Home South Seas Companion

Home | Browse | Search | Previous | Next
Be a South Seas Companion Supporter

Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde is a volcanic archipelago located in the Northern Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Verde consists of ten islands that can be imagined as forming a broken crescent with the concavity towards the west.

The four islands leeward are known as the Ilhas do Sotavento, and the other six to windward are the Ilhas do Barlavento.

Boa Vista, the most easterly island, lies about 320 kilometers from the coast of the West African nation of Senegal. The name of the archipelago derives from Cape Verde, the name given by the Portuguese to the promontory on the African coast off which they lie.

The archipelago was discovered in 1441 by an expedition under the command of Bartolomeo di Nolli, sponsored by Prince Henry of Portugal. However, the Portuguese did not colonize the island until after a voyage by Cada Mosto in 1456.

The Portuguese colonists established sugar plantations that relied heavily on African slave labor. The islands also became a centre for trading in slavery, which existed until its abolition by the Portuguese government in 1854.

By the eighteenth century, the Cape Verde islands were a creole society, in which Roman Catholicism had become interwoven with African religious beliefs and practices.

The major occupations of the islanders apart from sugar production were cattle rearing, salt making and the cultivation of oil producing plants for export to Portugal for use in lamps.

Cape Verde became a republic on gaining its independence from Portugal in 1975.


Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Created: 4 October 2001
Modified: 10 December 2003

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000049

[ Top of page | South Seas Companion Home | Browse | Search ]