The Afar make up over a third of the population of Djibouti, and are one of the nine recognized ethnic divisions (kililoch) of Ethiopia. The Afar language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, is spoken by ethnic Afars in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, as well as in eastern Eritrea and Djibouti. However, since the Afar are traditionally nomadic herders, they may be found further afield. The Afar Danakil are the sister culture of the ancient Ta-Seti people. Whereas the Ta-Seti culture were amongst the founding branches of the eastern Bejaw or Beja People; the Ta-Antyu (Puntite) Utjenet Culture were progenitors of the Afari and Tigre cultures. The Land of Punt was of pivotal importance to the development of Egypt's pre-dynastic civilization and played a significant role throughout dynastic Egyptian history.
The Utjenet and Ta-Seti cultures formed a single territory until Egypt's Second Intermediate Period when opposing cultures of Omo ethnic clans from further south and west pushed into central Sudan, separating the two branches of the Ta-Antyw. The Northern most branch would become the Ta-Seti whilst the Southernmost populations would become the Afar. They are sometimes called Danakil, a name used specifically to refer to northern Afars, while southern Afars can be called Adel (also transliterated as Adal), similar to the former Adal Sultanate.