, black African ethnic group, S Ghana, living around Cape Coast and Elmina, one of the Akan peoples. The Fanti speak a Twi language, which is part of the Kwa group of the Niger-Congo branch of the Niger-Kordofanian linguistic family (see under African languages
); they number around 500,000. Inheritance and succession to public office are determined mostly by matrilineal descent. According to their oral traditions, the Fanti arrived in their present habitat from the north by the 17th cent. They served as middlemen in the commerce between the interior and British and Dutch traders on the coast. In the early 18th cent. the Fanti formed a confederation, primarily as a means of protection against Ashanti
incursions from the interior. Several Fanti-Ashanti wars followed. The Fanti were aided by the British, who, however, destroyed the strong Fanti confederation established between 1868 and 1872, believing it a threat to their hegemony on the coast. In 1874 a joint Fanti-British army defeated the Ashanti, and in the same year the Fanti became part of the British Gold Coast colony.
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