Africa 1648 CE

Large numbers of Africans are being taken to the Americas as slaves.

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What is happening in Africa in 1648CE

Egypt and most of North Africa have come under the rule of the Ottoman empire. Meanwhile, the kingdom of Morocco has formed its own empire, straddling the Sahara desert. By now, however, the southern regions of this empire essentially form independent kingdoms.

Sub-Saharan Africa

European sailors and traders first arrived off the coast of West Africa in the mid-15th century. Since then, Africa has been incorporated into an Atlantic trading system which is centred on the enslavement of large numbers of Africans and shipping them to the labour-hungry European colonies in the Americas.  About 60% of the slaves are taken from the West African coast, the rest from south of the equator. Within Africa itself, the trade is mostly in the hands of African chiefs and merchants, and in return for supplying slaves, they demand metal goods, cloths, spirits and guns.

In Central and East Africa, new kingdoms are forming as trade networks spread deeper into the continent. Meanwhile, on the east coast of Africa, the Swahili trading states have had to face the eruption of the Portuguese into the Indian Ocean. Superior warships and cannon have given the newcomers a dominating position, and they have now seized the southern cities, and exert a tight influence over the rest of the coast. The Portuguese domination has led to a decline in the prosperity of all the Swahili cities.

The Portuguese have established the first European colonies in Africa south of the Sahara. Their settlement in modern-day Angola is the base for their slave trade. In South Africa, the Cape has become a regular point of call for European ships, particularly those of the Dutch East India Company. There, they barter with the Khoikhoi natives for provisions for the onward journey.

Next map, Africa 1789

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