Danish Gold Coast History of West Africa Dutch Gold Coast

The Portuguese on the Gold Coast

When Prince HENRY THE NAVIGATOR founded his school of navigators in Sagres in 1433, his primary object was to find a sea route to the African country where the Moroccans traded in salt for gold on a pound-for-pound basis. After several decades, the Portuguese found the Moroccan source of gold, and named the coast where they traded it in after it - GOLD COAST.
The Portuguese established a number of trading posts and soon fortified them. The most eminent were FORT SAO JORGE DA MINA (Elmina, constructed in 1482) and SANTO ANTONIO DE AXIM (1503).
Until the end of the 16th century the Portuguese were the only Europeans trading on the Gold Coast, where they obtained gold, ivory and a commodity which would consistently gain in importance - African slaves. As the African trading partners were petty coastal statelets, the amount of trade was limited. Tropical diseases made the stay for European merchant communities difficult.
In 1598, Dutch competitors appeared; in 1610 and 1615 the Portuguese raided the Dutch trading post at Fort Nassau; in 1606, 1607 and 1625 the Portuguese fended off Dutch attempts to take Fort Sao Jorge da Mina, from now on called ELMINA. The fort fell to the Dutch in 1637, Fort Santo Antonio de Axim in 1642, which ended the Portuguese presence on the Gold Coast.

European forts in Ghana, by Marco Ramerini; Castles and Forts of Ghana, from Akwaaba
Chronology of Portuguese Possessions in Africa, 1415-1800, by Marco Ramerini
REFERENCE A.F.C. Ryder, Portuguese and Dutch in West Africa before 1800, pp.212-231 in : JF. Ade Ajayi and Ian Espie (ed.), West African History, Ibadan UP (1965) 1967 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 31st 2005

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