production."¹ After the European explorers realised that the Caribbean was not
naturally rich in gold and other precious metals; they were desperate to find other
ways in which they could use these islands to benefit themselves. After several failed
attempts to grow crops such as tobacco and cotton (on a large scale), the Europeans
realised that sugar had a greater potential to be sold in Europe than any other crop,
and in itself was a goldmine' waiting to be uncovered.
The Portuguese had already successfully grown and produced sugar on
plantations in São Tomé and Madeira, but on a relatively small scale in comparison
to how great it would eventually become. They took these techniques with them
when they began to colonise the north east (Pernambuco) of Brazil. Although sugar
production increased, it still remained a very expensive product because the journey
from Brazil to Europe was very long and Brazilian sugar was taxed in a way that
West Indian sugar never was. Therefore the demand still remained low because only
the rich could afford to buy sugar. On these plantations in São Tomé and Brazil, a
slave workforce was employed. In São Tomé, the workforce was initially made up of
poor Europeans sent there to work. Unfortunately, they died out because they had
no resistance to tropical diseases such as malaria. Captured Africans were then
readily used because of their built up immunity to these diseases. When sugar
production first began in Brazil, the native Indian population was used as their work
force. However, due to a combination of disease, malnutrition and inability to do
such hard labour, the native population began to die out and new labour was
required. African slaves were once again imported from the West coast to Brazil.
They proved to be resilient workers and coped better with... [continues]
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