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.
Slavery 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
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, 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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
African art, in the professional literature and museum
world, denotes the traditional, visual art produced by the
many different peoples of sub-Saharan Africa.
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
For centuries, theater in sub-Saharan Africa has
functioned as part of entertainment, education, and
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.
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.