1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Accra

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

ACCRA, a port on the Gulf of Guinea in 5° 31′ N., 0° 12′ W., since 1876 capital of the British Gold Coast colony. Population about 20,000, including some 150 Europeans. Accra is about 80 m. E. of Cape Coast (q.v.), the former capital of the colony. The name is derived from the Fanti word Nkran (an ant), by which designation the tribe inhabiting the surrounding district was formerly known. The town grew up around three forts established in close proximity—St James (British), Crèvecœur (Dutch) and Christiansborg (Danish). The last named was ceded to Britain in 1850, Crèvecœur not till 1871. Fort St James is now used as a signal station, lighthouse and prison. Accra preserves the distinctions of James Town, Ussher Town and Christiansborg, indicative of its tripartite origin. Ussher Town represents Crèvecœur, the fort being renamed after H. T. Ussher, administrator of the Gold Coast (1867–1872). The sea frontage extends about three miles; there is, however, no harbour, and steamers have to lie about a mile out, goods and passengers being landed in surf boats. The streets formerly consisted largely of mud hovels, but since a great fire in 1894, which destroyed large parts of James Town and Ussher Town, more substantial buildings have been erected. Christiansborg, the finest of the three forts, is the official residence of the governor of the colony. Westwards of the landing-place, where is the customs house, lies James Town. Beyond the fort are various public buildings leading to Otoo Street, the main thoroughfare, which runs two miles in a straight line to Christiansborg. This street contains a fine stone church built in 1895 for the use of the Anglican community, a branch of the Bank of British West Africa, telegraph offices and the establishments of the principal trading firms. In Victoriaborg, a suburb of Ussher Town, are the residences of the principal officials, and here a racecourse has been laid out. (Accra is almost the only point along the Gold Coast where horses thrive.) Behind the town is rolling grass land, which gives place to the highlands of Aquapim and Akim. At Aburi in the Aquapim hills, 26 m. N. by E. of Accra, are the government sanatorium and botanical gardens.

Accra, the first town in the Gold Coast colony to be raised (July 1, 1896) to the rank of a municipality, is governed by a town council with power to raise and spend money. The council consists in equal proportions of nominated and elected members, no racial distinctions being made. Accra is connected by cable with Europe and South Africa, and is the sea terminus of a railway serving the districts N.E., where are flourishing cocoa plantations.