Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

Salvador, Bahia is a vigorous city of around 2,600,000 inhabitants, stretched along the green tropical hills and the bucolic beaches along the Bahia de Todos os Santos (Bahia of All Saints). From 1500 to 1815, a significant amount of enslaved Africans, sugar, gold and diamond landed on Salvador, where at the time was Brazil’s busiest port.

In Salvador, more than anywhere else in the country, the African influence in Brazilian culture is readily visible in the religious festivals and ceremonies; the spicy dishes with African names; and the Capoeira School, where a unique African style of ritualistic fighting is taught. Salvador is the center of both traditional and contemporary Afro-Brazilian art and culture, and is famous for its Afro-Brazilian carnival. Salvador’s artistic and religious groups are the foundation of an important social movement in Brazil, teaching its citizens and visitors alike about Brazil’s ever present African roots.

Sugar & The Slave Trade

Introduced to Brazil in 1532, sugar replaced the country’s first major export, brazil wood which was nearly wiped out as a result of over-exploitation. Setting up his capital in Salvador, Tome’ de Sousa enlisted the support of the Jesuits. The indigenous people who did not convert to Christianity were enslaved and sent to work in sugar plantations. As a result of the high demand for sugar in Europe, sugar cane grown in engenhos (plantations) along the northeastern coast soon became the base of the Brazilian economy. Salvador and Olinda emerged as key centers for the sugar trade.

The hunting gathering indigenous people, however, were found to be unsuitable slaves for the plantations. They were better suited for the brazil wood trade, and were made to log and transport timber instead. From the 1550s, the landowners turned to Africa, importing millions of enslaved Africans. Source: Eyewitness Travel

Visit to learn more before you go and to plan your next adventure!

Theresa Noni Charles, Cultural Travel Planner. Educator. Explorer.

Transform Your Travel.

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