is a diversity of doctrines and liturgical practices among groups calling themselves Christian. These groups may vary ecclesiologically in their views on a classification of Christian denominations.[297] The Nicene Creed (325), however, is typically accepted as authoritative by most Christians, including the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and major Protestant, including Anglican, denominations.[298]

By reason of Protestant ecclesiology, ever since its emergence in the 16th century, Protestantism comprises the widest diversity of groupings and practices. In addition to the Lutheran and Reformed (or Calvinist) branches of the Reformation, Anglicanism appeared after the English Reformation. The Anabaptist tradition was largely ostracized by the other Protestant parties at the time, but has achieved a measure of affirmation in contemporary history. AdventistBaptistMethodistPentecostal, and other Protestant confessions arose in the following centuries..

Diagram of Non-denominational systems in Christianity

Catholic Church

Pope Francis, the current leader of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church consists of those particular churches, headed by bishops, in communion with the pope, the bishop of Rome, as its highest authority in matters of faith, morality, and Church governance.[299][300] Like Eastern Orthodoxy, the Catholic Church, through apostolic succession, traces its origins to the Christian community founded by Jesus Christ.[301][302] Catholics maintain that the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” founded by Jesus subsists fully in the Catholic Church, but also acknowledges other Christian churches and communities[303][304] and works towards reconciliation among all Christians.[303] The Catholic faith is detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[305][306]

The 2,834 sees[307] are grouped into 24 particular autonomous Churches (the largest of which being the Latin Church), each with its own distinct traditions regarding the liturgy and the administering of sacraments.[308] With more than 1.1 billion baptized members, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian church and represents over half of all Christians as well as one sixth of the world’s population.[309][310][311]

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow is the tallest Eastern Orthodox Christian church in the world

The Eastern Orthodox Church consists of those churches in communion with the patriarchal sees of the East, such as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.[312] Like the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church also traces its heritage to the foundation of Christianity through apostolic succession and has an episcopal structure, though the autonomy of its component parts is emphasized, and most of them are national churches.

A number of conflicts with Western Christianity over questions of doctrine and authority culminated in the Great Schism. Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest single denomination in Christianity, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents.[13][310][313]

Oriental Orthodoxy

The Oriental Orthodox Churches (also called “Old Oriental” churches) are those eastern churches that recognize the first three ecumenical councils—NicaeaConstantinople, and Ephesus—but reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon and instead espouse a Miaphysite christology.

The Oriental Orthodox communion consists of six groups: Syriac OrthodoxCoptic OrthodoxEthiopian OrthodoxEritrean OrthodoxMalankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India), and Armenian Apostolic churches.[314] These six churches, while being in communion with each other, are completely independent hierarchically.[315] These churches are generally not in communion with Eastern Orthodox Church, with whom they are in dialogue for erecting a communion.[316]

Assyrian Church of the East

A 6th-century Nestorian church, St. John the Arab, in the Assyrian village of Geramon in Hakkari, southeastern Turkey

The Assyrian Church of the East, with an unbroken patriarchate established in the 17th century, is an independent Eastern Christian denomination which claims continuity from the Church of the East—in parallel to the Catholic patriarchate established in the 16th century that evolved into the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Pope. It is an Eastern Christian church that follows the traditional christology and ecclesiology of the historical Church of the East. Largely aniconic and not in communion with any other church, it belongs to the eastern branch of Syriac Christianity, and uses the East Syriac Rite in its liturgy.[317]

Its main spoken language is Syriac, a dialect of Eastern Aramaic, and the majority of its adherents are ethnic Assyrians. It is officially headquartered in the city of Erbil in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, and its original area also spreads into south-eastern Turkey and north-western Iran, corresponding to ancient Assyria. Its hierarchy is composed of metropolitan bishops and diocesan bishops, while lower clergy consists of priests and deacons, who serve in dioceses (eparchies) and parishes throughout the Middle East, India, North America, Oceania, and Europe (including the Caucasus and Russia).[318]

The Ancient Church of the East distinguished itself from the Assyrian Church of the East in 1964. It is one of the Assyrian churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon—the Church of the East, one of the oldest Christian churches in Mesopotamia.[319]

