Once known as James Island, Kunta Kinte Island was a holding ground for captured slaves before they were shipped to America. The island is named for its most famous slave, who was later immortalized in the book (and then mini-series) Roots.
American writer Alex Haley wrote Roots: The Saga of an American Family. He claimed to be a seventh generation descendant of Kunta Kinte -- a claim that some experts dispute.
American actor LeVar Burton played the Gambian slave Kinta Kunte in the 1977 TV series. A&E Networks will be rebooting the series, with Burton as co-producer.
Roots remains the third-highest rated telecast in American history. The show is credited by some as invoking a change in American attitudes to slavery -- a turning point in the post-civil rights struggle.
Kinte is said to have been captured in Juffureh, a village across from Kunta Kinte Island, and transported to America on a boat called the Lord Ligonier. Visitors to the Juffureh slavery museum can see the history of slavery in the area, and read some of the ads posted for the sale of slaves.
For hundreds of years, the Gambian river was one of the major arteries for the capture and transport of slaves. At the height of the slave trade, a sixth of West African slaves came from this region.