Home ° 2017


North Africa: ° Algeria ° Egypt ° Libya ° Morocco ° Sudan
West Africa: ° Benin ° Cameroon ° Congo ° Cote d'Ivoire ° Gabon ° (Republic of the) Gambia ° Ghana ° Guinea ° Liberia ° Mauritania ° Mozambique ° Nigeria ° Sao Tome and Principe ° Senegal (Dakar) ° Sierra Leone
East Africa (The Horn of Africa): ° Djibouti ° Kenya ° Eritrea ° Madagascar ° Somalia ° Sudan ° Tanzania ° Zanzibar


Bantu peoples began to migrate to what is now Gabon from Cameroon and eastern Nigeria at least 2,000 years ago. The Portuguese sighted the coast as early as 1470 and gave Gabon its name because the shape of the Rio de Como estuary reminded them of a "gabao," a Portuguese hooded cloak.

Gabon, West Africa. A European Trading Settlement.

The Portuguese founded permanent outposts, notably at the mouth of the Ogoou River, and their missionaries followed shortly. After the Portuguese, the region was visited by the English, Dutch, and French.

During the 17th century, the great French trading companies entered the slave trade. French Jesuit missionaries were active along the coast during this period, and their influence eventually extended to the powerful native kingdoms inland.

The abolition of the slave trade by France in 1815 ruined many merchants but did not end French interest in the Gabon coast. French vessels were entrusted to prevent the illegal slave trade, and the search for new products for trade led to French occupation of the coastal ports.

In 1839, the French concluded a treaty with Denis, the African king whose authority extended over the northern Gabon coast, by which the kingdom was ceded to France in return for French protection. A similar treaty gained France much of the southern coast below the Ogoou , and gradually other coastal chiefs accepted French control. The present capital, Libreville ("place of freedom"), was founded in 1849 by slaves who had been freed from a contraband slave runner. French explorers gradually penetrated the interior after 1847.

In 1885, the Congress of Berlin recognized French rights over the right bank of the Congo, an area that Brazza had explored extensively.

June 9, 1877, Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The old King of Gabon, in Africa, is dead, at the age of nearly one hundred. His eldest son, Adaude, at once, succeeding him, cashiered the hundred women of his father's harem, liberating fifty slaves, and abolished the sacrifice of human beings at religious rites. Admiral Ribaut and staff, of the French squadron in the Gulf of Guinea, assisted at the coronation ceremonies. The Admiral gave the King a cow and a bull by way of starting a herd of cattle for his majesty.

In 1890, Gabon formally became a part of French Congo.

Adult Male Mandrill.

It was separated into a district administrative region in 1903 and in 1910 was organized as a separate colony, part of French Equatorial Africa.

Mandrills (image left) recognize each other on the dark forest floor beause of their brilliantly colored faces and rear ends. They also use these dramatic features to warn other males to keep away from their territory. They communicate through a complex set of social signals which include vocal and visual greetings, social grooming, threatening displays and submissive postures.

Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005African American Journeys to Africa.
African American Journeys to Africa.
James T. Campbell
Many works of history deal with the journeys of blacks in bondage from Africa to the United States along the middle passage, but there is also a rich and little examined history of African Americans traveling in the opposite direction. In Middle Passages, award-winning historian James T. Campbell recounts more than two centuries of African American journeys to Africa, including the experiences of such extraordinary figures as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. A new series under presiding editor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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