Although Ghana is primarily a rural country, urbanization has a long tradition within indigenous and modern society.
There is a major cultural distinction between the north and south. The north is poorer because it has received less educational and infrastructural investment.
Migrants from the region, and from adjoining areas of Burkina Faso, Togo, and Nigeria traditionally take on menial employment or are involved in trading roles in the south, where they occupy segregated residential areas called zongos.
In the south the traditional settlement was a nucleated town site that was serving as a king’s or a chief’s administrative base and housed the agricultural population, political elite, and occupational specialists.
Before colonization, Ghana’s populations in these centers ranged from a few hundred to several thousand in a major royal capital city, such as Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city after Accra. Traditional political individuals also served economic functions concentrated in open-air marketplaces, which still constitute a central feature of traditional and modern towns.
Housing consists of a one-story group of connected rooms arranged in a square around a central courtyard, which serves as the primary focus of domestic activity.
The chief’s or king’s palace is an enlarged version of the basic household. Settlement in the north follows a very different pattern of dispersed farmsteads.