Gold Coast


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Gold Coast is Number 93 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) was comprised of the Gold Coast Colony, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, and two inland territories, Ashanti and the Northern Territories Protectorate. The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The study notes that the “Gold Coast shares with Gambia the record of being the part of West Africa which has the oldest British connection,” and it briefly traces the history of British involvement in the territory, going back to the Royal African Company, founded in 1660, and the African Company of Merchants, its successor organization established in 1750. The importance of the Gold Coast forts in the Atlantic slave trade is mentioned, but only very briefly. According to a census taken in 1911, the total population of the Gold Coast was more than 1.5 million, although this number was said to be too low, owing to the practical difficulties in counting the entire population. The economic section of the study emphasizes the colony’s great potential wealth, based mainly on agriculture. Cocoa was the main commercial crop. The appendix includes a summary of the relevant passages in the treaties relating to the Gold Coast between Great Britain and Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, and statistical tables relating to shipping and foreign trade.

Last updated: February 18, 2015