European Forts and Trading Posts in West Africa

From the mid-sixteenth century onward, the English maintained their presence in West Africa through isolated coastal forts, some of which are depicted on the map below. These forts were important hubs of maritime commerce and part of the critical infrastructure of the burgeoning slave trade. Though heavily fortified, they depended on the support of African polities, who collected taxes from European participation in the trade.


  • Lawrence, A.W., Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa. London: Cape. 1963.
  • Thornton, John K. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Northrup, David. Africa’s Discovery of Europe: 1450-1850. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Sparks, Randy J. Where the Negroes Are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014.

See also