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Encyclopedia > Atlantic world

The Atlantic world is an organizing concept for the historical study of the Atlantic Ocean rim from the fifteenth century to the present.


Geography of the Atlantic world

The Atlantic world comprises the four continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean: Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. Historians of the Atlantic world focus mainly on the regions nearest the Atlantic Ocean, namely Western Europe, West Africa, the eastern coast of North America (from Newfoundland south to Florida), the Caribbean islands, Central America, and the eastern coast of South America, particularly Brazil. World map showing Europe Political map Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of Earth; the term continent here referring to a cultural and political distinction, rather than a physiographic one, thus leading to various perspectives about Europes precise borders. ... For other uses, see Africa (disambiguation). ... World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ... Central America and the Caribbean (detailed pdf map) The Caribbean (Spanish: Caribe; French: Caraïbe; Dutch: Caraïben; Portuguese: Caribe or Caraíbas) is a region of the Americas consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (most of which enclose the sea), and the surrounding coasts. ... Map of Central America Central America is a central region of the Americas. ...

Until the invention of aircraft in the twentieth century, seafaring was the primary-- in many cases, the only-- mode of long-distance travel. New settlements were typically established on seacoasts; over time, the population gradually spread inland. The Atlantic world was a community created by maritime traffic on the Atlantic Ocean. Distant settlements were linked by elaborate sea-based trading networks. The Atlantic world is in many respects a counterpart to the Pacific Rim. Map of the Pacific Rim and List of the Pacific Rim Nations The USS Abraham Lincoln Battle Group along with ships from Australia, Chile, Japan, Canada, and Korea speed towards Honolulu in RIMPAC 2000. ...

The emergence of the Atlantic world

There was little contact between western Europe and West Africa until the mid-fifteenth century, and there was almost no contact between Europe and Africa, on the one hand, and the Americas, on the other hand, before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492. The Atlantic world as a social, political, and economic entity thus emerged from the fifteenth century onward. Christopher Columbus (c. ...

Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal sponsored voyages of exploration in the Atlantic and down the western coast of Africa. In 1441, a Portuguese ship reached Cape Blanco in present-day Mauritania. Before long, Portuguese ships pushed even further down the coast of West Africa. Their primary goal was to obtain gold from the region, but they also carried a small number of African slaves to Portugal, Spain, the Canary Islands, and the Azores. The Atlantic slave trade thus emerged some decades before European contact with the Americas. Henrique, Duke of Viseu (March 4, 1394–November 13, 1460); pron. ... Cape Blanco refer to Nouadhibou on the coast of Africa. ... General Name, Symbol, Number gold, Au, 79 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11, 6, d Appearance metallic yellow Atomic mass 196. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Location Motto of the autonomous region: Antes morrer livres que em paz sujeitos (Portuguese: To die free rather than to be subjugated in peace) Official language Portuguese Capitals Ponta Delgada (Presidency of the autonomous government), Angra do Heroísmo (Supreme Court), Horta (Legislative Assembly) Other towns Praia da Vitória...

The five major European powers that colonized the Americas were Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. Not coincidentally, these were also the five major European powers that took part in the Atlantic slave trade.

Environmental history of the Atlantic world

The beginning of extensive contact between Europe, Africa, and the Americas had sweeping implications for the environmental history of all the regions involved. In a process known as the Columbian exchange, numerous plants, animals, and diseases were transplanted-- both deliberately and inadvertantly-- from one continent to another. Many foods that are common in present-day Europe, including tomatoes and potatoes, originated in the New World and were unknown in Europe before the sixteenth century. Similarly, some staple crops of present-day West Africa, including cassava and peanuts, originated in the New World. Some of the staple crops of Latin America, such as coffee and sugarcane, were introduced by European settlers in the course of the Columbian exchange. The Columbian Exchange (also sometimes known as The Grand Exchange) has been one of the significant events in the history of world ecology, agriculture, and culture. ... Binomial name Solanum lycopersicum L. Percentages are relative to US RDI values for adults. ... Binomial name Solanum tuberosum L. The potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a perennial plant of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family, commonly grown for its starchy tuber. ... Binomial name Manihot esculenta Crantz The cassava or manioc (Manihot esculenta) is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrate. ... Binomial name Arachis hypogaea L. The peanut or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) is a species in the legume family Fabaceae native to South America. ... Coffee Coffee is a beverage, served hot or with ice, prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. ... Species Saccharum arundinaceum Saccharum bengalense Saccharum edule Saccharum officinarum Saccharum procerum Saccharum ravennae Saccharum robustum Saccharum sinense Saccharum spontaneum Sugarcane or Sugar cane (Saccharum) is a genus of 6 to 37 species (depending on taxonomic interpretation) of tall grasses (family Poaceae, tribe Andropogoneae), native to warm temperate to tropical regions...

