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The United States


The forced migration of Africans to the United States occurred in two major regions and in two distinct waves. Close to 33% (128,000 persons) landed in the Chesapeake area of Virginia and Maryland; their arrivals crested between 1720 and 1740. A little over 54% arrived in South Carolina (187,000) and Georgia (21,000). The peak of the migration occurred between 1801 and 1810. About 7% of the Africans landed in the North; fewer than 6% landed in the Gulf states.

Of the Africans arriving in the US, nine out of ten came from one of five regions. The largest group, 92, 280 (23.8%) hailed from Angola, Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo in West Central Africa. They formed the largest African group in South Carolina. People from Senegambia (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali) were almost as numerous: 91,600 (23.6%). They were more or less equally represented in the Chesapeake and the South Carolina/Georgia. The Gulf of Biafra was the place of origin of 64,800 individuals (16.7%), and 58,000 of them were concentrated in the Chesapeake. About 56,300 (14.5%) men, women and children arrived from the Gold Coast (Ghana), and close to 45,000 from Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Knowing the geographic origin of the Africans gives important clues as to the cultures and religions they brought and what socio-cultural and religious features they adapted and developed. For example, Brazil and Cuba received numerous Yoruba from the Gulf of Benin, particularly in the 19th century. As a result, both countries have developed some strongly Yoruba-influenced cultures and religions. However, few people from that area (only 2.4%) arrived in the US. As a result, the Bantu (Angola/Congo) and Igbo (Nigeria) influences have been more relevant to North American culture and religion.