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Exploration and slave trade in Africa

In the 15th century, the Portuguese began their expansion down the West African coast. Europeans knew of the rich deposits of gold and ivory in Africa. Trade to Europe was dominated by Arab merchants, but if one could find a sea route one would have more direct access. In 1471 the Portuguese reached Upper Guinea, in 1483 the mouth of the Congo River and in 1486 Cape of Good Hope. Along the way, the Portuguese created small forts and traded with local kingdoms. Among other things, several Portuguese were landed on the Congo River, and then made their way up to M'banza Congo, the capital of the mighty Kingdom.

In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached several outposts along the coast of East Africa that were under the Sultan of Kilwa in present-day Tanzania. The Swahili cities were severely injured when the Portuguese took over the gold trade down the Zambezi River and ravaged the coastal towns all the way north to the Gulf of Persia. Although the Portuguese in the 1600s were chased back from the East African coastal cities, which sought help from the Arabian sea state of Oman, the city states did not regain their old strength. Many of them came under direct Arab control for the first time.

2011 AfricaSlavery and slave trade were an integral part of many African societies. In West Africa, slaves had long been part of the trade that took place across the Sahara, and it was common for prisoners of war to be sold as slaves. But now a new market emerged. In the islands of Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe the Portuguese started sugar plantations with labor from the mainland. Growing sugar cane is a labor-intensive form of farming, and the need for slaves increased. In the 1500s, the Portuguese discovered Brazil, where they eventually also created sugar plantations. The Portuguese brought slaves to Cape Verde from areas currently located in Sierra Leone. The other slaves were taken from areas that today make up the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

Several countries gradually became involved in this trade, including Denmark-Norway, but with Portugal as the largest single player. The trade took place as Europe exported goods to West Africa which were exchanged for slaves. These were again brought to South America and the Caribbean, where sugar was bought and brought back to Europe. This system was called the Triangle Trade, a very lucrative business for those involved.

The trade also led to war between several of the European players. During the so-called "sugar war", which was part of the wars fought between Portugal and the Dutch, East Indian and West Indian companies, several of Portugal's African fortifications and parts of Brazil fell to the Dutch. The war was about control of the lucrative slave trade and sugar production, but also about the sea route to India and the spice trade. Portugal gradually regained its possessions, but had lost its dominant position both along the coast and in the slave trade. Eventually it was the British and French who were to dominate the lucrative trade in human cargo. Towards the end of the 1600s, there was a huge increase in the number of slaves being shipped out of Africa.

For the European powers, the slave trade, and eventually the production of sugar and cotton in Brazil, the Caribbean and North America, was a source of prosperity. For the territories, and many of the kingdoms where the slaves came from, the trade was disastrous. In the past, prisoners of war had been sold off, now the war was taken to take prisoners. Several local kingdoms also allied with the Dutch against Portugal, and then were severely punished when Portugal regained its possessions. Beyond the 17th century, the kingdoms of Congo and Ndongo in today's Angola, among others, went down. In the wake, a large part of their population was sold away as slaves. In other parts of Africa, local rulers fortified their power by acting as intermediaries for the slave trade.

There are several estimates of how many people were shipped out of Africa. For West Africa, figures are around 10 million or higher; for Africa probably a total of 14 million or more. Life expectancy at the sugar plantations was low, and very many slaves died shortly after. The descendants of the survivors today make up a significant portion of the population of Brazil and the Caribbean, but also a portion of the population of other Latin American countries and the United States. Africa was tapped for its most important resource: humans. The evolving trade pattern, with exports of raw materials and imports of finished goods, provided little incentive for own development and continues in part to this day.

Africa Overview

Africa, the world's second largest continent; 30 million km2, over 1 billion. in. (2010). The continent is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean; bounded to Asia by the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Nearby islands also include the islands. The Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and the Seychelles. Check African abbreviations on Abbreviationfinder.

Africa is characterized by poverty; first the slave trade and since the colonial period, a serious underdevelopment of the continent. In the second half of the 1900-t. almost all the African countries have become independent, but many are still affected by major problems, including political turmoil. The Great Saharan Desert separates the real Africa "black Africa" ​​from North Africa, which historically, politically and culturally belongs to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. The name Africa was originally the name of the Roman province in the then Carthage area.


The population is estimated at over 1 billion. (2010); the continent is sparsely populated with 27 acre per capita. km2, but the figure covers considerable regional variations.

Men and women

From birth, life for men and women is divided. Boys are raised to take on the father's duties, and girls help the mother with typical women's tasks.


The most important profession in Africa is agriculture; it employs over half the population.