Protestantism

In 1521, the Edict of Worms condemned Martin Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas.[320] This split within the Roman Catholic church is now called the Reformation. Prominent Reformers included Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin. The 1529 Protestation at Speyer against being excommunicated gave this party the name Protestantism. Luther’s primary theological heirs are known as Lutherans. Zwingli and Calvin’s heirs are far broader denominationally, and are referred to as the Reformed tradition.[321]

The Anglican churches descended from the Church of England and organized in the Anglican Communion. Some, but not all Anglicans consider themselves both Protestant and Catholic.[322][323]

Since the Anglican, Lutheran, and the Reformed branches of Protestantism originated for the most part in cooperation with the government, these movements are termed the “Magisterial Reformation“. On the other hand, groups such as the Anabaptists, who often do not consider themselves to be Protestant, originated in the Radical Reformation, which though sometimes protected under Acts of Toleration, do not trace their history back to any state church. They are further distinguished by their rejection of infant baptism; they believe in baptism only of adult believers—credobaptism (Anabaptists include the AmishApostolicMennonitesHutterites and Schwarzenau Brethren/German Baptist groups.)[324][325][326]

The term Protestant also refers to any churches which formed later, with either the Magisterial or Radical traditions. In the 18th century, for example, Methodism grew out of Anglican minister John Wesley‘s evangelical and revival movement.[327] Several Pentecostal and non-denominational churches, which emphasize the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, in turn grew out of Methodism.[328] Because Methodists, Pentecostals and other evangelicals stress “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior”,[329] which comes from Wesley’s emphasis of the New Birth,[330] they often refer to themselves as being born-again.[331][332]

Estimates of the total number of Protestants are very uncertain, but it seems clear that Protestantism is the second largest major group of Christians after Catholicism in number of followers, although the Eastern Orthodox Church is larger than any single Protestant denomination.[310] Often that number is put at more than 800 million, corresponding to nearly 40% of world’s Christians.[206] The majority of Protestants are members of just a handful of denominational families, i.e. AdventistsAnglicansBaptistsReformed (Calvinists),[333] LutheransMethodists, and Pentecostals.[206] Nondenominationalevangelicalcharismaticneo-charismatic, independent, and other churches are on the rise, and constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity.[334]

Some groups of individuals who hold basic Protestant tenets identify themselves simply as “Christians” or “born-again Christians”. They typically distance themselves from the confessionalism and creedalism of other Christian communities[335] by calling themselves “non-denominational” or “evangelical“. Often founded by individual pastors, they have little affiliation with historic denominations.[336]

Historical chart of the main Protestant branches

Links between interdenominational movements and other developments within Protestantism

Restorationism

A 19th-century drawing of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receiving the Aaronic priesthood from John the BaptistLatter Day Saints believe that the Priesthood ceased to exist after the death of the Apostles and therefore needed to be restored.

The Second Great Awakening, a period of religious revival that occurred in the United States during the early 1800s, saw the development of a number of unrelated churches. They generally saw themselves as restoring the original church of Jesus Christ rather than reforming one of the existing churches.[337] A common belief held by Restorationists was that the other divisions of Christianity had introduced doctrinal defects into Christianity, which was known as the Great Apostasy.[338] In Asia, Iglesia ni Cristo is a known restorationist religion that was established during the early 1900s.

Some of the churches originating during this period are historically connected to early 19th-century camp meetings in the Midwest and upstate New York. One of the largest churches produced from the movement is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[339] American Millennialism and Adventism, which arose from Evangelical Protestantism, influenced the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement and, as a reaction specifically to William Miller, the Seventh-day Adventists. Others, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)Evangelical Christian Church in Canada,[340][341] Churches of Christ, and the Christian churches and churches of Christ, have their roots in the contemporaneous Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, which was centered in Kentucky and Tennessee. Other groups originating in this time period include the Christadelphians and the previously mentioned Latter Day Saints movement. While the churches originating in the Second Great Awakening have some superficial similarities, their doctrine and practices vary significantly.

Other

Various smaller Independent Catholic communities, such as the Old Catholic Church, include the word Catholic in their title, and arguably have more or less liturgical practices in common with the Catholic Church, but are no longer in full communion with the Holy See.

