Prior to independence on March 6, 1957, Ghana was called the Gold Coast.  The earliest Europeans to set foot on the land were the Portuguese in the 15th century (1471).  On their arrival, they found so much gold between the rivers Ankobra and the Volta that they named the area “da Mina”, meaning “The Mine”.  In 1482, the Portuguese built the first castle in the Gold Coast at Elmina to enhance their trading activities especially in gold and slaves. By 1598, the Dutch also arrived in the Gold Coast to trade.  They built forts along the coastal areas, notable among them being the Dutch fort at Komenda.  In  1637, they captured the Elmina castle from the Portuguese and in 1642 captured Fort St. Anthony in Axim.

Many other European traders came to the Gold Coast to trade.  These included the British, Danes and Swedes.   The European traders built several forts along Ghana’s coastlines. In 1872, the Dutch lost interest in the coast and ceded their forts free to the British thus ended a period of Dutch occupation lasting 274 years.  By 1874, the British who were then the only Europeans in the Gold Coast established the crown colony that brought the coastal states under its effective political control.