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(əkän`, äk`ən), people of W Africa, primarily in Ghana, where they number over 7.5 million, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo. They speak languages of the Twi branch of the Kwa subfamily. Although patrilineal descent is recognized, matrilineal descent is more important; social organization is built around the clan. The AshantiAshanti
or Asante
, historic and modern administrative region, central Ghana, W Africa. The region is the source of much of Ghana's cocoa. It is inhabited by the Ashanti, a matrilineal Akan people who constitute one of Ghana's major ethnic groups. Before the 13th cent.
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 and the FantiFanti
, 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
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, both of Akan stock, developed powerful confederacies and kingdoms in the 17th and 18th cent.



a group of related peoples of southern and central Ghana and the southeastern parts of the Ivory Coast, totaling nearly 4.8 million people (1967 estimate), including over 3 million in Ghana, where they form the nucleus for the unifying nation. The Akan languages belong to the Kwa group. On the basis of linguistic similarity, the Akan form the following groups: the Ashanti, Fanti, Akim, Akwapim, and Kwaya; the Agni and related Nzima, Sefwi, Ahanta, and Baule; and the Gonja or Guang, Krachi, Nawuri, and Abrong.

After World War II, a movement to create a single literary language began. Most of the population (77 percent in 1961) adheres to local, traditional religions (ancestor worship, polytheistic religions); the rest are Christians (Protestants and Catholics). The Akan peoples reached a high level of social and cultural development long before the Europeans came. A strong centralized state—Ashanti—existed among them in the 18th–19th centuries. From the early 20th century until 1957, the territory inhabited by the Akans was under British and French rule. Ghana—previously the Gold Coast, a British colony—was granted independence in 1957 and the Ivory Coast—previously a French colony—in 1960. The main occupation of the Akan peoples is tropical farming; the cultivation of cacao is important.


Potekhin, I. I. “Novoe afrikanskoe gosudarstvo—Gana.” Sovetskaia etnografiia, 1957, no. 2.


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