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  Maps of Africa

  Links to maps available on the internet are provided in section SOURCES AND SELECTED LINKS.

  Please observe usage and copyright restrictions for these images. A small sampling of available

  images is provided here.

  (Click on the maps to view a larger version)
  ● Map of Africa Today
  ● Map of Africa 1771
  ● Earth at Night, NASA Satellite Photo, November 27, 2000
  ● Slave Ports in West Africa in 1750
  ● Slave Trade From Africa to the Americas
  ● Nigeria Today
  ● Senegal Today
  ● Ghana Today
  ● Sierra Leone Today


A map of Africa today is shown; the sub-Sahara region, not including South Africa, is where the European slave traders were active. The Portuguese began dealing in black slaves from Africa in the 15th century. Initially, they purchased slaves from Islamic traders, who had established inland trading routes to the sub-Sahara region. Later, as the Portuguese explored the coast of Africa, they came upon the Senegal River, and found that they could purchase slaves directly from black Africans. The European slave trading activity moved south along the African coast over time, as far south as Angola. On the east coast of Africa and in the Indian Ocean region, slaves were also taken from Mozambique, Zanzibar and Madagascar. Many of the slaves were from the interior of Africa, having been taken captive as a result of tribal wars, or else having been kidnapped by black slave traders engaged in the business of trading slaves for European goods. These slaves would be marched to the coast to be sold, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles. Many perished along the way - the numbers can only be estimated. Lovejoy (20) notes that losses on the ships were estimated at 9-15 per cent, and losses at Dutch-ruled Cape Coast castle were reported to be 6-7 per cent. Losses from the point of capture to the point of arrival at the slave trading forts were estimated to be 40% by Miller (21) based on data from Angola. Using Thomas' (12) figure of 11,128,000 live slaves delivered to the New World during the Atlantic slave trade, and considering Lovejoy's and Miller's estimates of losses, the number of captured slaves in the interior of Africa is estimated to be from 21.7 million to  23.5 million people. This figure does not include the many who may have been killed in the process of capture.



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An interesting old map of Africa reflecting European understanding of the continent and its regions at the time. The engraving says 'Engraved for Drake's Voyages.' Francis Drake set sail for Africa from England with 5 ships in 1577; however, research done by the University of Florida Map and Imagery Library indicates that the cartographic information on the map most likely depicts 18th century knowledge of Africa. Below Cape Verde to the west is 'Negroland,' and to the east is 'Nubia.'  Below 'Negroland' is 'Lower Ethiopia' and then 'Upper Guinea,' which in terms of today's Africa includes, from west to east,  Côte D'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. Below 'Upper Guinea' is 'Lower Guinea,' about where Angola is today. To the east, below 'Nubia,' is 'Abissinia' and then 'Upper Ethiopia,' which is roughly where Ethiopia is today.




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Showing Africa, Europe, North and South America. Note the proximity of Portugal to the west coast of Africa, and the direct route across the Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa to the Caribbean and the east coasts of North and South America. Slave ships departing from Mozambique and Zanzibar on the east coast of Africa and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean would travel around the southern tip of Africa and most likely head for Brazil.



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Slave ports in West Africa in 1750 are shown, identifying those held by the British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Danish. Gorée Island, the slave trading port opposite Dakar, Senegal, is only three kilometers from the coast and cannot be seen on this map. In addition to these ports were slave trading locations on the east side of Africa, at Mozambique, Zanzibar, and Madagascar.

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Slave trade routes from Africa to the Americas during the period 1650-1860 are shown. There were additional routes to the New World from  Mozambique, Zanzibar and Madagascar on the east side of Africa. Most of the slaves from the east side were brought to Portuguese controlled Salvador in the state of Bahia, Brazil, along with many other slaves from Angola. Brazil received more slaves from Africa than any other country in the New World. The 500,000 African slaves sent to America represents 10% of the number sent to Brazil, and 11% of the number sent to the West Indies. According to the estimates of Hugh Thomas (12), a total of 11,128,000 African slaves were delivered live to the New World, including 500,000 to British North America; therefore, only 4.5% of the total African slaves delivered to the New World were delivered to British North America. Also from Hugh Thomas, the major sources of the 13 million slaves departing from Africa (see slave ports map, above) were Congo/Angola (3 million), Gold Coast (1.5 million), Slave Coast (2 million), Benin to Calabar* (2 million), and Mozambique/Madagascar on the east coast of Africa (1 million).


*Benin refers to the historic Kingdom of Benin (not to be confused with today's country of Benin), in Nigeria just below the Slave Coast. Calabar is farther down the coast of Nigeria, close to the border with Cameroon, on the Bight of Biafra in the Gulf of Guinea (see Nigeria today map, below).




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Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, with a population of 149,229,090. It is bordered on the coast by Benin to the west and Cameroon to the east. Lagos was originally settled by the Yorubas, and is now the largest city in Nigeria (8-10 million population) and one of the largest in Africa, second to Cairo in urban area population. Located on the Slave Coast, it was a major center of the slave trade from 1704 to 1851.

The capital of Nigeria is Abuja, a planned city located in the interior of the country. Prior to December 12, 1991, Lagos had been the capital city.

Benin City was the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, which flourished from the 14th through the 17th century and was heavily involved in the slave trade. The Kingdom was inhabited by the Edo people.

Calabar, very close to the Cameroon border, was a major slave trading port from the late 17th century to the 19th century.

Nigeria is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups. The most populous and politically influential groups are: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%. The principal religions are Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, and indigenous beliefs 10%.

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Senegal today is bordered on the coast by Mauritania to the north, and Guinea-Bissau to the south. The population is 12, 521, 851. The Gambia River is in The Gambia, which shares its entire land border with Senegal.

Dakar, the capital city of Senegal with a population of 2 million people, is located on the Cape Verde peninsula and is the westernmost point of the mainland of Africa. Gorée Island, just 3 kilometers from Dakar, was a major slave trading center.

The Republic of Cape Verde is a nation of islands 400 miles west of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands were originally colonized by the Portuguese and served as a slave trading center.

The principal ethnic groups in Senegal consist of: Wolof 43%, Pular 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%.

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Ghana today is bordered on the coast by Côte D'Ivoire to the west, and Togo to the east. The population is 22, 931, 299. To the north is Burkina Faso. Off the coast is the Gulf of Guinea.

Accra, the capital city of Ghana, has a population of 1.7 million people. To the west along the coast is Cape Coast, site of a historic slave trading castle of the same name, as well as the nearby Elmina Castle originally built by the Portuguese in 1482. During the Atlantic slave trade, this coastal region was referred to as the Gold Coast.

The principal ethnic groups in Ghana are: Akan 45.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Grusi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other 7.8%.


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Sierra Leone today is bordered on the west coast of Africa by Guinea to the north, and Liberia to the south. The population is 6,440,053.  Off the coast is the North Atlantic Ocean .

Freetown, the capital city, is on the coast and has a population of 1.07 million people. The Bunce Island Slave Castle, located 20 miles upriver from Freetown, was established by the British in 1670. Slaves were taken from Sierra Leone until Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade in 1807.

The principal ethnic groups in Sierra Leone are: Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other African ethnic groups 30%, and Creole 10%. The Creoles are descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late 18th century. The principal religions are Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, and indigenous beliefs 30%.




















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Last updated:  April 14, 2009      © 2007, 2008 Neil A. Frankel Contact: webmaster