The first Europeans to visit the area were the Portuguese in about 1472. At the time, the estuary of Wouri River was known as the Rio dos Camarões (Shrimp River). By 1650, it had become the site of a town formed by immigrants, said to have arrived from Congo, who spoke the Duala language. During the 18th century it was the center of the transatlantic slave trade.
In 1826 Douala appeared to be made of four different villages located in four specific locations: the village of Deido (Dido), of Akwa, of Njo and Hickory-town (today Bonaberi, located on the other side of Wouri River).