The transatlantic slave trade was a key component of the development of colonial Country under the mercantilist/capitalist economy. Best countries to visit in south america When, in the early seventeenth century, the British, French, and Dutch entered the Countrys, their labor source was indentured servants, usually young European males who contracted for some or all of the cost of their passage and keep in return for three to seven years of labor. By the late seventeenth century, the need to produce tobacco, sugar, indigo (used to make blue dye), and rice demanded more labor than indenture provided. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the three largest slave colonies in the New World were Jamaica, Saint-Domingue, and Brazil. The principal money crop was sugar. Sugar was highly profitable, returning about 10 percent on investment; in exceptional years, such as that in Barbados in the 1650s, it brought in 40 to 50 percent.
Plantations varied in size by location and time. In 1680, the average Barbadian plantation had 60 slaves; Jamaica in the 1830s averaged about 150. Slave populations ranged from about one-third in late-eighteenth-century Cuba to 90 percent in Jamaica in 1730, Antigua half a century later, and Grenada in the 1830s. Slaves were isolated from the white culture to emphasize the difference between the two. Slave codes, such as the Barbados Slave Act (1661), specified capital crimes as rape, arson, murder, assault, and theft of anything valued at greater than a shilling. Lesser crimes brought punishments including whipping, branding, and nose slitting. Castration was practiced if not officially sanctioned. The Barbadian code was a model for other English Caribbean colonies. Jamaican observers noted punishments including rubbing melted wax into lash wounds, amputations, impaling, and burning alive. Drawing and quartering was an option on Nevis.