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Its location in the middle of the river made it a strategic place to control the waterway.
Visited by explorers and merchants in their search for a sea route to India it became one of the first cultural exchange zones between Africa and Europe.
Finally, Fort Bullen shows evidence of its re-use during the Second World War (1939-1945) as a strategic observatory and artillery post.
This later period illustrates yet another European rivalry that spread to the African continent.
James Island and Related Sites present a testimony to the main periods and facets of the encounter between Africa and Europe along the River Gambia, a continuum stretching from pre-colonial and pre-slavery times to independence.
The development of Kunta Kinteh Island differed greatly from the many other forts, castles, and trading posts found in other parts of West Africa in that the main focus of the Kunta Kinteh Island site was the control of the hinterland and its riches rather than control of the coast and the trade that passed along it.By 1456 the Island had been acquired by Portugal from local rulers and the construction of a fort began.Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites form an exceptional testimony to the different facets and phases of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to the 19th centuries.Criterion (iii): Kunta Kinteh Island and related sites on the River Gambia provide an exceptional testimony to the different facets of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to 20th centuries.The river formed the first trade route to the inland of Africa, being also related to the slave trade.