Despite its basic importance for an understanding of African History, the Atlantic slave-trade still remains one of the most unexplored aspects of modern African development. Except for a few pioneer works, there have been no systematic studies of numbers, origins, mortality, routes and volume of traffic. The present study is based on archival material in Brazil and is an exploration in depth of one major route, the West African to Rio de Janeiro shipping route in the period 1795–1811. During this time some 170,000 African slaves were shipped from Africa, suffering a mortality rate of 95 per thousand.
1 I wish to thank Philip Curtin and Philippe Schmitter for their helpful suggestions on various aspects of this paper.