Gold Coast , a part of the coast of Upper Guinea, W. Africa, lying, according to most geographers, between Cape Three Points and the river Volta; but the jurisdiction of the British Gold Coast colony, including the territories ceded by the Dutch in 1872, extends from the river Assinie, Ion. 3° 18' W., to the river Ewue, Ion. 1° 10' E.; area, 16,626 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 408,070. The shore line, about 330 m. long, is skirted generally by low hills with dense woods in the background, but is flat and sandy at its extremities, with lagoons inland. There are no harbors, and the surf is so violent that vessels are obliged to lie from 2 to 5 m. off the beach. The chief rivers are the Assinie, Anco-ber, Tenda, Bossum Prah or Prah, and the Volta. The Gold Coast colony proper consists of only the fortified stations and the strip of coast dominated by them; but a protectorate is exercised by Great Britain over all the tribes lying between it and Ashantee. The limits of the protectorate are not clearly defined, but it is generally understood to extend inland about 80 m., the river Prah forming its N. boundary in the longitude of Elmina and Cape Coast Castle. The principal native people inhabiting this territory are the Fantees, but there are a number of smaller tribes, the Ahantas, Wassas, Denki-ras, Akims, Assins, Aquapims, Crepees, and others, all under independent chiefs.
Little is known of the interior, but the few who have penetrated it speak of its vast forests filled with tropical life, and of green plains traversed by sparkling streams, and its climate is said to be more healthy than that of the coast. There are no roads, the only means of communicating between the villages being by narrow paths, passable only in single file. Beasts of burden are unknown to the natives, who transport all merchandise and produce to and from the coast on their heads. The soil is very fertile, producing all the tropical grains and fruits. Traces of iron are found at several places on the coast, and there are rich gold mines in the interior. In the beginning of the 18th century the Dutch exported annually from Elmina about £250,000 worth of gold dust, but the hostility of the native tribes has now nearly destroyed the trade. The fortified posts of the Gold Coast colony are Axim, Dixcove, and Sekundi, in the Ahanta country, and Elmina, Cape Coast Castle, Anam-boe, and Accra, in the country of the Fantees. The French trading station at Assinie has been abandoned since 1870. Axim, about 14 m. W. of Cape Three Points, is one of the healthiest places on the coast, owing probably to the pure water which runs from the neighboring hills in rivulets.
All the tropical plants grow to perfection in its vicinity, and many European vegetables have been successfully introduced. It is the only place where rice is raised, and the influences so deadly to live stock at other points do not extend to it. In the country N. of it are rich gold mines, and gold dust, palm oil, and palm kernels were once exported in considerable quantities. The town is commanded by Fort St. Anthony, built in its centre on a precipitous rock 70 ft. high. Dixcove (called Un-fuma by the natives), 11 m. E. of Cape Three Points, is defended by a fort, which the Dutch thoroughly repaired in 1867. The town is dirty and unhealthy, from the exhalations of neighboring swamps, which harbor numerous crocodiles. Between Axim and Dixcove are the ruins of the old forts Great Friedrichsburg, Brandenburg, and Dorothea, built originally by the Prussians. Bautri or Boutry, 3 m. E. of Dixcove, a former Dutch settlement which was defended by Fort Batenstein, is now abandoned. Sekundi, the next station, 20 m. from Dixcove, is situated on a point, with Fort Orange on a steep promontory at its end. The environs are fertile, and the country back of it is covered with dense woods.
The former Dutch settlement of Chama is 8 m. further E., near the mouth of the Prah. It is commanded by Fort St. Sebastian, originally built by the Portuguese, and still in a fair state of repair, but abandoned on account of the unhealthfulness of the locality. The Dutch cultivated here cotton, flax, hemp, coffee, tobacco, and ground nuts, with much success. From Chama to Elmina is about 20 m. Between are the native towns of Kommenda (pop. 4,000), with the ruins of an old English fort; Kommanie (pop. 2,300), with the remains of the Dutch fort Vredenburg; and Ampeni (pop. 4,500). Elmina, called by the natives Oddena, the capital of the former Dutch colonies, had a population of 15,000 in 1867. (See Elmina.) Capo Coast Castle, 8 m. E., the capital of the Gold Coast colony (pop. 10,000), derives its name from its fortress built on rocks near the seashore. Behind, on a gentle slope, is the European town, with picturesque houses surrounded by gardens of tropical fruits. Anam-boe or Anamabu, 10 m. E. of Cape Coast Castle, and Accra or Akrah, nearly 70 m. further, are the two most easterly fortified settlements on the coast, but there are missionary stations at several intervening points. The slave trade is virtually abolished, but domestic slavery exists to a great extent throughout the protectorate.
