History in Calabar

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Monument for those who died fighting for our Fatherland

Monument for those who died fighting for our Fatherland

Explore Calabar History

Calabar history provides an insight into one of Nigeria’s most progressive cities. Calabar is also referred to as Canaan City. It is a major commercial center in Nigeria and has international airports and harbors.

Early Calabar History

Most historical records indicate towards Calabar gaining prominence during the early part of the 17th century. This was largely due to the increasing trading relations between the African tribes like the Efik and Ibibio people. Calabar turned into a major port with fish, bananas and cassava being traded among the surrounding communities. However, the increasing trade eventually caught the attention of the colonial powers which were aggressively increasing their presence in Africa during this time.

Tracing Colonial Rule in Calabar History

Calabar’s earliest colonial rulers were the Portuguese who coined the name "Old Calabar." The name existed until 1904. The Portuguese were attracted by the rich supply of food resources. During this time, Calabar also emerged as one of busiest slave-trading depots in Africa.

19th and 20th Century Events in Calabar History

The middle of 19th century witnessed Calabar losing its position in the African slave trade. During this phase, it progressed into being a major trading port for palm-based products such as palm oil and kernels. Somewhere around 1883, the Portuguese control over Nigerian colonies weakened due to the increased militarization by the British forces. Calabar became a part of the British regime and served as the capital city for some of the surrounding provinces from 1885 to 1893. During the early part of 20th century, Calabar lost some of its commercial significance due to the robust development at the nearby Port Harcourt terminus.


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Calabar has been known to European sailors as far back as the 15th century. It has an international sea port known to the world from the 16th century. Calabar was a major slave trade port from the late 17th to 19th century. About thirty percent of the estimated 2.5 million slaves from Africa to the about 30% of the estimated 2.5 million slaves taken from Africa to the new world, passed through the Calabar sea port. Calabar once served as the seat of Government of Niger coast Protectorate, Southern Protectorate and Oil Protectorate. Calabar has one of the earliest Military barracks in Nigeria.

Calabar the capital of Cross River State has a great potential in hospitality & tourism. Its relative peace and tranquility, coupled with low crime rate, clean and natural environment, choice tourist attractions and second to none hospitality nature of the people has made it a tourism haven with vast potentials and opportunities.

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April 20, 2007 new by abasromeo

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