I for Ivory Coast
Following a war against the Aztec civilisation, culminating in their downfall as we know it, Hernán Cortés intensified cultivation efforts in New Spain to develop lucrative trade with Europe. New Spain included North America, The Caribbean, Philippines, Mexico, Panama, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Trinidad.
European countries such as Portugal, Great Britain, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands were largely responsible for the creation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade which took place between the 16th and the 19th Century.
Some tribe Chiefs in Africa would capture local people and sell them to the European traders in return for trinkets. The conditions of transport were appalling and not many people would survive. The survivors would be sold in public auctions to be employed in different plantations in South America, The Caribbean, and Central and North America, where they would survive only a few years because of very difficult work and living conditions. The fruits of their labour were then shipped to Europe and sold for great profit.
In Britain, the slave trade began during the reign of Elizabeth I. It is recorded that British ships carried just over five million people, to be traded as slaves, between 1562 and 1807 in around 10,000 voyages. Barbados became the first British settlement in the Caribbean in 1625, followed by Jamaica in 1655. The most important British colonies for cocoa were Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Jamaica, St Lucia, Guiana and Belize.
Opposition developed against the slave trade, especially in Britain, Portugal and America; Denmark was the first country to ban the slave trade in 1803 and Britain followed suit in 1807, imposing stiff fines for any slave found aboard a British ship. The Royal Navy, which then controlled the world’s seas, moved to stop other nations from continuing the slave trade and declared that slaving was equal to piracy and was punishable by death.
The economy suffered from the decline in the slave trade which was gradually banned the world over. However, it continued illegally in some parts, and up to this day in some countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso with human trafficking and child labour.
Cocoa plantations were established in The Philippines by the Spanish as early as 1700, and in African countries in the 19th Century (1800s):
- São Tomé and Príncipe in 1824 (A Portuguese colony since 1493 to its independence in 1975) - Ghana from 1879 (A British colony from 1867 until its independence in 1957);
- Cameroon from 1880 (A German colony, then colonised and divided between the French and English from 1884 until its independence in 1961)
- Ivory coast from 1890 (French Protectorate then colony from 1843 until its independence in 1960).
By the 20th Century (1900s), more cocoa plantations were established by the British in Sri Lanka, and by the Dutch in Java, Sumatra and Indonesia
Today, Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer followed by Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil and Ecuador.
Africa is the source of 70% of the world cocoa, while Mexico where chocolate was born, accounts for only 1.5%.