The principal exports are gold dust, palm oil and kernels, gum, ivory, and monkey skins; the imports are cotton and silk goods, guns, gunpowder, hardware, tobacco, and wines and spirits. The total tonnage of vessels entered and cleared, exclusive of coasting trade, in 1871, was 251,047. The total value of imports for 1871 was £250,672, of which £171,-978 were from Great Britain; total value of exports in 1871, £295,208. The chief trade previous to 1872 was with the Ashantees. - Since 1850 the colony, previously under the jurisdiction of Sierra Leone, has had a government of its own, with a governor and executive and legislative councils. It has also judicial, mili-itary, ecclesiastical, and educational establishments. The gross amount of public revenue, raised in part by a tax of 3 per cent. on imports, was in 1871 £28,609; gross expenditure, 1871, £29,094. An attempt was made to impose a poll tax of a shilling a head on all the protected natives, which in 1852 produced £7,-567; in 1861 it had fallen to £1,552, and since then it has not been levied.
The Dutch did not levy any import duties. - The first European nation to establish themselves on the Gold Coast were the Portuguese, who began the fort at Elmina in 1481. In 1637 it was captured by the Dutch, and three years later all the Portuguese possessions on the coast were ceded to them. In 1662 the "Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading to Africa," and in 1672 the "Royal African Company of England," built rival forts and factories near the Dutch company's settlements, which resulted in constant disagreements and quarrels. In the war of 1781 the English captured all the Dutch forts except Elmina. On their restoration by the treaty of Versailles, the states general assumed the government of the colony, but the rivalry continued and frequently led to bloodshed between the negro tribes of the two jurisdictions. Considering that this unsatisfactory state of affairs was due principally to the positions of the forts of the two nations, which alternated with each other, an agreement was made in 1867 that the boundary line between the colonies should be the Sweet river, a small stream between Elmina and Cape Coast Castle; that all the settlements E. of this point should belong to England, and all W. of it as far as the Assinie river to the Netherlands. In accordance with this treaty, the Dutch ceded Mori, Kormantin, Assam, Bereku, and Fort Crevecoeur at Accra; the English, Apollonia, Dixcove, Sekundi, and Kommenda, and the protected territories of Wassa, Denkira, and Tufel. The Dutch forts were surrendered to the English without trouble, but the natives resisted the transfer of the English stations to the Dutch. Disturbances ensued, and on Jan. 31, 1867, the Dutch burned Kommenda as a punishment.
In 1868 they burned Sekundi in retaliation, and in 1869 Dixcove. The natives became only the more incensed at these measures, and the Dutch government, despairing of peace, agreed, by a treaty ratified at the Hague Feb. 17, 1872, to transfer all its possessions to England, which was formally done the following April. The Danish settlements had previously been ceded to Great Britain (in 1850), so that the latter power now controlled the whole coast. The king of Ashantee, who had been accustomed to draw his supplies of arms and ammunition through the Dutch factories free of duty, objected to the transfer of the forts, which cut him off from access to the coast, and declared that the Dutch had no power to transfer Elmina, which he said belonged to him, the Dutch having paid him a tribute of £300 a year. In January, 1873, the Ashantees crossed the Prah and invaded the protectorate. The protected tribes offered but a feeble resistance, and in June both Cape Coast Castle and Elmina were threatened by a force estimated at 50,000 men. The native king of Elmina aided the Ashantees, and four out of the eight captains of the quarters into which the town is divided refused to take the oath of allegiance.
On June 30 the quarter of the native king was bombarded by the fort and destroyed, and in the afternoon of the same day the Ashantees were defeated with a loss of 500 and their general, and withdrew to Effutu, 12 m. distant. In August Takorady was bombarded by the British fleet, Dixcove repelled an attack of the Ashantees, and Axim, where the natives rose against the garrison, was burned. In October Gen. Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent from England to Cape Coast Castle with both civil and military powers. Early in January, 1874, he set out for Koomassie with about 2,000 white troops, building a military road as he went, and the Ashantees fell back before him. The Prah was crossed without opposition. At Amoaful, about 22 m. from Koomassie, a severe battle was fought on Jan. 31, in which the Ashantees were defeated with heavy loss, including their commander Amanquatia. A second battle took place at Ordahsu, 15 m. beyond, on Feb. 4, the king commanding in person. After six hours the Ashantees fled, and the British entered Koomassie. On the morning of Feb. 6 the town was fired and the troops began their homeward march.
A peace was subsequently concluded, the king agreeing to pay an indemnity of 50,000 ounces of gold, to renounce the protectorate, to keep open a road to the coast, and to prohibit human sacrifices.