Originally, Fante refers to tiny states within 50 miles radius of Mankessim. The states that made up the Fante were Kurantsi, Abura, Anyan, Akumfi, Nsukum, Ejumako and Gomoa. The Mfantsefo or Fante (Fanti is an older spelling) are an Akan people. Fante subgroup is mainly gathered in the south-western coastal region of Ghana, with some also in Ivory Coast. Fante main city is Cape Coast, Central region. They are one of the Akan peoples, along with the "'Asantefo'" or Ashantis, the Akuapem, the Akyem, the Baoule, Guam, and others. Despite the rapid growth of the Ashanti Empire in historic times, the Fante have always retained their state to this day. Currently, they number about 2.5 million, the third largest grouping of Akan peoples. Inheritance and succession to public office among the Fanti are determined mostly by matrilineal descent, as is common among most Akan peoples.
When the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century, the Fante prevented them from venturing inland and leased properties for Portuguese trading missions. But when the Portuguese objected to Fante rules and regulations the Fante expelled them. Thenceforth the Dutch arrived, followed by the English, soon to be British. The Fante served as middlemen in the commerce between the interior and British and Dutch traders on the coast.
In the early 18th century, the Fante Confederacy was formed, with the aim of establishing themselves as a nation to be taken seriously by their European counterparts. So in 1844 a bond was written between the Fante, on behalf of the Gold Coast, and the British, allowing the Gold Coast to gain independence without war one hundred years later. Several Ashanti-Fante wars followed. On one occasion, the Fante were aided by the British, who, however, destroyed the strong Fante confederation established between 1868 and 1872, believing it a threat to their hegemony on the coast.
The Fante have produced numerous illustrious and prominent people, notable among whom are Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General), British journalist and writer Ekow Eshun, Sam Jonah (ex-CEO of AngloGold Ashanti), John Atta Mills (Ghana's late former president), and a number of the advocates of independence, not only in Ghana but also in the West African sub-region, such as John Mensah Sarbah, James Kwegyir Aggrey and J. E. Casely Hayford.