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Accra stretches along the Atlantic Coast and north into the interior. It was originally built around the port. Its architecture ranges from large and elegant 19th Century colonial buildings to skyscrapers and apartment blocks made of concrete, glass and steel in the 1970s. Shanty towns at the city's edges are where the majority of Accra's ever expanding population can be found. Since the early 1990s a number of new buildings have been built, including the multi-storey Novotel hotel which is French-owned. There is also an impressive National Theatre that was built with help from the Chinese. The centre of Accra contains the main banks, the large department stores, the Cocoa Marketing board headquarters and a whole area known as The Ministries, where the government administration is concentrated. Most people still live in the poor shanty towns which have grown up around the edges of the city and near the port. Homes in the shanty towns are crowded and cramped. They are mud built huts made from any materials that their owners can find. They are made of sticks, palm fronds woven into screens, sheets of corrugated iron or plywood, concrete breezeblocks and discarded packing cases from the port. The shanty towns, like James Town, are like mazes with muddy lanes where goats, chickens and dogs scrabble for scraps.

The dusty roads that lead into Central Accra are lined with open-fronted shacks and stands selling everything from cooked food, trousers and haircuts, electrical goods, or cast iron gates. Most have colourful headboards advertising the name of the shop. Women sit at the road side with their babies strapped to their backs and basins of oranges, yams and plantains for sale in front of them. This is how most people who live in the shanty towns make a living. The central Makola market is very big and very busy. Market women sit under huge straw hats, with babies strapped to their backs, behind piles of tomatoes, yams, beans, plantains, peanuts and rice and basins of dried fish or meat. The residential areas are to the north and west of Accra. In the wealthy areas two storey houses, some elegant colonial houses on stilts with wide verandas, are surrounded by tree-filled gardens and bougainvillea covered walls. Many of the middle range houses (mainly occupied by government workers) are corrugated roof concrete bungalows, surrounded by scrubby grass and hedged by trees. On the outskirts of Accra some concrete blocks of flats have been put up to house the expanding population of Accra.

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Additional Photos by Assi Dvilanski (asival) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 293 W: 109 N: 750] (5307)
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