Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde - The history

The history of the Cape Verde Islands is typical for their geographical situation but nevertheless unique. For three centuries the islands were the scene of the transatlantic slave-trade, exile for political prisoners of Portugal and place of refuge for Jews and other victims of persecution for religious motives during the Spanish-Portuguese Inquisition.
However, even in the nineteenth century the life of the slaves differed clearly from that led by the slaves in North-or Southamerica: on the Cape Verde Islands families had originated from “free” people and slaves who lived together peacefully and naturally. Situated in the turnstile between Europe, America and the Indian Ocean, the Cape Verde Islands can look back today on an important achievement: the birth of a completely new Creole culture and language, originated by the togetherness of most different ethnic groups. The Creole people became the forerunners in the independence movement of Africa in a never ceasing fight against colonization and also the creators of one of the most modern constitutions in one of the few pluralistic but consolidated systems in the region.

Discovery, slave trade and famine

The discoverers of the Cape Verde Islands, the Portuguese, described the islands at their arrival in the year 1456 as being totally uninhabited. There has been no proof for human life before the “descoberta” until now.
It was the aim of the Portuguese to find out about new trade routes and goods and to expand their geographical knowledge, as Islamic traders controlled the Transsahara-trade of gold and slaves to the north and salt to the south. It was the Turks who dominated the overland route at the Mediterranean of the trade in cloths and spices with India and who took high customs duties. The Portuguese wanted to find a new, Christian controlled access to gold, slaves and spices to Westafrica and India.

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