Online Encyclopedia

CALABAR (or OLD CALABAR)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 962 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CALABAR (or OLD CALABAR)  , a seaport of West Africa in the
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British
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protectorate of
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Southern
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Nigeria, on the
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left
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bank of the Calabar
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river in 4° 56' N., 8° 18' E., 5 M. above the point where the river falls into the Calabar estuary of the Gulf of
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Guinea . Pop. about 15,000 . It is the capital of the eastern province of the protectorate, and is in
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regular steamship and telegraphic communication with
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Europe . From the
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beach, where are the business houses and customs office, rise cliffs of moderate
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elevation, and on the sides or summits of the hills are the
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principal buildings, such as Government House, the
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European hospital and the church of the Presbyterian
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mission . The valley between the hills is occupied by the native quarter, called Duke
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Town . Here are several
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fine houses in bungalow style, the residences of the chiefs or wealthy natives . Along the river front runs a
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tramway connecting Duke Town with Queen Beach, which is higher up and provided with excellent quay accommodation . Among the public institutions are government botanical gardens,
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primary
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schools and a high school . Palms, mangos and other trees grow luxuriantly in the gardens and open spaces, and give the town a picturesque setting . The trade is very largely centred in the export of palm oil and palm kernels and the import of cotton goods and
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spirits, mostly
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gin . (See NIGERIA for trade returns.) Calabar was the name given by the Portuguese discoverers of the 15th century to the tribes on this
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part of the Guinea coast at the time of their arrival, when as yet the
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present inhabitants were unknown in the
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district . It was not till the early part of the 18th century that the Efik, owing to
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civil war with their kindred and the Ibibio, migrated from the neighbourhood of the Niger to the shores of the river Calabar, and established themselves at Ikoritungko or Creek Town, a spot 4 M. higher up the river .

To get a better

share in the European trade a.t the mouth of the river a
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body of colonists migrated further down and built Obutong or Old Town, and shortly afterwards a
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rival colony established itself at Aqua Akpa or Duke Town, which thus formed the nucleus of the existing town . The native inhabitants are still mainly Efik . They are pure negroes . They have been for several generations the
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middle men between the white traders on the coast and the inland tribes of the
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Cross river and Calabar district . Christian missions have been at
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work among the Efiks since the middle of the 19th century . Many of the natives are well educated, profess
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Christianity and dress in European fashion . A powerful bond of union among the Efik, and one that gives them considerable influence over other tribes, is the secret society known as the
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Egbo (q.v.) . The chiefs of Duke Town and other places in the neighbourhood placed themselves in 1884 under British
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protection . From that date until 1906 Calabar was the headquarters of the European administration in the Niger delta . In 1906 the seat of government was removed to
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Lagos . Until 1904 Calabar was generally, and officially, known as Old Calabar, to distinguish it from New Calabar, the name of a river and
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port about too m. to the east . Since the date mentioned the official style is Calabar simply .

Calabar estuary is mainly formed by the Cross river (q.v.), but receives also the

waters of the Calabar and other streams . The Rio del Rey creek at the eastern end of the estuary marks the boundary between (British) Nigeria and (German) Cameroon . The estuary is to to 12 M. broad at its mouth and maintains the same breadth for about 30 M .

End of Article: CALABAR (or OLD CALABAR)
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