The Tamale Metropolitan Assembly was established by legislative instrument (L.I. 2068). Currently, it is one of the six Metropolitan Assemblies in the country and the only Metropolis in the five regions of Northern Ghana namely: the Upper East, Upper West, Northern, North East and Savannah regions. Tamale is the Metropolitan Capital as well as the Regional capital of the Northern Region. The North East and Savannah regions were part of the Northern region until they were created by referenda in December 2018.

The Tamale Metropolis is one of the 16 MMDA’s in the Northern Region. It is located in the central part of the Region and shares boundaries with the Sagnarigu Municipality to the North-West, Mion District to the East, East Gonja to the South and Central Gonja to the South-West.

Tamale is strategically located in the Northern Region and by this strategic location, the Metropolis has a market potential for local goods from the agricultural and commercial sectors from the other districts in the region and the southern part of Ghana. By its location, the Metropolis stands to gain in trade from some neighbouring West African countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Togo. The Metropolis has a total estimated land size of 646.9sqkm (2010 PHC Report). Geographically, the Metropolis lies between latitude 9º16 and 9º 34 North and longitudes 0º 36 and 0º 57 west.

There are a total of 116 communities in the Metropolis of which 41 (35%) are urban, 15 (13%) being peri-urban and 60 (52%) of them being rural in nature. The rural parts of Tamale are the areas where land for agricultural activities is available and serve as the food basket for the Metropolis. However these communities have inadequate basic social and economic infrastructure such as good roads, school blocks, hospitals, markets and recreational centers.

Topography and Drainage

The Metropolis is generally flat with gentle undulating low relief. The altitude ranges from 400 to 800 ft. above sea level. The Metropolis is poorly endowed with water bodies. The only natural water systems are a few seasonal streams which have water during the rainy season and dry up during the dry season. All these streams have their headwaters from Tamale which is situated on a higher ground. Aside this, some artificial dams and dug-outs have been constructed either by communities or Non-Governmental Organizations in the Metropolis. Two of such dams are the Datoyili and water works dams. These dams and dug-outs serve as water sources for animals as well as for domestic purposes. Despite this poor drainage situation, the Metropolis still has the potential for irrigation schemes. For instance the Pagazaa stream has a potential that could serve as irrigation for agricultural purposes.

  • Climate and Rainfall pattern

The Metropolis experiences two main seasons during the year – the dry and the raining seasons. The dry season starts from late October to early May. Farming activities noted for this period are: harvesting of rice, cassava, yam, drying of foodstuffs, preparation of farmlands and raising of yam mounds. This season is also noted for hunting and burning of bushes for game. Most fire disasters occur during this period. The temperature is also good for solar and wind energy. Dry harmattan winds from the Sahara are experienced during the months of November to February. The coldest nights in the year are experienced in the months of December, January and February, while the hottest nights are experienced in the months of March, April and May. The second season, which is the raining season, spans from late May to early October. The annual average rainfall is 1200mm. It is characterized by inaccessibility of some parts of the Metropolis due to bad roads. This period is also associated with lean or food insecurity (June to early August). Cultivation and sowing is done during this period. Late August begins harvesting of early groundnuts, yam and maize.

  • Soil

The main soil types in the Metropolis are sandstone, gravel, mudstone and shale that have weathered into different soil grades. Due to seasonal erosion, soil types emanating from this phenomenon are sand, clay and laterite ochrosols. The availability of these soil types have contributed to rapid real estate development in the area where estate developers have resorted to the use of local building materials such as sea sand, gravel and clay. The clay can be used for bricks and tiles in the housing industry. The availability of clay has engaged so many women in pottery. In the Rural parts of the Metropolis the soil type is sandy loam and it is suitable for growing crops such as millet, maize, guinea corn, groundnuts, yam, and beans.


  • Population size

The population of Tamale Metropolis, according to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, is 374,744 (i.e. Tamale Central sub-district council 127,978 and Tamale South sub-district council 246,766) representing 16.2 percent of the region’s population. Males constitute 49.4 percent (185,051) and females represent 50.6 percent (189,693). This implies that there are more females than males in the Metropolis. The proportion of the total population living in the urban areas is (80.8%) and that of the proportion living in rural areas is (19.2%), meaning that most of the people in the metropolis live in the urban as compared to the percentages of those living in the rural areas. The Tamale Metropolis is therefore the only Metropolis in the Region which is predominantly urban.  This implies that the Metropolis could be a growth pole for the other regions in northern Ghana attracting both population and economic development in the area. This is also a potential for labour (skilled, semi and unskilled) for industry.

  • Age-dependency                   

 The age-dependency ratio is the ratio of persons in the “dependent” ages (those under age 15 and age 65 and older) to the working-age population (15 to 64 years). The age-dependency ratio is often used as an indicator of the economic burden the productive portion of the population must carry. Areas with very high birth rates usually have the highest age-dependency ratios because of the large proportion of children in the population. The higher this ratio, the more people a potential worker is assumed to be supporting and the vice-versa.  The dependency ratio for male in the Metropolis is 70.2, while that of female is 68.5 indicating that there are more male dependents than females in the Metropolis. In the rural area, the dependency ratio (86.5) is higher than the urban area (65.7) meaning that there is more dependent population in rural areas than the urban centers.

  • Fertility

Fertility refers to the number of live births a woman has ever given to in her life time. The analysis is based on the birth histories of women aged 15-49. A measure of fertility is important in determining the size and structure of the population. Table 1.4 indicates the distribution of total fertility rate, general fertility rate and crude birth rate for the Northern Region. The fertility rate for the Tamale Metropolis is 2.8 children per woman aged 15-49 years, and this is lower than the regional average of 3.54. This means that a woman in the age group 15-49 living in the Metropolis would have, on the average, 2.8 children by the end of her reproductive period age.


  •  Religious affiliation

Majority (90.5%) of the population in Tamale Metropolis is Muslim and followed by Christians. About (0.2%) has no religious affiliation. Among the Christians, the Catholics have the highest proportion of 3.0 percent, followed by Pentecostal/Charismatic (2.4%) and Protestants (2.4%). The proportion of traditionalist in the Metropolis is (0.3%). There are a number of religious leaders who apart from spreading the message of Islam, work to educate people on moral uprightness. Notable places of Islamic propagation include the Central and the Anbariyya mosques.

  •  Ethnicity

The Metropolis is occupied by diverse ethnic and tribal groups with Dagombas being the traditional occupants of this area. More than 80% of the people living in the Metropolis are Dagombas. Other tribal groups include the Gonja, Mamprusi, Nanumba, Konkomba, Asantes, Ewes, Hausa and some other minorities.  This composition is important for inter-tribal cooperation which is required for peace and development in the Metropolis.

  • Traditional administration

The Metropolis is being administered by a number of key traditional rulers including the Dakpema, the Gulkpe Naa, the Lamashe Naa and the Banvim Lana. Other sub-chiefs together with some opinion leaders support the traditional administration in the Metropolis..