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Sat, 07.05.1456

Cape Verde, West Africa is Founded

*On this date in c 1456, Cape Verde is celebrated.  Cape Verde is an archipelago and island country in the central Atlantic Ocean near West Africa.  

Officially the Republic of Cabo Verde consists of ten volcanic islands with a combined land area of about 1,557 sq mi.  Before the arrival of whites, the Cape Verde Islands were uninhabited. They were discovered by Genoese and Portuguese navigators around 1456 during the Middle Passage.   According to Portuguese official records, the first discoveries were made by António de Noli, who was appointed Cape Verde governor by the Portuguese king Afonso V.  In 1462, Portuguese settlers arrived at Santiago and founded a settlement called Ribeira Grande.

The original Ribeira Grande was the first permanent European settlement in the tropics.  Soon after, the archipelago prospered from the Atlantic slave trade.  Pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements. Francis Drake, an English privateer, twice sacked the (then) capital Ribeira Grande in 1585 when it was a part of the Iberian Union.  After a French attack in 1712, the town declined in importance relative to nearby Praia, which became the capital in 1770.  The decline in the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in an economic crisis. Cape Verde's early prosperity slowly vanished.

However, the islands' position astride mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made Cape Verde ideal for re-supplying ships. Because of its excellent harbor, Mindelo, located on the island of São Vicente, became an important commercial center during the 19th century.  American diplomat Edmund Roberts visited Cape Verde in 1832. With few natural resources and inadequate sustainable investment from the Portuguese, the citizens grew increasingly discontented with the colonial masters, who refused to give the local authorities more autonomy. In 1951, Portugal changed Cape Verde's status from a colony to an overseas province to blunt growing nationalism.  

In 1956, Amílcar Cabral and a group of fellow Cape Verdeans and Guineans organized (in Portuguese Guinea) the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).  It demanded improved economic, social, and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea, forming the basis of the two nations' independence movement. Moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea, in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal 1961. Acts of sabotage eventually grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 Soviet Bloc-supported PAIGC soldiers against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops.  By 1972, the PAIGC controlled much of Portuguese Guinea despite the presence of Portuguese troops, but the organization did not attempt to disrupt Portuguese control in Cape Verde.  Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence in 1974.

A budding independence movement culminated in independence for the archipelago in 1975.   Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy and has remained one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa. Lacking natural resources, its developing economy is mostly service-oriented, with a growing focus on tourism and foreign investment. Its population of around 550,000 (as of mid-2019) is mostly of mixed Black African and white-European heritage and predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the legacy of Portuguese rule. A sizable Cape Verdean diaspora community exists across the world, considerably outnumbering inhabitants on the islands. Cape Verde is a member state of the African Union.

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