History of Ghana's Tribal Groups
In 1957, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence from colonial rule. As a result, the country is now thriving economically and culturally as compared to its neighboring West African nations. Home to royalty and abundant in natural resources, Ghana boasts nearly twice the per capita output of the poorer nations in West Africa.
Historically, the empire of Ghana was named Wagadugu. Much of the Empire was located in present-day Mali and Senegal before eventually moving south to the coastal areas of West Africa. During the 15th century, when Europeans began to arrive, Ghana became known as the Gold Coast due to its rich deposits of the metal. Just as many of its surrounding empires and countries in West Africa, the people of Ghana were also exploited and trafficked during the export and trading of African slaves.
Uniquely, the tribes of Ghana are some of the most notable throughout West Africa. Ghanians are ethnically categorized into seven tribal groups: Akan (Fante and Ashanti), Ewe, Ga (Ga-Adangbe), Mole-Dagbon, Guan, Gurma and Grusi. Tribes such as the Guan, Gurma, and Grusi, when considered with Mende and other migrant tribes, altogether account for only about one-tenth of the population of Ghana.
Akan (Fante and Ashanti) Tribes of Ghana
The largest ethnic group of Ghana includes the Akan tribes, who account for nearly half of the country's population. Well-known as a matrilineal people, the Akan (Ashanti) tribe of Ghana is also revered for their invention of colorful Kente cloth, a pastime now common to many Ghanaian tribes. Other notable characteristics of the Akan, Ashanti, and Fante people of Ghana include extravagant funerals and an extremely fine tradition of craft production. Some of the most famous African masks, sculptures, and furniture are crafted from the hands of Ashanti carvers.
Mole-Dagbon Tribes of Ghana
Although the Mole-Dagbonis the second most populous ethnic group, only one in every seven Ghanaians belong to this tribal group. Further categorized by sub-tribes, many people within the Mole-Dagbon ethnic groups live in Northern Ghana, such as Bolgatanga. Known and revered for amazing African crafts and basket weaving, the Northern markets of the Mole-Dagbon people are beginning to gain international attention.
Ewe Tribes of Ghana
The Ewe tribe of Ghana mainly reside in Southern Ghana, near the Togo border, and comprise nearly 12 percent of the nation's people. Spiritually, traditional Ewes honor hundreds of gods with a variety of traditional ceremonies and celebrations. Ewes, though historically involved in agriculture, now also partake in trading, craft and mask production, and fishing.
Ga-Adangbe Tribes of Ghana
Though often grouped together, the Ga and Adangbe people of Ghana collectively represent about a dozen tribes, each speaking their own dialect. Today, many of the Ga people live in urban areas near the capital city of Accra. The Ga-Adangbe tribes alone account for nearly eight percent of the population of Ghana.