Gold Coast (British colony)

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Gold Coast (British colony)

Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957. The first Europeans to ar...

Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.

The first Europeans to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese, in 1471. Upon their arrival, they encountered a variety of African kingdoms some of whom controlled substantial deposits of gold in the soil. In 1482, the Portuguese built the Castle of Elmina, the first European settlement on the Gold Coast. From here they traded slaves, gold, knives, beads, mirrors, rum and guns.

News spread quickly, and eventually, English, Dutch, Danish, Prussian and Swedish traders arrived as well. These European traders built several forts along the coastline. The Gold Coast had long been a name for the region used by Europeans, due to the large gold resources found in the area, although slave trade was the principal exchange for a number of years.

The British Gold Coast was formed in 1821 when the British government abolished the African Company of Merchants and seized privately held lands along the coast. The remaining interests of other European countries were taken over by the British, who took over the Danish Gold Coast in 1850 and the Dutch Gold Coast including Fort Elmina in 1871.

Britain steadily expanded the colony through the invasion of local kingdoms as well, particularly the Ashanti Confederacy and Fante Confederacy. The main British problem was the Ashanti people who controlled much of Ghana before the Europeans arrived and are still today the biggest community in Ghana. Four wars, the Anglo-Ashanti Wars, were fought between the Ashanti (Asante) and the British, who were sometimes in alliance with the Fante.

During the First Anglo-Ashanti War (1863-1864) the two groups fought because of a disagreement over an Ashanti chief and slavery. Tensions increased in 1874 during the Second Ashanti War (1873-1874) when the British sacked the Ashanti capital of Kumasi. The Third Ashanti War (1893-1894) occurred because the new Ashanti Asantehene, ruler of the Ashanti, wanted to exercise his new title. From 1895-1896 the British and Ashanti fought in the Fourth and final Ashanti War, where the Ashanti fought for and lost their independence. In 1900 the Ashanti Uprising occurred and resulted in the capture and loss of Kumasi. This was due to an attempt to steal the Golden Stool, the Asentehene's throne. At the end of this last Ashanti War, the Ashanti people became a protectorate on 1 January 1902.

By 1901, all of the Gold Coast was a British colony, with its kingdoms and tribes forming a single unit. Various natural resources such as gold, metal ores, diamonds, ivory, pepper, timber, corn and cocoa were shipped from the Gold Coast by the British. The British Colonisers built railways and a complicated transport infrastructure which formed the basis for the transport infrastructure in modern-day Ghana. Western hospitals and schools were also built, an attempt by the British to export what were then modern day amenities to the people of the Empire.

However, by 1945, demands for more autonomy by the Gold Coast population were beginning to arise, in the wake of the end of the Second World War and the beginnings of the decolonisation process across the world.

By 1956, British Togoland, the Ashanti protectorate, and the Fante protectorate were merged with the Gold Coast to create one colony, which became known as the Gold Coast. In 1957 the colony gained independence under the name of Ghana.

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