Elmina – capital of the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem District on the south coast of South Ghana in the Central Region, situated on a south-facing bay on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Ghana, 12 km (7.5 mi), within the Central region, west of Cape Coast. Elmina is the first European settlement in West Africa and it has a population of about 34,000 people
Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, the town was called Anomansah (the perpetual drink). In 1478 (during the War of the Castilian Succession), near the coast at Elmina, was fought a large battle between a Castilian armada of 35 caravels and a Portuguese fleet for dominance of the Guinea trade (gold, slaves, ivory and melegueta pepper). The war ended with a Portuguese naval victory followed by the official recognition by the Catholic Monarchs of Portuguese sovereignty over most of the West African territories in dispute embodied in the Treaty of Alcáçovas,1479.This was the first colonial war among European powers. Many more would come. Today, Elmina’s main economic industry is fishing and tourism.
Elmina Castle was erected by Portuguese in 1482 as São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine) Castle, also known simply as Mina or Feitoria da Mina) in present-day Elmina, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast). It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, and took over all the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814; in 1872 the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of the British Empire.
Britain granted the Gold Coast its independence in 1957, and control of the castle was transferred to the nation formed out of the colony, present-day Ghana. Today Elmina Castle is a popular historical site, and was a major filming location for Werner Herzog‘s 1987 drama film Cobra Verde. The castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Beside two historic castles, Elmina has to offer far more. There are some top class hotels, fishing harbor, fantastic beaches, coffee houses and restaurants, nearby Cape Coast Castle and Kakum National Park.
The Fante tribes living there have been them-selves slave traders; the same as the Ga tribes, and Ashanti. They actually delivered slaves from Northern Ghana, and sold these poor souls to European slave traders. Beside Europeans, there where also Jews involved who often financed the vessels and made large profits. Apart from Elmina Castle and Fort Coenraadsburg, and the fishing harbor, the main tourist attractions within Elmina include the Dutch Cemetery and the Elmina Java Museum.
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