"There's sometimes a tendency to focus on the challenges that exist in Africa," Obama said this year. "But I think it's important for us to also focus on the good news that's coming out of Africa, and I think Ghana continues to be a good-news story."
But critics say that despite the rich resources that bring billions of dollars annually, the wealth is not trickling down to the rural poor who live on the land where the gold is mined.
"Mining goes with a lot of myths, like it creates jobs, it brings development, it makes people's lives better," said Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, a Ghanaian activist and founder of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining. "That is the first deception: that you are sitting on gold and somebody is going to mine it. You cannot imagine for once the person can take the gold away and leave you in a bad state."
Ghana was among the first African countries to gain independence from the British, breaking loose in 1957. It endured a series of coups before Lt. Jerry Rawlings took power in 1981. A decade later, it transitioned to a stable democracy with multiparty elections.
Unlike its neighbors, including Ivory Coast, Ghana has held successful elections and power transfers since 1992 without descending into bloody chaos.
In addition to the presidential election, hundreds of candidates vied for 275 parliamentary seats.
This election marked the first time the nation of 25 million has used the new biometric voter identification system.