Between about 1500 and 1900, Europeans forcibly uprooted millions of people from throughout West Africa and West Central Africa and shipped them across the Atlantic in conditions of great cruelty.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade began around the mid-fifteenth century when Portuguese interests in Africa moved away from the fabled deposits of gold to a much more readily available commodity -- slaves.The Atlantic slave trade or transatlantic slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly from Africa to the Americas, and then their sale there. The slave trade used mainly the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage, and existed from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The vast majority of those who were enslaved and transported in the transatlantic slave trade were Africans from central and western Africa, who had been sold by other West Africans to Western European slave traders (with a small number being captured directly by the slave traders in coastal raids), who brought them to the Americas. The South Atlantic and Caribbean economies especially were dependent on the supply of secure labour for the production of commodity crops, making goods and clothing to sell in Europe. This was crucial to those western European countries which, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, were vying with each other to create overseas empires.

Transport  of Africans  to the colonies.Pictorial Images of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.They presided over the forcible removal of millions of people from their homelands in Africa.

By the 1514, Portuguese ships were already transporting Africans for use as slaves on the sugar plantations in the Cape Verde and Madeira islands in the eastern Atlantic. Spanish conquistadors took African slaves to the Caribbean after 1502, but Portuguese merchants continued to dominate the transatlantic slave trade for another century and a half, operating from their bases in the Congo-Angola area along the west coast of Africa. The Dutch became the foremost slave traders during parts of the 1600s, and in the following century English and French merchants controlled about half of the transatlantic slave trade, taking a large percentage of their human cargo from the region of West Africa between the Sénégal and Niger rivers.

Inside Slave ship during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.The African continent  recognised as the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization.

The Business of Slavery,much more is known about the European segment of the African slave trade, in part because records are much more readily available. And there is much more human evidence of the Atlantic slave trade.

Expanding European empires in the New World lacked one major resource a work force. In most cases, the indigenous peoples had proved unreliable (most of them were dying from diseases brought over from Europe), and Europeans were unsuited to the climate and suffered under tropical diseases. Africans, on the other hand, were excellent workers: they often had experience of agriculture and keeping cattle, they were used to a tropical climate, resistant to tropical diseases, and they could be "worked very hard" on plantations or in mines.To refer to the Africans who were enslaved only as 'slaves' strips them of their identity. They were, for instance, farmers, merchants, priests, soldiers, goldsmiths and musicians. They were husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. They could be Yoruba, Igbo, Akan or Kongolese.European slavers dispersed them across the Americas to lead lives of degradation and brutality, without thought for their personal lives. Millions died in the process. As a result, people of African descent are spread throughout the Americas and Western Europe. This is called the African Diaspora.

This golden age of industry revealed a darker, more brutal nature of mankind. Plantation owners bought slaves to work in the fields.

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