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In the fifteenth century Europe began to have increasing contact with Africa. The primary difference between the contacts prior to the fifteenth century and those afterwards, is that in the later meetings the primary motives for contact were the economic betterment of one group at the expense of another.

In ancient times, Greece sent many people to Egypt to be educated and the three Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome, led by Hamilcar Barca for the first War and then by his son Hannibal during the second, were pivotal points in world history. (See the Short Facts section in the Features Department).

The Moors, who were Africans and Arabs, ruled the Iberian Peninsula which includes Spain and Portugal from 712 AD until 1492 AD. During the last forty years of Moorish rule Africans were taken to Europe as slaves, though they were not chattel slaves (a later development) but more like what we would today call servants. After the Moors were expelled from Spain there was no longer a dominant African presence in Europe. Prior to that time there was significant African contact and influence in what is now Sicily and many other parts of Europe. There was also contact with the indigenous people of what is now the Americas.

The rise of plantations in the Caribbean developed by European colonizers in the sixteenth century led to the importation of Africans as slaves to work the fields. The international slave trade continued until 1808, but by that time there were millions of Africans in the Western hemisphere from the United States to South America. In many places in the Caribbean the enslaved Africans and their descendants outnumbered the Whites by more than ten to one. Thus, what occurred were vast numbers of Africans and their descendants in the Americas. A descriptive word to describe the situation is "Diaspora," which is the dispersion of a people. Thus, the term African Diaspora is quite often used.