The continent's colonial past is clearly seen in the infrastructure. Selected areas (mines, plantation areas) in the interior of Africa are linked to a port city, while connections between countries are often poor.


Africa is a compact continent with almost no peninsula and fjords. The landscape is generally a flat, high-altitude plateau; in many places the plateau ends quite abruptly on the coast.


The idea of ​​African unity and cooperation is closely linked to Africa's struggle for independence and independence. Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was one of the most eager.

Trade and investment

The value of Africa's total exports in 1990 was almost 2% of the world's total exports. Almost all exports consist of unprocessed raw materials (especially crude oil) and food.

Denmark and Africa

Denmark's trade with Africa is severely limited - less than 1% of the country's total foreign trade. The majority are with North Africa, while imports from sub-Saharan Africa, for example, are very small.


Most of Africa has tropical climate. North and south of the broad tropic zone around the equator, the climate is subtropical; the highest mountains in i.a. East Africa has a temperate climate.


The continent's geological history extends beyond 3000 million. years back. It contains four Precambrian bedrock shields, which are surrounded by later mountain ranges and partially covered.

Plant Geography

The flora of Africa is very diverse between regions, which is mainly due to differences in climate. In Egypt and in parts of Libya, the desert reaches all the way to the Mediterranean.


The wildlife of North Africa is similar to that of Europe and northern Asia. Here are deer, steelworms and bumblebees - animal groups that are missing from sub-Saharan Africa.


Africa is populated by almost 3000 ethnic groups or peoples. The vast majority of these have been politically independent entities, but each group has its own cultural features.


There are approx. 1800 different languages ​​in Africa, but the number is uncertain. This is because dialect can be delimited into independent language in various ways.


By African religion is meant the traditional religions of the sub-Saharan African continent. In the history of religion, African religion has often been placed at the bottom of the religious ladder.


Illness and health conditions are strongly characterized by poverty, troubled political conditions accompanied by civil wars, and by the particular climatic conditions.


In Africa's Arabic-speaking countries, education and upbringing are often an integral part of Islamic cultures. Sub-Saharan countries contain what is understood here by African education, although these do not form a uniform group.

Mass media

The writing language and the mass media came late to real Africa. The first Africans wrote in African languages ​​for approx. 200 years ago, first with the Arabic, then with the Latin alphabet.


African art, in the professional literature and museum world, denotes the traditional, visual art produced by the many different peoples of sub-Saharan Africa.

Modern art

The art of the new African states has deep roots in ancient art. The European and American interest has kept alive the traditional African art.


Scripture literature in sub-Saharan Africa has a long history associated with the spread of Christianity and Islam. In the 600-h. found in Ethiopia Bible translated into.


For centuries, theater in sub-Saharan Africa has functioned as part of entertainment, education, and religious rituals.

Music and dance

Music and dance in Africa is, in principle, a collective affair where everyone participates, although the different age groups and genders usually fill their seats, both in movement patterns, instrument use and song.


African film is born of the fact that most African countries gained independent status around 1960 and thus the opportunity to manifest African culture and uniqueness.

Africa's exploration

About 600 BC sailed a Phoenician expedition posted by Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, around Africa. It sailed from east to west, and Herodotus reports that the expedition saw the sun on the right hand, ie in the north.


In Africa, the oldest traces of human life are found. The continent has accommodated many peoples, which over time have merged and divided, expanded and annihilated, and some ethnic groups are... Read more about the history of Africa.

Countries in Africa
  1. Algeria
  2. Angola
  3. Benin
  4. Botswana
  5. Burkina Faso
  6. Burundi
  7. Cameroon
  8. Cabo Verde
  9. Central African Republic
  10. Chad
  11. Comoros
  12. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  13. Djibouti
  14. Egypt
  15. Equatorial Guinea
  16. Eritrea
  17. Eswatini
  18. Ethiopia
  19. Gabon
  20. Gambia
  21. Ghana
  22. Guinea
  23. Guinea-Bissau
  24. Ivory Coast
  25. Kenya
  26. Lesotho
  27. Liberia
  28. Libya
  29. Madagascar
  30. Malawi
  31. Mali
  32. Mauritania
  33. Mauritius
  34. Morocco
  35. Mozambique
  36. Namibia
  37. Niger
  38. Nigeria
  39. Republic of the Congo
  40. Rwanda
  41. Sao Tome and Principe
  42. Senegal
  43. Seychelles
  44. Sierra Leone
  45. Somalia
  46. South Africa
  47. South Sudan
  48. Sudan
  49. Tanzania
  50. Togo
  51. Tunisia
  52. Uganda
  53. Western Sahara
  54. Zambia
  55. Zimbabwe

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