History of Cape Verde
Cape Verde history through the present day


Portuguese voyagers discovered the islands in 1460. They were awarded to Portuguese Dom Fernando and consequently became the first European colony overseas. In 1460 Cidade da Ribeira Grande on the island of Santiago was founded and became the first European town on a tropical island. The first settlers came in 1461. Ribeira Grande developed into a prospering seaport, where slaves from present day Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone were the most important trade commodities. Portugal turned very quickly into one of the richest countries in the World.

 

But with Spain taking over Cape Verde, Portugal's wealth diminished greatly (1580 -1640). Continuous aggressions by French and English buccaneers and devastating famines made matters even worse. Not until 1798, as the postal connection with Portugal resurged and coffee cultivation started,  there was a first slight upswing. Due to Napoleons invasions in Portugal, though, the colony again was neglected at the beginning of the 19th century.

 

Mindelo's harbour on São Vicente was known as one of the most important seaports for international trade, but quickly lost its influential position due to its inability to compete with the more modern technological facilities that Dakar or Las Palmas had to offer.

Again, Cape Verde was haunted by famines and droughts, while Portugal neglected the unprofitable colony.

 

Due to economic and social grievances, Cape Verde's population erupted in numerous revolts against the colonial regime during the 1960's. PAIGC, an African party founded in 1956 fought for the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde and demanded the withdrawal of the Portuguese from the islands.

 

After the collapse of dictatorship in Portugal in 1974, which brought independence for Guinea-Bissau, PAIGC became more influential in Cape Verde and finally obtained independence for the islands on July 5th, 1975. From 1975 to 1990, PAIGC governed Cape Verde as a single political party, not shying away from measures such as torture or political arrest. Still, the islands received aid from wealthy western nations - due to their neutral position in foreign politics. In 1990 though, PAICV had to agree to Cape Verde's democratization, for nations like the United States threatened to cancel their financial aid otherwise.

 

The political party MPD (Movimento para Democracia) was founded and came into power in 1991, when the first democratic elections were held. They governed Cape Verde for ten years, until newly structured PAICV won the elections in 2001 and selected a prime minister for the next years. Also with the last elections in 2011 PAICV won the majority in the parliament, but new prime minister is Jorge Carlos Fonseca, provided by MPD. 

Today, Cape Verde's political stability, security and social peace are outstanding. Since 1975, both the government and the population have made great progress regarding almost every aspect of daily life (health, education, etc.).

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