Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to achieve independence - in 1957 - prompting many others to cut their colonial ties.
Nana Akufo-Addo was not John Kufuor's first choice for NPP candidate
One of the founding members of the New Patriotic Party in 1992 when multi-party democracy returned to Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo has had presidential ambitions since 2000.
With a father who was ceremonial president from 1969 to 1972 and relations who founded members of Ghana's pro-independence movement, the United Gold Coast Convention, he also has political pedigree.
As a toddler, the family home in Accra was like the party's headquarters.
AT A GLANCE: NANA AKUFO-ADDO
Party: New Patriotic Party (NPP)
Home town: Kyebi, Eastern Region
Executive posts: Attorney general 2001-03; foreign affairs minister 2003-07
He was not outgoing-President John Kufuor's favoured candidate for the NPP, but won a fierce contest at the party primaries last year.
His campaign slogan is "BIG - Believe In Ghana".
As a student, he did economics in Ghana and read law in the UK, he flirted with Marxism, at one time describing himself as a Trotskyite, before returning to the liberal ideals of his political forebears, known in Ghana as the Danquah-Busia tradition.
In 1975 he became a barrister in Ghana and secretary general of the People's Movement for Freedom and Justice, a broad-based coalition of activists that ultimately brought about the downfall of Ignatius Acheampong's military government in 1978.
During the 20-year rule of Jerry Rawlings, Mr Akufo-Addo established himself in Ghana's political arena as a champion of human rights.
He founded Ghana's Committee on Human and Peoples' Rights and as attorney general in 2002 drafted the National Reconciliation Act, which established the National Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses in Ghana.
Married with five children, he is a fluent Twi, Ga, English and French speaker.
JOHN ATTA MILLS
This is the third time John Atta Mills is running for president
John Atta Mills won the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party ticket by an overwhelming 81% to run for president, despite having lost twice to John Kufuor - in 2000 and 2004.
He served as vice-president to Jerry Rawlings between 1997 and January 2001 and created a stir by saying that if elected, he would consult with the former president.
This time around he has distanced himself from Mr Rawlings, even drawing criticism from his former boss for being too gentle with the ruling NPP.
In contrast to Nana Akufo-Addo's NPP advertising boards, Mr Atta Mills began his campaign with modest-sized signboards bearing the slogan "I Believe in Ghana".
He describes himself as a social democrat, leaning broadly on independence leader Kwame Nkrumah's idea of social welfare, while attempting a more inclusive and less polarising political platform than both Mr Nkrumah and Mr Rawlings.
He studied law in Ghana and took a doctorate in taxation and economic development in the UK.
"The Prof", as he is known, has pursued a long academic career and is also a member of several organisations such as the Tax Review Commission.
AT A GLANCE: JOHN ATTA MILLS
Party: National Democratic Congress (NDC)
Home town: Ekumfi Otuam, Central Region
Executive posts: Vice-president 1997-2000
Profession: University professor
As vice-president, he was also head of the government's Economic Management Team responsible for overseeing the introduction of Value Added Tax and the Ghana Education Trust Fund.
Married with one child, he is a keen hockey player, at one time a member of the national team, and likes swimming.
He is a former chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association, National Sports Council of Ghana and Black Stars Management Committee.