Also spelled Fante, historic group of states in what is now southern Ghana. It originated in the late 17th century when Fanti people from overpopulated Mankessim, northeast of Cape Coast, settled vacant areas nearby. The resulting Fanti kingdoms formed a confederacy headed by a high king (the Brafo) and a high priest. It extended from the River Pra in the west to the Ga region (around Accra) in the east. To the south was the Atlantic coast, dotted with Dutch and British trading forts; to the north was the expanding Ashanti empire. The Fanti, as intermediaries in Ashanti-European trade, debased Ashanti gold before selling it to the British and Dutch and controlled the flow of European firearms to the Ashanti.
After decades of hostility, the Ashanti king Osei Bonsu conquered the Fanti confederacy (1806er declined, and in 1831 the British administrator of Cape Coast, George Maclean, negotiated a treaty providing for Fanti independence and Ashanti use of trade routes to the coast. Britain thereupon extended an informal protectorate over the south.
Resistance crystallized in the 1860s, after the British and the Dutch agreed to an exchange of forts (1867) without consulting any African rulers. The kings of the Fanti kingdoms, Denkyera, and other southern states met at Mankessim early in 1868 to establish a self-governing state free from European domination. The new Fanti Confederation had an executive council, a judiciary, an army, taxes, and a written constitution. Although short-lived, it was strong enough that the Dutch became discouraged and abandoned the coast. The British successfully exploited rivalries among members of the Confederation, and it disbanded in 1873. The next year Britain annexed the whole region south of the Ashanti empire as the Gold Coast crown colony.
The Fanti state occupies the coastal belt of Ghana, from Pra in the West to about twenty-four kilometres west of Accra, the current capital of Ghana. The Fanti states included the Eguafo, Dena (Elmina), the Efutu, Asebu, the Etsii, Komenda and shama. The Fanti controlled well-established kingdoms on the coast by the beginning of the fifteenth century.
The Fanti first settled at Mankesim, on the coast. The first Fanti states to settle along the coast were Mankesim, abora, Anyan, Ekunfi and Nkusukum. Gomoa and Adjumako joined them later. Civil war characterised the political life of the Fanti at Mankesim in the middle of the seventeenth century. The conflicts wee over who should rule who. All groups claimed to be equal. The misunderstandings and wars compelled groups of the Ganti at Mankesin to move away from the troubles to establish peaceful settlements elsewhere. Groups also moved because of the desire to benefit from trade with European merchants. Competition to control the trade routes to the inland areas among the Fanti states themselves also made them move to the coast.
The rising power of Ashanti generated the fear that Ashanti would move southwards to occupy Fantiland and the coast in general. With the defeat of Denkyira by Ashanti, traders from Ashanti were seen coming down the coast to trade with the Europeans.
The role of middlemen played by the Fanti therefore became threatened. In order to maintain their position as middlemen the Fanti absorbed the neighbouring states. The Fanti dominated the coastal trade in firearms and the trade routes to the interior. To face the danger coming from the Ashanti, the Fanti considered it necessary to untie as one people. Abora became their headquarters instead of Mankesim. The Fanti had a Council of paramount chiefs or "Amanhin" as the supreme governing body of Fantiland. Periodically, chiefs of the various areas met to deliberate and find solutions to matters affecting the people.