Spiritual Christians, such as the Doukhobor and Molokan, broke from the Russian Orthodox Church and maintain close association with Mennonites and Quakers due to similar religious practices; all of these groups are furthermore collectively considered to be peace churches due to their belief in pacifism.[342][343]

Messianic Judaism (or the Messianic Movement) is the name of a Christian movement comprising a number of streams, whose members may consider themselves Jewish. The movement originated in the 1960s and 1970s, and it blends elements of religious Jewish practice with evangelical Christianity. Messianic Judaism affirms Christian creeds such as the messiahship and divinity of “Yeshua” (the Hebrew name of Jesus) and the Triune Nature of God, while also adhering to some Jewish dietary laws and customs.[344]

Esoteric Christians regard Christianity as a mystery religion,[345][346] and profess the existence and possession of certain esoteric doctrines or practices,[347][348] hidden from the public but accessible only to a narrow circle of “enlightened”, “initiated”, or highly educated people.[349][350] Some of the esoteric Christian institutions include the Rosicrucian Fellowship, the Anthroposophical Society, and Martinism.

Influence on western culture

Set of pictures showcasing Christian culture and famous Christian leaders

Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and a large portion of the population of the Western Hemisphere can be described as cultural Christians. The notion of “Europe” and the “Western World” has been intimately connected with the concept of “Christianity and Christendom“. Many even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified European identity.[351]

Though Western culture contained several polytheistic religions during its early years under the Greek and Roman empires, as the centralized Roman power waned, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Western Europe.[352] Until the Age of Enlightenment,[353] Christian culture guided the course of philosophy, literature, art, music and science.[352][354] Christian disciplines of the respective arts have subsequently developed into Christian philosophyChristian artChristian musicChristian literature, etc.

Christianity has had a significant impact on education, as the church created the bases of the Western system of education,[355] and was the sponsor of founding universities in the Western world, as the university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the Medieval Christian setting.[168] Historically, Christianity has often been a patron of science and medicine. It has been prolific in the foundation of schoolsuniversities, and hospitals, and many Catholic clergy;[356] Jesuits in particular,[357][358] have been active in the sciences throughout history and have made significant contributions to the development of science.[359] Protestantism also has had an important influence on science. According to the Merton Thesis, there was a positive correlation between the rise of English Puritanism and German Pietism on the one hand, and early experimental science on the other.[360] The civilizing influence of Christianity includes social welfare,[361] founding hospitals,[362] economics (as the Protestant work ethic),[363][364] politics,[365] architecture,[366] literature,[367] personal hygiene,[368][369] and family life.[370]

Eastern Christians (particularly Nestorian Christians) contributed to the Arab Islamic civilization during the reign of the Ummayad and the Abbasid, by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac and afterwards, to Arabic.[371][372][373] They also excelled in philosophysciencetheology, and medicine.[374][375][376] Also, many scholars of the House of Wisdom were of Christian background.[377]

Christians have made a myriad of contributions to human progress in a broad and diverse range of fields,[378] including philosophy,[379] science and technology,[356][380][381][382][383] fine arts and architecture,[384] politicsliteraturesmusic,[385] and business.[386] According to 100 Years of Nobel Prizes a review of the Nobel Prizes award between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65%) of Nobel Prizes Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.[387]

Postchristianity[388] is the term for the decline of Christianity, particularly in EuropeCanadaAustralia, and to a minor degree the Southern Cone, in the 20th and 21st centuries, considered in terms of postmodernism. It refers to the loss of Christianity’s monopoly on values and world view in historically Christian societies.

Cultural Christians are secular people with a Christian heritage who may not believe in the religious claims of Christianity, but who retain an affinity for the popular culture, art, music, and so on related to it. Another frequent application of the term is to distinguish political groups in areas of mixed religious backgrounds.

