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Scandinavia in the Atlantic World

Chapter in book
Authors Klas Rönnbäck
Published in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Language en
Keywords Scandinavia, Sweden, Denmark, Atlantic world, Africa, Caribbean, colonialism, slavery, early modern period
Subject categories Economic History, History


The Scandinavian countries established overseas settlements in Africa and the Americas, starting in the seventeenth century. In Africa, trading stations were initially established with the consent of local rulers. The Danish trading stations on the Gold Coast would in time develop into a more formal colony. In the Americas, Scandinavian settlements were of various nature, including the short-lived settlement colony of New Sweden and slavery-based plantation societies in the Caribbean. The Caribbean colonies would bear much resemblance to many other Caribbean plantation economies of the time. The Scandinavian countries also participated in the transatlantic slave trade: while these countries might have been responsible for a quite small share of the total transatlantic slave trade, the trade was large if compared to the size of the domestic population in these countries. The formal abolition of the slave trade, and later also of slavery, in the Scandinavian colonies made the colonial possessions unimportant or even into burdens for the Scandinavian states, so that the colonies eventually were sold to other European nations.

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