Atlantic slave trade
A trade in Africa which started in ancient times. Slaves were sent across the Sahara and were traded in the Mediterranean by Phoenicians; Graeco-Roman traders in the Red Sea and beyond traded slaves from E Africa to Egypt and the Middle East. These trades continued in mediaeval times, but the scale of the trade built up with the arrival of the Portuguese in Africa and the development of the labour-intensive plantation system in the W African islands of São Tomé and Principe, Brazil, the Caribbean, the southern American colonies, and later the Indian Ocean islands and South and East Africa. The Portuguese dominated the trade in the 16th Century , the Dutch in the early 17th Century , while the late 17th Century was a period of intense competition with the French, British, Danes, and Swedes joining the early practitioners. The trade reached its peak in the second half of the 18th Century , and from this period the E African slave trade became more significant, particularly during the period of Omani power up to the 1860s. The British abolished the slave trade in 1807, and the institution of slavery in 1833. They then instituted Royal Naval anti-slaver squadrons on the coasts of W and E Africa. There have been various estimates of the number of slaves removed from Africa, the most reliable figure being c.12·5 million between 1650 and 1850. Many other people must have lost their lives in the wars stimulated by the trade, and the total drain meant that at the very least the African population remained static for over two centuries.
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