Elmina was the first point of
contact between the Europeans and the inhabitants of Lower Guinea. Many events took place at Elmina that literally shaped
the history of the world.
In 1471 , a Portuguese expedition
arrived, led by Don Diego d'Azambuja. Because of the vast amounts of gold and ivory they found here, they called the area
"Mina de Ouro" -The gold mine. In no time at all, Elmina became the center of a thriving trade in gold, ivory and slaves,
which were exchanged for cloth, beads, brass, bracelets and other goods brought there by the Portuguese.
In 1482, the Portuguese built
St. George's Castle (Elmina Castle). This vast rectangular, 97,000 sq. ft. fortification is the earliest known European structure
in the tropics. As the immensely profitable trade in gold and slaves at Elmina increased, it attracted the attention of other
European nations, and a struggle for control of the Castle ensued.
In 1637, the Dutch captured Elmina
Castle, and remained in control for the next 274 years. For the duration aor the Atlantic Slave Trade , the damp unlit dungeons
of Elmina Castle continued to serve as a horrific holding prison for African captives, brought there to the coast to
be sold and transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.
The Atlantic Slave Trade accelerated
steadily after 1492, with the European settlement of the Americas needing agricultgural laborers (i.e. slaves) to develop
and operate their plantation system in the New World! Elmina Castle, the oldest and largest slave trading post in Africa,
still stands in the modern nation of Ghana.