Elmina, also known as Edina by the local Fante, is a town and the capital of the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem District on the south coast of Ghana in the Central Region,[2] situated on a bay on the Atlantic Ocean, 12 kilometres (7+12 miles) west of Cape Coast. Elmina was the first European settlement in West Africa and it has a population of 33,576 people.[1]

Location of Elmina in Central Region, South Ghana
Coordinates: 5°05′N 1°21′W
RegionCentral Region
DistrictKomenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem Municipal District
Time zoneGMT
  Summer (DST)GMT


Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, the town was called Anomansah ("perpetual" or "inexhaustible drink") from its position on the peninsula between the Benya lagoon and the sea.[3]

In 1478 (during the War of the Castilian Succession), a Castilian armada of 35 caravels and a Portuguese fleet fought a large naval battle near Elmina for the control of the Guinea trade (gold, slaves, ivory and melegueta pepper), the Battle of Guinea. The war ended with a Portuguese naval victory, followed by the official recognition by the Catholic Monarchs of Portuguese sovereignty over most of the West African territories in dispute embodied in the Treaty of Alcáçovas, 1479.[4][5] This was the first colonial war among European powers. Many more would come.

The town grew around São Jorge da Mina Castle, built by the Portuguese Diogo de Azambuja in 1482 on the site of a town or village called Amankwakurom or Amankwa. It was Portugal's West African headquarters for trade and exploitation of African wealth. The original Portuguese interest was gold, with 8,000 ounces shipped to Lisbon from 1487 to 1489, 22,500 ounces from 1494 to 1496, and 26,000 ounces by the start of the sixteenth century.[6]

Later the port expanded to include tens of thousands of slaves channeled through the trading post of Elmina, ten to twelve thousand from 1500 to 1535 alone. By 1479, the Portuguese were transporting slaves from as far away as Benin, who accounted for 10 percent of the trade in Elmina, and were used to clear land for tillage.[6]:23–24

Dutch troops on the shore who have landed are shown battling with natives to take the local fort

The location of Elmina made it a significant site for re-provisioning ships headed south towards the Cape of Good Hope on their way to India. After years of Portuguese commerce on the Elmina Coast, the Dutch learned of the profitable activity taking place through Barent Eriksz of Medemblik, one of the earliest traders and Guinea navigators. Ericksz learned about trading on the Elmina coast while he was a prisoner on Principe and subsequently became a major resource to the Dutch in terms of providing geographical and trading information.[7] The Dutch West India Company captured Elmina in 1637; in subsequent centuries it was mostly used as a hub for the slave trade. The British attacked the city in 1782, but it remained in Dutch hands until 1872, when the Dutch Gold Coast was sold to the British. The king of Ashanti, claiming to be suzerain, objected to the transfer, and initiated the third Anglo-Ashanti war of 1873–1874.[8]

Elmina is also home to Fort Coenraadsburg on St. Jago Hill, built by the Portuguese in 1555 under the name Forte de Santiago; it was used for commerce. In 1637 it was conquered and renamed by the Dutch, after they captured Elmina's main castle. Today, Elmina's main economic industry is fishing, salt production and tourism. Elmina Castle is very close to Cape Coast Castle, another historic fortress notable for its role in transatlantic slave trade.


Beginning in 2003, Elmina, along with foreign investors, began The Elmina Strategy 2015, a massive project to improve many aspects of the town, consisting of water drainage and waste management helping to improve the health of the citizens, repairing the fishing industry and harbour of within Elmina, tourism and economic development, improved health services, and improved educational services.[9]


Climate data for Elmina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.8
Average low °C (°F) 22.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 25
Source: Climate-Data.org[10]


Apart from Elmina Castle and Fort Coenraadsburg, the main tourist attractions in Elmina include the Dutch Cemetery and the Elmina Java Museum.

Elmina Castle (St. George of the Mine Castle)
Fort São Jago da Mina in Elmina

Sister cities

List of sister cities of Elmina, designated by Sister Cities International:

Country City County / District / Region / State Date
Netherlands Gouda South Holland
United States Macon Georgia


Elmina is home to the annual Bakatue Festival, a celebration of the sea and the local fishing culture, held on the first Tuesday of July each year.[11]

Bakatue translated means "the opening of the lagoon" or the "draining of the Lagoon". It is celebrated to commemorate the founding of the town, Elmina by the Europeans. It is also celebrated to invoke the deity, Nana Benya's continuous protection of the state and its people.

Notable institution

See also



  1. "World Gazetteer online". World-gazetteer.com. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012.
  2. "Church of Pentecost builds police station for Abrem Agona". Graphic Online. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  3. Ampene, Kwame. "National Commission On Culture". www.ghanaculture.gov.gh. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. Historian Malyn Newitt: "However, in 1478 the Portuguese surprised thirty-five Castilian ships returning from Mina [Guinea] and seized them and all their gold. Another...Castilian voyage to Mina, that of Eustache de la Fosse, was intercepted ... in 780. (...) All things considered, it is not surprising that the Portuguese emerged victorious from this first maritime colonial war. They were far better organised than the Castilians, were able to raise money for the preparation and supply of their fleets, and had clear central direction from ... [Prince] John." In A History of Portuguese Overseas Expansion, 1400–1668, New York: Routledge, 2014, pp. 39, 40.
  5. Bailey W. Diffie and George D. Winius: "In a war in which the Castilians were victorious on land and the Portuguese at sea, …" in Foundations of the Portuguese Empire 1415-1580, volume I, University of Minnesota Press, 1985, p. 152.
  6. Ivor Wilks (1997). "Wangara, Akan, and Portuguese in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries". In Bakewell, Peter (ed.). Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas. Aldershot: Variorum, Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 4–5.
  7. Marees, Pieter. Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea. London: The Oxford University Press, 1602. 206–22. Print.
  8. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Elmina". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 297.
  9. Elminaheritage.com Archived 22 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Elminaheritage.com.
  10. "Climate Elmina". Climate-Data.org. 2019. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  11. Expeditions, Ghana. "Edina Bakatue Festival". Festival and events. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  12. "Three suspects appear in court over attack on Benya FM in Elmina". Citinewsroom - Comprehensive News in Ghana. 20 May 2022. Retrieved 21 May 2022.


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