Ecumenism

Ecumenical worship service at the monastery of Taizé in France

Christian groups and denominations have long expressed ideals of being reconciled, and in the 20th century, Christian ecumenism advanced in two ways.[389] One way was greater cooperation between groups, such as the World Evangelical Alliance founded in 1846 in London or the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of Protestants in 1910, the Justice, Peace and Creation Commission of the World Council of Churches founded in 1948 by Protestant and Orthodox churches, and similar national councils like the National Council of Churches in Australia, which includes Catholics.[389]

The other way was an institutional union with united churches, a practice that can be traced back to unions between Lutherans and Calvinists in early 19th-century Germany. Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches united in 1925 to form the United Church of Canada,[390] and in 1977 to form the Uniting Church in Australia. The Church of South India was formed in 1947 by the union of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, and Presbyterian churches.[391]

The ecumenical, monastic Taizé Community is notable for being composed of more than one hundred brothers from Protestant and Catholic traditions.[392] The community emphasizes the reconciliation of all denominations and its main church, located in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, France, is named the “Church of Reconciliation”.[392] The community is internationally known, attracting over 100,000 young pilgrims annually.[393]

Steps towards reconciliation on a global level were taken in 1965 by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, mutually revoking the excommunications that marked their Great Schism in 1054;[394] the Anglican Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) working towards full communion between those churches since 1970;[395] and some Lutheran and Catholic churches signing the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999 to address conflicts at the root of the Protestant Reformation. In 2006, the World Methodist Council, representing all Methodist denominations, adopted the declaration.[396]

Criticism, persecution, and apologetics

A copy of the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas, a famous Christian apologetic work

Criticism

Criticism of Christianity and Christians goes back to the Apostolic Age, with the New Testament recording friction between the followers of Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes (e.g. Matthew 15:1–20 and Mark 7:1–23).[397] In the 2nd century, Christianity was criticized by the Jews on various grounds, e.g. that the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible could not have been fulfilled by Jesus, given that he did not have a successful life.[398] Additionally, a sacrifice to remove sins in advance, for everyone or as a human being, did not fit to the Jewish sacrifice ritual; furthermore, God is said to judge people on their deeds instead of their beliefs.[399][400] One of the first comprehensive attacks on Christianity came from the Greek philosopher Celsus, who wrote The True Word, a polemic criticizing Christians as being unprofitable members of society.[401][402][403] In response, the church father Origen published his treatise Contra Celsum, or Against Celsus, a seminal work of Christian apologetics, which systematically addressed Celsus’s criticisms and helped bring Christianity a level of academic respectability.[404][403]

By the 3rd century, criticism of Christianity had mounted, partly as a defense against it. Wild rumors about Christians were widely circulated, claiming that they were atheists and that, as part of their rituals, they devoured human infants and engaged in incestuous orgies.[405][406] The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry wrote the fifteen-volume Adversus Christianos as a comprehensive attack on Christianity, in part building on the teachings of Plotinus.[407][408]

By the 12th century, the Mishneh Torah (i.e., Rabbi Moses Maimonides) was criticizing Christianity on the grounds of idol worship, in that Christians attributed divinity to Jesus, who had a physical body.[409] In the 19th century, Nietzsche began to write a series of polemics on the “unnatural” teachings of Christianity (e.g. sexual abstinence), and continued his criticism of Christianity to the end of his life.[410] In the 20th century, the philosopher Bertrand Russell expressed his criticism of Christianity in Why I Am Not a Christian, formulating his rejection of Christianity in the setting of logical arguments.[411]

Criticism of Christianity continues to date, e.g. Jewish and Muslim theologians criticize the doctrine of the Trinity held by most Christians, stating that this doctrine in effect assumes that there are three gods, running against the basic tenet of monotheism.[412] New Testament scholar Robert M. Price has outlined the possibility that some Bible stories are based partly on myth in The Christ Myth Theory and its problems.[413]

Persecution

In 2017, Open Doors estimated approximately 215 million Christians are subjected annually to “high, very high, or extreme persecution”[414] with North Korea considered the most hazardous nation for Christians.[415]

In 2019, a report[416][417] commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to investigate global persecution of Christians found persecution has increased, and is highest in the Middle East, North Africa, India, China, North Korea, and Latin America, among others,[16] and that it is global and not limited to Islamic states.[417] This investigation found that approximately 80% of persecuted believers worldwide are Christians.[17]

