25 Shocking Facts About Slave Trade

What do you think of when you hear the words “slave trade”? You probably think of the Atlantic slave trade. While this is one of the most well known, there were (and still are) numerous other trades as well. Today we’re going to take a look at all of the different trades throughout history, with a focus on the Atlantic trade. These are 25 shocking facts about slave trade.

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The Portuguese were the first to enter the Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century. For the next 4 centuries, they would remain the primary actors. In fact, by the time it was abolished in the 19th century, nearly half of all slaves traded in the Atlantic slave trade had been shipped to Portuguese colonies like Brazil.

slave plantationSource: nationalgeographic.org

Although most people think of the slave trade as being British ships taking slaves from West Africa to the United States, this only accounted for a little over 6% of all slaves. The vast majority of slaves (roughly 60%) were sent to Spanish and Portuguese South America.

slave shipSource: ocf.berkeley.edu

Most of the remaining slaves (about 30%) were taken to the Caribbean by the British, French, and Dutch Empires.

slave tradeSource: history.com

This trade wasn't just back and forth though. It was something called Triangle Trade. As you could guess, triangular trade is any trade that involves three separate regions. In this instance, the slaves were taken from West Africa and exchanged for cash crops in the Caribbean; the cash crops were exchanged for manufactured goods in New England; and then the manufactured goods were once again exchanged for slaves in West Africa.

triangle tradeSource: britannica.com

Although the British North American colonies were not a major destination region for slaves (apart from the plantations of the south), the colonies benefited massively from selling their manufactured goods to slave traders.

portSource: history.com

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