West Africa had been in indirect contact with the broader world via Saharan trade that linked Sub-Saharan Africa with the Mediterranean, while other routes ran eastwest. Trade moved both commodities and finished goods, including metals, glass, ceramics, salt, beads, and slaves. The coastal trade communities would eventually provide the means for the Portuguese to access the gold of the interior; however, these trade communities had long histories. Muslim control of the seas of the western Mediterranean and Red Sea trade generated a healthy profit and would only decline with alternate routes to Asia. The islands of So Tom and Prncipe in the Gulf of Guinea and Fernando Po were to provide the basis for Portuguese plantations off the African coast. The archaeology at Oudepost seemed to indicate local African people camped at the fort, suggesting established cross-cultural relationships. The retreat of European states is remarkably recent, largely occurring in the second half of the twentieth century.