Apologetics

Christian apologetics aims to present a rational basis for Christianity. The word “apologetic” (Greek: ἀπολογητικός apologētikos) comes from the Greek verb ἀπολογέομαι apologeomai, meaning “(I) speak in defense of”.[418] Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle. The philosopher Thomas Aquinas presented five arguments for God’s existence in the Summa Theologica, while his Summa contra Gentiles was a major apologetic work.[419][420] Another famous apologist, G. K. Chesterton, wrote in the early twentieth century about the benefits of religion and, specifically, Christianity. Famous for his use of paradox, Chesterton explained that while Christianity had the most mysteries, it was the most practical religion.[421][422] He pointed to the advance of Christian civilizations as proof of its practicality.[423] The physicist and priest John Polkinghorne, in his Questions of Truth, discusses the subject of religion and science, a topic that other Christian apologists such as Ravi ZachariasJohn Lennox, and William Lane Craig have engaged, with the latter two men opining that the inflationary Big Bang model is evidence for the existence of God.[424]

See also

Uncategorized

Muslims

Muslims

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Muslims
Prayer in Cairo 1865.jpg
Muslims praying in 1865 Cairo by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Total population
c.1.8 billion[1][2][3] worldwide (2015)
Founder
Muhammad[4]
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia 236,800,000[5]
 Pakistan 198,800,000[6]
 India 194,600,000[7]
 Bangladesh 151,900,000[8]
 Nigeria 99,100,000[9]
 Egypt 95,000,000[10]
 Iran 82,900,000[11]
 Turkey 82,800,000[12]
 Algeria 42,000,000[13]
 Iraq 41,300,000[14]
 Sudan 39,900,000[15]
 Ethiopia 38,200,000[16]
 Afghanistan 36,800,000[17]
 Morocco 36,300,000[18]
 Saudi Arabia 32,300,000[2]
 Uzbekistan 30,800,000[19]
 Yemen 29,600,000[20]
 China 25,200,000[2]
 Malaysia 20,600,000[21]
 Syria 15,600,000[2]
Rest of the world 340,200,000[2]
Scriptures
Quran[22]
Languages

Muslims are people who follow or practice Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet and messenger Muhammad. The majority of Muslims also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (sunnah) as recorded in traditional accounts (hadith).[26] “Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “submitter” (to God).[27]

The beliefs of Muslims include: that God (Arabicالله‎ Allāh) is eternal, transcendent and absolutely one (tawhid); that God is incomparable, self-sustaining and neither begets nor was begotten; that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that has been revealed before through many prophets including AbrahamIshmaelIsaacMoses, and Jesus;[28] that these previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time (tahrif)[29] and that the Quran is the final unaltered revelation from God (Final Testament).[30]

As of 2019, 1.9 billion or about 24.4% of the world population are Muslims.[31] By the percentage of the total population in a region considering themselves Muslim, 91% in the Middle EastNorth Africa (MENA),[32] 81% in Central Asia,[33][34] 65% in the Caucasus,[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] 40% in Southeast Asia,[42][43] 31% in South Asia,[44][45] 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa,[46] 25% in AsiaOceania,[47] around 6% in Europe,[48] and 1% in the Americas.[49][50][51][52]

Most Muslims are of one of two denominationsSunni (1.6 billion/75–90%)[53] and Shia (170 million/10–20%).[54][55][56] About 229 million or 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia,[57] the largest Muslim-majority country;[58] 380 million or 20% in the Middle East–North Africa region,[59] where it is the dominant religion;[60] 600 million or 31% of Muslims live in South Asia,[61][62][63][64] the largest population of Muslims in the world;[65] and 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa.[66] Muslims are the overwhelming majority in Central Asia,[67] the majority in the Caucasus[68][69] and widespread in Southeast Asia.[70] India is the country with the largest Muslim population outside Muslim-majority countries.[71] Sizeable Muslim communities are also found in the AmericasChinaEurope, and Russia.[72][73] Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.[74][75][76]

Qualifier

The religious practices of Muslims are enumerated in the Five Pillars of Islam: the declaration of faith (shahadah), daily prayers (salat), fasting during the month of Ramadan (sawm), almsgiving (zakat), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once in a lifetime.[77][78]

To become a Muslim and to convert to Islam, it is essential to utter the Shahada, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, a declaration of faith and trust that professes that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is God’s messenger.[79] It is a set statement normally recited in Arabic: lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāhu muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله) “There is no god but Allah, (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God.”[80]

In Sunni Islam, the shahada has two parts: la ilaha illa’llah (there is no god but God), and Muhammadun rasul Allah (Muhammad is the messenger of God),[81] which are sometimes referred to as the first shahada and the second shahada.[82] The first statement of the shahada is also known as the tahlīl.[83]

