Wa is the capital of the Upper West Region of Ghana and is the main city of the Wala people. The majority of the inhabitants are Muslim. It is the seat of the Wa-Na, the Paramount Chief of the Wala traditional area. Features of the town include several mosques, the Wa-Na Palace, a museum and a nearby hippopotamus sanctuary. The town serves as a transportation hub for the northwestern part of Ghana, with major roads leading south to Kumasi, north to Hamile and Burkina Faso, and northeast to Tumu and the Upper East Region. There is also a small airport.
Wa is in the southern part of the Sahel, the semi-arid area south of the Sahara that ranges from Senegal to the Sudan. Average annual rainfall is around 1000 mm, almost all of which occurs between May and October. Following the May–October rainly season is a cool dry period called the Harmattan (in Waali sesiao sanga) when a steady, often dusty, north wind blows from the Sahara. The hottest period of the year is in February and March when daytime temperatures often reach 110 °F (42 °C).
Despite its urban status, Wa is in many ways still an agricultural community, and many people make a good portion of their living in small scale farming. The main crops are corn, millet, yams, okra and groundnuts. Upland rice is also farmed in a few areas. The major fruit crop is the mango. Shea nuts are collected from wild trees, for food or refinement into oils and cosmetics.