Ashanti <<ah SHAN tee>> is a region in the nation of Ghana, in western Africa. Ashanti also refers to a people who live there. The people call themselves Asante. Historically, Ashanti was a powerful military and political state. Today, it is Ghana’s most heavily populated region.
The Asante people are primarily farmers. They raise cacao, which is used to make chocolate, and other crops. The region also has timber and gold. Today, many people visit the Ashanti region seeking local crafts. Such crafts include wood carvings and colorful kente cloth.
The Ashanti state first developed in the late 1600’s. A leader named Osei Tutu formed the state when he brought together a group of independent kingdoms. In the early 1700’s, the Ashanti state expanded by conquering neighboring kingdoms. In the late 1800′s, the Asante and the British fought each other for control of trade in West Africa. The British finally defeated the Asante in 1901. The Ashanti lands then became a British colony.
In 1957, Ashanti and other nearby areas became the independent country of Ghana. Since then, traditional Asante rulers have played a major role in Ghana’s economic and political development.