“Akan” is an ethnolinguistic grouping of people mainly located in the eastern part of Côte d´Ivoire and in the southern part of Ghana. Most Akan people live in Ghana. According to the historians, their ancestors migrated south from Egypt and Nubia in the 11th century and had contacts with the Empire of Ghana. Later on, they moved further down to the southern coasts.
Before the colonization, the Akan region was organized in trading kingdoms. The major Akan kingdoms were the kingdom of Bonoman, Denkyria, Gyaman, Fante and the kingdom of Ashanti, among others. Their economies were primarily based on gold. The kingdom of Ashanti became the main trading partner of the Europeans who were looking for gold and slaves in the region. In exchange, the Europeans provided wealth and weapons to the Ashanti kingdom which gained power and annexed other independent kingdoms. By the 18th century, the Ashanti Empire dominated the Akan region and was the major exporter of enslaved people.
At the Berlin conference of 1884, the Europeans divided the African continent among themselves in order to prevent any conflict that could have arisen from the exploitation of the African natural resources needed for the industrialization of Europe. The Akan region was divided between the French and the British. The new artificial border didn´t take the existing kingdoms into consideration and people from the same kingdom became the subjects of two different colonies. The Akan people who were on the eastern side of the artificial border became subjects of the Ivory Coast colony (under French domination), the Akan people on the western side became subjects of the Gold Coast colony (under British domination).
The Gold Coast colony gained independence in 1957 and changed its name to Ghana in honour of the long-gone empire. Côte d´Ivoire gained independence in 1960.