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ELMINA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 297 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ELMINA, a town on the Gold Coast, British West Africa, in 5° 4' N., 1° 2o' W. and about 8 m. W. of Cape Coast. Pop. about 4000. Facing the Atlantic on a rocky peninsula is Fort St George, considered the finest fort on the Guinea coast. It is built square with high walls, and has accommodation for 200 soldiers. On the land side were formerly two moats, cut in the rock on which the castle stands. The castle is the residence of the commissioner of the district and other officials. The houses in the native quarter are mostly built of stone, that material being plentiful in the vicinity. Elmina is the earliest European settlement on the Gold Coast, and was visited by the Portuguese in 1481. Christopher Columbus is believed to have been one of the officers who took part in this voyage. The Portuguese at once began to build the castle now known as Fort St George, but it was not completed till eighty years afterwards. Another defensive work is Fort St Jago, built in 1666, which is behind the town and at some distance from the coast. (In the latter half of the 19th century it was converted into a prison.) Elmina was captured by the Dutch in 1637, and ceded to them by treaty in 164o. They made it the chief port for the produce of Ashanti. With the other Dutch possessions on the Guinea coast, it was transferred to Great Britain in April 1872. The king of Ashanti, claiming to be ground landlord, objected to its transfer, and the result was the Ashanti war of 1873—1874. For many years the greatest output of gold from this coast came from Elmina. The annual export is said to have been nearly £3,000,000 in the early years of the 18th century, but the figure is probably exaggerated. Since 1900 the bulk of the export trade in gold has been transferred to Sekondi (q.v.). Prempeh, the ex-king of Ashanti, was detained in the castle (1896) until his removal to the Seychelles. (See ASHANTI: History, and GoLD COAST: History.)
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