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date: 01 December 2022

Luanda: An Atlantic Port Citylocked

Luanda: An Atlantic Port Citylocked

  • Vanessa OliveiraVanessa OliveiraRoyal Military College of Canada


The connections of west-central Africa with the Atlantic world were first established in the 15th century, when a Portuguese expedition arrived in the kingdom of Kongo. By 1520, Portuguese traders reached the Mbundu state of Ndongo to the south, and in 1575 Paulo Dias de Novais established the coastal settlement of Luanda, marking the beginning of a lucrative trade in enslaved Africans that connected Luanda to the wider Atlantic world. The trade in captives became the main economic activity of the Portuguese based in Angola, and Luanda became the single most important Atlantic slaving port. In Luanda and its hinterland, interactions between foreign and local peoples gave origin to a Luso-African society, which adopted elements of European and Mbundu cultures. Previous exposure to this Atlantic creole culture was crucial for the integration of enslaved Africans to societies in Latin America. Besides supplying captives to the transatlantic slave trade, Luanda was also a slave society. Elite men and women had numerous captives in their households and in agricultural properties located in rural suburbs and in the interior. With the abolition of the slave trade in the Portuguese territories in Africa in 1836, Luanda experienced the development of the so called legitimate commerce in tropical commodities, shifting its Atlantic connections from Brazil to Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, the city was reconnected to São Tomé through a traffic of forced laborers to work on cocoa and coffee plantations.


  • West Africa

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