Slavery and other labor systems in the Atlantic world

The slave trade played a role in the history of the Atlantic world almost from the beginning. As European powers began to conquer and claim large territories in the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the role of chattel slavery and other forced labor systems in the development of the Atlantic world expanded. European powers typically had vast territories that they wished to exploit through agriculture, mining, or other extractive industries, but they lacked the work force that they needed to exploit their lands effectively. Consequently, they turned to a variety of coercive labor systems to meet their needs. Native Americans were employed through Indian slavery and through the Spanish system of encomienda. European workers arrived as indentured servants or transported felons. African workers were imported via the Atlantic slave trade and were used extensively throughout North and South America. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into slavery. ... Chuquicamata, the largest open pit copper mine in the world, Chile. ... Indian slavery was a practice of the Spanish from the earliest days on the Caribbean islands they first settled. ... The encomienda system was a trusteeship system used during the Spanish colonization of the Americas, whereby conquistadors were granted the towns of the indigenous people they conquered. ... An indentured servant is a labourer under contract (an indenture--explained below) to work (for a specified amount of time) for another person or a company/corporation, often without any monetary pay, but in exchange for accommodation, food, other essentials, training, or passage to a new country. ... Penal labour or penal servitude is a form of unfree labour. ... The Atlantic slave trade (Atlantic slave trading) was the purchase and transport of Africans into bondage and servitude in the New World. ...

The extent of voluntary immigration to the Atlantic world varied considerably by region, nationality, and time period. Many European nations, particularly the Netherlands and France, failed to obtain as many voluntary European immigrants as they hoped to. In New Netherland, the Dutch coped by recruiting immigrants of other nationalities. In New England, the massive Puritan migration of the first half of the seventeenth century created a large free workforce and thus obviated the need to use unfree labor on a large scale. Colonial New England's reliance on the labor of free men, women, and children, organized in individual farm households, is called the family labor system. Map based on Adriaen Blocks 1614 expedition to New Netherland, featuring the first use of the name. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... The Puritans were originally members of a group of English Protestants seeking purity — further reforms or even separation from the established church — during the Protestant Reformation. ...

The Atlantic world as a historical concept

Historian Bernard Bailyn traces the concept of the Atlantic world to an editorial published by journalist Walter Lippman in 1917.[1] The alliance of the United States and Great Britain in World War II, and the subsequent creation of NATO, heightened historians' interest in the history of interaction between societies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.[2] It has been suggested that The Peopling of British North America be merged into this article or section. ... NATO 2002 Summit The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), sometimes called North Atlantic Alliance, Atlantic Alliance or the Western Alliance, is an international organisation for defence collaboration established in 1949, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, DC, on April 4, 1949. ...

In American and British universities, Atlantic world history is supplementing (and possibly supplanting) the study of specific European colonial societies in the Americas, e.g. British North America or Spanish America. Atlantic world history differs from traditional approaches to the history of colonization in its emphasis on inter-regional and international comparisons and its attention to events and trends that transcended national borders. Atlantic world history also emphasizes colonization's impact on Africa and Europe.

See also

The Atlantic slave trade (Atlantic slave trading) was the purchase and transport of Africans into bondage and servitude in the New World. ... Atlantic Revolutions is a cover term for a wave of late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century revolutions associated with the Enlightenment. ... For other American colonies, see European colonization of the Americas or English colonization of the Americas. ... New France (French: la Nouvelle-France) describes the area colonized by France in North America during a period extending from the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River, by Jacques Cartier in 1534, to the cession of New France to the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1763. ... Map based on Adriaen Blocks 1614 expedition to New Netherland, featuring the first use of the name. ... This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ...


  1. ^ Bailyn, Atlantic History, 6-7.
  2. ^ Bailyn, Atlantic History, 9.

Further reading

  • Bailyn, Bernard. Atlantic History: Concept and Contours. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005.
  • Seed, Patricia. Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Taylor, Alan. American Colonies. New York: Viking, 2001.
  • Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

External links

  • Atlantic History Seminar, Harvard University
  • The Atlantic World: America and the Netherlands, sponsored by the Library of Congress



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