In Shia Islam, the shahada also has a third part, a phrase concerning Ali, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Rashid caliph of Sunni Islamوعليٌ وليُّ الله (wa ʿalīyyun walīyyu-llāh), which translates to “Ali is the wali of God”.[84]

Lexicology

The word muslim (Arabicمسلم‎, IPA: [ˈmʊslɪm]English: /ˈmʌzlɪm//ˈmʊzlɪm//ˈmʊslɪm/ or moslem /ˈmɒzləm//ˈmɒsləm/[85]) is the active participle of the same verb of which islām is a verbal noun, based on the triliteral S-L-M “to be whole, intact”.[86][87] A female adherent is a muslima (Arabicمسلمة‎) (also transliterated as “Muslimah”[88] ). The plural form in Arabic is muslimūn (مسلمون) or muslimīn (مسلمين), and its feminine equivalent is muslimāt (مسلمات).

The ordinary word in English is “Muslim”. The word Mosalman (Persianمسلمان‎, alternatively Mussalman) is a common equivalent for Muslim used in Central and South Asia. Until at least the mid-1960s, many English-language writers used the term Mohammedans or Mahometans.[89] Although such terms were not necessarily intended to be pejorative, Muslims argue that the terms are offensive because they allegedly imply that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God.[90] Other obsolete terms include Muslimite[91] and Muslimist.[92]

Musulmán/Mosalmán (Persianمسلمان‎) is a synonym for Muslim and is modified from Arabic. It is the origin of the Spanish word musulmán, the (dated) German Muselmann, the French word musulman, the Polish words muzułmanin and muzułmański, the Portuguese word muçulmano, the Italian word mussulmano or musulmano, the Romanian word musulman and the Greek word μουσουλμάνος (all used for a Muslim).[93] In English it was sometimes spelled Mussulman and has become archaic in usage.

Apart from Persian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Italian, and Greek, the term could be found, with obvious local differences, in ArmenianDariPashtoUrduHindiBengaliMarathiPunjabiTurkishKazakhUzbekKyrgyzAzeriMalteseHungarianCzechBosnianBulgarianRussianSerbianUkrainianRomanianDutch, and Sanskrit.

Meaning

The Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi said:

A Muslim is a person who has dedicated his worship exclusively to God…Islam means making one’s religion and faith God’s alone.[94]

Other prophets

The Qur’an describes many prophets and messengers within Judaism and Christianity, and their respective followers, as Muslim: AdamNoahAbrahamIshmaelJacobMoses, and Jesus and his apostles are all considered to be Muslims in the Qur’an. The Qur’an states that these men were Muslims because they submitted to God, preached His message and upheld His values, which included praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Thus, in Surah 3:52 of the Qur’an, Jesus’ disciples tell him, “We believe in God; and you be our witness that we are Muslims (wa-shahad be anna muslimūn).” In Muslim belief, before the Qur’an, God had given the Tawrat (Torah) to Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) to David and the Injil (Gospel) to Jesus, who are all considered important Muslim prophets.

Demographics

World Muslim population by percentage (2010 data from Pew Research Center)

A map of Muslim populations by absolute number, (Pew Research Center, 2009)

The most populous Muslim-majority country is Indonesia, home to 12.7% of the world’s Muslims,[95] followed by Pakistan (11.0%), Bangladesh (9.2%), and Egypt (4.9%).[96] About 20% of the world’s Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa.[95][97]

Sizable minorities are also found in IndiaChinaRussiaEthiopiathe AmericasAustralia and parts of Europe. The country with the highest proportion of self-described Muslims as a proportion of its total population is Morocco.[2] Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world.

Over 75–90% of Muslims are Sunni.[98][99] The second and third largest sects, Shia and Ahmadiyya, make up 10–20%,[54][100] and 1%[101] respectively.

With about 1.9 billion followers (2019), almost a quarter of earth’s population,[102] Islam is the second-largest and the fastest-growing religion in the world.[103] due primarily to the young age and high fertility rate of Muslims,[104] with Muslim having a rate of (3.1) compared to the world average of (2.5). According to the same study, religious switching has no impact on Muslim population, since the number of people who embrace Islam and those who leave Islam are roughly equal.