According to Ethnologue, Bia is a family of languages which is distinct from, but closely related and parallel to the Akan group, and includes those of the Sefwi (Sehwi), the Ahanta, and the Nzema peoples. Bia is the name of a major river in Ghana which rises near Wamfie in Brong Ahafo, and crosses into Cote d'Ivoire near Dadiaso, Western Region, before flowing into the Aby Lagoon.
The Sefwi people live in the north of the Western Region and are represented by three separate paramountcies, namely those of Anhwiaso, Bekwai and Wiawso. Detailed research into their history has been presented by Daako, who describes how from "the middle of the seventeenth century this vast stretch of territory has served as a centre of refuge for people escaping from the political centralization policies of their neighbours to the north and east", referring to the Ashanti and the Denkyira. However, further conflicts ensued as the Ashanti pushed their area of control south-west as far as Apollonia. It was not until 1887 that the Sefwi finally obtained independence from Ashanti, and Daako notes that "the etymology of the word 'Sefwi' indicates that the state is of comparatively recent creation. Sefwi is said to be the contraction of the Twi phrase, 'Esa awie' or 'Esa hie' meaning 'War is over'. It is interesting to note that it was only in the early 19th century that the name appeared in the European records." Ntumy & Boafo note that "The Sehwi people refer to their language as 'Esahie'".