The Atlantic Ocean is the world's second largest ocean. With a total area of about 106,400,000 square kilometres (41,100,000 sq mi), it covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. The first part of its name refers to Atlas of Greek mythology, making the Atlantic the "Sea of Atlas".
The oldest known mention of "Atlantic" is in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC (Hdt. 1.202.4): Atlantis thalassa (Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα; English: Sea of Atlas). The term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia, was applied to the southern Atlantic as late as the mid-19th century. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean" itself was synonymous with the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar that we now know as the Atlantic. The early Greeks believed this ocean to be a gigantic river encircling the world.
Slave ships were large cargo ships specially converted for the purpose of transporting slaves, especially newly purchased African slaves to the Americas.
The most significant routes of the slave ships led from the north-western and western coasts of Africa to South America and the south-east coast of what is today the United States, and the Caribbean. As many as 20 million Africans were transported by ship. The transportation of slaves from Africa to America was known as the Middle Passage.
Slavery in Africa has not only existed throughout the continent for many centuries, but continues in the current day. Systems of servitude and slavery were common in parts of the continent, as they were in much of the ancient world. In most African societies where slavery was prevalent, the enslaved people were not treated as chattel slaves and were given certain rights in a system similar to indentured servitude elsewhere in the world. When the Arab slave trade and Atlantic slave trade began, many of the local slave systems changed and began supplying captives for slave markets outside of Africa.
Slavery in historical Africa was practiced in many different forms and some of these do not clearly fit the definitions of slavery elsewhere in the world. Debt slavery, enslavement of war captives, military slavery, and criminal slavery were all practiced in various parts of Africa.
Maritime history is the study of human activity at sea. It covers a broad thematic element of history that often uses a global approach, although national and regional histories remain predominant. As an academic subject, it often crosses the boundaries of standard disciplines, focusing on understanding humankind's various relationships to the oceans, seas, and major waterways of the globe. Nautical history records and interprets past events involving ships, shipping, navigation, and seafarers.
Maritime history is the broad overarching subject that includes fishing, whaling, international maritime law, naval history, the history of ships, ship design, shipbuilding, the history of navigation, the history of the various maritime-related sciences (oceanography, cartography, hydrography, etc.), sea exploration, maritime economics and trade, shipping, yachting, seaside resorts, the history of lighthouses and aids to navigation, maritime themes in literature, maritime themes in art, the social history of sailors and passengers and sea-related communities.
Winds in the Age of Sail: The captain of a steam ship naturally chooses the shortest route to his destination. Since a sailing ship is pushed by the winds and currents its captain must find a route where the wind will probably blow in the right direction. Tacking was always possible but wasted time, a problem that grew larger on long voyages. The early European explorers were not only looking for new lands. They also had to discover the pattern of winds and currents that would carry them where they wanted to go. During the age of sail winds and currents determined trade routes and therefore influenced European imperialism and modern political geography. For an outline to the main wind systems see Global wind patterns.
Pilotage or cabotage, in one sense, is the art of sailing along the coast using known landmarks. Navigation, in one sense, is the art of sailing long distances out of sight of land. Although the Polynesians were able to sail the Pacific (with great difficulty) and people regularly sailed north and south across the Mediterranean, before the time of Columbus nearly all sailing was coastal pilotage.
The Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab world, mainly in Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa, and certain parts of Europe (such as Iberia and Sicily) during their period of domination by Arab leaders. The trade was focused on the slave markets of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. People traded were not limited to a certain race, ethnicity, or religion, and included Turks, Europeans, and Berbers, especially during the trade's early days.]citation needed[
During the 8th and 9th centuries of the Fatimid Caliphate, most of the slaves were Europeans (called Saqaliba) captured along European coasts and during wars. However, slaves were drawn from a wide variety of regions and included Mediterranean peoples, Persians, peoples from the Caucasus mountain regions (such as Georgia, Armenia and Circassia) and parts of Central Asia and Scandinavia, English, Dutch and Irish, Berbers from North Africa, and various other peoples of varied origins as well as those of African origins.]citation needed[