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History of Cape Verde 

The origin

The Islands arose 15 million years ago from volcanic magma. Sal island, mountainous at that time has become flat because of the weather changes. Fogo is the youngest Island that arose out of the water about a 100.000 years ago. The volcano here is the only one still active and erupted for the last time in 2014.

The discovery, slavery and trade routes 

The islands remained uninhabited until they were discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese and Italian explorers. In a period of 6 years all islands were discovered. The archipelago was named Cabo Verde, because of its closest location to the African continent, the green cape in Senegal. 


The first settlement was built in 1462 on the most promising Island Santiago. A group of people from Spain, Portugal and Italy established themselves here. The place was named Ribeira Grande (current Cidade Velha) because of the river that ran through the valley into the ocean. Fruit and palmtrees were planted on the riversides and the valley became a green oasis and important trade city because of the agricultural production.The first slaves from West-Africa arrived and were used as free work forces who ensured a flourishing economy. Because of its location Cabo Verde became the center of slave trade. Most slaves here were shipped to the the American continent. At the end of 1600 there where about 14.000 slaves on the islands of Santiago and Fogo. 

Because of many new discovery and trade routes in this period, the islands became important stops on the way to provide ships with new supplies and to repair damages. The wind and currents were the reason of many ships passing by these routes. 


Ribeira Grande grew out to on of the most flourishing cities within the Portuguese empire. They even built a cathedral of which the  remains are now classified as UNESCO world heritage. This great welfare was accompanied with pirate attacks and conflicts with other countries like Spain and France who wanted to expand their power. Portugal who didn't give a lot of freedom to the Cape Verdean inhabitants and made sure all the money earned came back to the Portuguese state, also got involved in these conflicts. Eventually the slave trade with Spain ended and the city was plundered by the French in 1712. After this conflict peace returned, Cape Verdeans were given more rights from Portugal and free trade became possible. The power of Ribeira Grande decreased and in 1770 Praia became the new, and current capital. 


In the 18th and 19th century the islands endured long dry periods. Because of deforestation and overgrazing most fertile soil vanished and hundred thousands of people died of famine. The Portuguese government showed little concern and hardly took any measures.


The end of slave trade between Africa and America came after a long 300 years. The abolition in Cape Verde became official in 1870. Even after this time slaves were still used to execute all kinds of work. Because of the abolition the economy was hit hard. 


With the arrival of steamships in the 19th century the islands were used less as a stop for sailing boats. There were less ships to repair and supply with new products. The economy got another hit because of this. 


Because of the economical downfall many inhabitants left for other countries. Many people from Brava and Fogo sailed with whalers to New England in North-America in order to start a new life. The whalers stopped here during the hunt to provide their ships with new supplies and fuel. Many saw their chance and were hired as crew members on board. 


The British stopped quite often in the port of Mindelo, also with submarines. This brought new light into the economy, but when World War 2 started it dropped down completely. Less British ships stopped here and when their coal industry collapsed the economy got hit again. 

The independency

The lighter skin colour of the people compared to the other Portuguese colonies made that they were treated a little better than the other ones. But the call for independence in all colonies became bigger because of the little help they received during the lasting dry periods, starvation and suffering of its people.


Portugal didn't want to give up on Cabo Verde so easy and made it an overseas province in 1951. The battle for independence went on and under the leadership of Amilcar Cabral the African party for the independence of Guinea and Cabo Verde (PAIGC) was organised. The first strike of the company was turned down with violence and some people were killed. It was only after the fall of the fascism in Portugal in 1974 that the first elections in the country were organised. 

On July 5th 1975 Cape Verde received its independency from Portugal with the first socialistic president Aristides Pereira. Until 1990 there was a one-party system, currently there are more than one. 

The current Cape Verde 

After the independence the economy became a market economy. The country is part of the better runned and financially stable countries of Africa. Tourism is taking care of the biggest increase in the economy and is changing the country in many ways.