Ghana, located on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, was once known as the Gold Coast because of its vast deposits of this precious mineral. In the 14th and 15th centuries Ghana was the home of powerful African kingdoms that traded both gold and slaves. Ghana's wealth attracted Europeans, and the British eventually incorporated the land into their empire. In 1957 Ghana became one of the first African countries to win independence—an event that inspired nationalist movements throughout the rest of the continent. Although most of Ghana's history as an independent nation has been marked by political strife, the situation seems to be improving. The country is now considered to be a stable democracy, as government power has been peacefully transferred several times since 2001.